News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Klobuchar Wants To Stop ‘Pay-For-Delay’ Deals That Keep Drug Prices High
Kaiser Health News

Washington’s recent fixation with lowering drug costs has introduced Americans to once-insider terms like “pharmacy benefit managers” and “list prices.” During an April 22 CNN town hall event for Democratic candidates, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) described a drugmaker practice that sounds a lot like bribery — drawing attention to yet another secretive process that lawmakers and experts say prevents patients from obtaining affordable prescription drugs.

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Editorial: Yet another voluntary, value-based reimbursement program
Modern Healthcare

To put the CMS’ latest voluntary program promoting primary care in its proper perspective, one should think in biblical terms.

In the beginning, the 2006 Tax Relief and Health Care Act called on the CMS to set up “medical home” experiments at willing primary-care practices. In 2011, the newborn Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation begat the Federally Qualified Health Center Advanced Primary Care Practice demonstration and the Multi-Payer Advanced Primary Care Practice demonstration.

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Medicaid, CHIP enrollment for kids dropped by 861,000 in 2018
Modern Healthcare

An estimated 861,000 fewer children were covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 2018 compared with the year before, according to an analysis by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families drawing on new CMS data.

Total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment totaled 72.4 million in January 2019, down about 2.2 million from January 2018, according to the CMS data.

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No Quick Fix for the Culture of Prescribing that Drives Medication Overload
The Health Care Blog

In my mid-twenties, I was twice prescribed the common antihistamine Benadryl for allergies. However, my body’s reaction to the drug was anything but common. Instead of my hives fading, they erupted all over my body and my arms filled with extra fluid until they were almost twice normal size. I subsequently described my experience to a new allergist, who dismissed it as “coincidence.”

When I later became a nurse, I learned that seemingly “harmless” medications often cause harm, and older adults are particularly vulnerable. Every year, Americans over age 65 have preventable “adverse drug events” (ADEs) that lead to 280,000 hospital stays and nearly 5 million outpatient visits. The Lown Institute in Boston draws attention to this underrecognized problem in their recent report, Medication Overload: America’s Other Drug Problem. Policymakers, patients, and health professionals must act, because over the next decade, medication overload is predicted to cause 4.6 million hospitalizations of older Americans and 150,000 premature deaths.

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U.C.L.A. and California State-Los Angeles Order Quarantines Amid Measles Outbreak
The New York Times

More than 200 university students and employees in Los Angeles were given quarantine orders on Wednesday and Thursday, just days after a measles outbreak was declared in Los Angeles County.

U.C.L.A. and California State University, Los Angeles, have been working with county health officials to identify and contact students and employees who may have been exposed to measles this month.

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Amid measles fears, more than 200 students and staff at L.A. universities are quarantined
Los Angeles Times

Trying to stop a measles outbreak from spreading, health officials announced Thursday that more than 200 students and staff members at UCLA and Cal State L.A. who have been exposed to measles are being asked to stay home.

The five people diagnosed with measles so far in L.A. County this year include a UCLA student and a Cal State L.A. student. Concerned about the quick spread of disease on busy college campuses, health officials have ordered that students and staff exposed to measles who cannot show they have been vaccinated be quarantined until further notice.

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UCLA and Cal State L.A. quarantine hundreds of students and staff in measles outbreak
Washington Post

Hundreds of students, staff and faculty at two Los Angeles universities will be quarantined after being exposed to measles, according to Los Angeles County health officials, the latest development in a resurgence of the highly contagious disease that was declared eliminated in 2000.

The University of California at Los Angeles said Thursday that a student infected with measles attended classes at two campus buildings on April 2, 4 and 9.

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Measles cases among adults climb in the Bay Area, most exposed through international travel
The Mercury News

Measles cases are on the rise statewide this year, with 15 new cases reported just last week. And those numbers reveal a disturbing new trend: About three-quarters of this year’s 38 reported cases occurred in adults who had never received vaccinations or had partial vaccinations.

California public health officials said Thursday that the San Francisco Bay Area has reported 10 confirmed cases of measles this year, most of them linked to unvaccinated adults exposed through international travel.

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Providers jeopardize deals as they rush into M&A talks
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare executives often point to a persistent financial pressure that has accelerated strategies to cut costs, grow revenue or potentially scale up. That pressure may be causing providers to hastily enter mergers or acquisitions without the proper due diligence, some M&A experts say.

Hospitals, particularly of the not-for-profit ilk, have struggled to boost revenue enough to keep up with rising labor, technology, supply and compliance costs. They are also closely eying threats to their business models as new competitors take shape. Outside investors are behind the scenes of many healthcare deals, scanning for new opportunities.

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Another Voice: Health inequalities create economic burden
Sacramento Business Journal

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies reported that between 2003 and 2006 the direct and indirect cost of health inequalities in the United States was $1.24 trillion, resulting in suppressed human potential and loss of productivity that lead to a vast economic burden affecting all Americans. In Sacramento, issues like mental illness, trauma, homelessness, maternal mortality and emergency department visits are trending higher, and the economic burden experienced by residents and the business community is real.

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Reversal in sight? State rethinks decision to quit providing glasses to needy adults
CALmatters

Willie Posey of Oakland takes great care of his three-year-old glasses. He needs to keep them as long as he can because Medi-Cal, the state’s health plan for low-income Californians, stopped covering lenses or frames—and he says he can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket again even though he has a new prescription. “I have to wear glasses all of the time. I’m looking at the TV and I can’t make out what’s going on without glasses,” said Posey, 79, who bought his current pair at Costco. “Even when I have them on I’m not seeing clearly anymore.”

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Patients Caught In Middle Of Fight Between Health Care Behemoths
Kaiser Health News

Cancer survivors Evalyn Bodick, 74, and Barbara Marsic, 63, are caught in the crossfire of one of the fiercest health care fights in the country. They fear they are about to lose access to the doctors they say have kept them alive.

The reason: the latest skirmish in a nearly decade-old battle between two large health systems in Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Both are nonprofit and both sell health insurance as well as provide care. Only a handful of companies nationwide do both.

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Blood cancer startup targets treatment personalization
San Francisco Business Times

Matt De Silva was working at Peter Thiel’s hedge fund, Clarium Capital, when he learned his father had three rare brain tumors. That discovery led De Silva to a deep dive into personalized cancer drug recommendations — and ultimately toward founding Notable Labs.

The Foster City-based company pairs artificial intelligence software with flow cytometry lab instruments to figure out which treatment, or combination of drugs, will be the most effective for different types of cancers. Notable is focused on blood cancers, such as leukemia, because of the large amount of cells available for testing and the quicker turnaround time, De Silva said. In turn, the company is looking to assist drug companies and academic institutions in recruiting the right kinds of patients for clinical trials.

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