News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Surprise bills: Hospitals don’t like them, either
Capitol Weekly

All of us in California should get behind the opportunity to protect patients from out-of-insurance-network health care bills.

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Alexander supports in-network guarantee to end surprise medical bills
Modern Healthcare

The chair of the Senate health committee showed his support for the so-called “network matching” policy to end surprise medical bills, a proposal sharply opposed by specialty physician groups and the hospitals that employ them.

In a committee hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said the policy, under which hospitals would have to guarantee to their patients that any doctor they see is in-network, is the one he “instinctively liked the best.”

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CMS settles denied claims dispute with inpatient rehab providers
Modern Healthcare

The CMS has agreed to settle appeals from inpatient rehabilitation facilities regarding denied Medicare claims.

The settlement ends a two-year dispute with the inpatient rehabilitation industry after they were frequently denied Medicare claims for a variety of reasons, including if the patient missed a few minutes of their minimum time for daily therapy. Medicare would only pay for the therapy if beneficiaries participated at least three hours a day.

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Good Health Goes Beyond Having A Doctor And Insurance, Says AMA’s Equity Chief
Kaiser Health News

Part of Dr. Aletha Maybank’s medical training left a sour taste in her mouth.

Her superiors told her not to worry about nonmedical issues affecting her patients’ quality of life, she said, because social workers would handle it. But she didn’t understand how physicians could divorce medical advice from the context of patients’ lives.

“How can you offer advice as recommendations that’s not even relevant to how their day-to-day plays out?” Maybank asked.

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I left the AMA over Obamacare. But my colleagues rejected Medicare for All so I’m back.
USA Today

A decade ago, I publicly relinquished my membership in the American Medical Association when it came out in support of the Affordable Care Act. I felt my colleagues were blindly favoring an insurance expansion that would jeopardize quality of care and add to a physician’s growing bureaucratic burden, while not guaranteeing access to actual health care amid prohibitive deductibles and narrow care network. I was right.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many things about Obamacare that I now like, including the Medicaid expansion, the funding and expansion of federally qualified health centers in undeserved areas, and a team approach to health care delivery (Accountable Care Organizations). In fact, these parts of the law have worked out better than I anticipated.

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‘An Arm And A Leg’: Can You Shop Around For A Lower-Priced MRI?
Kaiser Health News

An MRI is one of those standard tests that doctors order routinely. But the price you’ll pay can be unpredictable.

Sometimes the price tag depends on where you live: It could reach $10,000 in San Francisco. Or be as low as $1,000 in St. Louis — if you’re willing to haggle. And the kind of imaging center you choose often makes a difference: Was it a fancy specialty hospital linked to a university or a standalone facility at the mall?

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Today’s Doctors: Colleagues or Free Agents?
The Health Care Blog

My first job after residency was in a small mill town in central Maine. I joined two fifty something family doctors, one of whom was the son of the former town doctor. I felt like I was Dr. Kiley on “Marcus Welby, MD.” I didn’t have a motorcycle, but I did have a snazzy SAAB 900.

Will was a John Deere man, wore a flannel shirt and listened to A Prairie Home Companion. He was kind and methodical. Joe didn’t seem quite as rural, moved quicker and wore more formal clothes. I never could read his handwriting.

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An ageless question: When is someone ‘old’?
The Washington Post

As much as I try to stay in the moment, I sometimes get obsessed with the future — as in, “How much time have I got left?” Not long ago, curious about this life-or-death question, I used the Social Security Administration’s life expectancy calculator to see how long I might live. Based on my age and gender, the calculator told me I’ve probably got another 22 years ahead of me, that is until I kick the bucket at 83. (Of course, an accident or a serious illness could ruin my calculation.)

Determining my life expectancy, it turns out, led to another conundrum that’s a frequent topic of conversation among my friends: Are we old? Typically, people decide who is “old” based on how many years someone has already lived, not how many more years they can expect to live, or even how physically or cognitively healthy they are. I will soon turn 62. What does that actually tell you? Not very much, which is why, like many of my sexagenarian friends, I’m apt to claim, “Yes, age is just a number.”

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What is a good death? How my mother planned hers is a good road map for me.
Washington Post

Years ago, I called my brother to ask whether he would serve as my health proxy, charged with making decisions about my care in the event of some unforeseeable disaster.

“Sure,” he said affably, and then added: “You should be mine, too. I mean, if I lost a leg or something, I wouldn’t want to live. You’d pull the plug, right?”

Unsettled by our widely disparate visions of a good life — and a good death — I quickly hung up and called my sister instead.

But more than a decade later, as we saw our mother succumb to the final stages of an indignant, drawn-out death from Alzheimer’s disease, I find myself returning to my brother’s words. I still find his view of a good life terribly narrow: If I lost a leg, I would certainly want to live. But I have also come to appreciate his utter certainty about what a good life — and a good death — looks like for him.

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Joe Biden says he’ll cure cancer. Sounds like the kind of lie Donald Trump would tell.
USA Today

Donald Trump just lied again. Monday night he tweeted that the United States is going to “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.” The United States doesn’t have the capability to round up millions of illegal immigrants and deport them, leaving reporters to scurry around trying to figure out exactly what he means.

Trump’s whoppers rarely get serious competition from the other side of the aisle. Nobody is as big as he is and nobody twists reality the way he does. But with the Democratic primary heating up and front-runner Joe Biden trading barbs with the president, last week there was finally some competition.

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Controversial young blood transfusions startup is trying to resume operations again
San Francisco Business Times

A controversial startup that buys blood plasma from young people and pumps it into the veins of older people is talking with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about resuming operations, the company now says online.

The company, which was founded by a Stanford Medical School graduate, this week told a potential customer that it was currently operating in two cities‚ San Francisco and Tampa, Florida, according to a reporter at Business Insider who viewed the email and first reported on the company’s attempts to restart operations.

In mid-February, FDA regulators issued a public warning against voluntary transfusions. And although it didn’t explicitly name Ambrosia Health, the company that week said it was voluntarily halting treatments.

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Western Health Advantage cuts jobs after disappointing Bay Area expansion
Sacramento Business Journal

The Sacramento-based health plan is eliminating about 16 positions after a partnership failed to bring the sales anticipated.

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