News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Patient safety website features hospital case studies that improve care
Nurse.com

To showcase the efforts hospitals across California are making to improve quality patient care, the California Hospital Association updated its dedicated patient safety website, www.CaringIsOurCalling.org. “Healthcare professionals know that quality improvement is an ongoing, continuous process,” CHA President/CEO C. Duane Dauner said in a news release.

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Hospitals Seek ‘Hundreds of Millions’ From Medicare Auditors
Courthouse News Service

Federal auditors are illegally “clawing back” hundreds of millions of Medicare dollars over minor patient treatment decisions, and getting a cut based on how much they can take back, the American Hospital Association claims in court. Joining as plaintiffs with the American Hospital Association (AHA), which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals, are three individual hospitals and Trinity Health Corp., a Catholic chain that owns 35 hospitals and manages 12 more.

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Physician Pay Wars’ Winners and Losers
Health Leaders Media

Neurology groups are disappointed. Radiology specialists are upset and even angry. But family physicians and internal medicine doctors are delighted. Those were some responses hours after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Thursday issued its 1,362-page final rule of fee schedules for 57 physician and other specialty provider groups for calendar year 2013.

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Framework offered for measuring community-based wellness efforts
Modern Healthcare

An Institute of Medicine committee released a report describing a framework to estimate the value of community-based, nonclinical prevention policies and wellness strategies. The goal of the report, called An Integrated Framework for Assessing the Value of Community-Based Prevention, is to make it easier to prevent disease, increase behaviors that improve health and well-being, slow or stop the progress of disease, and decrease disparities, all at the population level, according to a summary of the report.

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Nurses picket in second day of Santa Rosa strike
San Francisco Chronicle

Nurses at Sonoma County’s Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital walked picket lines on Sunday in the second day of a planned three-day strike protesting wage offers and other issues. Most of the nearly 660 nurses represented by the Staff Nurses’ Association walked off the job early Saturday, union president Sue Gadbois said. Union representatives and hospital officials continue to disagree over a number of issues, including pay and staffing levels.

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Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital negotiates with striking nurses
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

In an incremental step toward ending a two-year labor dispute, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital officials presented three proposals Sunday to the union that represents its nurses.

The proposals address three specific areas of conflict between the hospital and the Santa Rosa-based Staff Nurses Association, including night shift pay and staffing concerns, said Sue Gadbois, association president.

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Nurses strike at Calif. hospital
Modern Healthcare

Nurses at a Sonoma County, Calif., hospital have walked off the job in a three-day strike to protest wages and other issues.

Officials with the Staff Nurses’ Association say the nurses at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital started the strike at 5 a.m. Saturday. Engineers at that hospital, as well as at Petaluma Valley Hospital also walked off their jobs.

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Nurses, other workers strike at Memorial, Petaluma hospitals
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Scores of nurses picketed in front of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital Saturday, the latest action in an ongoing labor dispute that has seen two strikes in 30 days.

This time, members of the Santa Rosa-based Staff Nurses Association, which represents about 660 Memorial Hospital nurses, were joined by burly men in baseball caps, t-shirts and jeans — members of Local 39 Stationary Engineers.

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Los Banos hospital layoff eliminates 15.5 positions
Merced Sun-Star

Michael Rooney is in the precarious position of looking for a job as he approaches 70. The room-service chef was laid off Oct. 20 and aspires for better than a restaurant job at minimum wage without benefits. “That’s OK if you’re 20-something, but I’m 68,” said the Los Banos resident. Memorial Hospital Los Banos cut 15½ full-time equivalent employees in October in a range of positions.

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Medicare home health payments to remain flat
Modern Healthcare

Home health agencies can expect Medicare payments to drop by 0.01% next year, decreasing total payments in this segment by about $10 million from 2012 payments, the CMS announced Friday. The so-called market basket—which adjusts for inflation—called for a 1.3% payment increase to home health providers next year. Then the CMS applied an updated wage index that resulted in a 0.37% decrease, as well as a 1.32% decrease in the case-mix adjustment and an update to the fixed-dollar loss ratio used in outlier payments that led to an increase of 0.38%.

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Final OPPS Rule Increases Drug Payments
Health Leaders Media

The 2013 Outpatient Prospective Payment System final rule finalizes ambulatory payment classification system changes, but hospitals will need to read the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule to find some of the biggest operational changes facing them next year.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the 2013 OPPS Final Rule on November 1.

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ObamaCare Exchange Policies May Hike Health Costs
Investor's Business Daily

A recent letter sent out by Blue Shield of California shows how ObamaCare’s promises of reducing health care costs may prove to be empty rhetoric. In 2014 people who are uninsured become eligible under ObamaCare for a taxpayer subsidy to purchase health insurance through an exchange. Anticipating an influx of new customers, Blue Shield of California is trying to encourage providers to sign up for new preferred provider organization plans that it will offer via the exchange in 2014.

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Health care consumers can challenge an insurer’s denial
Sacramento Bee

You’ve got cancer and your insurer says your chosen treatment is too experimental. Or your toddler has been diagnosed as autistic, but your insurance company says his behavioral therapy is medically unnecessary.

If an insurer denies a medical treatment or claim, you’re entitled to an independent review of that decision.

Thousands of Californians have taken advantage of those Independent Medical Reviews, or IMRs, in the last decade.

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AMA leader lauds CMS eRx program changes
Modern Physician

An American Medical Association leader had a few good things to say about a final rule the CMS issued Thursday on the Medicare fee schedule.

In a prepared statement, AMA President-elect Dr. Ardis Hoven said the association was pleased the CMS “included some of our key recommendations in the final Medicare fee schedule rule.”

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Young doctors: fewer hours means they’re less tired, less prepared
Yahoo! News

Orthopedic surgeons-in-training said they were tired less often after rules regulating how much they could work went into place, according to a U.S. survey. But the results published in the Annals of Surgery found the trainee doctors didn’t actually get any more sleep under the limited work hours policy, and also said they felt less prepared as doctors and were less satisfied with their education.

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Doctors debate value of ‘fringe’ heart treatment
The Mercury News

A heart disease treatment that many doctors consider to be fringe medicine unexpectedly showed some promise in a federal study clouded by ethical and scientific controversy, causing debate about the results. The study took 10 years, cost taxpayers $30 million, involved several doctors convicted of felonies and spurred a federal probe into patient safety. Even the lead researchers say the treatment cannot be recommended without further research.

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Providers air concerns about device-ID rule
Modern Healthcare

As the comment period closes on long-awaited regulations to implement an identification system for most medical devices, some providers are voicing concerns. Sixty individuals and organizations have submitted perspectives on the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed unique device identifier rule during a comment period that ends Nov. 7. They included several providers and their advocacy groups, which pushed for various changes in final rules expected next year.

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Healthcare Law on the Ballot
The Health Care Blog

Ezra Klein is right. In a recent Washington Post column, the left-leaning policy wonk laid plain that the future of ObamaCare is at stake in next week’s elections. If President Obama wins and Democrats hold the Senate, the Affordable Care Act will survive. If Mitt Romney wins and Republicans take the Senate, the law is dead. It is the starkest of differences. How likely is each scenario? At this moment Democrats have the advantage.

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