News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Trump Backs Off Obamacare Replacement After Top GOP Leader Nixes The Idea
National Public Radio

President Trump, bowing to political reality, says he is putting off his thoughts of finding a replacement for the Affordable Care Act until after the 2020 election.

In remarks to reporters Tuesday, Trump said, “I wanted to put it after the election because we don’t have the House.” But it became clear that he didn’t have support for a replacement to Obamacare in the GOP-led Senate, either.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he “made it clear to [Trump] that we were not going to be doing that in the Senate.”

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Senate GOP alarm forced Trump’s latest health care flip-flop

When it comes to President Donald Trump’s plans to replace Obamacare, one about face has followed another.

The president’s Monday announcement that Republicans won’t vote on an Obamacare alternative until after 2020 revealed the White House’s confusion on a top issue that is likely to play a huge role in the 2020 congressional and presidential elections.

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Health-care costs for retirees climb to $285,000

Despite the hefty price tag, there’s a piece of good news about retirees’ health-care costs: They aren’t rising as quickly as they were even a few years ago.

A healthy male-female couple retiring at age 65 in 2019 can expect to spend $285,000 on health-care expenses in retirement, according to Fidelity Investments’ annual analysis, released Tuesday. Broken down by gender, the estimate is $150,000 for women and $135,000 for men.

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Survey finds a political divide on health care quality, despite similar problems paying for care
San Diego Union-Tribune

Though the ruinous consequences of high health care costs don’t follow party lines, Republicans tend to believe they’re getting more for their money than Democrats and independents do, according to the results of a new nationwide survey released today by San Diego’s West Health. The nonpartisan and nonprofit organization created by philanthropists Gary and Mary West worked with market research firm Gallup to poll 3,537 randomly-selected Americans across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, asking questions designed to gauge the impacts of and attitudes surrounding health costs

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Health Insurance Matters: Underwriting Holiday
Kern Valley Sun

Richard came into the office upset that he went to the gym and his Silver Sneakers membership had been cancelled. We asked him what health insurance plan he was on, and he told me it was the AARP/United Healthcare Medicare Supplement Plan F. I needed to agree that in fact, United Healthcare had discontinued the Silver Sneakers program. If we acted swiftly, he could have the same health insurance benefits, namely any doctor and any hospital that accepts Medicare with 100 percent first dollar coverage for most services.

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House panel puts hospitals and specialists on the spot for surprise bills
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals took a beating in the first House legislative hearing on surprise medical bills, and major trade groups followed up with a letter to the committee leaders to defend their position.

The House Education and Labor Committee’s health panel convened the bipartisan hearing and pointedly called witnesses from the policy and consumer advocacy worlds rather than industry.

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Congressional Panel: Consumers Shouldn’t Have To Solve Surprise Medical Bill Problem
National Public Radio

One point drew clear agreement Tuesday during a House subcommittee hearing: When it comes to the problem of surprise medical bills, the solution must protect patients — not demand that they be great negotiators.

“It is the providers and insurers, not patients, who should bear the burden of settling on a fair payment,” said Frederick Isasi, the executive director of Families USA. He was one of the witnesses who testified before the House Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee of the Education & Labor Committee.

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Insurers push back on HHS recommendations for non-opioid treatment
Modern Healthcare

Insurers pushed back against an HHS task force’s finding that they are not covering non-opioid pain management therapies such as acupuncture, while proponents of such treatment see a chance to argue for Medicare reimbursement.

A congressionally mandated report from the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force on gaps in treatment concluded that payers often don’t pay for non-opioid therapies that are more expensive than opioids. But America’s Health Insurance Plans, the top insurance lobbying group, said in comments to the report that it isn’t that simple.

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These medications can reduce opioid deaths. Why aren’t they being used more?
USA Today

Walter Ginter began using heroin in the early 1970s while serving in the Army. By 1977, desperate to kick the habit, he turned to daily doses of methadone, a synthetic opioid that eases withdrawal and decreases cravings. The treatment worked.

“I have a good life today,” says Ginter, 69, project director for the New York-based Medication Assisted Recovery Support Project.  “I wouldn’t have it without medication.”

Ginter was a member of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine committee that examined the three medications — methadone, buprenorphine (typically sold under the Suboxone brand name) and extended-release naltrexone (Vivitrol) — that the government has approved to treat opioid addiction.

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1 In 5 Early-stage Breast Cancer Patients Abandon Follow-up Care
HealthLeaders Media

New research helps identify which breast cancer patients are likely to quit going to follow-up visits.

Within the five years following a diagnosis for Stage I or II breast cancer, 21% of patients stop seeing physicians for follow-up care, a recent study says.

Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer for American women, with about 12% of women developing the condition, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer has a high level of lethality—only lung cancer kills more women annually.

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Doctor drought in California
San Mateo Daily Journal

Think it’s tough getting in to see a doctor now? It will only get worse as the population ages and needs more medical care.

Remember, too, that doctors are growing older right along with the rest of us; more than a third of the state’s health care professionals are over 55, so prepare for a wave of retirements. If we don’t step up recruitment and training, California will be short 4,100 primary care doctors in 10 years, according to a newly released study by a statewide commission.

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UnitedHealthcare, AMA unveil more medical codes for social determinants
Modern Healthcare

UnitedHealthcare and the American Medical Association said Tuesday they want to expand the set of ICD-10 diagnostic codes to include more specific diagnoses related to a person’s social determinants of health.

The hope is that these codes would allow clinicians to document patients’ social determinants in a standardized way, which would allow them to better tailor care plans or refer patients to community organizations that could meet those social needs.

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University Health Services selects new insurance carrier for fall 2019
The Daily Californian

University Health Services, or UHS, has selected a new insurance carrier for the Student Health Insurance Plan, or SHIP, the effects of which will be seen starting fall 2019.

UHS will break from Anthem Blue Cross and instead partner with Blue Shield of California, insured by Wellfleet Student, according to a press release from SHIP. The press release added that most students can expect to experience a “modest increase to premiums with some minimal changes to specific copays.”

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Stanford Children’s Hospital, UCSF team up to fund innovation in pediatric care
San Francisco Business Times

At last week’s pitch competition, entrepreneurs working in the underserved pediatric market battled for grants to go toward their proposed medical devices — a concussion-monitoring smart mouth guard, VR goggles to sooth children’s fear of needles, and a neonatal incubator with synthetic amniotic fluid, to name a few.