News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Healthcare adds 30,500 jobs in October
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare added 30,500 jobs in October as the overall U.S. economy gained 171,000 new jobs, according to preliminary figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. unemployment rate last month was 7.9% compared with 7.8% in September. Healthcare employment totaled 14.45 million as of October. For the year ended in October, healthcare hiring increased by 296,300, or 2.1%. Last month’s healthcare hiring was above the monthly average for the prior 12 months of 24,700 new jobs.

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CMS details Medicaid primary-care payments boost
Modern Healthcare

The rule, which implements a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, details the extent and target of the increase, which takes effect in January and lasts through 2014. The provision is designed to match Medicare rates, but the rule specifically covers only the difference between the Medicare rate and states’ Medicaid rates as of July 1, 2009. The additional federal funding may not be enough to increase the rate to Medicare levels because some states have enacted Medicare provider rate cuts since mid-2009.

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Fewer than 50% of small business employees offered health benefits
Los Angeles Times

A new study finds that 49% of U.S. workers in small businesses were offered health insurance in 2010, down from 58% in 2003.

Firms with 100 or more employees were far more likely to provide health benefits, at 90% in both 2003 and 2010, according to the report from the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that does healthcare research.

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Health plans line up for spot in Exchange
Sacramento Business Journal

Health plans, eager to be part of a huge emerging insurance marketplace in California, are vying for a spot in the Health Benefit Exchange. A total of 33 health insurers responded to a nonbinding request for expressions of interest in the insurance program, which is set to launch in 2014 under federal health reform. Combined, the plans offered more than 400 different products.

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Rule hikes payment rates for outpatient, ASC services
Modern Healthcare

The CMS has issued a final payment rule for hospital outpatient and ambulatory surgery center services, upping hospital payment rates by 1.8% and increasing payments to ASCs by 0.6% in the upcoming year.

The agency estimated that payments for hospitals under the Outpatient Prospective Payment System will total roughly $48.1 billion in 2013. Payments to ambulatory surgery centers will be approximately $4.07 billion, according to the CMS.

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Local hospitals hit with readmission penalties
North County Times

Under penalties mandated by the recent federal health care law, eight local hospitals are getting lower Medicare payments for having higher-than-expected readmission rates.

The Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a list of penalized hospital in late September that showed reductions in Medicare reimbursements for half of the 16 hospitals in San Diego County.

Nationwide, 2,217 hospitals, or 63.4 percent, received penalties for having too many readmissions.

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Retail clinics may cut into primary care: study
Yahoo! News

The health clinics in U.S. pharmacies and other retail stores may be convenient, but they may also take a bite out of the traditional doctor-patient relationship, according to a U.S. study. Retail health clinics operate mainly out of chain pharmacies, but they’re also in some grocery stores and “big box” stores like Wal-mart. They now number more than 1,300 nationwide, according to the non-profit RAND Institute – and among people with private health insurance, their use rose 10-fold between 2007 and 2009.

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Dialing Up Physician Networks
Health Leaders Media

Fiscal changes in healthcare delivery over the years have driven a continuous evolution of physician-hospital relationships. Physicians have joined groups, left groups, and become independent again, spurred by alterations in payment models and competition.

As the nation moves from pay-for-performance to value-based care, there has been a rush of independent physician practices joining larger groups and hospital systems for security and reimbursement.

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Medicare settlement would expand at-home care
Visialia Times-Delta

A proposed Medicare settlement that allows more patients to receive home health care services could cost the government more initially, but several experts say it could save money in the long term.

“My view is that if we build care coordination into the system, we’d save money,” said Kenneth Thorpe, chairman in the department of Health Policy and Management at Emory University.

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