News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California Hospital Assn Defends Consolidation in Wake of State Probe
Becker's Hospital Review

The president of the California Hospital Association has responded to questions and concerns about hospital-physician consolidation, saying “criticism of hospitals that are responding to the demands of federal and state laws is unwarranted,” according to a media statement. California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris sent subpoenas to several large systems as part of an investigation into whether affiliation agreements between large hospital operators in California and physicians are in violation of antitrust law.

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Hospital-based care-transition programs seen to boost outcomes
Modern Healthcare

When it comes to safely transitioning patients from one setting to another, not all interventions are created equal, according to a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. For heart attack or stroke patients, hospital-based programs appeared to lead to somewhat better outcomes than did patient-education solutions or community-based support services, said the authors, who reviewed more than 40 studies conducted over the past 12 years.

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Physician Alignment Strategies to Counter Uncertainty
Health Leaders Media

Physician alignment is, in part, about filling the beds and securing physician buy-in. According to Lloyd K. Ford, president and CEO of Riverview Regional Medical Center, a 281-bed acute care hospital in Gadsden, Ala., “It’s about maintaining current levels, plus growth. Ultimately, we are always looking for growth.” Increasingly, healthcare organizations are adjusting the mix of physician organizational models to achieve that alignment.

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Can California Rescue the Affordable Care Act?
Noozhawk

While national candidates wage a war of words and half-truths on health issues, a handful of states, led by California, are charging ahead to implement the key feature of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, widely viewed as the signal achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency.

The feature is an online state marketplace, known as a health insurance exchange, in which families and individuals will be able to shop for affordable health-care policies.

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By 2030, obesity medical costs could rise by over a third
Modern Healthcare

Medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases were estimated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion a year by 2030, according to a report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The loss in economic productivity was estimated by the study, called “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012,” to be between $390 billion and $580 billion annually by 2030.  The current cost of adult obesity was estimated to range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion a year.

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For Hispanics, cancer overtakes heart disease as top killer
Modern Healthcare

Cancer has overtaken heart disease as the No. 1 killer among Hispanics in the U.S., and the rest of the country may be only a few years behind. The change is not exactly cause for alarm. Death rates for both cancer and heart disease have been dropping for Hispanics and everyone else. It’s just that heart disease deaths have fallen faster, largely because of improved treatment and prevention, including the development of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

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International doctors get surgical training in SF
ABC News

Some expertise being shared in the Bay Area this week could soon be saving lives around the world. It’s part of a program that trains surgeons in techniques that are as practical as they are advanced. The surgeons crowded into a training suite at San Francisco General Hospital’s trauma institute have seen far more than their share of violent wounds. At his clinic in Kabul, Afghanistan Hedayatullah Hedayat, M.D., treats victims injured by everything from car accidents to roadside bombs.

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People with shingles show no higher cancer risk
HealthNews

People who come down with shingles seem to have no higher-than-normal risk of developing cancer later on, a study published Monday confirms. Researchers found that for nearly 36,000 Taiwanese adults with shingles, the chances of developing cancer over the next several years were on par with national statistics. Shingles – formally known as herpes zoster – is a painful condition caused by a reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox, which is known as varicella-zoster.

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PSA testing: Should men with low-risk of prostate cancer be screened?
The Union

Norman Nielsen is not a statistic.

If the 70-something Nevada City resident was a statistic, he would not have met suggested guidelines to have a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) screening each year because of his age and a new recommendation from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force against the use of PSA-based test for prostate cancer.

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Consumer-driven health plans pass HMOs in popularity of plans offered: survey
Modern Healthcare

Consumer-driven health plans with high deductibles have surpassed health maintenance organizations to become the second most common plan design offered by U.S. employers, a survey by benefit consultant Aon Hewitt has found.

Fifty-eight percent of more than 1,800 employers surveyed by Aon Hewitt offered some type of CDHP in 2011, while 38% offered HMOs, 15% offered point-of-service plans, 12% offered exclusive provider organization plans and 5% offered indemnity plans. PPOs remain the most popular health plan option, offered by 79% of employers surveyed.

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3 in 10 Surgery Residents Need Remediation
Health Leaders Media

California’s medical schools may be inadequately preparing future surgeons because a high proportion—nearly one in three— require remediation programs, including having to repeat a year of training, according to a report in the Archives of Surgery. The research paper finds that 31% of 348 general surgery residents in six California medical schools required additional studies or attendance at conferences or had to repeat a clinical year.

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Second set of draft EHR test materials out
Modern Healthcare

The second round of draft test materials for developers of health information technology to use in the testing and certification of electronic health-record systems and modules against the 2014 Edition of standards and certification criteria has been released for public comment by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The latest release includes test procedures, tools and applicable test data and files, according to the ONC.  It follows a first round of testing procedures that the ONC released Sept. 7.

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A small clinic’s big task
HealthyCal.org

Dr. Dimitri Sirakoff is less harried these days. The general medicine doctor and founder of the aptly named Serve the People Community Health Center still dons his white lab coat 90 hours a week.

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Santa Cruz County responds to Medicare motion to dismiss doctor payment lawsuit
The Mercury News

The attorney representing Santa Cruz County and 200 other counties claiming Medicare has shorted their doctors by almost $3.7 billion, reducing care for the elderly and infirm, has filed a 30-page memo countering Medicare’s motion to dismiss the case. In 2007, when the lawsuit was first filed, the claim was for $2.4 billion. The case is slated to be heard Nov. 2 by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in San Francisco.

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One battle in the war against health-insurer insensitivity
Los Angeles Times

It would be so easy for health insurers to avoid ill will if they’d just listen to what customers are saying and do their best to respond in a reasonable fashion.

Unfortunately, that’s just not how the industry seems to be programmed.

Kevin Roberts, 36, has been battling insurance-industry insensitivity since last year on behalf of his 6-year-old daughter, Aubrey, who has autism.

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Blog: Study finds providers billing at higher rates
Modern Healthcare

Later this week, the nation’s hospitals and physicians will launch another round of ads in Washington-based publications to warn Congress of the disastrous results that will come from cuts to Medicare early next year. Meanwhile, an investigative study from the Center for Public Integrity shows one way hospitals and doctors are coping with the tough federal reimbursement environment: steadily billing higher rates for treating Medicare patients in the last 10 years.

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