News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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MediCal cuts threatens EPHC with closure
Plumas County News

Eastern Plumas Health Care is facing an emergency. But there is no ambulance or team of doctors that can fix this deep cut; it’s all up to California legislation.

In the next 30 to 60 days, the California Department of Health Care Services will be implementing a 25 percent cut to MediCal reimbursements to California hospitals.

Not only will DHCS be lowering the reimbursement rates back to the same rates of 2008, it will also be demanding retroactive payment dating back to June 2011.

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CBO Analysis Renews Calls for SGR Repeal
Health Leaders Media

A Congressional Budget Office analysis released this week lops $107 billion from the cost of eliminating the Sustainable Growth Rate funding formula, and that new estimate has resuscitated efforts by some in Congress and the physicians’ lobby to repeal the reviled but unenforced mandate. The new projection, found on page 31 of the CBO’s 77-page Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2013 to 2023, explains that repealing the SGR would cost $138 billion over the next 10 years—significantly less than the $248 billion priced in previous estimates.

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CMS seeks input on aligning quality reporting
Modern Healthcare

The CMS is seeking information on how clinical quality measure data that physicians are already reporting to medical boards, specialty societies and other nonfederal programs can be used to meet requirements of its Physician Quality Reporting System and its electronic health record incentive program. “We are seeking input on how alignment of certain requirements present in both federal and nonfederal CQM reporting programs could reduce the burden for eligible professionals and accelerate quality improvement,” a CMS request for information stated.

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Lawmakers offer dueling approaches on fixing doc pay
Modern Healthcare

Dueling legislative approaches to overhaul the Medicare physician payment formula emerged this week.

The new movement on the stubborn problem comes as the Congressional Budget Office revised the 10-year cost of fixing it down by more than 40%, to $138 billion from $245 billion, based on lower spending on physician services in recent years. There are some general similarities but also critical differences between an approach contained in bipartisan legislation introduced Wednesday and a Republican bill expected later in the week.

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Lawmakers call again for device tax repeal, touting bipartisan support
Modern Healthcare

Two lawmakers reintroduced a bill Wednesday to repeal the medical-device excise tax, this time with bipartisan support, according to its author, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.). The Protect Medical Innovation Act  targets a provision of the healthcare reform law that requires manufacturers to pay a 2.3% excise tax on the sales of certain medical devices. Paulsen was joined by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) as a co-sponsor in resurrecting the legislation.

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Student marries early to gain Obamacare benefit

When Kenya Wheeler enrolled in UC Berkeley’s Student Health Insurance Plan at the beginning of his graduate studies, he skimmed over the section outlining the $400,000 lifetime limit on how much the plan would pay for his care. At the time, the 37-year-old, rode his bike to campus every day and paid attention to what he ate, had always been fairly healthy. The lifetime cap became relevant to him in the worst way in his final semester of graduate school.

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Students for single-payer
Chico News and Review

In the fall of 2011 a few Chico State students founded the local chapter of the California Health Professional Student Alliance (CaHPSA). CaHPSA is a student-based advocacy group working alongside Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) to institute a public single-payer health-insurance system in the state of California. The goal of CaHPSA is to promote awareness of current health-care legislation in California as well as strengthen the leadership and advocacy skills of students and future health-care professionals.

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State-run exchanges will help, especially as first step toward single-payer coverage for all
Modesto Bee

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 – widely known as Obamacare – requires states to set up exchanges where individuals and small businesses can purchase insurance. The purpose of the exchanges is to help implement the reforms. For example, most of the people who will purchase insurance in the exchanges will be eligible for some sort of tax-credit or subsidy to make their insurance more affordable.

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Hidden Cost of Health Care
NBC Bay Area

The California state legislature is currently considering new ways to implement President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul. While the new law is meant to ensure healthcare for more people, the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit found it likely won’t drive down health care costs. On top of that, The Unit discovered major flaws and fluctuations in the way costs in California are reported to consumers.

Under current California law, anyone can get a list of prices for hospital services, such as what it will cost for an emergency room visit.

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Study: Disparities in persist in cancer rates

A new study of cancer rates among African Americans has good news and bad news about the second leading cause of death for all Americans. Disparities between rates of cancer among African Americans and Whites narrowed, according to the analysis published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The decrease in disparities is largely attributable to lower rates of lung cancer among African-American men, driven by less smoking in this group.

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State attorney general approves management pact for St. Rose Hospital in Hayward
The Mercury News

The state attorney general has approved an agreement between St. Rose Hospital and Alecto Healthcare Services to manage the financially struggling facility with an option to buy. But Attorney General Kamala Harris imposed strict conditions on the pact between the nonprofit St. Rose and for-profit Alecto, requiring the hospital to: Maintain obstetric, cardiac, 24-hour emergency care and other services. Continue treating low-income Medi-Cal patients.

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Mercy General official given service award
Sacramento Bee

Sister Clare Dalton, vice president of mission integration at Sacramento’s Mercy General Hospital, has been presented with the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society’s 2012 Medical Community Service Award.

Since 2006, Dalton has managed the chaplain, health ministry, nurse school health and volunteer departments at the hospital.

This award recognizes a non-physician community member who has made a significant contribution to a medical or public health issue.

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Children’s Hospital Los Angeles offers greater access with new outpatient centers
Long Beach Press-Telegram

Andrew Ramirez went in for the tackle like he’d done hundreds of times before as a varsity football player for Lawndale High School.

But this time was different; something went wrong. Ramirez slipped and ended up twisted on the ground with 200-pound players piled on top of him.

Underneath, the 15-year-old was lying on a broken back. His father, Sergio Pintado, rushed him to Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance, where they were then referred to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – more than 25 miles away.

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Consumer group calls for laws to boost monitoring of doctors
Los Angeles Times

A consumer advocacy group Wednesday called for new laws to improve the state’s monitoring of doctors who prescribe dangerous narcotics.

Consumer Watchdog said reforms were needed to reduce surging prescription drug overdoses and to rein in incompetent and corrupt physicians.

“We call upon you to convene hearings immediately to deal with this crisis and consider appropriate solutions,” the Santa Monica-based group wrote in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers.

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Obamacare is Coming! How L.A. County Is Preparing
Los Angeles Magazine

Los Angeles County released a video yesterday detailing their efforts to prepare for President Obama’s health care reform taking effect in 2014. Turns out some changes are already well underway.

County departments are looking at Obamacare as an opportunity to do what they have longed to do for some time: provide more people with comprehensive healthcare coverage. Many uninsured patients seek care too late, or worse, do not seek care at all when they are in desperate need of medical attention.

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Is Walgreens the Future? What a Big Pharmacy Chain’s Moves Tell Us About Obamacare
The Health Care Blog

Two-hundred-and-fifty-nine organizations have been named Medicare accountable care organizations. Most were formed by hospitals. Some were launched by physician groups. And three were created by a pharmacy chain. Walgreens’ move into shared savings is many things: unusual, eye-catching, a sign of the times. But it’s not surprising, observers say, as the pharmacy chain has been cultivating a broader strategy to ramp up its role in frontline care.