News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California to start regaining control of prison healthcare
Los Angeles Times

Seven years after federal courts took control of California’s prison healthcare system, citing care so poor that inmates were dying needlessly, they will start the long process Friday of turning operations back over to the state.

J. Clark Kelso, the court-appointed overseer, said he could foresee a full resumption of state control in about two years.

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Healthcare Collaboration Strategies Gaining Ground
Health Leaders Media

With looming budget pressures and payment penalties, one would think most executives of high-performing organizations wouldn’t eagerly share their “secret sauce” for better outcomes and lower costs, lest it give competitors an edge.

But from Los Angeles to Boston and from Michigan to Texas, that’s exactly what’s happening with a series of “collaboratories” designed to improve care for all patients, regardless of which health system provides their care.

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California has lowered number of medically uninsured children
Sacramento Bee

California, the nation’s most populous state, also has the nation’s largest number of medically uninsured children, but has lowered that number sharply in recent years, according to a new study by Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. Ironically, however, the study attributes that decline from 2009 to 2011, in part, to the state’s Healthy Families program, which was repealed this year as part of the 2012-13 state budget, saving $13 million.

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What HHS Would Look Like Under President Romney
California Healthline

The world may not be ready for a Romney presidency. Or more specifically: world leaders may not have done enough homework. An interesting Washington Post story this week suggested that because the foreign polls have been so bullish on President Obama — 82% of Germans in one survey expected Obama to be re-elected — lawmakers around the world may be scrambling to adjust to a new team of U.S. diplomats and set of policies. Is the health sector better prepared?

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Inside Medicine: Patient expectation can be the measure
Sacramento Bee

Recently I was conducting an oral examination of third-year medical students.

The exam required the medical student to take a medical history – in this case from an actress – then do a physical examination. The actress presented with back pain after heavy lifting, and she was very believable. The exam was timed at 20 minutes, which is a bit longer than most doctors can spend with patients, but they’re students so we compassionately give them a few extra minutes.

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El Camino Hospital Opens Senior Health Center Offering a New Model of Care for Patients 65 and Older
Sacramento Bee

El Camino Hospital continues its groundbreaking service to the community with the opening of its center aimed exclusively at providing a “patient-centered medical home” to patients 65 and older. The Senior Health Center is designed to ensure access to fully integrated, comprehensive care so that seniors can remain healthy and independent as long as possible. The center represents a new approach to senior care and is one of the first of its kind in Northern California.

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Candidates for state office raise funds as election nears; late contributions must be reported every 24 hours
Redding Record Searchlight

North state politicians looking to fill several state offices are collecting last-minute funds as the election looms now less than two weeks away. Contributions made or received within 16 days of the election have to be reported every 24 hours, per state law. But only some candidates for three local state races — the 4th Senate District and 1st Senate and Assembly districts — have filed late contribution documents with the California Secretary of State’s Office this month.

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Medicaid spending growth slows, survey finds
Modern Healthcare

Total Medicaid spending grew 2% on average across all states in fiscal 2012, the lowest rate of growth since 2006 and down from the 9.7% rate of growth in fiscal 2011, according to the 12th annual 50-state Medicaid budget survey conducted on behalf of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. The survey, which covers state fiscal 2012, shows that Medicaid enrollment grew 3.2% in the same period, down from a 4.4% increase the previous year. For most states, their fiscal year ends June 30.

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New thinking, new ways against breast cancer
Sacramento Bee

Take the notion of breast cancer as a statistical inevitability and flip it over. Stand it on its head. Turn it inside out. Now give it a good going-over.

You might see that the idea of defining a disease by its numerical certainty to strike one in seven women is fatalistic. It’s like saying, “Women! Stand up, be counted – and await your turn.” But to a new generation of breast cancer patients, that statistical narrative won’t do. Not by a long shot.

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State reviews seen as curbing health insurer rate hikes
Modern Healthcare

State rate reviews have an effect on health insurance premiums for individuals and small businesses, as one in five insurer requests last year resulted in either a lower rate increase or no increase at all, says a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all insurers requesting premium-rate increases of 10% or more must face a rate review program. Most states already had some form of rate review established before the law, and the federal government will conduct one for those states that don’t.

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County still stalled on implementing temporary coverage under Obamacare
Monterey County Weekly

Kathy Singley says she and her husband never get sick, but she’d really like to visit a dentist. Employer-provided health insurance, though, has proved elusive; her husband works in construction and Singley is a part-time caregiver for an autistic man. 


“It’s like this dangling carrot that’s just unattainable,” she says. 


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Sierra Health Foundation hands out 34 grants, including in Sacramento region
Sacramento Business Journal

Sierra Health Foundation has awarded 34 grants of up to $25,000 each to support programs that improve health and well-being in 19 Northern California counties. Half of the grants will go to programs in one or more of the four counties in the Sacramento region. This is the foundation’s second grant funding announcement for 2012 — and it brings the total for the year to $1.2 million.

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Adult nursing program suspended
Lompoc Record

Lompoc’s adult nursing program, the latest program to be targeted for budget cuts, was suspended Tuesday evening with a vote by the Lompoc school board as the district reduced its budget to financial goals.

There were plenty of compliments made about the Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) program, which was praised by district officials for the high graduation rate and positive attention it brought the district.

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CA officials to ready nation’s largest prison healthcare facility
Southern California Public Radio

Seven years ago, a federal judge seized control of California’s prison healthcare system because one inmate was dying each week from neglect. The judge appointed a federal receiver, Clark Kelso, to fix the failing system.

Now, Kelso is allowing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to take charge of opening the nation’s largest prison medical facility by next July.

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Generic drugs produced savings in recession: study
Modern Healthcare

A leap in generic-drug use kept the number of nonelderly Americans spending high shares of their income on healthcare flat during the recent recession, according to a health researcher. Peter Cunningham, a senior fellow at the Center for Studying Health System Change, authored a study published Wednesday in Health Affairs that found the percentage of Americans younger than 65 spending more than 10% of their income on healthcare stayed at about 19% of the population from 2006 to 2009.

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Disruptive Remedies for the Physician Shortage
Health Leaders Media

The University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa has been training physicians since its charter class enrolled in 1971, but apparently Morsani and other medical schools have not done enough. The physician shortage continues to grow, and the general media rarely misses a chance to pound the public with dire projections—as though the answer is to simply push more students through the education pipeline.

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Study: Calif. Had Second-Highest Count of Uninsured Kids in 2011
California Healthline

In 2011, California had the second-highest number of uninsured children in the U.S., according to a report by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families, WUSF’s “Health News Florida” reports (Gentry, “Health News Florida,” WUSF, 10/23). Key Findings The report found that about 745,000 children living in California, or about 8%, did not have health insurance in 2011. According to the report, only Texas had a higher number of uninsured children at 916,000.

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Aetna’s 3Q profit climbs 2 pct, tops forecasts
San Francisco Chronicle

Aetna Inc.’s third-quarter earnings rose 2 percent and trumped expectations as revenue gains outweighed costs tied to paying off debt and the insurer’s purchase of Coventry Health Care. The Hartford, Conn., insurer said Thursday it earned $499.2 million, or $1.47 per share, in the three months that ended Sept. 30. That’s up from $490.4 million, or $1.30 per share, in last year’s quarter.

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Obamacare or Romneycare?
Chico News and Review

Of all the issues in the 2012 presidential election, none defines the candidates quite as specifically as health-care reform. President Barack Obama’s policy stands forth in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010—known as the ACA, or “Obamacare,” a label of derision that the president now uses with pride. It took more than a year to pass, as Obama attempted to build support, and the final product produced detractors on the far left (who prefer a single-payer solution) and on the right (who object to the individual mandate).

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