News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Fiscal Cliff Looming, Healthcare Providers Move to Protect Funding
Health Leaders Media

Hospital groups and other providers this week intensified their campaigns to protect Medicare and Medicaid from drastic funding cuts that could be considered in the weeks ahead under the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations. The American Hospital Association on Wednesday unveiled the results of its survey taken Nov. 13-15 which showed that 69% of the 800 registered voters queried—regardless of their party affiliation—oppose funding cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

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Voters oppose Medicare cuts to hospitals: AHA poll
Modern Healthcare

More than two-thirds of voters oppose deficit-related Medicare and Medicaid cuts to hospitals, according to a hospital-funded survey. And the findings are likely to figure prominently in hospitals’ Capitol Hill lobbying. Sixty-nine percent of voters opposed proposals for $70 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid providers over the coming decade and 22% supported the cuts, according to the Public Opinion Strategies survey of 800 registered voters in the week after the presidential election.

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CMS, ONC propose tweaks to EHR regs
Modern Healthcare

A proposed federal rule nips and tucks previously issued regulations governing the testing, certification and use of electronic health-record systems. The proposed rule, issued jointly by the CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, tweaks several of the meaningful-use criteria that healthcare providers must meet to qualify for payment under the federal EHR incentive program.

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Malpractice Claims Drop 39% Under Perinatal Safety Initiative
Health Leaders Media

Obstetric units have dramatically decreased adverse events that harm women in labor and their newborns—and the costly malpractice claims that sometimes follow—by consistently using three sets of process bundles, a 14-hospital collaboration has found after studying outcomes in 145,000 births. “The hospitals that decided to do this work together realized that perinatal harm drives up 50% of the liability expense for many hospitals,” said Susan DeVore, President and CEO of Premier, a 2,700-hospital healthcare alliance that set up the collaboration in 2008 based in part on its previous work with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and Ascension Health.

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‘Obamacare’ saves consumers nearly $1.5 billion
Los Angeles Times

Consumers saved nearly $1.5 billion in 2011 as a result of rules in President Obama’s healthcare law that limit what insurance companies can spend on expenses unrelated to medical care, including profit, a new analysis shows.

Much of those savings — an estimated $1.1 billion — came in rebates to consumers required because insurers had exceeded the required limits.

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Doc-office use of basic EHRs hits nearly 40%, survey finds
Modern Healthcare

Nearly 4 in 10 office-based physicians are now using an electronic health-record system with a basic level of functions, according to the latest estimates from an annual federal survey, up from about 1 in 3 a year ago.

The National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has placed basic EHR adoption for office-based physicians—excluding anesthesiologist, pathologists and radiologists—in 2012 at 39.6%.

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HHS seeks mobile apps for public health
Modern Healthcare

Developers are invited to compete for $50,000 in a mobile app challenge that seeks to encourage use of HHShealthfinder.gov website. The challenge, slated to be announced on challenge.gov Thursday, will award $50,000 to a single app that provides a customized tool allowing consumers to take advantage of prevention and wellness information featured on healthfinder.gov in making health decisions.

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Bill would make drug compounders register with FDA
Modern Healthcare

A bill that would require compounding pharmacies to register with the Food and Drug Administration was introduced in the House, according to a news release from the two sponsors of the bill, Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). The bill, called the Supporting Access to Formulated and Effective Compounded Drugs Act, or SAFE Compounded Drugs Act, would establish an FDA database on the pharmacies for use by the FDA and states in oversight of drug compounders, according to the news release.

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Capps Highlights New Data Showing Health Reform Benefits to California Medicare Beneficiaries
Noozhawk

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Wednesday highlighted benefits to California’s Medicare beneficiaries as a result of the Affordable Care Act, with new data made available by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Since the enactment of health-care reform, Medicare beneficiaries in California have saved $410.8 million thanks to the assistance the health-care law provides to beneficiaries who get caught in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole.”

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Tea partiers oppose state-run health exchange
San Francisco Chronicle

Tea party protesters gathered outside the state Capitol on Wednesday to call on Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to reject the creation of a state-run health insurance exchange under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. About 300 protesters were joined by a handful of GOP lawmakers and talk radio personalities. Throughout the nearly two-hour rally, protesters chanted “just say no,” and many held signs stating the same.

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The controversy over Medicare reform in debt reduction deal
10News.com

As President Barack Obama and House Republicans tussle over a debt reduction deal, Medicare reform is back in the spotlight.

The health insurance program for seniors is among the largest drivers of deficit growth, experts say. Medicare spending, which totaled $492 billion in 2012, is expected to hit $895 billion in 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

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Industry rips device tax as regs arrive
Modern Healthcare

The Internal Revenue Service issued its final regulations on the medical device excise tax, prompting renewed calls by manufacturers to repeal or delay implementation of the tax. A provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates manufacturers pay a 2.3% tax on the sales of certain medical devices starting next month. The tax is considered the industry’s contribution to financing the 2010 healthcare law.

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Obesity Weighs on More Americans Than Ever
Yahoo! News

When asked to name the most urgent health problem currently facing the United States, more people than ever say obesity, a new Gallup poll finds. Nearly 1 in 6 people (16 percent) say obesity is the country’s greatest health problem, up from 1 in 7 (14 percent) earlier this year, and 1 in 100 in 1999, according to the nationally representative poll. The growing concern is parallel with the rising rates of obesity in the U.S.

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St. Joseph plans to save money, increase care by reaching out to frequent ER users; county receives grant for neediest patients
Times-Standard

Humboldt County has received a grant to help find more efficient ways of treating “super-utilizers,” patients that use costly emergency room services numerous times a year, but often don’t receive the long-term treatment needed to address their underlying medical issues. ”These are people the health care system has given up on,” said Jeffrey Brenner, executive director of Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, who recently spoke at St. Joseph Hospital about his work in developing more efficient, lower-cost health care.

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Petaluma Health Center expands and looks to become a ‘one-stop shop’
Petaluma360.com

During a time when healthcare reform has hospitals and physicians concerned about their financial stability, nonprofit health centers — including the Petaluma Health Center — are flourishing. While for-profit practitioners are forecasting a dramatic drop in insurance reimbursement rates under the federal Affordable Care Act, the Petaluma Health Center is bracing for a dramatic rise in patient numbers as a whole new segment of the community gains access to health insurance.

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New chief medical officer hired for county health system
San Jose Business Journal

Dr. Jeffrey Arnold has been named chief medical officer of Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System. He starts Dec. 24 at a $302,796 salary. Arnold has been with the system since 2006, serving as the center’s Department of Emergency Medicine chair and medical director. Before that, he worked with several emergency departments including Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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Cutting back on readmissions
Sacramento Bee

Leon was admitted this year to the hospital with heart failure six times. Each time, after a few days, he felt intense pressure from the doctors to go home – well before he felt strong enough to manage on his own.

He lived alone on the third floor of a small apartment house and getting upstairs to his apartment took 20 minutes and many periods of rest.

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Sutter Health listed as creditor in bankruptcy of Newt Gingrich’s health transformation business
San Francisco Business Times

Former GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation, his for-profit consulting firm, is being bought out of bankruptcy by Georgia’s Wellstar Health System, according to trade pub Modern Healthcare. The price tag, the trade publication reports: just $20,000. Former U.S. House Speaker Gingrich created the center in 2003 and used it as a source of big bucks and a steady stream of PR until it filed for liquidation last spring, its goals apparently met.

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