News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Health care hiring tops Sacramento online postings
Sacramento Bee

Health care employers topped the list of local online job postings in March while registered nurses tallied the most job ads, according to the state Employment Development Department’s latest help-wanted online report.

The figures released Friday show three of the area’s largest health networks led the way: Sutter Health, with 671 posts, Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Healthcare West), with 390 and Kaiser Permanente with 249 job ads.

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Sneak peek: Sutter hospital construction
Sacramento Business Journal

Hospitals and hospital-related spending contribute $11.7 billion annually to the region, a new report concludes. And some of those ripple effects travel far — even to the construction industry. Sutter Medical Center’s $750 million expansion in midtown Sacramento is an example of how the city’s vibrant health care industry helps various sectors of the local economy. The 242-bed women’s and children’s center under construction — and visible from the Capital City Freeway — will open in 2013.

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‘Waiting Room’ film looks at Oakland’s Highland ER
San Francisco Chronicle

A man who lost his family’s health insurance along with his job hovers with concern over his young daughter, who has a high fever. A young man with a testicular tumor arrives on the day he was supposed to have surgery at another hospital, which turned him away for lack of coverage. A carpet layer struggles with pain from chronic bone spurs.

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Statewide computer overhaul looms for Medi-Cal
Capitol Weekly

California is in the midst of developing a complex new computer system called Health Enterprise to replace the decades-old hook-up that handles billings under Medi-Cal, the state-federal health care program for the poor, disabled and elderly that covers perhaps a fifth of the state’s population. In a letter to Gov. Brown and legislative leaders, State Auditor Elaine Howle said the new system will replace what is known as the Medicaid Management Information System, which has been in place since the 1970s.

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Auditors call for end to Medicare bonus program
San Francisco Chronicle

In a rebuke to the Obama administration, government auditors are calling for the cancellation of an $8 billion Medicare program that congressional Republicans have criticized as a political ploy. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office says in a report to be released Monday that the $8.3 billion the administration has earmarked for quality bonuses to Medicare Advantage insurance plans would postpone the pain of cuts to the plans under the new health care law.

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Some physicians offer service based on monthly retainers
USA Today

Family physician Steven Butdorf of Eugene, Ore., was tired of rushing patients through appointments, tired of insurers denying procedures, and tired of paperwork. “The burden of third-party health insurance reached a point where it just wasn’t fun to do it anymore. It was burdensome to do it,” said Butdorf, 56. “I just decided I was going to pursue a different path.” On Feb. 1, Butdorf opened Exceptional Health Care, which lets patients pay a set monthly fee in return for specific health care services — leaving out insurance companies altogether.

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FDA outlines steps to enhance agency’s post-market drug safety program
Modern Healthcare

The Food and Drug Administration said the agency now provides as much effort in monitoring the safety of approved drugs as it does during the pre-market drug review process. The FDA released three reports on Saturday that outline the steps its Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has taken to enhance the agency’s postmarket drug safety program.

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How Hospitals Can Save Water and Big Bucks Too
Health Leaders Media

It may seem odd that a leading proponent for water conservation in hospitals works in Washington, a state famous for its prodigious rainfall.

For more than a decade, Geoffrey W. Glass, director of Facility and Technology Services at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, has been finding ways to dramatically cut water use and waste. Through simple, economical, and incremental steps, the water conservation program has saved the 390-bed hospital at least $250,000 a year.

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Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System studies options for its future
The Californian - Salinas

You might say it’s like a high-stakes poker game.

One player has already folded; another brings a massive pile of chips; one may be a hometown favorite; and the player who called for the game may decide to switch to solitaire.

At stake is the long-term health care available to Salinas residents and what entity will provide it.

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Hospital’s urgent care centers win accolades
San Bernardino Sun

The Urgent Care Association of America has awarded St. Bernardine Medical Center’s two urgent care centers with the “Certified Urgent Care Center” designation. The title, offered to only a few urgent care centers in the country, distinguishes both sites as centers of care that must provide patients with walk-in, extended-hour medical attention from licensed health care providers for a wide range of medical conditions, plus offer onsite X-ray and laboratory services.

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Docs group presses for better funding, coordination of public-health infrastructure
Modern Healthcare

The American College of Physicians is warning against possible cuts to the country’s public health infrastructure. In a 38-page position paper (PDF) released during the ACP’s annual meeting in New Orleans, the organization pressed for more funds for workforce training, medical informatics, adequate supplies of vaccines and other medications, emergency preparedness, public education programs and other tools it says are necessary to ensure population health.

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FAH urges caution on CMS demo projects involving dual-eligibles
Modern Healthcare

An association representing for-profit hospitals is waving the caution flag at “ambitious” CMS plans to better coordinate care among beneficiaries eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.

The concerns stem from guidance the CMS issued in January to help applicants develop pilot projects to better treat dual-eligible beneficiaries.

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AHRQ reports find lingering disparities, slow gains in quality
Modern Healthcare

A new federal report found access to healthcare for racial and ethnic minorities did not improve in the years before 2010’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which includes policies intended to reverse that trend.

The National Healthcare Disparities Report (PDF) from HHS‘ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality showed that between 2002 and 2008, Latinos, American Indians and Alaskan Natives experienced worse access to healthcare than whites on more than 60% of access measures and that blacks experienced worse access on a little more than 30% of measures.

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Sutter Lakeside Hospital announces cost-cutting measures
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sutter Lakeside Hospital is closing two clinics in Lake County to cut costs.

The clinics — a pain management program in the Lakeport hospital and a general health clinic in Upper Lake — have been operating at a $1.2 million annual loss, said hospital administrator Siri Nelson. The hospital also has said it intends to lay off 10 percent of its employees as the result of an overall deficit of $2.8 million last year, Nelson said.

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A Response to Critics on the Founding Fathers and Health Insurance Mandates
The Health Care Blog

Last week, I wrote an article describing several purchase mandates adopted by the framers in early Congresses, including two medical insurance mandates imposed on shipowners and seamen. These examples rebut the claim by challengers to Obamacare that purchase mandates are wholly unprecedented in a way that allows us to infer they are unconstitutional, a claim on which they rely heavily because there is no text, history, or case law that affirmatively supports a ban on purchase mandates.

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