News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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New session of Congress brings more anti-reform legislation
Modern Healthcare

New year, same resolution.

Just weeks into the 113th Congress, GOP lawmakers are making attempts to dismantle the 2010 healthcare law, and one of those efforts has bipartisan support.

That’s the legislation introduced today by Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s contentious—and unpopular—Independent Payment Advisory Board.

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Local flu rates, deaths, continue to climb
San Diego Union-Tribune

Influenza rates continue to climb in San Diego County, pushing past 500 confirmed cases in the third week of the new year, according to a county report released Wednesday afternoon. The number of flu-associated deaths this year rose from six to 14.

Seven of those 14 deaths occurred last week. Midway through the 2012-13 flu season, the total number of deaths has already equaled the total for the entire 2011-2012 season.

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WellPoint’s 4th quarter profit jumps
Los Angeles Times

Health insurance giant WellPoint Inc. gave a lower-than-expected profit outlook for 2013 as it prepares for the federal healthcare overhaul and continues to search for a new chief executive.

WellPoint, which runs Anthem Blue Cross in California and health plans in 13 other states, reported a bigger-than-expected 38% jump in fourth-quarter net income Wednesday, boosted by one-time gains related to an income tax settlement and investments.

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Much work remains on Medicaid upgrades, survey finds
Modern Healthcare

States have made progress in implementing Medicaid upgrades required by the 2010 federal healthcare overhaul but much work remains to be done, according to an annual survey of all 50 programs. Only about 20 states have indicated that they expect to expand their Medicaid programs’ eligibility to all residents with incomes of up to 138% of the federal poverty level, as authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, said Diane Rowland, executive director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

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HHS urged to keep essential benefits affordable for small business
Modern Healthcare

A coalition of business groups, health plans and healthcare providers is urging HHS to follow private-sector approaches as the department develops a final rule on the essential health benefits that individual and small-group plans must cover as part of the 2010 healthcare reform law.

The Essential Health Benefits Coalition, whose membership includes the National Retail Federation, the U.S.

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The battle for CEQA
Capitol Weekly

California’s core environmental protection law, a 43-year-old statute frequently denounced by developers and business interests as a tangle of red tape, is on a Capitol hit list once again. But the political dynamic this year is unusual: Those pushing hard for change are Democrats, including Gov. Brown, the Senate and Assembly leaders and a farm-belt lawmaker.

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At least another year for Tulare Regional Medical Center tower
Visialia Times-Delta

The financially struggling Tulare Regional Medical Center is hoping to have government approval by February for a plan to repair damaged concrete that set its expansion back at least another year.

Major construction on the $85 million four-story tower — hoped to expand the hospital’s treatment capabilities and attract more patients — suffered a setback last spring when delamination problems developed in concrete poured for the third and fourth floors.

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UC Davis health chief gets new job
Sacramento Business Journal

Dr. Claire Pomeroy, who leads the UC Davis Health System, will take a new job as president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, a New York nonprofit that supports medical research. In November Pomeroy announced she would leave UC Davis by June. She has served since 2003, beginning as executive associate dean of the medical school and rising to hold three titles as CEO of the health system, vice chancellor of human health services and dean of the medical school.

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UCSF marks 10 years of helping to transform Mission Bay
San Francisco Examiner

Ten years ago, when the first building at the UC San Francisco Medical Center in Mission Bay opened, the area was largely undeveloped. Now the neighborhood has become a hub for biotech science.

State and local officials gathered at Genentech Hall in Mission Bay — the first building to open on the campus — to celebrate how far the medical center has come and the buildings, including a new children’s hospital, that are planned to open in the next few years.

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Docs often don’t advise the obese
Orange County Register

Overweight and obese patients might not be the only ones who dread stepping on the scale each time they visit the doctor’s office. Research shows that many physicians don’t know how to constructively discuss a patient’s weight, or they avoid the subject entirely.

Penn State doctors recently published a study showing that weight counseling by primary care doctors has decreased even as the nation’s obesity rate has grown.

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Women have caught up to men on lung cancer risk
The Mercury News

U.S. women who smoke today have a much greater risk of dying from lung cancer than they did decades ago, partly because they are starting younger and smoking more—that is, they are lighting up like men, new research shows. Women also have caught up with men in their risk of dying from smoking-related illnesses. Lung cancer risk leveled off in the 1980s for men but is still rising for women.

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Boomers needed to help with Medicare
Red Bluff Daily News

Passages is looking for baby boomers or other individuals who have a desire to help people with Medicare navigate through the complex system of healthcare coverage options.

Boomers’ computer and analytical skills are extremely valuable and needed.

Research has proved that volunteering is beneficial to the volunteer, and that there is a strong relationship between volunteering and the health of volunteers.

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Emanuel hospital workers paint picture of intimidation
Modesto Bee

Workers at Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock came forward Wednesday to discuss their claims of intimidation and harassment by hospital administration during attempts to organize an employee union. Some of the workers who came forward at a news conference held by Service Employees International Union — United Healthcare Workers West also gave affidavits to the National Labor Review Board for unfair labor practices complaints filed against the hospital earlier this month. A crowd of about two dozen attended the event.

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Interim CFO reports on hospital finances
Porterville Recorder

Sierra View District Hospital has ended 2012 in a strong fiscal position.

However, the first six months of operation, for fiscal year 2012-2013, resulted in a $511,000 loss for the hospital.

In a report to the Board of Directors of the Sierra View Local Health Care District, Interim Chief Financial Officer Michael McGinnis offered statistical highlights from November and December, as well as stats that compared the hospital’s December 2011 finances to those of December 2012.

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UCD medical dean will take foundation post
Sacramento Bee

Dr. Claire Pomeroy, who announced last November that she would step down as dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, will become president of the New York-based Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to medical research.

Officials of the nearly 70-year-old foundation said Pomeroy will join it this spring.

In November, Pomeroy announced that she would resign from her UCD post. The announcement came amid a federal investigation of neurosurgeons at the UC Davis Medical Center.

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NorthBay Healthcare in Fairfield seeks another designation — Emergency Department Approved for Pediatrics
The Reporter

NorthBay Healthcare is aiming to add another designation to its résumé by having the first Emergency Department Approved for Pediatrics. Ensuring that emergency departments provide effective emergency care to children is a national project called the National Pediatric Readiness Project. While the EDAP is not a trauma program for children, the enhanced care for young patients will complement the Level 2 trauma center designation that NorthBay Healthcare seeks.

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State-sponsored health coverage for kids in transition
Thousand Oaks Acorn

The parents of more than 20,000 Ventura County children received notices in the mail last month reminding them that their Healthy Families medical insurance will soon be transitioning into the state’s Medi-Cal program.

Healthy Families—the state-sponsored health insurance program for children and teens in low-income families—is being phased out as of Jan. 1, in accordance with Gov. Jerry Brown’s Assembly Bill 1494.

The new budget bill affects roughly 875,000 children across the state.

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Are Healthcare and Health IT in a Dysfunctional Relationship?
The Health Care Blog

What a week last week! First the disgraced cyclist confession and later the baffling college-football-player-and-his nonexistent-(dead)-girlfriend story, with the RAND report sandwiched somewhere in between. It’s positively a scandal-palooza. What’s that? You don’t feel like the recent RAND report, which basically says that a 2005 RAND study financed by GE and Cerner was wildly optimistic in predicting about $81 billion in potential health care cost savings through widespread adoption of electronic health records, qualifies as a genuine hoax, controversy, scandal?