News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Mired In Medical Debt? Federal Plan Would Update Overdue-Bill Collection Methods
Kaiser Health News

Elham Mirshafiei was at the library cramming for final exams during her senior year at California State University-Long Beach when she grew nauseated and started vomiting. After the 10th episode in an hour, a friend took her to the nearest emergency room. Diagnosis: an intestinal bug and severe dehydration. In a few hours, she was home again, with instructions to eat a bland diet and drink plenty of fluids.

That was in 2010. But the $4,000 bill for the brief emergency department visit at an out-of-network hospital has trailed her ever since. Mirshafiei, 31, has a good job now as a licensed insurance adviser in Palo Alto, Calif. But money is still tight and her priority is paying off her $67,000 student loan debt rather than that old hospital bill.

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House committee to discuss DSH cut repeal next week
Modern Healthcare

The House Energy and Commerce Committee next week will consider a full repeal of the Medicaid disproportionate-share hospital cuts, a sign that hospitals are getting closer to securing the top lobbying priority for safety net providers and academic medical centers.

The committee will hold a hearing next Tuesday on proposed legislation from Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), whose home state gets the single largest so-called Medicaid DSH allotment in the country. In fiscal 2018, New York received $1.8 billion of the roughly $12 billion in annual federal payments.

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Uninsured Small Businesses Hope For Affordable Health Care Under Governor
capital public radio

Laneesha Senegal washes her hands before deciding which finger to prick. She’s prediabetic, and it’s been two days since she last tested her blood sugar.

The 42-year-old Fresno woman is trying everything she can to keep track of her levels. Her diabetic mother is on insulin, and she doesn’t want to get to that point.

“It’s really not something you should play around with,” she says.

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Amid flood of CBD products, FDA holds first public hearing on cannabis extract
The Washington Post

With thousands of unproven CBD products flooding the market, the Food and Drug Administration convenes its first public hearing Friday to wrestle with how to regulate cannabidiol, a cannabis extract already being sold in pills, tinctures, skin lotions, sodas and dog food.

The CBD industry has exploded in recent years as companies have trumpeted the compound’s alleged health benefits — claiming it can reduce anxiety, pain and insomnia and treat conditions from Parkinson’s disease to cancer. But almost all such claims lack rigorous scientific proof, prompting concern among health officials and scientists about safety and deceptive marketing.

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U.S. measles cases in first five months of 2019 surpass total for any year since 1992
The Washington Post

The United States has reported 971 cases of measles in the first five months of 2019, the greatest number since 1992, when 2,126 cases were reported for the entire year, federal health officials said Thursday.

The agency has typically been updating its measles cases weekly, on Mondays, but announced the case count Thursday because it had reached this new milestone.

The biggest source of this year’s surging measles cases is New York, where Rockland County and New York City have been battling outbreaks for nearly eight months. The two jurisdictions account for the majority of the cases this year, with a total of 643. The outbreaks have been concentrated in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

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Study: 20% of hospitals meet maternity care performance measures
Modern Healthcare

Approximately 1 in 5 hospitals fully met national standards for performing lower rates of cesarean sections and other maternal care medical interventions that may unnecessarily increase health risks for mothers and infants, according to a report released Wednesday.

The Leapfrog Group surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. hospitals and found most providers failed to meet all of the organization’s standards for best practices for three maternity care interventions, including C-sections, early elective deliveries and episiotomies.

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Teasing Kids About Their Weight May Make Them Gain More
National Public Radio

School can be tough on kids who have overweight or obesity. They’re often cruelly teased and bullied. And this type of bullying may lead to long-term consequences, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Pediatric Obesity.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., found that making fun of kids for their weight is linked to increased weight gain well into adulthood — and the more teasing that kids and teens experience, the more weight they may gain.

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The Health 202: New report shows dramatic improvement in melanoma survival rates
Washington Post

Fighting cancer was a major focus of the Obama administration, but not the Trump administration, which has instead launched major initiatives around HIV/AIDS and opioid addiction. But cancer death rates keep steadily declining – especially for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Fatalities from melanoma have fallen dramatically in the past decade, according to an annual cancer report released this morning by the National Cancer Institute.

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On call: Heal adds telemedicine to offerings
Los Angeles Business Journal

Heal Telemedicine is reserved for returning users of the service and aims to connect patients with chronic conditions and their doctors.

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Blue Shield of California CEO wants to bring data sharing between health systems, big tech
Becker's Hospital Review

One of the problems emerging technology companies face when entering the technology sector is data sharing, an issue Blue Shield of California CEO Paul Markovich wants to solve, according to CNBC.

As patients continue to realize they are unable to share their clinician data from EMRs with other physicians, big technology companies are becoming highly motivated to work with the medical industry to fix the problem, Mr. Markovich said.

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CA Blues plan, Landmark use analytics to aid vulnerable members
Health Data Management

Blue Shield of California and Landmark, an in-home senior care company, are using data analytics to drive care for the health plan’s most vulnerable population.

The results of the analytics initiative are exceeding expectations for the San Francisco-based insurer. At the end of the first year of the partnership with Landmark, BSC reports the duo enrolled 3,500 more eligible members, completed more than 15,500 home visits and made 33,317 phone contacts.