News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Health plans are likely to increase premiums and raise charges for dependents
Washington Post

The health insurance open enrollment season is heading into full swing, and many employees will be reviewing their plan options over the next few months. Premiums will rise, although perhaps not as much as last year, and dependent coverage may be noticeably more expensive than in the past. Comparing plans may be easier, though, thanks to summaries that group health plans and insurers now must provide.

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Panel urges FCC role in leading push for wireless healthcare
Modern Healthcare

A task force assembled by the Federal Communications Commission said wireless health technologies should become a routine best practice for medical care within the next five years. The FCC’s mHealth task force issued a report today that offers five wide-reaching recommendations that aim to spur adoption and implementation of mobile health, wireless health and e-care technologies in the U.S. healthcare system.

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Healthcare spending picked up in 2011: report
Modern Healthcare

The Health Care Cost Institute, an insurer-funded not-for-profit research group based in Washington, found per capita healthcare spending on those under age 65 with employer-backed insurance rose 4.6% to $4,547 in 2011. The increase in 2011 follows a rise of 3.8% in 2010 and 5.8% in 2009, based on an analysis of claims data from Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare. (Kaiser Permanente is contributing data for future reports.)

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Drug Shortages: 10 Ethics Rules for Hospitals
Health Leaders Media

When precious medications run low, how should clinicians decide who should get the benefit?

That’s the thorny question clinicians at Duke University Medical Center are attempting to answer with an ethically defensible drug rationing plan which aims to help healthcare providers make fair and equitable choices.

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Consumer Reports Names Top-Ranked Health Plans
Health Leaders Media

Consumer Reports released on Monday its annual health plan rankings. For the third consecutive year an HMO operated by Massachusetts-based Harvard Pilgrim Health Care was the top-ranked private plan. Harvard Pilgrim has three plans in the top 10: its PPO ranked fifth and its New Hampshire HMO was ranked seventh. The rankings are compiled by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a nonprofit health care accreditation and quality measurement group.

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HHS, Justice Department warn hospitals on EHR-related payment fraud
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration on Monday issued a stern letter to the nation’s hospitals that warned that HHS and the Justice Department will crack down on providers that misuse electronic medical records to bill for unprovided services. In a letter Monday to five healthcare provider associations, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said there have been indications that some hospitals use electronic health records to “game the system” to their advantage.

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Plain-language rules go into effect for health plans, HHS says
Modern Healthcare

Insurance companies must now provide consumers in the individual health market a description of what their plans cover through a summary of benefits and coverage, HHS announced Monday. Required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the summary for consumers has information about covered health benefits, out-of-pocket costs and the network of providers.

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Trauma centers springing up as profits rise
USA Today

When Orange Park Medical Center won preliminary state approval in November 2011 to open the first new trauma center in northeast Florida in almost 30 years, its executives said the decision would save lives. But that’s not how its competitor 18 miles away saw the move by Orange Park Medical and its parent, HCA Holdings, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain.

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Obama administration warns hospitals on fraud
San Francisco Chronicle

Computerized medical records were supposed to cut costs. Now the Obama administration is warning hospitals that might be tempted to use the technology for gaming the system. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (seh-BEEL’-yuhs) and Attorney General Eric Holder issued the warning Monday in a letter to hospital trade associations, following media reports of alleged irregularities.

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Insurers Begin Providing Health Plan Buying Guides
Insurance Journal

The Obama administration on Monday began requiring health insurers to provide user-friendly guides to patients that explain their benefits, aiming to make buying insurance nearly as easy as scanning packages of food for nutrition facts.

Under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law, employers and insurers must provide a summary of benefits and coverage in a clearly worded, standardized format that allows the private insurance market’s 163 million beneficiaries to make side-by-side comparisons of plan offerings.

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Newly named hospital CEO was there in the beginning
San Bernardino Sun

Forty years ago, nurse Mary Miles Hunt and physical therapist James P. Reagan envisioned a place where patients recovering from serious injuries could get expert help putting their lives together. The result was a 10-bed pilot project at what was then called San Bernardino Community Hospital. The project, begun in 1972, was so successful that it was soon expanded to 30 beds.

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UC Davis’ new cancer wing opens
Sacramento Bee

Jerry Montgomery, 77, is a master observer of the state of affairs around him.

During the 11 years Montgomery has undergone treatment at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, he’s gotten pretty good at squaring off against his cancer, reading his nurses’ moods, and watching the incremental progress of the center’s expansion.

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2 new drugs may help in fight against obesity
Southern California Public Radio

The Food and Drug Administration approved two new medications this year to help obese and overweight individuals lose weight.

Diet drugs have been around in different forms for a while, but now researchers hope one of these two might actually help make a dent in the obesity epidemic.

Both of the drugs — Belviq and Qsymia — were approved in July.

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Brown signs law allowing women speedier access to birth control
Orange County Register

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Saturday a bill that will give women new and easier avenues for obtaining birth control. AB 2348 gives registered nurses the ability to dispense not only hormonal contraceptives through a regulated procedure but the ability to give out drugs and devices after being authorized by a certified nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner or physician assistant.

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3 days early, thousands line up for a chance at free health care
Southern California Public Radio

People headed to the the Los Angeles Sports Arena in South L.A. as early as Saturday night to ensure themselves a spot in line to gain access to a free four-day health care clinic called Care Harbor LA.

The clinic will provide medical, dental and vision care free of charge. It doesn’t officially open until Thursday morning, but event organizers distributed wristbands for the event starting early Monday afternoon. Care Harbor LA expects to serve 4,800 people.

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Shock and Awe: EHRs Work as Designed
The Health Care Blog

The health care crowd is abuzz with The New York Times revelation that Medicare billing rates seem to have increased by billions of dollars in parallel with increased adoption of EHR technologies for both hospitals and ambulatory services. The culprit for this unexpected increase is the measly E&M code.

Evaluation and Management (E&M) is the portion of a medical visit where the doctor listens to your description of the problem, takes a history of previous medical issues, inquires about relatives that suffered from various ailments, asks about social habits and circumstances, lets you describe your symptoms as they affect your various body parts, examines your persona and proceeds with diagnosing and treating the condition that brought you to his/her office or hospital.

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