News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Trump transparency order puts ’shoppable’ healthcare in HHS hands
Modern Healthcare

Hospital and insurer trade groups have allied to bash President Donald Trump’s latest executive order on rate disclosures.

The groups and consumer advocates are closely watching how far HHS will decide to go with its price transparency requirements, since the order itself left the details vague. In the executive order signed Monday, Trump gave the agency 60 days to write the hospital requirements on publishing “standard charge information, including charges and information based on negotiated rates and for common or shoppable items.”

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Trump Claims He Saved Obamacare, Despite His Multiple Attempts to Kill It
New York Magazine

If you listen to the 45th president of the United States long enough, he’ll say things that just take your breath away, even taking into account his regularly dishonest approach to facts and even the most recent history. You may recall that he spent a good part of his first year in office working with congressional Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare, failing once in the House and twice in the Senate. He endlessly and redundantly referred to Obamacare as a “disaster,” dating back to the 2016 presidential campaign. Yet here he is telling NBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview over the weekend that he deliberately kept the health-care program alive:

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Democrats can beat Trump on health care if they focus on high costs and economic security
USA Today

The firing pistol went off on the 2020 election and the incumbent President Donald Trump aimed it in a strange direction — directly at his own health care record.

“If we win back the House, we’re going to produce phenomenal health care,” Trump said in an interview with ABC News on the eve of his 2020 kickoff rally in Florida. “And we already have the concept of the plan. And it’ll be much better health care.”

As Democrats enter the presidential primary debate season, this presents an opportunity.They would be smart to talk about health care as a core economic issue facing Americans, not a theoretical debate on how to cover more people. 

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Report: Patients’ out-of-pocket costs increased up to 14% in 2018
Modern Healthcare

Patients’ out-of-pocket costs for inpatient services increased by 14% on average between 2017 and 2018, according to a new report from TransUnion Healthcare.

Revenue-cycle management provider TransUnion revealed its findings Tuesday during the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s annual conference in Orlando, Fla. The company tracks patients’ out-of-pocket costs annually across its roughly 1,800 hospital and health system clients.

Last year, patients who received inpatient care saw the biggest hikes in their out-of-pocket costs. Patients’ deductibles and co-pays averaged $4,659 for an inpatient visit in 2018, compared with $4,086 in 2017.

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‘An Arm And A Leg’: Why Are Drug Prices So Random? Meet Mr. PBM
Kaiser Health News

Surely, an old-time, generic drug can’t cost $720 — for a three-month supply?

After a close call with an outrageous Rx tab, host Dan Weissmann tackles the health care cost puzzle he’s been avoiding: figuring out prescription drug prices.

Here’s what he found: Your insurance company is probably in cahoots with a pharmacy benefit manager — and the negotiations that go on between them are trade secrets. No wonder it’s so hard to know what you’ll pay at the drugstore counter!

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Hospitals Earn Little From Suing For Unpaid Bills. For Patients, It Can Be ‘Ruinous’
National Public Radio

The Fredericksburg General District Court is a red-brick courthouse with Greek columns in a picturesque, Colonial Virginia town. A horse and carriage are usually parked outside the visitor center down the street.

On a sunny morning — the second Friday in June — the first defendant at court is a young woman, Daisha Smith, 24, who arrives early; she has just come off working an overnight shift at a group home for the elderly. She is here because the local hospital sued her for an unpaid medical bill — a bill she didn’t know she owed until her wages started disappearing out of her paycheck.

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State budget invests in health care workers
Santa Ynez Valley News

Is this the start of a new era for California’s health workforce? It sure looks like it.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is poised to sign the largest, most comprehensive set of proposals in years to expand California’s health workforce pipeline—tapping $300 million in the 2019-20 budget to address an often overlooked threat to our health care system: a shortage of qualified health professionals.

Our state has been acting boldly for years now on a variety of fronts to improve health and health care—from cutting the uninsured rate in half to reducing medical costs.

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Shorter clinical rotations reduce burnout, study finds
Modern Healthcare

Burnout decreases and job fulfillment improves when physicians work shorter rotations in the hospital, according to a new study.

The results, published Tuesday in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found burnout was substantially lower among critical-care physicians at Penn Medicine who opted to shorten their clinical rotations from 14 consecutive days to seven days.

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Big California insurer is ditching ‘zombie’ workplace wellness programs and focusing on digital health apps

Companies have embraced health surveys, biometric screenings and other wellness offerings, as a way to keep employees healthy and lower their overall medical costs.

But studies are finding that most traditional workplace wellness programs do not work, and large employers aren’t reporting a reduction in their health-related spending, which is now at a record high.

One of California’s largest health insurers has had enough.

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San Diego County Supervisors Vote For Better Mental Health Care, Crisis Centers

In a move described as groundbreaking by its chair, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved $23.8 million to expand mental health and substance abuse care, including emergency response and crisis centers.

The unanimous vote supports more patient beds, expanded psychiatric emergency response teams (PERT), community-based mental health crisis stabilization centers, more resources for schools and an increased standing contract with Palomar Health.

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Valley Medical CEO sees trend in healthcare consolidations
Silicon Valley Business Journal

Earlier this year, Paul Lorenz — the chief executive officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center — saw his domain triple as he added two other hospitals and one health center to the county’s public health system. 

“The ability for the county to step in and maintain the existing services at the facilities has fared very well,” Lorenz said. “In fact, in some services we continue to see a growth in demand. In other areas, we are looking to further partner with community physicians and medical groups to further improve the accessibility to care. I cannot be more pleased with the way the transition has gone. That’s not to say we don’t have challenges, but those are expected given the fact these are large facilities and are complex service organizations.”

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City of Hope more than doubles investment in Calif. cancer campus
Modern Healthcare

City of Hope drastically increased its investment to build a new cancer campus in Orange County, Calif., in terms of both size and cost, the cancer research and treatment center said Tuesday.

The $1 billion campus will mark City of Hope’s first expansion into Orange County.

Despite being known as a fairly prosperous region, Orange County suffers from a dearth of specialty cancer care, said Annette Walker, president of City of Hope, Orange County.

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Health care professional burnout to be focus of July 26 Santa Rosa conference
North Bay Business Journal

As pressure on the American health care system grows, the price being paid physically and emotionally by those providing that care will be the center of attention July 26 at the 20th annual Health Care Conference in Santa Rosa.

Keynoting the event, sponsored by the Business Journal, Western Health Advantage and Sonoma County Medical Association, with a look physician and health care worker wellness will be Tait Shanafelt, M.D., chief wellness officer, Stanford Medical Center. He also is an associate dean at Stanford School of Medicine and is the Jeannie and Stewart Ritchie professor of medicine at the center.