News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Include Medicare, Medicaid cuts in deficit deal: Durbin
Modern Healthcare

Medicare and Medicaid cuts should be included in a grand bargain that cuts future federal deficits by $4 trillion over the next 10 years, Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in an address to a liberal advocacy group.

The second highest ranking Democrat in the Senate and a leading congressional liberal, Durbin specifically supported several cost-saving measures, including cuts to allowable state provider taxes and cutting reimbursements for dual-eligible beneficiaries to Medicaid levels.

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L.A. County faces major shake-up under health care reform
Los Angeles Daily News

Los Angeles County’s health system faces millions in lost funds and closures of hospitals or clinics if large scale changes to implement the Affordable Care Act are not made in the next year, or in some cases within three months, according to a report expected to be presented to the county Board of Supervisors next week. Under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the county’s health system will no longer receive federal money through the Disproportionate Share Hospital fund.

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Anthem Blue Cross seeks to raise individual policyholders’ rates
Los Angeles Times

California’s largest for-profit health insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, is seeking to raise rates an average of 18% for more than 630,000 individual policyholders, drawing scrutiny from regulators and the ire of consumers already struggling with soaring premiums.

Some Anthem customers may see rates rise as much as 25% in February under the company’s proposal at a time when medical inflation is running at historic lows nationwide.

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Calif. system seeks to launch health plan
Modern Healthcare

MemorialCare Health System, Fountain Valley, Calif., is planning to launch its own health plan following the acquisition of certain assets of Universal Care, Long Beach, Calif. The six-hospital system, which serves Southern California, said in a news release that it has filed an application with the state’s Department of Managed Care to license its newly formed Seaside Health Plan. The plan will support Medi-Cal beneficiaries and participate in the California Children’s Services demonstration project that focuses on pediatric patients with ongoing medical conditions.

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Leapfrog sees hospital safety gains as too slow
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals showed improvement in safety grades produced by the Leapfrog Group, but officials for the employer-backed organization say the uptick in grades should be better. Of 2,618 hospitals assigned a grade by Leapfrog, 790 received an “A,” 678 received a “B,” 1,004 received a “C,” 121 received a “D,” and 25 received an “F,” according to a news release on the grades, called Hospital Safety Scores. About 58% of hospitals received the same grade given the first time the list was released, in June. About 23% raised their grade and 19% of hospitals saw their grades fall.

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NorthBay Healthcare’s Joint Replacement Program joins elite registry
The Reporter

NorthBay Healthcare officials recently announced that its Joint Replacement Program is among the first in the country to become a member of the American Joint Replacement Registry. The independent, not-for-profit database is designed to store comprehensive data about joint replacement procedures to help physicians and artificial joint manufacturers improve the experiences of patients who undergo joint replacement surgery. Only about 50 hospitals across the country are part of the registry, which was formed in 2009, officials said.

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New study shows high breast cancer rate in east Ventura County
Ventura County Star

Women in east Ventura County suffer from breast cancer at a rate higher than in almost all other parts of California, according to a report released Tuesday.

An area including Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and western Los Angeles County is one of four California regions with an invasive breast cancer rate 10 to 20 percent higher than in the rest of California, according to the Public Health Institute’s California Breast Cancer Mapping Project.

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Salary growth lagging for primary care doctors
Yahoo! News

Despite rising spending on health care in the United States, primary care doctors don’t seem to be reaping the rewards on their paychecks, a new study suggests. The findings could have implications for what some predictions say will be a primary care shortage in some parts of the country in the coming years. Researchers found that since the late 1980s, the average doctor’s earnings have grown more slowly than the salaries of other health professionals, such as pharmacists, dentists and registered nurses.

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MRI system prices rise 35%, index finds
Modern Healthcare

The average price paid for MRI systems went up 35% over the 12 months ended Sept. 30, according to the latest edition of the Modern Healthcare/ECRI Institute Technology Price Index. The TPI tracks the monthly and annual price changes of 30 supply and capital items that hospitals and other provider organizations purchase. The average price of an MRI system was $1.95 million, according to the September data, an increase of 16.4% in that month alone. ECRI attributes the rise to heightened interest in 3T systems, which cost more than $2 million.

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OIG sets record in funds recovered
Modern Healthcare

HHS‘ office of the inspector general this year continued its steady march upward in the number of new criminal cases it helped file and the amount of misspent federal healthcare dollars it recovered, setting five-year records in both categories, figures show. The office helped to recoup $5.2 billion in expected HHS “receivables” stemming from investigations its auditors and officials were involved with in fiscal 2012, according to the HHS OIG Semiannual Report to Congress summarizing results of the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

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Dignity Health opens weight loss surgery center
Santa Maria Times

More than 149 million American adults are overweight or obese, according to a 2012 study by the American Heart Association.

Of that number, approximately half are obese or morbidly obese. Among American men 20 and older, 32 percent of whites, 37 percent of African Americans and 31 percent of Hispanics are obese.

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Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Patient Satisfaction Rated Above 97%
Santa Barbara Independent

Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital (SYVCH) has been recognized for high continuous, high quality patient care. Mary Puryear, SYVCH Emergency Department Clinical Manager said, “I am so proud of our staff and the quality care that we provide our patients. The high scores our department continues to receive from patients is a testament to the level of care we provide to our community. It is a great honor to have received such a prestigious award.

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Paper urges standardized system of conflict reporting
Modern Healthcare

The nation is moving toward a healthcare system in which research is integrated with patient care, according to a new discussion paper on healthcare conflict-of-interest reporting released by the Institute of Medicine, and this makes the need for harmonizing the industry’s current “fragmented and burdensome” reporting requirements both “urgent and compelling.”

“Harmonizing Reporting on Potential Conflicts of Interest: A Common Disclosure Process for Health Care and Life Sciences” follows up on the 2009 IOM report, “Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education and Practice,” which defined conflict of interest as: “circumstances that create a risk that professional judgments or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.” Primary interests are described as being related to research, patient care and medical education, and secondary interests are defined as relating to an individual’s financial, professional, political or interpersonal gain.

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Studies question revised mammography guidelines
Modern Healthcare

The revised mammography screening guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force three years ago may result in missed cancers and declines in screening, according to two studies presented at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting this week in Chicago. Both studies looked at changes in mammography screening data following the task force’s controversial recommendations in 2009.

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Fighting to get out of med school
Modern Healthcare

For some, medical school and hospital residencies offer more than an education in caring for patients. They provide first-hand experience in the legal system.

After winning the intense competition to gain admission to med school, then finding a successful match with a residency program, a handful of prospective doctors inevitably become embroiled in disputes with their schools and hospitals. Some of those clashes end up involving lawyers and even land in court.

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Auditor takes aim at state health, social-service contracting
Capitol Weekly

State health officials mismanaged a special child-protection program and violated the law when they contracted out for services instead of using in-house workers, the state’s top auditor reported in a sharply worded review. State Auditor Elaine Howle said the state Department of Public Health and its predecessor, the Health Services Department, spent some $2.1 million on administrative costs, or about 40 cents of every dollar they received over a four-year period.

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Tri-city board gives CEO 4 percent raise
North County Times

Tri-City Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Larry Anderson was granted a 4 percent raise last week by the hospital’s board of directors, which also awarded him a one-time 20 percent bonus — pushing his total pay in the last fiscal year to more than $700,000.

The Tri-City board voted 4-0 earlier this month to give Anderson a $103,000 bonus covering the period of June 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, Tri-City media relations director Tarcy Connors said Tuesday.

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State auditor rips public health contracts, oversight
Sacramento Bee

The California Department of Public Health mismanaged public funds for child abuse and injury prevention programs, violating state contracting laws and improperly spending millions of dollars on administrative costs, the state auditor said today. State Auditor Elaine Howle said in a report that the Departments of Public Health and Social Services “exhibited weaknesses in their administration” of two relatively small funds established by the Legislature to support programs designed to prevent childhood injuries and abuse.

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Sutter Did Not Cave to City in Scaling Back Cathedral Hill Project
BeyondChron

Six days after I wrote that Sutter was scaling back its proposed Cathedral Hill hospital in response to a changed health care environment, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier & Ross “broke” the story that a “scaled-down” hospital was now on the table. Chris Rauber of the SF Business Times then wrote that city pressure forced the hospital giant to reduce the project’s size, and that it “looks a lot like (CPMC CEO ) Browner, CPMC and Sutter blinked first.” But city officials have never demanded a smaller new hospital, and Sutter and CPMC did not “blink first.”

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La Cliníca Martín-Baró Helps Close Healthcare Gaps
San Francisco Chronicle

One day two years ago, Consuelo Barrego’s nose wouldn’t stop bleeding. So she went where she had never been to before: San Francisco General Hospital. She came out of the hospital without an explanation and a $3,600 bill. “They didn’t do anything to me,” said the 27-year-old woman. “They didn’t even give me a glass of water.” With that experience in mind, Barrego — one of 46,000 employed San Franciscans who lack health insurance — turned La Clinica Martin-Baro, an all-volunteer, free pop-up clinic.

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