News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Diabetes is a stubborn adversary
Los Angeles Times

One by one, the diabetic patients reluctantly stepped on the scale in the basement of a South Los Angeles clinic. Nearby, a nurse scribbled numbers on a chart.

Camara January, 31, her round face framed by a sparkly headband, held her breath. The number stopped at 245 pounds. “That’s not good,” January said. Tracy Donald, 45, stepped up. Just under 240 pounds. “That is wrong,” she said. Ramon Marquez, 62, tall and clean-shaven, methodically took off his watch, his cap and his shoes. 170 pounds. Ramon strips down to almost nothing, the others jokingly complain.

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Officials hurry to set up California health benefit exchange
Ventura County Star

At a mid-November conference in Sacramento on implementation of the federal health care overhaul in 2014, California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley outlined the political aspects of the task ahead. Though President Barack Obama had been re-elected in part on the promise of expanding access to health care, Dooley said, voters will hold her boss to a higher standard if he seeks re-election in November 2014. They will judge Gov. Jerry Brown in part on how well the state delivers on that promise.

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Low-income kids shuffled onto Medi-Cal
San Francisco Chronicle

On Tuesday, California started dismantling a popular health care program for low-income children by shifting nearly 200,000 young people into the massive Medi-Cal program, a move many health advocates fear will disrupt their care. And this is just the first phase of the transition away from the program called Healthy Families. By August, the nearly 900,000 people in the program will be shifted into Medi-Cal.

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Health care cost commission getting to work
San Francisco Business Times

A new commission — whose members include Kaiser Permanente CEO George Halvorson and Dignity Health CEO Lloyd Dean — has begun work to develop practical state policies to contain health care costs. The State Health Care Cost Commission was formed last year and is scheduled to have its first meeting in February. “States continue to be the laboratory for health care policy and change,” Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, co-chairman of the commission, said in a call with reporters Friday.

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Analysis: Obama may turn Medicare reform into wider health debate
Yahoo! News

President Barack Obama could seek common ground with Republicans in the looming battle over Medicare spending by broadening the debate over entitlement reform to encompass the spiraling healthcare costs that confront a wide range of Americans. In recent public remarks the president has identified the U.S. healthcare system’s sky-high price tag – by far the highest in the world – as a driving force for Medicare reform. The administration is expected to release a report on 2011 national healthcare expenditures on Monday that should further underline well-known trends.

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Liberals learn there’s nothing ‘affordable’ about the Affordable Care Act
Biz Pac Review

The New York Times reported something Saturday that conservatives knew was coming since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted — you can’t create a mammoth bureaucracy, plant it smack dab between patient and physician and expect it to decrease health care costs. Someone has to pay for all those bureaucrats and cover the administrative costs that result. Insurance companies can’t do it — they’d be out of business in no time. Same for health care providers. The government? Nope! The system would eventually collapse and take the economy down with it.

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The Other Health-Care Reform
Pacific Standard

Nothing rattles the mind quite like a toothache; anybody who’s suffered one can attest to that. What’s less appreciated is that poor oral health can throw the rest of the body into disarray as well. Research has linked gum disease with diabetes, heart and lung ailments, strokes, and premature births. Children who don’t see a dentist are more likely to miss school because of infected teeth and gums, and to grow into adults with serious dental problems. And missing teeth make it all but impossible to secure a middle-class job. Dentistry, it turns out, is destiny.

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Health care coverage sold in stores
San Francisco Chronicle

The next big thing in health insurance may be on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, N.Y. There, tucked between a drugstore and a mobile phone center, is the storefront where UnitedHealth Group is learning to sell health insurance to consumers the way other companies sell shoes, office supplies or iPhones. The experiment by UnitedHealth, the biggest U.S. medical insurer, is designed to help the company compete in anticipation of sweeping changes under the new health care law.

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Health insurance rates going up by double digits: NYT
Hot Air

Remember that Nancy Pelosi told us that we needed to pass ObamaCare to find out what’s in it. Barack Obama promised to “bend the cost curve,” too. Looks like both of them were right, at least according to the Paper of Record, which discovers to its surprise that dumping nebulous mandates on insurers causes them to bend the cost curve sharply upward (via Instapundit):

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Insurance companies rush to raise rates into the double-digits
Catholic Online

California is expected to be hit especially hard by these increases. According to Dave Jones, the California insurance commissioner, some insurance companies could raise rates as much as they can before the law is enacted. Expected to be hardest hit by the sudden rate increases, are small businesses and people who do not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own.

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Physicians learn to ask about exercise
San Francisco Chronicle

Roll up a sleeve for the blood pressure cuff. Stick out a wrist for the pulse-taking. Lift your tongue for the thermometer. Report how many minutes you are active or getting exercise. Wait, what? That last item probably isn’t part of the usual drill at your doctor’s office, but a movement is stirring to change that. One recent national survey indicated only a third of Americans said their doctors asked about or prescribed physical activity.

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Poll: Few Americans know all the risks of obesity
Monterey Herald

Heart disease and diabetes get all the attention, but what about the many other ways obesity can damage your health?

Carrying too many pounds may lead to or worsen some types of cancer, arthritis, sleep apnea, even infertility. But a new poll suggests few Americans realize the links.

Only about one-quarter of people think it’s possible for someone to be very overweight and still be healthy, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

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Vast cache of Kaiser patient details was kept in private home
Los Angeles Times

Federal and state officials are investigating whether healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente violated patient privacy in its work with an Indio couple who stored nearly 300,000 confidential hospital records for the company.

The California Department of Public Health has already determined that Kaiser “failed to safeguard all patients’ medical records” at one Southern California hospital by giving files to Stephan and Liza Dean for about seven months without a contract.

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Health Insurers Raise Some Rates by Double Digits
New York Times

Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers. Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own.

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AthenaHealth buys Epocrates for $293 million
San Francisco Business Times

AthenaHealth Inc. has agreed to acquire Epocrates Inc. for about $293 million to gain the company’s mobile health care technology. AthenaHealth (NASDAQ: ATHN) agreed to pay $11.75 per share in cash for Epocrates (NASDAQ: EPOC), which represents a 22 percent premium over Epocrates’s closing price Friday. AthenaHealth said it would finance the acquisition with available cash and an existing credit facility.

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Breast cancer: Studies under way to determine why Bay Area communities have high rates
The Mercury News

At 48, Albany resident Marie Loverde has never had breast cancer. Neither has her 86-year-old mother, Margaret. Yet the women have joined 15,000 other families in a decades-long study to solve a troubling medical mystery: why big swaths of the Bay Area have abnormally high rates of invasive breast cancer. “I have a daughter and she’s only 9, so it’s an issue for me personally,” Marie Loverde said. “I wish there was something more definitive so we could say, ‘OK, avoid this entirely.’”

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Bill for health reform comes due in 2013
North County Times

Taxpayers are feeling the first significant financial sting of federal health care reform as a passel of new taxes took effect on the first day of the new year.

A total of six new health care reform taxes were implemented on Jan. 1. High wage earners are feeling the biggest pinch, though middle-income taxpayers and businesses also are affected.

The new provisions join a half dozen other taxes, ranging from a 10 percent levy on tanning services, to a surcharge on drug manufacturers, that took effect in earlier years.

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Another surgery — while knee-deep in the insurance swamp
Los Angeles Times

Andrew Fabella, are you out there?

Please report to post-op at Keck Hospital of USC early Monday morning.

I’m coming back to have the other knee done. That’s right, folks, I’m kicking off the new year by getting a partial right knee replacement because my medial cartilage is cottage cheese and I’m bone on bone, just like I was on the left knee. I need to be in top shape this year because I’ve got mayoral candidates to chase and a 9-year-old daughter who’s already too much for me to handle on the tennis courts.

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Alice in Healthcareland
The Health Care Blog

2013 has arrived and employers now find themselves on the other side of a looking glass facing the surreal world of healthcare reform and a confusion of regulations promulgated by The Accountable Care Act (ACA) and its Queen of Hearts, HHS Secretary Sebelius. Many HR professionals delayed strategic planning for reform until there was absolute certainty arising out of the SCOTUS constitutionality ruling and the subsequent 2012 Presidential election.

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Building a Better Health Care System: Patient-Friendly Orders
The Health Care Blog

Here’s another technically easy and culturally hard product: Patient Friendly Orders. My version of this idea was born when I was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia about 5 years ago. Even though I had previously worked in that hospital, the quality of communication about my care between the patient and the medical team was poor. This got me thinking… There should be a touchscreen by my bed that lists all the current doctors’ orders.

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