News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Trump signs executive order to compel disclosure of health-care prices
Washington Post

President Trump signed an executive order on Monday intended to give Americans more information about the cost and quality of health-care services to help them comparison shop before they get care.

The order is pegged to the gathering momentum of the 2020 election in which voters are eager for political leaders to lower what they pay for care. It is based on the idea, in fashion lately with both Republicans and Democrats, that greater transparency in hospital and other health-care prices will lead consumers to make better choices about where to get care and thus will save money.

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Trump Administration Pushes To Make Health Care Pricing More Transparent
National Public Radio

President Trump signed an executive order Monday on price transparency in health care that aims to lower rising health care costs by showing prices to patients. The idea is that if people can shop around, market forces may drive down costs.

“Hospitals will be required to publish prices that reflect what people pay for services,” said President Trump at a White House event. “You will get great pricing. Prices will come down by numbers that you wouldn’t believe. The cost of healthcare will go way, way down.”

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Supreme Court to Hear Insurers’ Suit on Obamacare
New York Times

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether the federal government was entitled to break a promise to shield insurance companies from some of the risks they took in participating in the exchanges established by President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

In their brief seeking Supreme Court review, two insurance companies said they had been the victims of “a bait-and-switch of staggering dimensions in which the government has paid insurers $12 billion less than what was promised.”

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Supreme Court to hear cases over ACA risk-corridor funds
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday it will take up cases over whether the federal government must pay billions of dollars to health insurers that sold coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

The high court will consider whether the government had an obligation to pay private health insurers under the so-called “risk corridor” program that was meant to offset insurer losses in the early years of the ACA exchanges. That three-year program has ended, but health insurers argue HHS owes them more than $12 billion in unpaid funds.

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Trump’s transparency executive order leaves details to HHS, CMS
Modern Healthcare

President Donald Trump signed his highly anticipated executive order on hospital and insurer price transparency Monday afternoon, but the language leaves wiggle-room for the agencies to decide what insurers and hospitals will have to disclose.

A senior administration official told reporters Monday morning that the CMS will decide via rulemaking whether hospitals and insurers will need to publish individual rates or whether they can keep their pricing information more general and publish only aggregate rates.

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The Health 202: Trump orders hospital price transparency, seeking to rewrite health-care campaign script
The Washington Post

President Trump just signed an executive order that is aimed squarely at tackling a top concern of 2020 voters: The high cost of health care and the lack of transparency about how much they’ll have to pay for it.

The order signed yesterday aims to shine a light on the secretive rates insurers pay hospitals for medical services. These rates are virtually impossible for American patients to obtain, forcing them to accept care with little to no idea of how much money it will cost them — or where they could get the same services cheaper.

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New Budget Boosts Health Coverage For Low-Income Californians
Kaiser Health News

Ann Manganello survives entirely off her Social Security stipend: $1,391 a month.

That doesn’t amount to much in the pricey desert enclave of Palm Springs, Calif. — especially for someone who contends with a host of expensive medical problems, including a blood vessel disorder, complications from a recent stroke and frequent bouts of colitis.

“Right now, I don’t really have the money to do much. I just stay here and that’s it,” Manganello said with a sigh, sad at the thought of being stuck in her apartment.

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California Legislature OKs health insurance mandate
Associated Press

The California Legislature voted Monday to tax people who refuse to buy health insurance, bringing back a key part of former President Barack Obama’s health care law in the country’s most populous state after it was eliminated by Republicans in Congress.

The tax now heads to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who proposed a similar plan in January — an indication he will likely approve it.

The federal Affordable Care Act required everyone to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law, ruling the penalty was a tax.

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Senate healthcare bill includes Creates Act, raises legal tobacco age
Modern Healthcare

The Senate health committee chair on Monday amended its suite of healthcare proposals to include the Creates Act, aimed at boosting the generic-drug market, and to raise the legal age for buying tobacco products to 21.

These two major additions to the package from committee leaders Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) didn’t come as a big surprise. The Creates Act cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee last year, and two committees in the U.S. House of Representatives, but has not been up for a floor vote yet. The bill would prohibit brand-name manufacturers from keeping drug samples out of the hands of generic competitors.

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Lack of dental insurance is often lost in the health care debate, but it impacts millions
Orland Press Register

The severe pain struck when Christian Ortega’s lower left molars decayed, causing one molar to break. The pain was so bad that one day he had to skip his shift as a cook.

Lacking dental insurance, Ortega had previously scheduled an appointment at a Western Dental office, where he says the quote he was given to treat the decayed teeth was around $4,000, with a discount.

The 32-year-old Fresno father says he couldn’t afford to pay that amount, so he decided to forgo treatment.

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Fuzzy Math Fuels Sanders’ Claim That Cost Barriers To Health Care Kill 30,000 A Year
Kaiser Health News

“Medicare for All” — or single-payer health care — is a flagship issue for Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. So when a conservative group launched an ad campaign claiming such a policy would drive up wait times for medical care, the 2020 candidate responded aggressively.

His point: Some people may wait a bit for care under a new system. But under the current one, many people do not have access to affordable care and the results are sometimes dire.

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The Big Number: 54.4 million adult Americans suffer arthritis
The Washington Post

The aches and pains of arthritis — caused by inflammation in one or more joints — afflict 1 in 4 American adults, or 54.4 million people, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although arthritis becomes more common with age, and develops more often in women than men, the Arthritis Foundation says that about 300,000 American children also have some type of arthritis. The swelling, pain and stiffness that accompany arthritis can lead to movement problems, making it the country’s leading cause of disability. It tends to worsen with age. More than 100 types of arthritis exist, but the two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. A layer of cartilage normally acts as a cushion between bones that meet in a joint, but its breakdown, often from basic wear and tear over time, lets the bones rub together, causing the pain of osteoarthritis. Knees and hips are common sites of osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that develops when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues, causing painful swelling in the lining of joints, often the wrist and fingers. But rheumatoid arthritis can affect more than joints, causing problems in such organs as the lungs, heart and eyes.

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In Secret, Seniors Discuss ‘Rational Suicide’
Kaiser Health News

Ten residents slipped away from their retirement community one Sunday afternoon for a covert meeting in a grocery store cafe. They aimed to answer a taboo question: When they feel they have lived long enough, how can they carry out their own swift and peaceful death?

The seniors, who live in independent apartments at a high-end senior community near Philadelphia, showed no obvious signs of depression. They’re in their 70s and 80s and say they don’t intend to end their lives soon. But they say they want the option to take “preemptive action” before their health declines in their later years, particularly due to dementia.

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Health Care Digest: How California’s stem cell institute may help find glaucoma cure; a stealthy biotech with $100M; and more
San Francisco Business Times

The future of California’s stem cell research funding agency is in doubt, but its impact goes far beyond the billions of dollars it has doled out to researchers, says the Glaucoma Research Foundation.

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El Camino, Valley Medical CEOs to talk about what’s new in Silicon Valley health care
Silicon Valley Business Journal

Want to hear what’s happening at El Camino Health and the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center?

Join the Silicon Valley Business Journal this Thursday for a special event where the CEOs of both public health operations will talk about what’s new and what’s coming.

Valley Medical CEO Paul Lorenz and El Camino CEO Dan Woods will join me for an exclusive keynote interview during the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Healthcare Real Estate Forum. The breakfast event takes place Thursday from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Westin San Jose.

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City of Hope to invest $1 billion in new Irvine cancer hospital
Los Angeles Times

City of Hope will invest $1 billion in a new hospital and research center on the site of a former air base in Irvine that will enhance the way cancer care is delivered in the region.

The large-scale facility will primarily serve Orange County, where nearly 20% of cancer patients leave the area for advanced care, City of Hope said. Many of them travel as long as two hours to City of Hope’s headquarters in Duarte, a city east of Pasadena.

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