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News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Joint Commission ‘Top Performers’ List Adds 200 Hospitals
Health Leaders Media

In yet another annual list of best hospitals, the Joint Commission has named 620 acute care hospitals as “Top Performers on Key Quality Measures” for 2011. The list has grown by 215 hospitals over last year’s roster. But as in last year’s lineup, absent from the list were most hospitals that usually show up at the top of “best hospitals” lists, such as Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts General, Stanford University Medical Center, New York Presbyterian, Brigham and Women’s or any of the hospitals in the University of California system.

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Health care workers in Santa Clara county must get flu shot or wear a mask
Oroville Mercury-Register

A controversial new mandate will force thousands of health care workers in Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties to get flu shots this fall — or wear a mask at work the entire influenza season.

San Francisco and Sacramento counties already have similar mask mandates aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly disease and convincing health care workers to practice what they preach. Alameda County is considering a similar rule.

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How to Make a Medical Home Deliver
Health Leaders Media

Patients would like to think that their providers won’t hurt them, that providers are coordinating their care, and, in an environment where patients are paying more out of their own pocket, that providers aren’t wasting their money. Those are several factors that are supposed to improve under the medical home philosophy, but there are others that patients care more about—notably, their satisfaction. Economics is one reason hospitals and physician practices often evaluate the medical home somewhat differently.

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Grappling With Details of Medicare Proposals
New York Times

When Claire Celsi’s father-in-law died in July, the one thing her mother-in-law did not have to worry about was the $300,000 hospital bill. Medicare covered most of it. But election-year proposals to transform Medicare into a so-called premium-support program, as proposed by Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, are making Ms. Celsi anxious about the health costs she may face in retirement. People age 55 and older would see no changes to their Medicare benefits under these plans.

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Asking the Wrong Questions About the Electronic Health Record
The Health Care Blog

The wrong question always produces an irrelevant answer, no matter how well-crafted that answer might be. Unfortunately the debate on health information technology seems to be increasingly focused on the wrong question. An Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal argues that we have had a “Major Glitch” in the use of electronic health records (EHRs). This follows on a series of recent studies that have asked the question “do EHRs save money?”

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Joint Commission ranks 620 hospitals as top performers on quality measures
Modern Healthcare

The Joint Commission has recognized 620 hospitals as top performers in quality and patient safety, up 53% from 405 hospitals last year. The designation is based on hospitals’ performance during 2011 across 45 accountability measures in areas such as pneumonia care, heart-failure care and inpatient psychiatric services. To make the list, hospitals had to receive a composite score of 95% or above on all of the accountability measures it reported to the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based organization. Additionally, top-performing hospitals needed to meet or exceed the 95% performance mark on each of the accountability measures they reported.

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State’s obesity rates expected to spike by 2030
San Francisco Chronicle

The percentage of obese Connecticut adults is projected to grow to nearly 20 percent in the next 18 years — yet we’ll still have one of the lowest obesity rates in the country. That’s according to the annual “F as in Fat” report released Tuesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health. For the first time, the report forecasts the adult obesity rate in each state and the likely resulting rise in obesity-related disease rates and health care costs.

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Studies show promise for obesity surgeries
Los Angeles Times

Bariatric surgery works, if measured in hospital days and medicine costs 20 years after the operation, according to one of the new studies on obesity published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

Gastric bypass surgery was shown to help severely obese patients, most of whom after six years had sustained an average weight loss of nearly 28% of their weight.

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Weight-Loss Surgery’s Health Benefits Found to Have Hidden Costs
San Francisco Chronicle

Obese people who have weight-loss surgery gain at least six years of health benefits that include fewer diabetes cases and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Even so, their medical costs didn’t drop. While the advantages linked to diminished fat were found to be durable over six years in a study published today, a second report tied the surgery to complications such as gallstones and anemia that raised how much patients spent over the same time period. The research was included in an obesity theme issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Vision Service Plan presses to participate in health exchange
Sacramento Bee

Rancho Cordova’s Vision Service Plan, backed by the leader of the state Senate and the region’s top business organizations, urged a state agency to reconsider a decision that prohibits VSP from competing for customers in a new state-run health care exchange.

VSP has already hinted that the decision last month by the California Health Benefit Exchange could prompt the Rancho Cordova company to relocate its headquarters to another state. VSP employs 2,100 workers in the Sacramento area.

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Health care reform causing struggles for young immigrants
Live Insurance News

Young immigrants who are permitted to remain in the United States as a result of a new federal policy are discovering that they are not eligible to benefit from the health care reform act. This most recent decision was not released with a great deal of noise or spotlight, but it has infuriated many immigrant and Hispanic American advocates. They state that these health care reform limitations conflict with President Obama’s recent applause for young immigrants in the country.

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For-profit revenue rises despite admissions dip: Fitch
Modern Healthcare

Weak patient volume continued to plague for-profit systems in the second quarter of the year, and the challenging operating environment is expected to persist, according to a report from Fitch Ratings. The report found that investor-owned chains experienced a 2.7% decline in admissions, with adjusted admissions, a figure that includes outpatient activity, growing slightly at 0.5%.

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Couple seek changes from medical board after baby’s stillbirth
North County Times

The way one Cardiff couple see it, patients shouldn’t have to wait months to find out that their doctor has accepted discipline from the state medical board.

Amber and Michael Lukacs said their son was stillborn on July 1 after a home delivery overseen by Dr. Robert M. Biter, a physician who has his own practice in Encinitas.

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Federal reform plays role in Ventura County clinic expansion
Ventura County Star

Growing demand for treatment and federal reform that might change the face of safety-net health care have led to four new or expanded public clinics in Ventura County, including a $6.5 million mega-clinic in Thousand Oaks.

Ventura County Health Care Agency officials expect to open the relocated Thousand Oaks clinic in a 42,000-square-foot site that once housed Borders Books and before that, a bowling alley, by the end of the month.

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Sutter Medical Center on list of hospitals with top women’s health programs
Sacramento Bee

Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento made a list of U.S. hospitals with outstanding women’s health programs.

Chicago-based Becker’s Hospital Review, a bimonthly publication offering business/legal news and analysis relating to hospitals and health systems, released its “100 Hospitals With Great Women’s Health Programs” this week.

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How ObamaCare Could Cause Nonprofit Hospitals To Lose Tax-Exempt Status
The Health Care Blog

Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) has been knocked for its alleged unintended consequences. The bill’s attracted speculation that workers will lose their health plans, college grads will stop looking for jobs, and even that fewer people will get married. Those are just the effects related to insurance regulations. Less attention has been given to how hospitals and health systems might change after ObamaCare.

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Sebelius praises health law’s benefits for Latinos
The Hill

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius praised the healthcare law for imparting benefits to the Latino community, which is less likely to have adequate healthcare than the population at large. In a statement marking Hispanic Heritage Month, Sebelius vowed to “renew our commitment to promote health and wellness for the Latino community.”

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