News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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AHRQ wants to study health IT’s impact on work flow
Modern Healthcare

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality wants to find out how implementing health information technology affects the workflow of practitioners in select small primary care clinics. The goal of AHRQ’s proposed study, as described in a notice to be published in Wednesday’s Federal Register, is “to understand the impact of implementing health IT-enabled care coordination on workflow within small community-based primary-care clinics in various stages of practice redesign.”

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Nurses will strike at seven East Bay hospitals affiliated with Sutter Health on Thursday
The Mercury News

Mention nurses in the Bay Area these days and two images come to mind: a caring, nurturing professional at a patient’s bedside, and a perturbed, bullhorn carrying protester walking a picket line. By one estimate, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United has called more than 70 strikes at the state’s hospitals in the past two years. Its members will walk off the job again Thursday, waging a one-day strike against seven East Bay hospitals affiliated with Sutter Health as part of an 18-month-long attempt to negotiate a new contract.

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Health insurers line up to compete in California’s exchange
Los Angeles Times

California’s health insurance exchange said more than 30 plans are expected to vie with one another for spots in the state-run marketplace opening next fall.

State officials, and those in other states, are eager to flex their purchasing power under the federal healthcare law by selecting only certain individual and small-business health plans for 19 different regions across California.

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Recovery Auditor Reform Bill Calls for Financial Penalties
Health Leaders Media

Proposed legislation before Congress aims to improve the performance of Medicare audit programs and calls for financial penalties for certain compliance failures. The bill also contains a number of significant potential reforms. Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) introduced the Medicare Audit Improvement Act of 2012 (H.R. 6575) October 16.

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Blue Shield of California will return $50 million to customers
Los Angeles Times

Health insurer Blue Shield of California said it would return $50 million to customers by year-end as part of its pledge to limit its annual profit to 2% of revenue.

The San Francisco company said most customers would receive credit on their December bills. It said the average credit would be about $25 for an individual customer and roughly $75 for a family of four, depending on their premiums.

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Ex-Wellpoint CEO gives $25 million to USC health policy program
Los Angeles Business Journal

The University of Southern California has received a $25 million donation from Leonard Schaeffer, former chief executive of health insurance company WellPoint Inc. The money will be used to endow and support the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, which was established in 2009 with a gift from Schaeffer and his wife, Pamela.

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Prof. gives $25 million for center
Daily Trojan

USC President C. L. Max Nikias announced Tuesday a $25 million gift from Leonard D. Schaeffer, USC professor and a Judge Robert Maclay Widney Chair. The endowment is expected to benefit the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.

The USC Schaeffer Center was established in 2009 with a gift from Schaeffer and his wife, Pamela. Both the USC Price School of Public Policy and the USC School of Pharmacy dually house the Schaeffer Center, uniting the two schools into a single organization that focuses on solving health care issues.

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NCQA: Health Plan Quality of Care is Improving
Health Leaders Media

In almost all areas measured, the quality of care provided by commercial and Medicare health plans is showing dramatic improvement, a trend that years from now will translate to better health for some 125 million Americans enrolled, according to the 2012 edition of the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s annual report, “The State of Health Care Quality.” “One of our core beliefs, borne out of experience, is that what gets measured gets improved,” said NCQA president Margaret O’Kane during a briefing Tuesday on the 230-page document.

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Salinas workshop shows students medical jobs they may not have considered
Monterey Herald

Growing up surrounded by chickens, rabbits, hamsters, dogs and cats, 16-year-old Gladys Chavez hoped to one day become a veterinarian technician or follow another career along those lines.

Doubts began chipping away at her resolve Tuesday when she attended “Women in Health Care,” a joint presentation of The Lyceum of Monterey County and the careers program of the Salinas Union High School District.

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Cultural differences can prove deadly with breast cancer
The Desert Sun

Ana Gutierrez, 46, absentmindedly runs her hand across her chest as she sits in the living room of her Cathedral City home.

In 2011, Gutierrez underwent a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation treatments to fight breast cancer.

“I never thought I would get cancer,” Gutierrez said in Spanish. “Latina women have low breast cancer numbers, so I didn’t think I needed to worry. But I was wrong.”

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HHS backs flat-rate payment arrangements
Modern Healthcare

In a favorable advisory opinion, HHS‘ inspector general’s office has blessed a tricky type of compensation arrangement that is becoming more popular among hospitals: paying specialty physicians flat rates to cover on-call shifts in emergency departments.

More hospitals have begun paying specialists such as cardiologists, neurosurgeons and urologists flat, “per diem” rates for on-call emergency-room services above what the doctors receive from insurers for providing the care because the jobs can be tough for some hospitals to fill without paying extra.

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Medical data breaches spur lawsuits
North Bay Business Journal

As the health care sector moves toward wide-scale adoption of electronic medical records, the potential for personal-data breaches has significantly increased, creating a precarious legal environment for health plans and providers while class-action firms are carving out a lucrative niche in California.

In the past 18 months, health systems such as Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente, Stanford Hospitals and Clinics, Health Net and numerous others have experienced data breaches, including St.

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Study: Obesity doubles risk of gestational diabetes
Orange County Register

Pregnant women in Orange County who are overweight before conceiving are twice as likely to develop gestational diabetes as women of a healthy weight, according to a new study by the county’s Health Care Agency. In 2010, 7 percent of local women developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy. The condition increases the risk of a woman developing hypertension and of delivering a large baby. Gestational diabetes also brings a greater likelihood of a Caesarean birth and that mother and child will develop diabetes in the future.

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Universal Healthcare Will Be Ratified with the Potential Re-Election of Obama
The Desert Sun

Although the battle to rein in Affordable Healthcare (Obamacare) seems to have been lost, with Chief Justice John Roberts lining up with four liberal fellow justices verifying that paramount Obama initiatives should become the law of the land, the superior American healthcare system, the envy of the developed world, is on the verge of joining its European and Canadian brethren in withering mediocritization of healthcare. Foreigners who could afford it came from all over the world to take advantage of our world-class healthcare.

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Blog: Piecing together a story from EHR implementation data
Modern Healthcare

The great thing about data is if you play with it, it tells you stories.

Then the question is, are the stories true?

We know from several empirical studies that a digital divide exists between large and urban healthcare providers on one hand and small and rural providers on the other.

What we don’t know quite yet—empirically—is whether the federal electronic health-record system incentive payment program has begun to bridge that divide. My somewhat educated guess would be, yes, but that’s not good enough.

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