News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California officials to review licensing for HealthCare Partners
Los Angeles Times

Following a patient lawsuit filed last month, California officials say they are reviewing whether HealthCare Partners and its medical groups are in compliance with state law.

The California Department of Managed Health Care said Monday that it is “reviewing the allegations that HealthCare Partners is operating as a health plan without a license.”

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Betting on Value-Based Care
Health Leaders Media

Where are you placing your bets in the new reimbursement game? As the shift to value-based purchasing of healthcare services nears, in fits and starts and at different speeds in different areas, leaders of hospitals, health systems, and physician practices know they need to rethink quality, safety, and reimbursement.

Given the uncertainty of an array of carrot-and-stick incentives from federal and state payers, coupled with the vagaries of the regional or local commercial insurance and employer market, it’s little wonder that healthcare leaders are discussing their options in the language of gambling.

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‘Drastic’ variations in care found at top academic medical centers
Modern Healthcare

Patterns of care vary widely among 23 top U.S. academic medical centers, according to a report from the Dartmouth Atlas Project. The report’s authors suggest that these variations may be something medical students want to consider when choosing an institution for residency training. Noting that all the institutions studied are affiliated with medical schools and “should be exemplars of evidence-based medicine,” the report found significant variations in intensity of end-of-life care, surgical procedure rates, patient-reported experience, patient safety and quality of care.

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Local clinics brace for more patients as healthcare reform takes effect
Los Angeles Times

Theresa Day, 50, had been waiting two hours for her appointment at the To Help Everyone Clinic, a community fixture at 38th Street and Western Avenue for more than 30 years. A bus driver who lost her job and insurance, she tapped her finger on the chair and flipped through a novel. More than once, she walked down the hall to ask how much longer she would have to wait. “This is awful,” said Day, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and used to go to Kaiser. She says she never thought “in a million years” that she would need to come to a clinic for medical care.

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Flu vaccine may protect your heart
KFMB TV

Getting a flu shot may help people stay healthy in more than the obvious way, new research suggests.

“The shot doesn’t just protect you against flu, it protects you from heart attacks,” said Dr. Jacob Udell, a cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital and the University of Toronto.

In his research, Udell found that those who got a flu shot reduced their risk of heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular problems by nearly half during a one-year follow-up period.

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Medical tourism doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the country to get treatment
Washington Post

I assumed that palm trees or streets teeming with foreign humanity were in my future as I began a quest to find a hip replacement at a price I could afford.

Because my severe osteoarthritis was deemed a preexisting condition, my insurance carrier would not pay for the surgery, so money was definitely an object. Yet, after exploring so-called medical tourism options in Thailand, India, Hungary and Dubai, I settled on nothing so exotic. With rates that rival overseas alternatives, Oklahoma City beckoned me. It seems it has become a medical tourism hot spot.

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Drug prices stable for Medicare patients, report shows
Visialia Times-Delta

Prescription drug prices did not increase for other Medicare consumers after pharmaceutical companies gave the government discounts to help seniors deal with a gap in benefits known as the “doughnut hole,” a new report shows.

The Government Accountability Office, the non-partisan watchdog arm of Congress, found that prices for brand-name drugs used by Medicare beneficiaries increased at a similar rate before and after the government required discounts in January 2011.

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Cancer docs often delay referrals to hospice care
Yahoo! News

Cancer doctors often refer their patients to palliative care very late in the course of disease, according to a new survey from Canada. About a third of oncologists said they refer patients to palliative care, or hospice, when they diagnose a cancer that has spread and therefore usually is incurable. Another third, however, said they wait until chemotherapy has been stopped, which is often just a few months or even weeks away from death.

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Physicians group pushes performance measures to combat healthcare misuse
Modern Healthcare

The American College of Physicians is pushing for greater use of performance measures targeting overuse and misuse of healthcare services. In a 19-page position paper released Monday, the group argues that measures that gauge the use of “low-value services,” such as imaging for low back pain or nonindicated cancer screenings, can raise awareness about healthcare misuse and change clinician behavior.

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Advanced lung cancer patients likely to misunderstand treatment
Los Angeles Times

Patients diagnosed with lung cancer that is considered incurable appear to misunderstand the purpose and likely effect of a treatment aimed at making them more comfortable, a new study says. The result may not only be a failure of communication between physicians and their patients: The misunderstanding also may prompt some lung cancer patients and their families to choose aggressive treatments near the end of life rather than opt for care that makes their final days more comfortable.

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Blue Shield of California to give back $50 Million to clients
Examiner

Blue Shield of California is testing the Biblical addage “It is more blessed to give than to receive”* by giving back $50 Million dollars to their clients. The major announcement is to be made to the public early tomorrow, Tuesday October 30, 2012.

In an email sent to Blue Shield of California agents today, the $50 Million pledge will be returned as part of dues/premium credits – “a tangible illustration of how we are working to make coverage more affordable.”

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Cost of Obama’s health care bullying
San Francisco Chronicle

If Barack Obama loses his bid for re-election, the main reason can be traced to one period of time and one choice. In late 2009, both the Democratic House and Senate had passed health reform legislation and were proceeding with reconciliation talks. But in January 2010, Democrats lost Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat – as well as their filibuster-proof Senate majority – in a protest against Obamacare. It was a remarkable revolt, in the bluest of states.

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