News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Hospital to get residency program
Visialia Times-Delta

Kaweah Delta Health Care District now offers one of only 160 emergency medicine residency programs in the U.S.

Kaweah Delta can now begin accepting applications from those who will graduate medical school this spring and wish to begin the program on July 1, 2013. Michael Burg, is program director of Kaweah Delta’s Emergency Medicine Residency Program and Lori Winston, M.D., is associate program director.

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Physician Groups Warming Up to HIEs
Health Leaders Media

As electronic medical records systems make their way into healthcare’s regular workflow, two recent, but separate surveys show that physicians may be buying into the value of joining health information exchanges. Last week, Doctors Helping Doctors Transform Healthcare, a non-profit group focused on using technology to improve the healthcare quality, issued Clinician Perspectives on Electronic Health Information Sharing for Transitions of Care, a 30-page report on how and when physicians say they want to use electronic health information.

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OIG to Investigate Hospital Payments in 2013
Health Leaders Media

Federal health investigators say they are launching 112 new investigations as part of their 2013 work plan, 8 of which deal with programs authorized under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The 148-page Office of Inspector General Work Plan 2013, issued annually by the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, highlights 25 projects that examine the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services payment policies to hospitals under Part A and Part B, 11 of which are new.

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Let geographic doc-pay cuts proceed, say MedPAC staffers
Modern Healthcare

The staff of Congress’ primary Medicare advisory body recommended allowing long-frozen geographically based payment cuts for physicians to go into effect.

The draft recommendations, on which the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has yet to vote, applied to the program’s system for supplementing or cutting physician payments based on a comparison of costs in the area in which they practice to a national average. A legislative freeze on the cuts side of that equation is scheduled to expire Dec. 31.

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Obama signs bill amending FDA user-fee law
Modern Healthcare

President Barack Obama signed legislation Friday that will amend the Food and Drug Administration’s user-fee law to ensure that a new program intended to improve approval times for generic drugs can begin. The FDA User Fee Correction Act, which was passed by the House and Senate last month before Congress adjourned, addresses the industry’s concern that the government’s temporary funding measure would delay implementation of the generic user-fee program.

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2 hospitals among best in cardiac care
Sacramento Bee

Two Sacramento hospitals are among the “50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals” selected by Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Truven Health Analytics. Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, was among a group of 20 recognized U.S. teaching hospitals without cardiovascular residency programs. Mercy General Hospital was among a list of 15 community hospitals recognized nationwide.

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Study finds “dramatic” rise in kids’ CT scans
Yahoo! News

Emergency rooms across the U.S. have seen a steep increase in CT scans of kids presenting with belly ache, while the appendicitis rate hasn’t budged, new research shows. The x-ray-based scans offer doctors a high-resolution peek into the body, but their growing popularity has been trailed by concerns over cancer risks down the road. The new findings, out Monday in the journal Pediatrics, show CT scans in children with abdominal pain rose from less than one percent to more than 15 percent between 1998 and 2008.

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L.A. County health officials urge people to eat less
Los Angeles Times

Concerned about the dangers of consistently climbing obesity rates, Los Angeles County officials launched a new public health campaign Thursday to help residents control their portion sizes.

The campaign — Choose Less, Weigh Less — aims to raise awareness about recommended calorie limits and to get residents to consume fewer calories. “It is no secret that portion size, as well as our waistlines, have expanded over the last two decades,” Jonathan Fielding, director of the county Department of Public Health, said during a news conference in downtown Los Angeles.

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Senate race ads focus on Medicare, Obamacare, debt
Modern Healthcare

For critical Senate races, Republicans are turning to the playbook that served them so well in the 2010 elections. They’re saturating the airwaves with political ads detailing the perils of “Obamacare” and the nation’s growing debt.

Democrats have added Medicare to the equation, trying to make the case that revamping the government healthcare program for older people would virtually destroy it.

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Healthcare fight exposes GOP fault lines in states
Modern Healthcare

An acrimonious debate over the federal healthcare overhaul is seeping into state capitols, creating fissures among Republicans as the tea party movement reasserts its influence in GOP-controlled areas.

States face decisions about setting up online health insurance marketplaces, and a mid-November deadline for declaring their intentions has sparked conflicts between governors and legislators across the country. In two GOP strongholds, Kansas and Mississippi, elected insurance commissioners are at odds with governors, even though they’re all Republicans.

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Net income droops for Dignity Health
Sacramento Bee

San Francisco-based Dignity Health, operator of more than a half-dozen hospitals in the Sacramento region and the fifth-largest health system in the nation, reported net income of $132.5 million for its fiscal year ended June 30 – a steep decline from more than $900 million the previous year.

Dignity pointed to a soft economy, lower volume, continued underpayments from government payers and a weak investment market.

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Three hospitals recognized for organ donation programs
Sacramento Business Journal

Three Sacramento hospitals have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for excellence in their organ donation programs. Mercy San Juan Medical Center, Sutter General and Sutter Roseville Medical Center achieved and sustained a donation rate of 75 percent or more from eligible donors for at least a year, according to federal officials.

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Medical office buildings planned in Elk Grove
Sacramento Business Journal

The city of Elk Grove continues to attract healthcare projects, as evidenced by the latest proposal: six single-story medical office buildings totaling 30,200 square feet near Laguna Springs Drive and Laguna Boulevard. The buildings will range in size from 3,280 square feet to 10,000 square feet, and are part of the Laguna Gateway Special Planning Area, which contains 155 acres and is being developed by Pappas Investments.

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Doc urges students, educators to lead change, ’save the world’
Modern Healthcare

In a speech that would have been made for a stirring commencement address, Dr. Pedro “Joe” Greer Jr. told the medical educators and students attending the Gold Humanism Honor Society’s biennial meeting in Rosemont, Ill., that “there’s nothing we can’t accomplish if we’re willing not to take the credit for it.”

Greer, who was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 1993 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, is the assistant dean for academic affairs and chairman of the Department of Humanities, Health and Society at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in Miami.

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Probiotics: A gut-check on bacterial health
Los Angeles Times

A fascinating, if disconcerting, fact: More than 100 trillion so-called good bacteria thrive in or on the human body. A sizable chunk of them maintain residence in the human digestive tract. Probiotics, live microorganisms that benefit their human host, are among these beneficial bacteria.

Probiotics are also found in foods and supplements, and when consumed they change how the immune system responds to “bad” bacteria.

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A sampling of California’s new health insurance laws
Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last week a set of measures aimed at preparing California for coming changes in how consumers get healthcare insurance. Some of the laws:

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UnitedHealth plans overseas growth with $4.9B deal
San Francisco Chronicle

UnitedHealth Group Inc. will spend about $4.9 billion to buy a majority stake in a Brazilian health benefits and care provider, as the largest U.S. health insurer leaps into an international market it says is primed for growth. UnitedHealth, based in Minnetonka, Minn., said Monday that it will pay cash for about 90 percent of the outstanding shares of Amil Participacoes SA. The Brazilian company provides health and dental benefits and runs a care delivery network that includes 22 hospitals, about 50 clinics. It serves more than 5 million people.

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Healthcare CEOs Weigh In On Technology and the Growing Importance of Social Collaboration
The Health Care Blog

Technology is transforming health care in many ways. CEOs of health care businesses think the biggest transformation in the next few years will come from making patients, doctors and health-care workers more communicative and collaborative. They foresee patients with the same rare diseases coming together in online social networks where they can discuss their symptoms.

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Is there a (UCR) doctor in the house? Soon.
The Press-Enterprise

In the beginning (those fab ’50s), community visionaries, grinders and men of some means saw their tireless lobbying of Sacramento pay off when the newest UC campus opened in Riverside. Starting with just 127 students and 65 faculty, UCR took root. But as the decades lumbered on, the luster seemed to fade. By the mid-70s, football, that mesmerizing magnet meant to dragoon donors, had become unaffordable, expendable and, alas, puntable. There were even rumors the tiny university, so dinky by Gutty Little Bruin and Dirty Golden Bear standards, would fold.

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