News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

CMS recalculates readmissions penalties
Modern Healthcare

Just days before its program to curb avoidable hospital readmissions was set to begin, the CMS acknowledged a calculation error and issued a revised list of hospitals’ penalties for 2013. In a notice posted on the agency’s website, the CMS said it had mistakenly included data from inpatient discharges occurring prior to the start of the program’s measurement period in its calculation of preliminary penalty figures, released in August. The Readmissions Reduction Program, which began Oct.1, penalizes hospitals for higher-than-average readmission rates, using data from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2011.

News Headlines Article

Health costs in San Francisco Bay Area jump highest-in-nation 7.4 percent
San Francisco Business Times

Bay Area health care costs jumped by 7.4 percent this year at larger companies, said consultant Aon Hewitt, one of the highest inflation rates in the nation and far higher than the national average of 4.9 percent. Next year, the Bay Area is likely in for a 6.7 percent jump in health care costs, compared to a national average of 6.3 percent, Aon Hewitt said Oct. 3. The company is a unit of Aon (NYSE: AON).

News Headlines Article

How CBOs May Help Shrink Readmissions
Health Leaders Media

When hospital leaders realized they’ll endure cuts of up to 1% from their Medicare reimbursement for higher rates of 30-day readmissions starting next month, many complained. What brings discharged patients back to their facilities most often is largely outside their control, they said.

Patients can’t get to the doctor, can’t afford or don’t fill prescriptions, get confused about dosages or forget they must change their routines.

News Headlines Article

IRS sets hearing on tax-exemption regulations
Modern Healthcare

The Internal Revenue Service has set an Oct. 29 hearing date to discuss regulatory changes regarding not-for-profit hospitals’ tax-exempt statuses. The IRS and U.S. Treasury Department proposed the regulation in June, and last month the American Hospital Association, Association of American Medical Colleges and the Healthcare Financial Management Association were among the groups that shared concerns over the proposed tax provisions, which are part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

News Headlines Article

Report: Health care in S.F. a ’sleeping giant,’ but biotechs constrained
San Francisco Business Times

San Francisco’s surging biotech industry feeds off a network of research institutions, but lease rates and city red tape remain obstacles to growth, according to a report unveiled Wednesday at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s “ForecastSF” event. The report, prepared by San Francisco State University associate professor of economics Philip King for the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, found that hospital and biomedical spending in San Francisco totals $16.7 billion and is responsible for more than 104,000 jobs, or almost one in five jobs in the city.

News Headlines Article

Healthcare reform a focal point in Romney, Obama’s first debate
Modern Healthcare

In their first of three matchups this month, President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney focused heavily on the very different directions they would take as president to address the biggest issues facing the U.S. healthcare system: Medicare and the 2010 healthcare reform law.

“Every moment that the debate focused on Obamacare, the president was losing,” David Merritt, managing director at Leavitt Partners, said in an e-mail folllowing the candidates’ 90-minute debate Wednesday night at the University of Denver.

News Headlines Article

L.A. billionaire unveils plan to make healthcare more high-tech
Los Angeles Times

Now that healthcare has been overhauled, it’s time to give medical care a major reboot, according to Los Angeles’s wealthiest man. Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a physician-entrepreneur and chairman of the California company NantHealth, unveiled a pilot program that he says will do just that, transforming the way medicine is practiced and medical care is delivered across the nation.

Among the collaborative effort’s key goals: to make deadly cancers a condition that patients can survive and manage for years after diagnosis.

News Headlines Article

New supercomputer speeds cancer genome analysis to seconds
FierceHealthIT

The launch of a new genomic supercomputing platform that can speed cancer genome analysis from months to seconds is the result of a collaboration announced this week between NantHealth, a health technology company founded by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, and several other well-known companies, including Blue Shield of California, Verizon, Bank of America, AT&T, Intel and Hewlett-Packard.

News Headlines Article

Booz Allen announces CMS, NIH contracts
Modern Healthcare

Consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton announced four federal contracts signed in the past two months. The CMS signed a $26 million contract with the McLean, Va.-based company for strategic planning and business analysis and other services for its consumer information and insurance systems group, according to a news release, and a $16 million contract for services addressing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s quality rating and improvement provisions.

News Headlines Article

Memorial Hospital nurses formally end strike, but plan to continue picketing
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Nurses will end their two-day strike at Memorial Hospital at 5 a.m. Thursday, but vowed to continue picketing outside the Santa Rosa hospital until they are allowed to return to their jobs over the weekend.

About 150 temporary nurses hired to keep the hospital operating during the strike will continue to work until Saturday morning, when their four-day contract expires, said Debra Miller, vice president of human resources for St. Joseph Health System in Sonoma County, which operates Memorial.

News Headlines Article

Kaiser, Western Health honored by state regulator for meeting standards
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente and Western Health Advantage have won awards from the state managed care regulator for meeting care standards to prevent premature disability and death from heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. The California Department of Managed Health Care’s Right Care Initiative recognizes health plans and medical groups who meet performance standards for controlling blood pressure, blood sugar and/or cholesterol.

News Headlines Article

Infant DNA Tests Speed Diagnosis of Rare Diseases
New York Times

From the day she was born, the girl had seizure after seizure. Doctors at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., frantically tried to keep her alive. Weeks passed and every medication failed. Finally, her family decided to let their baby go, and the medical devices were withdrawn. She was 5 weeks old. Her doctors suspected a genetic disorder, and as it happened the hospital had just begun a study of a new technique for quickly analyzing the DNA of newborns, zeroing in on mutations that can cause disease.

News Headlines Article

Strategies for Securing Physician Talent
Health Leaders Media

In our annual Industry Survey, only 10% of CEOs described their organization’s physician recruitment and retention efforts as very strong and just 38% characterized it as strong. Another 19% rated it as weak or very weak. What trends are you seeing, and what are the actionable strategies to achieving an exceptional physician recruitment and retention program?

News Headlines Article

Poll finds seniors happy with Part D
Modern Healthcare

Seniors are as satisfied with the Medicare drug program as they have been at any point in the past six years, according to an annual tracking poll. A national survey of 2,363 seniors found 90% are satisfied with their Medicare Part D coverage, which matches the previous highest satisfaction level found by the annual survey conducted since 2006 by Medicare Today and KRC Research. Medicare Today is a nonprofit advocacy group that provides educational information to Medicare beneficiaries.

News Headlines Article

UC Riverside med school finally wins accreditation
Southern California Public Radio

A year after it failed to win accreditation over funding questions, the UC Riverside medical school is back on track to open next fall. UCR just won preliminary approval from the Liaison Committee for Medical Education.

The Washington, DC-based group decides whether medical schools are good enough and have the financial means to win accreditation – the seal of approval that says a med school offers top-notch training.

News Headlines Article

New stem cell research could bring choices to heart patients
Ventura County Star

They’re called “no-option patients.”

They’ve endured angioplasty, stent procedures, bypasses and a long line of medications. None of the treatments has fixed the plaque-plugged coronary arteries that trigger angina, starve the heart of blood and force people to hunch in pain after walking two blocks.

Adult stem cell research at an Oxnard hospital is aimed at giving them choices.

News Headlines Article

Ending CON regs seen lowering cardiac-care costs
Modern Healthcare

The removal of certificate of need regulations reduced costs for coronary artery bypass graft, or heart bypass surgery, but did not reduce costs for percutaneous coronary interventions, or angioplasty, according to a study published online by the journal Medical Care Research and Review. The study, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, found that states that removed CON regs experienced a 4.2% decrease in average cost per patient for CABGs, while cost changes for PCIs were statistically insignificant, according to the study.

News Headlines Article

California Blue partners to create ACO data portal
Healthcare Finance News

Blue Shield of California and health technology integrator NantHealth announced Tuesday they will co-develop a clinic-based “continuous learning center” (CLC) that will leverage supercomputing systems, high-speed, secure-fiber networks and fact-based genomic data systems, which will allow Blue Shield’s ACO partners to provide personalized, molecular-based medicine.

News Headlines Article

Blog: Sebelius hardly staying mum
Modern Healthcare

Coming off a historic slapdown by the government’s nonpartisan ethics watchdog over a recent political speech, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hopped right back into the political fray this week. Sebelius spoke Wednesday to a Washington gathering of the National Hispanic Council on Aging just a few weeks after the independent U.S. Office of Special Counsel found she violated federal law. The office cited her “extemporaneous partisan remarks” delivered during a February speech in which Sebelius was acting in her official capacity as head of HHS. It was the first such finding against a senior administration official since 2007.

News Headlines Article

Blog: CMS explanation of EHR FAQ page raises its own questions
Modern Healthcare

Here’s today’s tip for healthcare website developers. If you’re like the CMS, and having just revamped your website, you feel compelled to issue a news release to explain how the site’s frequently-asked-questions section actually works, you probably should have first asked yourself a few questions, such as this one from my colleague: “What the FAQ?” The CMS release I’m talking about came today. It announced that the CMS has updated its system. So far, so good.

Commands