News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Obama’s health-care law still faces challenges after president’s reelection
Washington Post

President Obama’s victory eliminated the last serious threat to the existence of his health-care law, but it didn’t remove an array of challenges that will ultimately determine whether the 2010 statute is a policy triumph or a disappointing muddle. Among the tasks Obama officials still face: protecting the law from budget cuts Republicans are sure to demand during upcoming negotiations, wrangling wary governors into going along with the law’s expansion of Medicaid, and ensuring that the private insurance markets, or “exchanges,” at the heart of the law can be rolled out by the law’s 2014 deadline.

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With Obama Re-Elected, States Scramble Over Health Law
New York Times

After nearly three years of legal and political threats that kept President Obama’s health care law in a constant state of uncertainty, his re-election on Tuesday all but guarantees that the historic legislation will survive. Now comes another big hurdle: making it work. The election came just 10 days before a critical deadline for states in carrying out the law, and many that were waiting for the outcome must now hustle to comply. Such efforts will coincide with epic negotiations between Mr. Obama and Congress over federal spending and taxes, where the administration will inevitably face pressure to scale back some of the costliest provisions of the law.

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Coalition pushes new proposal to avoid Medicare, Medicaid cuts
Los Angeles Times

With President Obama and congressional Republicans turning to address the looming budget crisis, a coalition of consumer groups, labor unions and major employers is pushing new approaches to control federal health spending without cutting benefits for seniors and others who rely on Medicare and Medicaid. The plan, released Thursday by the National Coalition on Health Care, includes several potentially controversial proposals such as a new penny-per-ounce federal tax on sweetened beverages and tougher penalties on under-performing hospitals.

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CBO outlines impact of keeping current doc-pay rates
Modern Healthcare

Maintaining the Medicare program’s current payment rates to physicians and eliminating the expected automatic cuts to nondefense spending early next year would increase federal spending by about $40 billion in 2013 and by $61 billion the following year, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected Thursday. As lawmakers prepare for intense deficit-reduction negotiations in Washington, the CBO released an analysis that details the consequences of not addressing the fiscal cliff, which describes a series of looming tax increases and spending cuts designed to reduce the nation’s federal budget deficit.

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10 health care reforms on track for 2013 after Obama election win
Monterey Herald

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — dubbed in the political arena as “Obamacare” — will go into effect over several years. With the race for the White House decided, stakeholders in health care reform can expect the implementation schedule to remain intact. Here are 10 elements of the law that launch in 2013. 1. Federal subsidies begin phasing in for brand-name prescriptions filled in the Medicare Part D coverage gap to reduce out of pocket costs for beneficiaries. Coinsurance will drop from the 2010 level of 100 percent of costs to co-payments of 25 percent in 2020.

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Modern Healthcare survey finds deep anger over ACA
Modern Healthcare

A Modern Healthcare Internet survey conducted after this week’s presidential election tapped a deep vein of anger over the effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with a large group of respondents saying they had waited to see Tuesday’s outcome before fully embracing the law.

Of the 829 people who responded to the survey, 67% said the reform law would have a negative impact on the bottom lines of their healthcare business. Only 33% said the law would have a positive impact.

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Election alters House plans for reform repeal: Boehner
Modern Healthcare

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday’s presidential election alters the lower chamber’s plans to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“I think the election changes that,” Boehner told Diane Sawyer on Thursday in an exclusive interview on ABC’s World News Tonight. “It’s pretty clear the president was re-elected. Obamacare is the law of the land.”

But the Ohio Republican hinted that some provisions of the controversial 2010 healthcare law are still vulnerable on Capitol Hill.

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Hospital guidelines not linked to readmissions: study
Yahoo! News

Procedural guidelines designed to ensure patients get quality care while in the hospital are also thought to reduce the chances a patient will need to be readmitted down the line, but a new study suggests there’s little connection between the two. “The idea was, increasing the quality of care provided by these hospitals would improve the outcomes,” said the report’s lead author Dr. Michaela S. Stefan, an academic hospitalist at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass.

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Hospital Fees Questioned
Alameda Sun

Alameda Hospital has received complaints in the past about the quality of care to the services they provide, but an Alameda resident has questioned whether the hospital should reduce costs for property taxpayers.

On April 9, 2002, Alameda voters approved the formation of the city of Alameda Health Care District. The district is responsible for the everyday operations of the hospital.

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In Calif. district, hospital execs may face salary cap
Modern Healthcare

Voters in El Camino Hospital District likely have approved a limitation on El Camino Hospital executive salaries to twice the governor’s salary of $165,000.

Though as of today the entire county had yet to count 180,000 mail-in ballots, results for the district, which covers part of the county, showed that 25,509, or 51.9%, of voters approved the imposition of the limitation.

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Union official: Measure M was a bargaining chip in El Camino Hospital labor talks
The Mercury News

A union steward admitted Wednesday that a successful ballot measure to limit the pay of El Camino Hospital’s top brass was only intended to influence the outcome of labor contract talks. However, the Mountain View-based health care provider should consider the will of the voters before issuing any kind of legal challenge, psychiatric technician Kary Lynch told The Daily News. “Truthfully, the measure was initially proposed as a bargaining chip in the negotiating process,” Lynch said.

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San Francisco plans to provide transgender surgeries for uninsured residents
The Mercury News

San Francisco is preparing to become the first U.S. city to provide and cover the cost of sex reassignment surgeries for uninsured transgender residents. The city’s Health Commission voted Tuesday to create a comprehensive program for treating transgender people experiencing mental distress because of the mismatch between their bodies and their gender identities.

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Medicare open enrollment in progress
Red Bluff Daily News

Passages wants to remind Medicare beneficiaries that open enrollment to change or enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan known as Part D began Oct. 15 and will end Dec. 7.

During this open enrollment, people will also be able to make changes to their health care coverage, such as enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan.

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Monterey County to start low-income health plan
Monterey Herald

County health officials have been directed to proceed with plans to implement a pilot low-income health program, including changes aimed at protecting state funding the county relies on to provide health care to the poor.

County spokeswoman Maia Carroll said the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday told county Director of Health Ray Bullick and Natividad Medical Center CEO Harry Weis to go ahead with implementation of the Via Care program, designed to offer temporary health care coverage for up to 1,500 low-income, childless adults at or below the federal poverty level.

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Cathedral Hill hospital project hangs in the balance
San Francisco Business Times

Just as post-election Washington, D.C., is beginning to exit campaign mode and focus on scary realities like sequestration and fiscal cliff hanging, the status of California Pacific Medical Center’s proposed $2 billion new Cathedral Hill campus in San Francisco may be about to emerge from the shadows. There are reasons to believe that Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, CPMC head honcho Warren Browner, M.D., and others will try to end years of fruitless wrangling and find a way to get construction back on track.

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