News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

House OKs bill to avert fiscal cliff, doc pay cut
Modern Healthcare

The House of Representatives late Tuesday approved the Senate’s last-minute fiscal cliff package that staves off a sharp Medicare physician pay cut by cutting billions from other Medicare providers, including hospitals, pharmacies and dialysis clinics. Early on New Year’s Day, the Senate voted 89-8 to approve the American Taxpayer Relief Act, an amended version of a tax bill that House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) introduced last summer. House members on Tuesday considered the Senate-passed legislation in meetings during the day and floor debate in the evening.

News Headlines Article

Nonprofits Weigh Benefits of Buyer Joint Ventures
Health Leaders Media

The growing number of joint ventures and mergers between non-profit and for-profit hospitals may signal a warming trend in longstanding frigid relations as the rival sectors come to recognize the merits of working together in an evolving healthcare environment.

At least, that’s the opinion of James E. Burgdorfer, a principal at Juniper Advisory LLC,the privately held, Chicago-based investment banking firm that provides merger and acquisition advice for nonprofit hospitals.

News Headlines Article

Primary care doctors growing scarce
San Francisco Chronicle

Roughly 4 million additional Californians are expected to obtain health insurance by 2014 through the federal health law, an expansion that will likely exacerbate the state’s doctor shortage and could even squeeze primary care access in the Bay Area, experts say. Even without the Affordable Care Act, a worsening doctor shortage had been forecast as the state’s and nation’s population ages and grows, and as a generation of older doctors retires.

News Headlines Article

Why Getting to a Digital Health Care System Is Going to Be Harder Than We Thought Ten Years Ago
The Health Care Blog

A leading scientist once claimed that, with the relevant data and a large enough computer, he could “compute the organism” – meaning completely describe its anatomy, physiology, and behavior. Another legendary researcher asserted that, following capture of the relevant data, “we will know what it is to be human.” The breathless excitement of Sydney Brenner and Walter Gilbert —voiced more than a decade ago and captured by the skeptical Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin – was sparked by the sequencing of the human genome.

News Headlines Article

Autism bill, other measures set to take effect
San Francisco Chronicle

One of the new laws set to take effect in Alaska will require health insurance policies to cover treatment of autism spectrum disorders. All or portions of a number of bills became law, effective Tuesday, with the start of 2013. Another new measure provides tax incentives to encourage oil and gas exploration outside the North Slope and Cook Inlet. A part of the autism bill took effect earlier, establishing a task force to study issues such as the state providing insurance coverage for the disorder.

News Headlines Article

Doc communication, medication adherence tied: study
Modern Healthcare

As many as three in 10 patients in a recent study didn’t take common drugs in the ways prescribed by physicians, but doctors can improve medication adherence if they have a good relationship and trusting communication with patients.

The study, “Communication and Medication Adherence: The Diabetes Study of Northern California,” published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that doctors could reduce the rate of medication “nonadherence” by forming better relationships with patients.

News Headlines Article

Employers Must Offer Family Care, Affordable or Not
New York Times

In a long-awaited interpretation of the new health care law, the Obama administration said Monday that employers must offer health insurance to employees and their children, but will not be subject to any penalties if family coverage is unaffordable to workers. The requirement for employers to provide health benefits to employees is a cornerstone of the new law, but the new rules proposed by the Internal Revenue Service said that employers’ obligation was to provide affordable insurance to cover their full-time employees.

News Headlines Article

Drug Makers Losing a Bid to Foil Generic Painkillers
New York Times

Public officials have long urged makers of powerful painkillers to do more to make the medications harder to crush and abuse. But now that some companies have done so, they want something in return — a ban on generic versions of the drugs they make that do not have such tamper-resistant designs. In coming months, generic drug producers are expected to introduce cheaper versions of OxyContin and Opana, two long-acting narcotic painkillers, or opioids, that are widely abused.

News Headlines Article

Hospitals going paperless to boost efficiency
San Francisco Chronicle

On one floor high in Regional Medical Center in Anniston is a room with nothing but rows of desktop computers. From there, it’s a few clicks for a physician to check a patient’s medical chart and prescribe medication. Outside on a wall in the hallway is a small flat screen that shows where patients are, which rooms are occupied and which need cleaning. In years past, all these things were accomplished with countless paper forms and by phone calls.

News Headlines Article

Health reform: What’s coming in 2013
KTVU.com

The year 2012 was a big year for the Affordable Care Act. It survived a Supreme Court challenge and another during the presidential election. With President Obama in office for another four years, the health reform law will continue down the road to take full effect in 2014. But there is much work yet to be done, and 2013 promises to be a very active year. The big story to watch in 2013 will be the development of state-based health insurance exchanges.

News Headlines Article

Reform, other changes trigger doctors’ network
Ventura County Star

More than 250 doctors in Ventura County are developing a network designed to make sure they communicate about a patient’s care and meet other standards aimed at driving down costs, triggering reimbursement bonuses and keeping people out of hospitals.

Called an integrated care network, it belongs to a partnership trend that some observers say could push a doctor with a solo practice to the edge of extinction.

News Headlines Article

Hospital’s new Discharge Planner has big shoes to fill
Gridley Herald

Upon meeting Frances Cole-Boyd, MSW, one of the first things she mentioned is the fact that she has some pretty big shoes to fill replacing Wilma Storne as Discharge Planner. Storne retired last month and Cole-Boyd has only been on board two weeks but in that time could easily see that Storne made quite an impact at Biggs-Gridley Memorial Hospital. “I hope I can do her justice,” she stated.

News Headlines Article

Medicare says medical equipment costs down under pilot program in San Bernardino/Riverside counties
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

A two-year Medicare cost-cutting experiment in San Bernardino and other areas has been wildly successful, officials say, reducing the price of certain medical equipment by 42 percent and saving the government and taxpayers more than $200 million nationwide.

Those savings, however, have exacted a cost, say some local suppliers, forcing them to close their doors while rewarding large out-of-area companies that finance lower prices through bigger volume.

News Headlines Article

Employees and retirees can lose health insurance when a firm closes or is sold
Washington Post

For some people, the promise of employer-provided health insurance is reason enough to take a job or stay put in one. But unexpected events — a corporate bankruptcy or sale, for example — can undermine the security of on-the-job coverage and leave both employees and retirees with few affordable options.

Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will make it easier for people who lose their job-based coverage to get comprehensive health insurance at a price they can afford through the state-based health insurance exchanges.

News Headlines Article

Study Suggests Lower Mortality Risk for People Deemed to Be Overweight
New York Times

A century ago, Elsie Scheel was the perfect woman. So said a 1912 article in The New York Times about how Miss Scheel, 24, was chosen by the “medical examiner of the 400 ‘co-eds’ ” at Cornell University as a woman “whose very presence bespeaks perfect health.” Miss Scheel, however, was hardly model-thin. At 5-foot-7 and 171 pounds, she would, by today’s medical standards, be clearly overweight. (Her body mass index was 27; 25 to 29.9 is overweight.) But a new report suggests that Miss Scheel may have been onto something.

Commands