News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Medical Students Shunning Primary Care to Worsen Doctor Shortage
San Francisco Chronicle

More than three-quarters of U.S. medical students continue to shun primary care for higher-paying specialties, setting the stage for a shortage of doctors as the population ages and health care expands, a study found. Among medical residents who aren’t planning a career in surgery or pediatrics, 22 percent said they expect to go into internal medicine or primary care with the rest planning on fields like cardiology or dermatology, a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association found.

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Special session on health care planned in January
Sacramento Business Journal

The new session of the state Legislature kicked off Monday with the swearing-in of 39 new members and talk of a busy agenda when things get into full gear next month. Gov. Jerry Brown already called for a legislative special session to consider issues related to health reform. It was expected to start Monday, but will get going next month, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley.

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Likely healthcare deficit targets come into view
Modern Healthcare

As federal lawmakers remain stuck in negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff, healthcare experts say they’re hearing the Medicaid provider tax, evaluation and management services and graduate medical education are payment areas lawmakers could cut to achieve entitlement-program savings as part of a deficit-reduction deal. White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement that a letter from House Republicans on Monday—intended as a counteroffer to an administration proposal last week—“includes nothing new and provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would achieve.”

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UCSF and ValleyCare Health System to collaborate on cancer care
San Francisco Business Times

UC San Francisco and its UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center will collaborate on cancer care with Pleasanton’s ValleyCare Health System to give the East Bay community hospital more access to oncology sub-specialists, officials said Tuesday. Details were sketchy, but sub-specialists aligned with the Helen Diller center and patients had ValleyCare’s Regional Cancer Center will find it easier to connect under the new arrangement.

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Changes to California children’s healthcare won’t be delayed, official says
Los Angeles Times

A top official in Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration said Tuesday that California will begin transferring poor children into a cheaper healthcare plan on Jan. 1, despite concerns from some lawmakers and advocates that the state’s plan is inadequate. California is eliminating the Healthy Families program next year and shifting nearly 900,000 children into Medi-Cal, which reimburses doctors at lower rates, in hopes of saving $73 million annually. The transition will happen gradually, starting with the easiest cases.

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Hiking Medicare age opposed by left, right
Modern Healthcare

Proposals to increase the eligibility age for Medicare drew fire from across the political spectrum during a Washington meeting of some debt negotiation leaders.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, said during the Fix the Debt Conference that he favored targeting the growth in healthcare costs instead of “shifting costs to seniors.”

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Medicare open enrollment ends soon
Sacramento Business Journal

People with Medicare have only a few more days to make changes to their health and drug coverage for 2013 without restriction. The annual fall open enrollment period runs Nov. 15 through Dec. 7, but many local retirees who put off decision-making are now panicking about the timeline, said Margaret Reilly, executive director of the local office of Medicare’s Health Insurance and Advocacy Program designed to help seniors solve problems with their insurance.

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Bariatric surgery and acetaminophen risk
San Francisco Chronicle

People who have had certain types of bariatric, or weight-loss, surgery may be at increased risk of acetaminophen poisoning and, in turn, liver failure, according to a small study at San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center. Researchers found that among 54 patients who had suffered acetaminophen-induced liver failure over a three-year period, 17 percent had had weight-loss surgery. That’s a surprisingly high percentage, considering that less than 1 percent of the general population has had the surgery, said Dr. Timothy Davern, a liver disease and gastroenterology expert at CPMC.

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Kona Medical raises $10 million in new Series C funding
San Francisco Business Times

Kona Medical Inc., a 25-employee investigational medical technology company based in Menlo Park and Bellevue, Wash., said Tuesday it has raised $10 million in new Series C equity and debt financing. That brings its Series C total to $40 million, including $30 million raised in May, Chief Operating Officer John Bowers told the San Francisco Business Times. Bowers wouldn’t disclose how much funding Kona raised in earlier rounds, but said most of its financing came in the extended Series C round.

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Healthcare Reform Revs Compensation in the C-Suite
Health Leaders Media

At one time, compensation may have been a sleepy activity—administrative at its core, but hardly routine. The foundations for compensation are the written and unwritten agreements between employer and worker. At the executive level, both the demands and the compensation tend to be greater, and so it is essential to lay out clear expectations and a commensurate set of incentives.

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Medical college invites visitors
Merced Sun-Star

A little-known college in Merced offers several desirable fast-track careers in the medical field in the Central Valley, where there’s a shortage of medical professionals. WestMed College, a National University System affiliate, offers programs in paramedic medicine, medical assisting, vocational nursing, nurse assistant, medical diagnostic sonography and health information technology, among others. “Our programs are certainly considered high-demand,” said Kevin Kranich, admission and placement supervisor for the college.

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The Perilous Politics Of The Health Insurance Tax Break
capital public radio

There’s not much in health care that economists agree on. But one of the few things that bring them together is the idea that excluding the value of health insurance from federal taxes is nuts. “It just doesn’t make sense,” says Jonathan Gruber, an MIT health economist and author of Health Care Reform. “And it’s important to emphasize in this world where economists seem to agree about nothing, this is something where there’s just broad and universal agreement.”

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Reform law aiding insurance consumers: report
Modern Healthcare

A new report estimated insurance consumers benefited from $1.5 billion in either rebates or reduced costs last year, due to requirements of the healthcare overhaul. But insurers warned that money could have funded anti-fraud and quality-improvement programs. Research supported by the Commonwealth Fund, which backed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, concluded that the law’s medical loss-ratio requirements implemented in 2011 provided big savings—mainly in the individual insurance market.

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Feds collect record $4.9 billion under False Claims Act
Modern Healthcare

Led by the record-breaking legal settlement with drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, federal collections through the civil False Claims Act exceeded all previous years, topping $4.9 billion in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. The one-year tally by the Justice Department included settlements with mortgage lenders and military contractors, but the biggest single chunk—more than $3 billion—came from healthcare companies accused of defrauding Medicare and other government healthcare programs. Fiscal 2012 marked the first time that healthcare tallies topped $3 billion.

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More bad medicine for Medicare
Orange County Register

The latest fiscal cliff plan from President Obama promised $400 billion in entitlement savings. A Washington Post analysis of the likely composition of those “savings” showed that nearly half of those cuts would come from requiring prescription drug rebates in Medicare. That would be a huge mistake for the country’s fiscal and physical health. Americans are living longer lives, and the additional years of retirement are putting a strain on Social Security and Medicare.

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The (Not So) Affordable Care Act – Get Ready For Some Startling Rate Increases
The Health Care Blog

What will health insurance cost in 2014? Will the new health insurance exchanges be ready on time or will the law have to be delayed? There Will Be Sticker Shock! First, get ready for some startling rate increases in the individual and small group health insurance marketplace due to the changes the law dictates.In a November 2009 report, the CBO estimated that premiums in the individual market would increase 10% to 13% on account of the health insurance requirements in the ACA.

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