News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Why Vermont’s single-payer effort failed and what Democrats can learn from it
Washington Post

Three and a half years after then-Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont signed into law a vision for the nation’s first single-payer health system, his small team was still struggling to find a way to pay for it. With a deadline bearing down, they worked through a frozen, mid-December weekend, trying one computer model Friday night, another Saturday night, yet another Sunday morning.

If they kept going, the governor asked his exhausted team on Monday, could they arrive at a tax plan that would be politically palatable? No, they told him. They could not.

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Undocumented kids can get health care in California. Gavin Newsom wants it for young adults, too
Sacramento Bee

R. Lopez moved to the United States from Mexico when she was 3. By the time she was in high school, the aspiring Spanish teacher from Oxnard needed glasses to drive and to see the whiteboard in her classes.

Although her family’s low income qualified her for government-funded health coverage, she wasn’t eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal for much of her childhood because she lacks legal status.

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The Health 202: Medicare-for-all champions might not hear what they want at first Hill hearing today
Washington Post

Medicare-for-all is getting a historic House hearing this morning. But the Democrats running it appear eager to avoid looking too extreme as they examine a bill that would dramatically overhaul the country’s health-care system.

The witnesses testifying before the House Rules Committee mostly aren’t the enthusiastic Medicare-for-all cheerleaders you might have expected Democrats to invite to such a highly anticipated hearing. Instead, they’ve largely expressed support for more measured ways of achieving universal health coverage – or have at least raised serious concerns about the difficulties of setting up and paying for a single-payer system.

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Medicare for All government chokehold would be even worse than private insurance: Doctor
USA Today

Before Medicare for All could ever enter the American doctor’s office, several economic and medical mountains would have to be moved.

First, the transition to a plan like the one Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed would be enormously expensive, more than $30 trillion over a 10-year period by some estimates.

Second, because the program bans private insurance, it would displace nearly 177 million people from their health insurance plans, including over 156 million from employer-based health insurance — which for many employees is the reason they took the job in the first place.

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U.S. officials say measles cases hit 25-year record high
Washington Post

At least 704 people in the United States have been sickened this year by measles, a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening disease, according to a report released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s the greatest number of cases in a single year in 25 years and represents a huge setback for public health after measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. More than 500 of the people infected in 22 states were not vaccinated. Sixty-six people have been hospitalized, including 24 who had pneumonia. More than one-third of the cases are children younger than 5.

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All The World’s A Stage—Including The Doctor’s Office
National Public Radio

In medicine today, placebos serve a specific purpose. In the form of sugar pills or pretend treatments, placebos provide a benchmark against which researchers can compare drugs and other medical interventions.

Ted Kaptchuk is a professor at Harvard Medical School. He says it’s often hard to pin down why a medical treatment has worked.

“If people get better we want to know if it’s because [of] the drug we gave them, or is it spontaneous remission, or is it because of the doctor-patient interaction, or is it because of the ritual of taking pills?”

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Using health plan data is key to creating a holistic employee experience
San Francisco Business Times

Every company that faces an important investment decision understands how to use data wisely to support that decision. The era of big data and the data mining that has resulted means that corporate purchasers are better informed than ever when deciding how to derive value from precious budget allocations. Examples abound up and down the supply chain and across the customer spectrum where better decisions are being made by removing guesswork from the equation.

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Summer Bummer: A Young Camper’s $142,938 Snakebite
Kaiser Health News

It was dusk as Oakley Yoder and the other summer camp kids hiked back to their tents at Illinois’ Jackson Falls last July. As the group approached a mound of boulders blocking the path, Oakley, then 9, didn’t see the lurking snake — until it bit a toe on her right foot.

“I was really scared,” Oakley said. “I thought that I could either get paralyzed or could actually die.”

Her camp counselors suspected it was a copperhead and knew they needed to get her medical attention as soon as they could.

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Academic medical centers face identity overhaul
Modern Healthcare

As price becomes an increasingly important factor in where people seek care, many academic medical centers will have to transform their high-cost structures to remain viable, according to new research.

Half of 1,250 consumers surveyed said they would not pay more for specialty medical care at an academic medical center, PricewaterhouseCooper’s Health Research Institute found. Many academic institutions recognize that the status quo is unsustainable and are merging or affiliating with other providers to better manage lower-acuity care.

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Dialysis giant DaVita names new CEO
Modern Healthcare

Dialysis company DaVita tapped Javier Rodriguez to take over as CEO on June 1, replacing longtime chief Kent Thiry, who is retiring from the post after 20 years.

Since joining DaVita in 1998, Rodriguez has served as CEO of DaVita Kidney Care—the company’s largest business segment—since 2014. The other segment, DaVita Medical Group, is in the process of being sold to UnitedHealth Group’s Optum subsidiary for $4.3 billion.

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Judge recuses himself from UnitedHealthcare proton therapy lawsuits
Modern Healthcare

At least two lawsuits have been filed against UnitedHealthcare in the last two months alleging the insurance company improperly denied patients coverage for a certain type of cancer treatment that insurers have long been reluctant to pay for.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Robert Scola recused himself from deciding one of the lawsuits filed this month in Miami because of personal experience with the cancer treatment, writing in an order of recusal that denying a patient the treatment “is immoral and barbaric.”

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