News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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HHS extends deadline to announce exchange plans
Modern Healthcare

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday that states would have four more weeks to decide whether to operate their own health insurance exchanges under the healthcare reform law. In a letter to Republican Govs. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and the Republican Governors Association, Sebelius said states could express their intent at the same time they submit a blueprint for how they would operate the exchange, which they must do by Dec. 14.

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Experts urge clearer policies on compounding pharmacies
Modern Healthcare

Clearer policies and definitions are needed to address the uncertainty surrounding which regulatory body has jurisdiction over large-scale operations that compound medications, experts testified Thursday as the Senate took its turn examining the fungal meningitis outbreak that has left 32 dead.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, opened the panel’s hearing by asking how 17,000 doses of a product so contaminated that black particles were visible to the naked eye upon recall could have been sent to 23 states.

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High-tech anti-fraud system won’t be ready this year: GAO
Modern Healthcare

The centerpiece of CMS efforts to move from a pay-and-chase anti-fraud system to an advanced $90 million predictive-modeling system will be delayed for at least six months, according to congressional auditors. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office investigated the status of the CMS Fraud Prevention System after Republican senators said their questions on its implementation were ignored and found the program missed a July start date and will not begin fully operating until at least January.

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Hospitals see slowest rise in insurer revenue since 2005: S&P
Modern Healthcare

Revenue to hospitals from commercial insurers and fee-for-service Medicare during the year that ended in September grew at the slowest annual rate since January 2005, according to economic indices released by Standard & Poor’s.

Health professional revenue from fee-for-service Medicare also increased at the slowest annual rate in more than seven years, Standard & Poor’s said in a news release.

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Report: Steps can reduce preterm births — a little
San Francisco Chronicle

For all the miracle stories of tiny preemies who survive, the sad reality is that scientists know far too little about what triggers premature birth and how to prevent it. And despite some recent progress, the U.S. has a far higher rate of preterm births than other similar nations. On Thursday, an international coalition said there are a handful of proven protections — and if the U.S. and other developed countries do a better job of using them, together they could keep 58,000 babies a year from being born too soon.

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Republican Governors Balk on Obama Health Law After Romney Loss
San Francisco Chronicle

Republican governors are balking at adopting key provisions of President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul, a week after Mitt Romney’s defeat dashed their hopes of scuttling the two-year-old law. The state leaders, at a meeting of the Republican Governors Association in Las Vegas, said they’re concerned over costs and regulatory burdens the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may impose. Republicans unsuccessfully challenged the law in court and many delayed implementing it, hoping Romney — who called for the law’s repeal — would win the Nov. 6 presidential election.

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Why Can’t Healthcare Solve Its Own Problems?
Health Leaders Media

In our annual Industry Survey of healthcare leaders, a majority (59%) said too much self-interest among the different stakeholders is the reason that the healthcare industry can’t solve its own problems. Only 6% said the industry will be able to find a solution, given more time. What are the greatest opportunities and threats to improvement at the industry level and the organization level?

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For Alzheimer’s, Detection Advances Outpace Treatment Options
New York Times

When Awilda Jimenez started forgetting things last year, her husband, Edwin, felt a shiver of dread. Her mother had developed Alzheimer’s in her 50s. Could his wife, 61, have it, too? He learned there was a new brain scan to diagnose the disease and nervously agreed to get her one, secretly hoping it would lay his fears to rest. In June, his wife became what her doctor says is the first private patient in Arizona to have the test.

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More American workers to pick their insurance
Lodi News-Sentinel

For some American workers, picking the right health insurance is becoming more like hunting for the perfect business suit: It takes some shopping around to find a good fit and avoid sticker shock. In a major shift in employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, companies such as Sears Holdings Corp. and Darden Restaurants Inc. are giving employees a fixed amount of money and allowing them to choose their own coverage based on their individual needs.

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Enloe moved into new tower Thursday
Oroville Mercury-Register

The new five-story building at Enloe Medical Center went into use Thursday. New hospital entrances will open, and the Enloe staff plans to start admitting patients today in the Magnolia Tower, as the building has been named.

The tower has been ready since the end of August, but Enloe officials had to wait for final permits from the state. The last of these arrived Wednesday.

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City tax deal helps hospital expansion
The Press-Enterprise

Riverside Community Hospital will embark on what CEO Patrick Brilliant called “the largest single investment ever” in the facility, an estimated $315 million expansion, with help from a tax-sharing agreement with the city that could yield up to $4.5 million over 15 years. The expansion will fund construction of a six-story tower to house patients, a new parking garage and other improvements, as well as accreditation efforts in three specialty areas, a city report stated.

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State HIX Early Deadlines Extended
Health Leaders Media

States that plan to operate their own “state-based exchanges” for health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were supposed to tell that to the federal government Friday. The deadline, however, has been extended by a month. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a letter Thursday to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, announced that HHS has pushed until Dec. 14 what would have been the deadline for state-based exchanges to submit both the letter of declaration stating their intent and a “blueprint” detailing how they would work.

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Only 31% of California students are physically fit
Los Angeles Times

For the second year in a row, California students have tested relatively low in a series of statewide physical fitness tests, the state Department of Education announced Thursday. About 31% of students received healthy scores in all six of the tested areas, State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement.

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At Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, can you spot the missing crane?
San Francisco Business Times

One of Oakland’s biggest construction projects is missing a giant crane. Well, perhaps “missing” is the wrong word. The 259-foot Liebherr construction crane used since the summer of 2010 to help build a new inpatient tower at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center was dismantled and removed from Alta Bates Summit’s Oakland medical center last weekend.

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