News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Safety Net Hospitals Face $53.3B in Uncompensated Care Costs by 2019
Health Leaders Media

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer that lets states opt out of Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could saddle the nation’s safety net hospitals with $53.3 billion in uncompensated care costs by 2019, according to the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems.

“It’s a projection based on [Congressional Budget Office] estimates of the additional number of uninsured as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision,” Beth Feldpush, vice president, policy and advocacy, at NAPH told HealthLeaders Media.

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Healthcare Reform Then, and Now
Health Leaders Media

Longtime veterans of healthcare can easily remember a previous time of intense change in healthcare in the form of managed care in the 1990s.

“The approach was, we’ll buy them and they will become engaged, and we know how to run them because we run a big hospital,” says Brent Wallace, MD, chief medical officer at Salt Lake City–based Intermountain Healthcare.

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Spending on Medicaid Has Slowed, Survey Finds
New York Times

The annual growth in spending on Medicaid slowed sharply last year as the economy began to improve, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found. Enrollment in the program grew only modestly as well, but that may change as millions of people are due to become eligible in 2014 under the new national health care law. Medicaid provides health and long-term care coverage to more than 60 million poor people, at a combined cost to the states and federal government of more than $400 billion a year.

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Medical studies with striking results often prove false
Los Angeles Times

If a medical study seems too good to be true, it probably is, according to a new analysis.

In a statistical analysis of nearly 230,000 trials compiled from a variety of disciplines, study results that claimed a “very large effect” rarely held up when other research teams tried to replicate them, researchers reported in Wednesday’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

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1.2 million Californians lost employer health benefits since 2009
Los Angeles Times

About 1.2 million Californians lost employer health benefits during the recession while enrollment surged in government insurance programs, a new study finds.

The number of people getting health insurance at work has been steadily declining for years in the Golden State, but those losses accelerated from 2009 to 2011, when the Great Recession took a heavy toll on many businesses, according to the study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

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CalPERS seeks bids to boost HMO offerings and cut costs
Sacramento Business Journal

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, frustrated with ever-rising health care costs, is looking for a better deal from its HMO partners. The nation’s second-largest buyer of health benefits has, over the years, whittled down the number of health maintenance organization plans that serve its members to three. It offered 22 HMOs two decades ago. The goal was to develop long-term relationships with a few partners willing to work with the pension fund to improve care and cut costs.

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CalPERS seeks new HMO partners
San Francisco Business Times

Is CalPERS itching to move beyond its traditional partnership with Blue Shield of California for many of its health plans? It sure looks that way, although the giant pension system says not. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System said it is putting out requests for proposals for new partners, as it seeks to “aggressively use innovative approaches and fully explore all options for more quality affordable care.”

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Public-hospitals group warns uncompensated-care costs could rise
Modern Healthcare

U.S. hospitals could face as much as $53.3 billion in additional costs of uncompensated care by 2019 because fewer Americans will get coverage under the Medicaid expansion envisioned by the healthcare reform law, according to new findings from the nation’s safety net providers. The National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems calculated that figure using data from the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. Census Bureau and the American Hospital Association to put a dollar amount on what hospitals could expect if states choose not to expand their Medicaid programs.

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Doctors group, state watchdog reach patient care settlement deal
California Watch

The state’s managed care watchdog has reached a settlement agreement with a Los Angeles physicians group that was accused of allowing business executives to decide whether patients get requested medical care. The Department of Managed Care reached the agreement earlier this month with Accountable Health Care IPA, a firm that contracts with larger insurers such as Anthem Blue Cross and L.A. Care to manage primary care for 160,000 Los Angeles County residents.

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Children’s Hospital surgery chief named to American College of Surgeons regents board
Los Angeles Business Journal

Dr. Henri R. Ford, vice president and chief of surgery at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, has been elected to the American College of Surgeons Board of Regents. “This is a tremendous achievement by a distinguished, internationally renowned leader of our faculty and clinical staff,” Children’s President and Chief Executive Richard D. Cordova said in a statement.

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No criminal charges for Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital officials
Monterey Herald

A former Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital CEO and two current board members will not be charged with criminal financial conflicts of interest after an investigation by the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.

At an early Thursday news conference, District Attorney Dean Flippo and Chief Assistant District Attorney Terry Spitz announced neither the hospital’s previous top administrator Sam Downing nor board members Harry Wardwell and Jim Gattis will face charges related to allegations they had a financial stake in decisions they made or recommended.

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No end in sight to putting squeeze on supply costs
Modern Healthcare

An environment where hospitals are under pressure to purchase medical and surgical supplies that promise the best clinical outcomes at the lowest price is here to stay, according to comments made by group purchasing executives at an industry conference this week.

Group purchasing organizations, health systems and suppliers gathered this week in Orlando, Fla., to attend the Healthcare Supply Chain Association’s annual expo.

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Midwifery practice growing in Tahoe
Tahoe Daily Tribune

When Kathey Merten decided to have her baby at home with a midwife, she knew there would need to be a lot of trust involved. The chances of anything going wrong were slim, but if an emergency did happen, Merten would have to go to Barton Memorial Hospital and that transportation time could be deadly.

“I had to trust. It’s a whole process of being empowered with the pregnancy and it involves deep, deep trust. It seemed like an opportunity to embrace pregnancy and birth instead of being treated like a number,” Merten said.

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Four vying for two seats on Alameda Hospital board
The Mercury News

In just a couple of weeks, voters will choose among four candidates to fill two seats on the Alameda Health Care District Board, which oversees Alameda Hospital and its operations. Two incumbents — Treasurer Michael McCormick and President Jordan Battani — are running for re-election and have been challenged by newcomers Tracy Jensen, a former member of the Alameda Unified School District, and Leland Traiman, a family nurse practitioner and fertility specialist.

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VA official: Meaningful-use push for VistA EHR will benefit patients
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department will lend more than moral support to a federal effort to boost the meaningful use of health information technology by submitting its venerable VistA electronic health-record system for testing and certification for use in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive payment programs.

A health IT leader at the VA also says veterans will benefit from the move when the VistA system is not only tweaked for testing but also enhanced by what will likely be a historic breakthrough in code-sharing with a community of developers of VistA-derivative systems.

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Seven Factors Driving Up Health Care Costs
KQED Radio

There is no one villain in the battle against rising health care costs. Currently, the United States spends more on health care services than any other country, exceeding $2.6 trillion, or about 18 percent of gross domestic product. Most years, medical spending rises faster than inflation and the economy as a whole. Many factors — and nearly everyone — contributes to those increases.

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Challenging Assumptions in the Push for Better Care
New York Times

When a colleague of mine announced her retirement recently, she said she was going to miss her patients — but not the pressures of running a practice, nor the plethora of new insurance regulations and initiatives to improve the way doctors run their offices. Unlike her colleagues still practicing, she would no longer have to heed measures like Medicare’s “meaningful use” regulation, which pushes doctors to use electronic health records with a financial incentive at first, then a penalty later if they do not.

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Is the Nurse Incompetent?
The Health Care Blog

        This case is prompting a lot of comments, some of them taking issue with the concept of systemic failures and instead asserting that the young nurse was clearly incompetent, in that her error was inexplicable. So, let’s turn from a clinic in Brazil to a recent case in a hospital in the US, cited in this article on AHRQ’s Web M&M. A summary: The order was written correctly in the electronic medical record (EMR) for phenytoin, 800 mg IV. The drug-dispensing machines stocked phenytoin in 250 mg/1 mL vials.

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