News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Scripps makes $10.7M bid for hospice
San Diego Union-Tribune

Scripps Health has made a starting bid of $10.7 million for San Diego Hospice’s real estate and other assets and plans to advance the nonprofit $5 million so that it can continue to make payroll, a new bankruptcy filing shows.

The hospice announced Wednesday that it would cease operations and begin laying off employees within 60 to 90 days, and its latest bankruptcy filing paints a picture of an organization on the edge of financial collapse.

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Anthem Blue Cross rolls back rate increase
Los Angeles Times

In response to pressure from California regulators, Anthem Blue Cross agreed to a slightly lower rate increase for about 630,000 individual policyholders that will save consumers an estimated $54 million.

Anthem, a unit of Indianapolis insurance giant WellPoint Inc., had sought to raise rates an average of 18% beginning Feb. 1. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said Thursday that the company had agreed to reduce the average increase to 14% after regulators reviewed Anthem’s rate filing.

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Q&A with WellPoint’s Next CEO, Joe Swedish
Health Leaders Media

Trinity Health CEO Joseph R. Swedish this week was named the new CEO of WellPoint Inc., effective March 25. Though Swedish is well known and highly regarded in the hospital sector, a number of health insurance industry analysts reacted with surprise upon hearing the news. Many acknowledged they’d never heard of the executive from Livonia, MI, who will soon lead the nation’s second-largest health insurance company.

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Scripps to buy hospital and assume patients, employees from failing hospice
Modern Healthcare

Scripps Health has agreed to buy the inpatient hospice facility and assume the remaining patients and employees of a San Diego hospice organization that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week.

According to a Feb. 13 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Diego, Scripps Health will pay $10.7 million for San Diego Hospice’s 23-bed facility and will extend a debtor-in-possession loan of up to $5 million to help the hospice maintain operations pending the transition. The plans must be approved by the court.

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Health insurance exchange receives a boost in Chicago from Sebelius visit
Live Insurance News

Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, made an appearance in Chicago, yesterday, in order to launch the rebranded health insurance exchanges as coverage “marketplaces.” A central element of the healthcare reform law that was first implemented in 2010, these health insurance exchanges are meant to provide individuals and small businesses with an online location where they can compare plans and shop for them.

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Few States Choose to Operate Health Insurance Exchanges
Health Leaders Media

One of cornerstones of federal healthcare reform is the health insurance exchange, an online marketplace where consumers will be able to shop for health insurance plans and apply for federal subsidies to help pay for monthly premiums. But with the arrival of healthcare reform less than one year away, the federal government is scrambling to ensure that every state has an exchange ready to launch by October.

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State of Medical Care: Preparing for Obamacare
The Appeal-Democrat

From the sprawling Sutter North campus on Plumas Boulevard to the crowded waiting rooms of Ampla Health’s clinics the challenge is clear.

For Yuba-Sutter medical service providers, it’s a game of growth against driving down — or at least, stabilizing — costs and providing care to more people while becoming more efficient.

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Baucus demands details on progress toward insurance exchanges
Modern Healthcare

Despite renewed assurances that the federal government will have its insurance exchanges ready to begin enrollments Oct. 1, the senior Senate health policy Democrat demanded more details on the secretive effort.

Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, on Thursday required the CMS to provide his panel with the agencies’ specific goals for the establishment of federally operated health insurance exchanges and the timeframes for accomplishing those benchmarks.

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MPUSD’s skyrocketing health premiums
Monterey Herald

For the second time in less than three years, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District (MPUSD) employees and their families will see pay cuts in the form of skyrocketing insurance premiums, passed on to employees by the district.

MPUSD’s health care insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, administered through CalPERS, recently sent out fliers indicating premium rates would rise by 16 percent for the entire district.

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eHealth Initiative offers cancer resource guide
Modern Healthcare

The eHealth Initiative, a Washington-based not-for-profit, has released a guide for patients and families detailing the available digital tools and technologies for cancer care. Divided into five categories, such as “tools for decision making” and “tools for lifestyle management,” the guide features 76 digital tools, including websites, software and mobile applications.

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Former Barton doctors concerned over medical records transfer
Tahoe Daily Tribune

Staff at Tahoe Women’s Care in Carson City, Nev., are digging through thousands of medical records left in disarray after the group’s South Shore office shut its doors last year.

The Tahoe Women’s Care office in South Lake Tahoe closed after contract negotiations between Barton Health and two OB-GYN physician groups fell through last fall. Barton opened its new facility, Barton Women’s Health, on Jan. 2, but some new patients are still waiting for their previous medical charts.

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Ventura County’s pediatric intensive care unit celebrates 1st anniversary
Ventura County Star

The notes shook in his hands as Kasha Clemons stood at the podium and thanked the people who helped save the foster child he loves.

“(He) was released from the hospital free from the oxygen we thought he’d need for the rest of his life,” the Santa Paula foster dad said, his voice broken.

Clemons spoke at Thursday’s anniversary celebration of the Ventura County Medical Center’s pediatric intensive care unit, which opened Feb. 14, 2012.

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Alcohol said to have big role in cancer
San Francisco Chronicle

Even moderate alcohol use may substantially raise the risk of dying from cancer, according to a study released Thursday offering the first comprehensive update of alcohol-related cancer deaths in decades. “People don’t talk about the issue of alcohol and cancer risk,” said Dr. David Nelson, director of the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the National Cancer Institute and lead author of the study.

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Voters support soda tax if money goes to fight obesity
HealthyCal.org

California voters oppose the idea of taxing sugary sodas unless proceeds of the tax are used to improve school nutrition and physical activity programs, a new polls has found. The survey found that voters oppose such a tax by a margin of 53 percent to 40 percent when they are first asked their opinion. But when told the money raised would go to fight childhood obesity, voters take a dramatically different view, supporting the idea by a margin of 68 percent to 29 percent.

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Rehab hospital planned for Modesto
Modesto Bee

City officials confirmed Thursday that an 80-bed rehabilitation hospital is planned at Coffee Road and Mable Avenue in Modesto. HealthSouth California Real Estate LLC recently submitted a proposal for building the 70,000-square-foot hospital on 5½ acres at the northeast corner of Coffee and Mable. The city Planning Commission is expected to consider the multimillion-dollar project Feb. 25.

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UC Davis doctors took advantage of the vulnerable
Sacramento Bee

Basic rules that guide the ethical treatment of all patients cannot be waived for the most vulnerable, the terminally ill. Clearly in the case of Terri Bradley – a University of California, Davis, brain cancer patient – those basic rules were ignored. That’s the message and the warning underlying the story of Bradley’s life and painful death, as reported by The Bee’s Marjie Lundstrom.

In November 2010, UC Davis neurosurgeons J. Paul Muizelaar and Rudolph J. Schrot implanted live bacteria in an open wound in Bradley’s brain.

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Recovery that isn’t
San Mateo Daily Journal

With the stock market humming along near all-time highs, it seems the economy is back right? But is it? Considering the last all-time stock market high was in 2007, one would think we would be significantly over that point by now despite the depths of the 2008 plummet particularly since our gross domestic product is supposed to add at least two percentage points a year to be successful.

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The 30-day Readmission Rate: Not a Quality Measure but an Accountability Measure
The Health Care Blog

Should we hold hospitals accountable for what happens after a patient leaves the hospitals’ doors? A year ago, I thought the answer was no. A hospital’s job was to take care of sick patients, make them better and send them on their way. With more thought and consideration, I have come to conclude that I was probably wrong. It may be perfectly reasonable to hold hospitals accountable for care beyond their walls, but we should be clear why we’re doing it.

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The Rise of the Non-Physician Expert
The Health Care Blog

I remember when one of my patients with coronary artery disease suggested that he be given a course of an antibiotic to lower his future risk of a heart attack. The patient had done his homework, quoting literature that pointed to a possible infectious link to atherosclerosis. He also was aware of the theory that aspirin’s benefit had less to do with blood thinning than reducing underlying inflammation.

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