News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Pressure now on White House to offer more healthcare reform-law guidance
Modern Healthcare

While President Barack Obama’s victory Tuesday night ensured the continued implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it also added pressure on the administration to offer healthcare interest groups more clarity on several provisions of the landmark 2010 law.

Ilisa Halpern Paul, managing government relations director at Drinker Biddle & Reath in Washington, said she thinks the U.S. healthcare industry can expect the Obama administration to release a wave of policies and regulations quickly, especially as states have just until the end of next week to decide if they will establish a health insurance exchange.

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San Leandro commits $3 million to keep hospital open
The Mercury News

The City Council on Monday committed $3 million over the next three years to help keep San Leandro Hospital and its emergency room open. Alameda County Medical Center asked for the money as part of a package it is putting together to keep the hospital open. The medical center would own and operate the hospital, maintaining it as an acute care hospital with an emergency room for the next three years.

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UC Davis offers guide to health information exchange standards
Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Health System has released the first edition of its free buyers’ guide to health information exchange. Prepared by the health system’s Institute for Population Health and Improvement, the guide identifies the basic features and standards that should be in place to facilitate the exchange of health care information statewide. The goal is to help doctors, hospitals and other health care providers make informed choices when discussing health information with electronic medical record vendors and others.

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Top 10 Healthcare IT Hazards
Health Leaders Media

Healthcare leaders should be on special alert for three serious hazards that increasingly threaten both patients and providers with harm, says the ECRI Institute’s Top 10 Health Technology Hazards report for 2013.

The three hazards involve electronic health records, health information technology systems, and cell phones and other mobile devices, which can distract healthcare providers from the focus they need for tasks at hand many times an hour.

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Obama win seen as victory for healthcare reform
Modern Healthcare

President Barack Obama’s victory serves as a vindication for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, industry experts said soon after the president won re-election Tuesday.

The election also produced a Congress that will continue the existing split in control between the two parties. Democrats were projected by the Associated Press to maintain their Senate majority and the Republicans to maintain control of the House of Representatives.

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Obama win clears healthcare reform hurdle, challenges remain
Yahoo! News

President Barack Obama’s re-election victory eliminates the possibility of a wholesale repeal for his healthcare reform law, but still leaves questions about how much of his signature domestic policy achievement will be implemented as the national political focus shifts to the debt and deficit. The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which represents the biggest overhaul of the $2.8 trillion U.S. healthcare system since the 1960s, aims to extend health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans beginning in January 2014.

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Two incumbents, two challengers win Tri-City seats
North County Times

Two incumbents and two challengers secured seats on the Tri-City Healthcare District’s board of directors, based on unofficial election returns Wednesday morning.

Incumbent Director Charlene Anderson and board chairwoman Rose Marie Reno were re-elected. With 100 percent of precincts counted, Anderson was the top vote-getter, with 16.8 percent of the vote. Reno had 13.7 percent.

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Hospital stocks rise; insurers take hit
Modern Healthcare

Hospital stocks reacted with optimism to the news that President Barack Obama had won a second term—as the fate of the healthcare reform law becomes even more certain.

Companies like HCA, Nashville; Community Health Systems, Brentwood, Tenn.; and Tenet Healthcare Corp., Dallas opened Wednesday with clear gains even as the broader market showed less ebullience.

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CMS: $7.7 billion in EHR payments through September
Modern Healthcare

More than 300,000 physicians and other eligible professionals have signed up to participate in the federal electronic health-record system incentive payment programs, while more than 4,000 hospitals have enrolled in the Medicare EHR incentive program, the Medicaid incentive program or both, according to the latest CMS data.

In total, $7.7 billion has been paid out in what has been estimated will be $27 billion in incentive payments through the lives of the two programs.

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WellPoint 3Q profit up, stock down after election
The Mercury News

WellPoint Inc.’s third-quarter earnings trumped Wall Street expectations, but the health insurer’s stock tumbled in premarket trading Wednesday and after President Barack Obama won re-election, a victory that helps cement the future of his health care overhaul. The overhaul aims to cover millions of uninsured people starting mostly in 2014, which means more business for insurers.

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Avitia winning by four votes in Tulare hospital race
Visialia Times-Delta

Rosalinda Avitia is ahead of Laura Gadke by four votes in a very close race for Zone 2 of the Tulare Local HealthCare District Board of Directors. Avitia has 708 votes and Gadke has 704, according to election night final results from the Tulare County Elections office with all seven precincts reporting.  Gadke said campaigning was a lot of fun.  “I haven’t enjoyed anything so much since I quit square dancing,” she said.

Her main concerns in the hospital district are the quality of health care at Tulare Regional Medical Center and finishing the new tower.

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Measure to limit El Camino Hospital executive pay enjoys slim lead
The Mercury News

A union-backed measure to limit the compensation of El Camino Hospital’s top brass was passing by the slimmest of margins Tuesday night, according to early election returns. With 43 of 108 precincts reporting, Measure M had collected 51.28 percent of the vote. It needs a simple majority to pass. “It’s very close,” John Zoglin, chairman of the El Camino Hospital Board of Directors, told The Daily News. “Only 29 precincts are reporting. We’re continuing to pull for its defeat.”

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Medical board steps up investigations of fake doctors
California Watch

The state medical board has investigated a mounting number people posing as doctors and offering risky treatments, including a San Francisco man who performed liposuction while smoking a cigar and a San Diego woman who sickened a patient with lengthy IV infusion treatments.

The Medical Board of California reported that its unit that investigates lay people posing as medical professionals, called Operation Safe Medicine, sent 61 cases to prosecutors for review for the fiscal year ending in June, up from 31 cases the year before.

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Physician Self-Referrals for Imaging Cost Medicare $109M in 2010
Health Leaders Media

A federal study estimates that financial incentives tied to physicians’ self-referrals for advanced imaging services cost Medicare an additional $109 million in 2010. The Government Accountability Office report, Higher Use of Advanced Imaging Services by Providers Who Self-Refer Costing Medicare Millions, examined MRI and CT services from 2004–2010. It found that the use of MRI services increased by more than 80% when physicians self-referred compared to a 12% increase for non-self-referred MRIs.

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Study: Looking old may be a sign of heart risks
Sacramento Bee

Want a clue to your risk of heart disease? Look in the mirror. People who look old – with receding hairlines, bald heads, creases near their ear lobes or bumpy deposits on their eyelids – have a greater chance of developing of heart disease than younger-looking people the same age do, new research suggests.

Doctors say the study highlights the difference between biological and chronological age.

“Looking old for your age marks poor cardiovascular health,” said Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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Study: Stem cells from strangers can repair hearts
Modern Healthcare

Researchers are reporting a key advance in using stem cells to repair hearts damaged by heart attacks. In a study, stem cells donated by strangers proved as safe and effective as patients’ own cells for helping restore heart tissue. The work involved just 30 patients in Miami and Baltimore, but it proves the concept that anyone’s cells can be used to treat such cases. Doctors are excited because this suggests that stem cells could be banked for off-the-shelf use after heart attacks, just as blood is kept on hand now.

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Health Care Stakes are High in California
KQED Radio

If Caroline Cunningham wakes up in her Studio City home on Wednesday morning to a President-elect Mitt Romney, she knows the first thing she will do. “I have to rush and get back surgery,” she says. Cunningham, a 62-year-old mental health therapist with spinal stenosis, has health insurance coverage through a temporary program established for people with pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act.

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