News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Countdown to ICD-10 is On
Health Leaders Media

The publication of the final rule officially announcing a change in the ICD-10 compliance date from October 1, 2013 to October 1, 2014, ends the uncertainty surrounding ICD-10 implementation that has plagued the healthcare industry.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) based the decision to move forward with a one-year delay on the conclusion that a significant number of healthcare entities would not be prepared to meet the original compliance date.

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Sutter closing kidney transplant program in Sacramento
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Medical Center Sacramento is voluntarily closing its kidney transplant program to focus resources on heart services — which include the only cardiac transplant program in the Sacramento region — Sutter officials announced Thursday. The kidney program does about 30 transplants a year, a small number compared to other programs in Northern California. The UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, UC San Francisco and Stanford University each perform more than 200 kidney transplants annually.

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U.S. Trails in Adopting Value-based Healthcare
Health Leaders Media

The United States faces major obstacles in taking advantage of “value-based healthcare”-one of the most promising developments in healthcare, according to a new study by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

BCG assessed the progress of 12 developed-world countries in adopting value-based healthcare, an ­approach to better controlling healthcare costs by improving health outcomes while maintaining or lowering cost.

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Romney offers clue on coverage for preexisting conditions
Los Angeles Times

Providing medical insurance coverage for people with preexisting health conditions is among the more popular provisions of President Obama’s signature healthcare law.

Mitt Romney, while pledging to repeal and replace Obamacare, has repeatedly said that he would require insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, provided the customers previously had continuous coverage.

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Sutter dropping its kidney transplants
Sacramento Bee

Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, will close its kidney transplant service next month to focus more on its advanced cardiovascular services, which include the Sacramento region’s only heart transplant center.

Sutter officials said 11 jobs are affected, and Sutter will attempt to place those people in jobs related to its heart transplant services.

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Big drop seen in hospital PPI; doc-office prices edge down
Modern Healthcare

Wholesale prices for acute-care hospital services dropped 1.1% in September, the largest one-month decline since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting comparable figures in December 2003, according to the agency’s preliminary figures. Last month’s drop follows a 1.7% increase in July, which is also preliminary. The volatility captured in preliminary figures reflects mid-year rate negotiations between insurers and hospitals, said Scott Sager, a supervisory economist with the BLS.

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Cuts looming at Memorial Medical Center of Modesto
Modesto Bee

Employees at Memorial Medical Center of Modesto are bracing for staff cuts or the possibility their jobs are being relocated to the Sacramento area. For months, the hospital’s parent organization, Sutter Health of Sacramento, has been working to streamline operations such as finance, billing, human resources and purchasing at its medical centers in Northern California, a move expected to result in staff reductions.

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Kaiser breast cancer clinic eases transition from patient to survivor
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente has opened a breast cancer survivorship clinic near Cal Expo to ease the transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor. The clinic adds a new dimension in cancer treatment, offering a bridge between the specialists who performed surgery, administered radiation or provided other treatment and the primary care physicians who provide ongoing care.

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Wal-Mart to Pay for Heart, Spine Surgery for Employees
Insurance Journal

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is offering its U.S. employees and their families free heart and spine surgeries at six major health centers at no cost to the retailer’s workers, as it tries to find better ways to cover costly, complicated procedures.

Starting in January, workers and dependents enrolled in Wal-Mart’s medical plans will receive free consultations and care for certain heart and spinal procedures along with travel, lodging and food for the patient and a caregiver.

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With rivals nearby, Placerville’s Marshall hospital expands
Sacramento Business Journal

The only independent hospital in the Sacramento region is poised to open a $54 million emergency services and maternity care wing as soon as state regulators sign off on the project. A second phase will build out and equip shell space at Marshall Medical Center in Placerville for a kitchen and cafeteria, a 12-bed intensive-care unit and a 36-bed telemetry unit. Those additions will bring the total tab to $80 million or more.

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Children’s Hospital names new development chief
Los Angeles Business Journal

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has named DeAnn Marshall as senior vice president, chief development and marketing officer. Marshall replaces Claudia Looney as chief development officer. Looney will stay at Children’s until Feb. 8 as a consultant to help with the transition. DeAnn began at her new job Oct. 1 after a national search to fill the position, Children’s said.

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Medical malpractice rates expected to rise as healthcare providers keep consolidating
Modern Healthcare

While macroeconomic conditions reduced consumer health care utilization and state-level tort reforms have held earned rates and direct written premium pricing for medical professional liability coverage at year-over-year decreases between 0% and 5%, those trends could be on the verge of reversing themselves.

That’s according to a presentation by managers with New York-based PricewaterhouseCoopers at the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management’s 2012 conference in National Harbor, Md.

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Walmart expands program for workers’ out-of-pocket costs
Modern Healthcare

Walmart said it would expand a program that eliminates out-of-pocket costs and covers travel expenses for its workers who seek care at certain hospitals. Walmart, which first launched the program in 1996 for transplant surgery, said it expanded the effort to include certain heart and spine surgeries. “In providing this service at no cost to its enrolled associates, Walmart has worked with these Centers of Excellence health systems to provide exclusive and unique bundled pricing arrangements for these types of procedures,” the company said in a news release.

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Fight Over Medi-Cal Cuts Reaches the 9th Circuit
Courthouse News Service

Cutting California Medical Assistance Program reimbursement rates by 10 percent will hurt the poor, opponents told the 9th Circuit. Off the back of a law approved by the California Legislature in spring 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 97 to help ease the state’s massive debts by cutting rates for health care and Medi-Cal providers.

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Risks and the Benefits: What Health Policy Can Learn from Clinical Medicine
The Health Care Blog

A few months back, we admitted a patient we’ll call Mr. Jones to the hospital for a severe gastrointestinal bleed. We had discharged him two weeks earlier after he had come in with a heart attack and made sure he was on aspirin to prevent future cardiac events. He dutifully took his aspirin and on the day of the readmission, had a massive bleed. He made it to the hospital barely alive and an endoscopy in the ICU showed an active bleeding gastric ulcer.

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No pay for poor performance, yet no change
Modern Healthcare

Policymakers who hope to see hospitals respond to financial incentives for better quality care will be disappointed by a newly published report on costly, potentially deadly, hospital-acquired infections. My colleague Maureen McKinney reported on the results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine: The 2008 Medicare policy to stop payment for catheter-associated bloodstream and urinary tract infections contracted by patients during a hospital stay did not produce a hoped-for drop in infection rates.

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