News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Trump, California governor spar over immigrant health care
Associated Press

California’s governor vowed on Monday to continue expanding taxpayer funded health benefits to adults living in the country illegally next year, ensuring the volatile issue will get top billing in the 2020 presidential election as Democrats vying for the nomination woo voters in the country’s most populous state.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $214.8 billion operating budget last week that includes spending to make low-income adults 25 and younger living in the country illegally eligible for the state’s Medicaid program.

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Courts Order Delay Of Trump Administration’s Health Care ‘Conscience Rights’ Rule
National Public Radio

The federal government’s rule designed to support health workers who opt out of providing care that violates their moral or religious beliefs will not go into effect in July as scheduled. The effective date has been delayed by four months, according to court orders.

The “Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care” rule was originally issued in May by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights. It aligns with that office’s religious freedom priorities and would put new emphasis on existing laws that give health care workers the ability to file a complaint with that office if they are forced to participate in medical care that violates their conscience — such as abortion, gender confirmation surgery, and assisted suicide.

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Trump administration agrees to delay conscience rule
Modern Healthcare

The Trump administration has agreed to postpone implementing a rule allowing medical workers to decline performing abortions or other treatments on moral or religious grounds while the so-called “conscience” rule is challenged in a California court.

The rule was supposed to take effect on July 22 but HHS and its opponents in a California lawsuit mutually agreed Friday to delay a final ruling on the matter until Nov. 22.

The agency called it the “most efficient way to adjudicate” the rule.

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Nursing home staffing levels often fall below CMS expectations
Modern Healthcare

Nursing home staffing levels are often lower than what facilities report, which could compromise care quality, new research shows.

Self-reported direct staffing time per resident was higher than the CMS‘ payroll-based metrics 70% of the time, according to a new study published in Health Affairs. Staffing levels were significantly lower during the weekends, particularly for registered nurses.

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Hip, knee surgery readmission rate improvement slows under CMS program
Modern Healthcare

The expansion of the CMS‘ long-standing readmissions penalty program to hip and knee replacement procedures didn’t lead to significant reductions in 30-day return rates to hospitals, a new study finds.

While readmission rates have declined for total hip and knee replacement surgeries, the most dramatic improvements happened before providers even knew the procedures were included in the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, according to the analysis published Monday in Health Affairs.

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State Broadens Investigation Of Doctors For Issuing Questionable Vaccination Exemptions
Kaiser Health News

The California agency that regulates doctors is investigating at least four physicians for issuing questionable medical exemptions to children whose parents did not want them immunized.

The Medical Board of California’s investigations are unfolding amid the nation’s worst measles outbreak in more than a quarter-century, as California lawmakers consider controversial legislation to tighten the requirements for exempting children from the vaccinations required to attend schools and day care centers.

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Insulin pumps are vulnerable to hacking, FDA warns amid recall
Washington Post

The Food and Drug Administration is warning insulin pump users about potential cybersecurity and hacking risks involved with some devices.

According to an announcement released Thursday, the MiniMed 508 and the MiniMed Paradigm insulin pumps from Medtronic are vulnerable to possible hacking and are being recalled.

If a patient is using one of the pumps, they could be at risk of “an unauthorized person with special technical skills and equipment” connecting to the device and changing how much insulin is delivered, according to a letter sent to patients and health-care providers and posted on Medtronic’s website.

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Air ambulance charges study could boost Senate surprise bill legislation
Modern Healthcare

A new study documenting high air ambulance charges could bolster a congressional effort to ban the medical transport companies from balance billing for their services.

In 2016, the national median charges for air ambulance services were 4.1 to 9.5 times what Medicare paid for the same services, according to a study published in Health Affairs on Monday by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

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Experimental Huntington’s disease drug can be given less frequently
San Diego Union-Tribune

An experimental drug for Huntington’s disease from Carlsbad’s Ionis Pharmaceuticals appears to be more long-lasting than previously thought. If proven effective, the drug will become the first therapy that changes the course of the fatal genetic disease.

The drug will now be given once every two months by lumbar puncture instead of every month, said Ionis partner Roche. The Swiss drug company will sell the drug if it successfully completes clinical testing.

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California’s First Surgeon General Spotlights Health Risks Of Childhood Adversity
National Public Radio

Not long after she finished her medical residency at Stanford University about a decade ago, Nadine Burke Harris got to work as a pediatrician in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco. She founded and became CEO of a clinic there, focused on addressing health disparities in the community.

It was in talking with those children and their families, she says, that she first realized how many of her patients experiencing the worst health outcomes — those with the highest levels of chronic asthma, for example — were also living with significant adversity, such as growing up in a household where a parent was mentally ill, abusive or substance dependent.

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Why healthcare execs should prepare for private equity to come knocking
Becker's Hospital Review

Private equity’s investments in the healthcare sector have become increasingly frequent and diversified in recent years — a trend that is likely to continue.

There were more than 700 private equity deals in the healthcare industry in 2018, and the industry continued to draw private equity investors in the first half of this year. Healthcare is an attractive industry for private equity investment, and the pace of PE deals in the sector isn’t likely to slow down in the second half of 2019, according to Haley Beck, a vice president at Alpine Investors.

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Hospitals lose money caring for mental health patients; is there a better way?
San Diego Union-Tribune

Chronic underfunding of nearly $4 million per year was one of the main reasons cited for last year’s closure of the psychiatric units at Tri-City Medical Center, and the Oceanside hospital is not alone.

For many years now, every hospital in the region has made it clear that they lose money on every psychiatric Medi-Cal patient they treat.

But despite this long-standing situation, the latest thinking about how to increase the quantity and quality of mental health care in San Diego County is largely focused outside hospitals.

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Kaiser, Centene and Molina must pay big risk-adjustment charges
Modern Healthcare

Kaiser Permanente, Centene Corp.

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