News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Inside Three ACOs: Why California Providers are Opting for the Model
California Healthline

Visit SDIndyACO.com, and you’re greeted by a Hawaiian shirt hanging in an otherwise empty closet. “Future home of something quite cool,” the page’s headline reads. Forget unicorns, camels and all the other metaphors used to describe accountable care organizations these past few years. The website — the homepage of the newly formed San Diego Independent ACO, which was one of 106 organizations named last week to Medicare’s Shared Savings Program — could sum up where we stand now on ACOs.

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Assembly Hearing Addresses Issues of Risk
California Healthline

It was not your usual subject for an Assembly hearing in the Capitol Building. Yesterday’s hearing convened by the Assembly Committee on Health took on the arcane and important subject of adverse selection and risk pools. The nerdy-tech tone of the hearing was not lost on its participants. “I have to applaud the committee — for taking on such a dry topic,” said David Panush, director of government relations for Covered California, the state’s health exchange. “But it is so important. I’m really glad to see it.”

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Governors in 22 states back expanded Medicaid plan
Yahoo! News

At least 22 governors, including four Republicans, support an expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law, while others are expected to decide in the coming weeks, experts said on Wednesday. An analysis published by the New England Journal of Medicine said the headcount, which includes 13 Republican governors who staunchly oppose Medicaid expansion, portends an uneven start for “Obamacare” when its most sweeping reform provisions begin on January 1, 2014.

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What Employees Should Know About Healthcare Changes Ahead
Insurance Journal

If you like your 401(k) retirement savings account, you’re going to love what healthcare reform does to your employer-provided health care plan.

In a post-Obamacare future, expect more employers to adopt defined contribution healthcare plans. Instead of providing coverage, they will throw a set amount of cash at workers and have them buy their own coverage on private employer-sponsored exchanges.

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Vaccine schedule for U.S. children is safe, Institute of Medicine declares
The Mercury News

The typical American child receives 24 immunizations by age 2, with some getting as many as five shots during a single doctor’s visit. Is this the best way to protect young children from deadly diseases, or does it overload the immune system of these tiny bodies making some vulnerable to a vaccine-induced reaction? On Wednesday, after reviewing existing research, the influential Institute of Medicine declared the recommended vaccine schedule safe.

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Docs skeptical of online ratings, ACPE survey finds
Modern Physician

According to a survey of physician executives, doctors are still highly skeptical of online ratings from patients and don’t think many patients consult them—but most acknowledge that they have checked out their own profiles.

The American College of Physician Executives sent the survey (PDF) to more than 5,600 of its almost 11,000 members, with about 730 responding in October and November last year.

Only 21% believed that more than half of U.S. patients consulted an online-rating site, with 55% believing only one-quarter of patients or fewer had done so.

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Stroke survivors at higher risk of depression
Orland Press Register

One out of every three people who have had a stroke develop depression afterward. That group of survivors is three times as likely to die early as people who have not suffered a stroke, according to a new USC study. The research, to be presented in March at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in San Diego, examined a large population – 10,550 people between the ages of 25 and 74. They were studied over the course of 21 years.

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Segregation Linked in Study With Lung Cancer Deaths
New York Times

African-Americans who live in highly segregated counties are considerably more likely to die from lung cancer than those in counties that are less segregated, a new study has found. The study was the first to look at segregation as a factor in lung cancer mortality. Its authors said they could not fully explain why it worsens the odds of survival for African-Americans, but hypothesized that blacks in more segregated areas may be less likely to have health insurance or access to health care and specialty doctors.

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How to find the best medical information online
Los Angeles Times

If you turn to Google before turning to a doctor when you’re feeling icky, you’re not alone.

Last year, 1 in 3 Americans typed their symptoms into search engines and medical websites before seeing their physician, according to a Pew Research Center study released this week.

And with the flu epidemic making its way steadily west, now seems like a good time to talk about the best way to search for health information online.

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Ambulance fees going up in south S.J.
RecordNet

County officials voted to raise rates charged by ambulances in the southeastern reaches of San Joaquin County to bring the rates in line when ambulances respond to medical emergencies elsewhere in the county.

On Tuesday, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted to raise the rates ambulances can charge in and around the cities of Manteca, Ripon and Escalon.

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HIMSS, ACP also weigh in on Stage 3 MU
Modern Healthcare

The American College of Physicians, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and Texas Medical Society have joined a growing chorus of organizations calling for revisions to proposed Stage 3 meaningful-use criteria and the way future standards for the federal electronic health-record incentive payment programs should be developed.

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Inpatient prices help ease hospital CPI growth in 2012
Modern Healthcare

Growth in consumer prices for hospitals slowed last year compared with the prior year, largely thanks to more sluggish growth in inpatient prices, newly released data show.

Hospital consumer prices climbed 5.1% in 2012 after an increase of 6.2% in 2011, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. Inpatient hospital price growth also decelerated, increasing 5.2% in 2012 compared with 6.8% the prior year. Outpatient hospital consumer price growth was largely steady last year, with growth of 5% after a gain of 5.1% in 2011.

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Some With Autism Diagnosis Can Overcome Symptoms, Study Finds
New York Times

Doctors have long believed that disabling autistic disorders last a lifetime, but a new study has found that some children who exhibit signature symptoms of the disorder recover completely. The study, posted online on Wednesday by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, is the largest to date of such extraordinary cases and is likely to alter the way that scientists and parents think and talk about autism, experts said.

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Steinberg: Retiree health, CalSTRS need attention this year
Sacramento Bee

During a meeting with the Capitol press corps today, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said lawmakers need to look at the cost of retiree health benefits and stabilizing the state teachers’ retirement system. The Sacramento Democrat said he doesn’t anticipate any moves towards a hybrid-style retirement system for the state’s public employees this year.

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Why ACOs Are not HMOs and Other Important Questions
The Health Care Blog

Mohammad Al-Ubaydli: Let’s just start from the beginning. Tom, can you please give us an introduction about yourself and your background? Thomas Tsang: I’m a general internist by training. I practiced internal medicine in New York City, first at a small community hospital where I predominantly worked with residents and medical students and mostly taught principles of outpatient medicine, ambulatory care and interviewing techniques.

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A crucial time for Medi-Cal
Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown has thrown his support behind expanding Medi-Cal, the health insurance program for impoverished Californians, to the full extent authorized by the 2010 federal healthcare reform law. It was the right choice, and Brown deserves credit for recognizing that the benefits to public health and the economy outweigh the potential costs. But his budget proposal left state lawmakers to decide whether to keep responsibility for the expanded program in Sacramento or hand it off to the counties.

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$1,079.28 worth of reasons to celebrate Obamacare
Los Angeles Times

I recently got a medical bill that reminded me just how much I’m looking forward to when all of Obamacare’s provisions kick in.

In December, I found myself suddenly doubled over with abdominal pain. My physician couldn’t see me right away, and since I’d never experienced anything so drastic and debilitating, I went to the emergency room — one that was in-network. Now that I’ve gotten my bill, I really wish I hadn’t.

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