News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Q&A: Kaiser Permanente’s Next CEO Talks Strategy
Health Leaders Media

  Bernard J. Tyson   , a Kaiser Permanente employee and leader for 28 years and its chief operating officer and president for the last two, will take over from retiring chairman and CEO George Halvorson in a series of steps over the next six months. Halvorson announced in October that he would step down in December of 2013. A resident of Oakland, Tyson, 53, has served as the executive vice president of Kaiser’s health plan and hospital operations, and has been senior vice president and COO for Kaiser operations in eight states outside California.

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Accountable care organizations should target specific patient populations, analysts say
Modern Healthcare

Accountable care organizations need to target specific patient populations, and policymakers should periodically re-evaluate the promise of the ACO model to help avoid the failures of earlier integrated delivery networks, according to a new opinion piece published in the journal Health Affairs.

In their analysis, Lawton Burns, chairman of the healthcare management department at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and Wharton professor Mark Pauly note that healthcare providers in the 1990s developed networks—such as the Piedmont Health Alliance and Spectra Health System—that connected hospitals, physicians and alternate care sites in a way that is similar to how ACOs are designed today.

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Health Net posts plunge in profit, strikes deal with California
Los Angeles Times

Woodland Hills insurer Health Net Inc. said third-quarter net income plunged 71%, but its shares rose as the company resolved a dispute with California officials over reimbursement for government health programs.

Health Net disappointed investors in August when it slashed its full-year profit outlook and reported higher-than-expected medical costs. On Monday, Chief Executive Jay Gellert said the company was making progress on its turnaround plans.

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The Future of Health Reform May Turn on Senate Races
The Health Care Blog

While all eyes focused on the presidential race, the ultimate fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could depend on the Senate contests in the states. Even if Mitt Romney were elected, he alone could not overturn major provisions of healthcare reform. Only Congress can pass the legislation needed to change the ACA. Republicans are expected to maintain control of the House, but if Democrats hold the Senate, they will be able to block House bills aimed at eviscerating “Obamacare.”

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Protect yourself from medical identity theft
Los Angeles Times

An identity thief who gains access to your credit card or bank account could harm you financially, but one who steals your medical information could also endanger your health. Here are key things to know about medical identity theft:

• When an impostor uses your identity to get hospital care, order prescription drugs or submit fraudulent insurance claims, false information may end up in your medical record.

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For some doctors, electronic records aren’t a miracle cure
Washington Post

Washington orthopedic surgeon Vincent Desiderio doesn’t mind flipping through folders. His Spring Valley office has seven filing cabinets full of patient charts, some as thick as two inches. Despite feeling the federal government’s push to move to electronic medical records, Desiderio, who has been in practice for more than 30 years, likes his paper file system and may retire before he’s convinced to switch.

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Prostate Patients Suffer as Money Overwhelms Optimal Therapy
San Francisco Chronicle

When Max Calderon learned he had prostate cancer in 2010, his urologist recommended radiation therapy at a clinic in Salinas, California. Calderon had just turned 77 and wasn’t an ideal candidate for the treatment, according to national guidelines established by 21 U.S. cancer-research centers. Lab tests showed a high probability his cancer had spread, and his advanced age pointed to the use of other therapies.

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El Centro Regional Medical Center’s finances are strong
Imperial Valley News

El Centro Regional Medical Center’s total assets increased by $16 million during fiscal 2011-2012 while operating revenues increased $17.7 million during the same period, a recent audit shows.

The audit, which may be approved by the El Centro City Council through its consent agenda tonight, also notes the city’s hospital operating expenses increased by $11.2 million, or 10.2 percent.

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Anthem clerical error adds anxiety to woman’s breast cancer fight
Los Angeles Times

Ann Walton-Teter was diagnosed with breast cancer in September. About a month later, she was informed by her health insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, that her coverage had been canceled because of a missed payment.

Anthem would eventually admit that it was mistaken. But Walton-Teter, 43, had to battle the insurance giant to have her coverage restored just as she was recovering from a double mastectomy and preparing for chemotherapy.

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LAUSD and mental health partners get grant for trauma work
Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Unified School District’s mental health department, along with a group of partners, recently landed a $2.4-million grant to work with students exposed to traumatic events.

The grant is the latest in an ongoing partnership among the district, UCLA, USC, the Rand Corp. and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, a group of trauma centers funded within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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New doctors provide costlier care: study
Modern Physician

The less experience a physician has, the more costly the care he or she provides, according to a study published in the November issue of Health Affairs.

The study’s authors, looking at insurance claims within the Massachusetts Health Quality Partners consortium, found a strong association between a physician’s experience and costs and just a weak association between volume and costs. No other associations were found for other characteristics studied, including malpractice claims, board certification status and group practice size.

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Study: Many small biz owners don’t understand health insurance requirements
Sacramento Business Journal

More than two-thirds of small businesses aren’t sure or think incorrectly they must provide health insurance to employees in 2014 or pay a fine, a new study shows. Even more — 78 percent — said they were not familiar with health insurance exchanges and how they may impact their business, despite subsidies and tax credits offered by the Affordable Care Act.

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Affordable Care Act prompts questions about health insurance coverage
Washington Post

This week, I am answering questions from readers about provisions in the Affordable Care Act related to drugs and medical-care coverage under Medicare and high-risk insurance plans.

Q. I have a friend who is due to have a knee replacement soon. Her doctor told her it is good she is doing it now because she is over 70. “Obamacare” won’t pay for surgery for people after 70. Is this true?

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Bernard Tyson to succeed George Halvorson as Kaiser Permanente CEO
San Francisco Business Times

Consummate insider Bernard Tyson, Kaiser Permanente’s president and COO, has been named to succeed George Halvorson as chairman and CEO of the 9 million-enrollee Oakland health care giant. He will take the reins as CEO in May, officials said Nov. 5, and become chairman in December 2013, after Halvorson steps down from that post. Tyson, 53, has been with Kaiser for 28 years.

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