News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Sequester’s Medicare cuts would start with services provided in April
Modern Healthcare

If sequestration kicks in Friday as planned, the 2% payment reduction to Medicare providers and insurers will be for services provided on or after April 1, an HHS spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

When asked if HHS has already alerted providers and insurers about the date of the payment cuts, the spokesman replied in an e-mail, “If sequestration occurs, official notifications will be made.”

The lack of any notice from HHS left provider groups to wonder when their members will see those reductions.

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In California, ICD-10 Prep Has Become a Team Sport
Becker's Hospital Review

In an effort to gather and share knowledge by working together to prepare for hospitals’ mandatory ICD-10 transition in October 2014, California healthcare leaders representing providers, payors and vendors launched the California ICD-10 Collaborative consortium this month and hosted a webinar today to introduce their plans and objectives.

Working collectively rather than individually to design and execute ICD-10 implementation strategies is essential, leaders say, because no payor or provider can afford to get ICD-10 wrong.

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More Male Nurses, But Wage Disparity Persists
Health Leaders Media

Men represent less than 10% of the nurse workforce in the United States, a U.S. Census Bureau report shows. Their numbers are steadily increasing and they now make significantly more money on average than their female colleagues. The report, Men in Nursing Occupations, uses data gleaned in the 2011 American Community Survey which found that 9.6% of the nation’s registered nurses were men, up from 2.7% in 1970.

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San Pablo: Cash-strapped Doctors Medical Center could face closure within a year
The Mercury News

Fiscal matters have reached a crisis stage again for Doctors Medical Center, and employees and union leaders implored the hospital’s board of directors Wednesday evening to find a way to preserve services and keep the doors open. The hospital, which was saved from bankruptcy in 2006, has a projected $10 million deficit for 2013 and is running out of reserves to keep operating, according to interim CEO Dawn Gideon. Although revenue from reimbursements rose, Doctors had a $1.2 million deficit in January and $16.4 million cash on hand, enough for 45 days of operations, according to a financial report presented at the meeting.

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Inside medicine : High drug costs
Sacramento Bee

We have a problem that no one seems willing to discuss. The costs of medications are going through the roof.

Take for example cancer medicines. Let’s say we want to treat metastatic melanoma – a skin cancer. The cost of medication alone is $120,000 for four treatments, which might extend life a few months. We’re at the point where the majority of new cancer drugs cost at least $20,000 for a 12-week course, and often people need multiple courses and multiple drugs.

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Over 45 firms plan to pass device tax to providers: GPO group
Modern Healthcare

More than 45 medical supply and device manufacturers have informed hospitals that they plan to pass the cost of the medical-device excise tax on to providers, according to a list compiled by the Healthcare Supply Chain Association. The HSCA, which represents group purchasing organizations, published the names of 48 companies on a new website that launched Thursday.

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Demand grows for advanced mammography systems
Modern Healthcare

The average cost of digital mammography systems continues to rise as providers maintain interest in the 3-D digital breast tomosynthesis system, according to the most recent Modern Healthcare/ECRI Institute Technology Price Index. The index provides monthly and annual price data for about 30 supply and capital items purchased by hospitals and other healthcare providers, based on three-month rolling averages.

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Beware Flaws in Online Physician Rating Sites
Health Leaders Media

Since they debuted in the mid-2000s, websites that provide user-generated ratings of physicians have become a popular destination for consumers looking for a doctor. But several recent studies suggest the websites raise more questions than answers due to a number of flaws, including questionable rating methods and small sample pools.

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After reform, a million more kids will be insured – but will they be able to find a dentist?
HealthyCal.org

When Maggie Cardenas heard she could get her children’s teeth cleaned at her Women, Infants and Children’s Program (WIC) office in Yreka, she brought three of her children in right away. The dental hygienist who cleaned her eldest daughter’s teeth told Cardenas that she saw a grey spot on one of six-year-old Sunshine’s back molars that needed to be checked by a dentist. Cardenas, whose husband is out of work, has been on Medi-Cal since 2006.

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Most employers to keep sponsoring health plans: survey
Modern Healthcare

Faced with a stiff financial healthcare reform law penalty and other financial costs, the overwhelming majority of employers intend to keep sponsoring healthcare plans, with many planning design changes, according to a new survey. Released Thursday, the survey of nearly 800 large and midsize employers found that just 6% of respondents intend to completely exit the healthcare system over the next three to five years. The finding is not surprising, says Jim Winkler, chief innovation officer in Norwalk, Conn., with Aon Hewitt’s U.S. health and benefits practice.

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Insurers not covering behavioral therapies for autism, California says
Los Angeles Times

Insurers have been skirting their obligation under recently enacted state law to provide costly behavioral therapies for autism, according to the Department of Insurance, which is proposing emergency regulations aimed at enforcing the law.

In July, California joined more than two dozen other states in requiring private insurers to cover such treatments when medically necessary.

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California Insurance Commissioner Meeting with UC Riverside Leaders Thursday
U.C. Riverside

Key leaders at the University of California, Riverside will hear an update from California’s Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Thursday, Feb. 28 on important issues in the insurance industry relevant to the work of the University. As head of the California Department of Insurance, Dave Jones ensures that consumers are protected and that the regulatory process is equitable.

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County sets up TulareCare for indigent patients
Porterville Recorder

As a precursor to the Affordable Care Act going into effect in 2014, Tulare County supervisors Tuesday approved the establishment of the Low-Income Health Program or LIHP, also called TulareCare, for eligible Medi-Cal patients.

TulareCare will target adults 19 to 64 years old with incomes at or below 75 percent of the federal poverty level. That takes in a large portion of those in Tulare County who have no ability to pay for health insurance or medical care.

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The ‘Good Answer’ on Rising Health Insurance Premiums
The National Review

I guess it depends upon your definition of a “good” answer. Once Obamacare requires insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions, kids under 26, birth control pills and so on, the companies will cover those costs by… raising premiums for all customers. So that’s a “good answer” in the sense of explaining the situation. But I guess if you’re a fan of Obamacare, it’s not really a good answer.

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Making a way for Medicare: Your Say Interactive
USA Today

One of this country’s biggest deficit drivers, Medicare, would be virtually untouched by the sequester. The program, which could be broke in as little as 11 years, is also the target of scams and fraud.

The solution? Depends on who’s talking. Some say the age at which one qualifies for Medicare should be increased from 65 to 67.

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Talking to the City Attorney about Healthy San Francisco
San Francisco Chronicle

Every restaurant in town will love what I am going to say. I had lunch with City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and I looked at a copy of the report of the restaurants that charged surcharges on the check for San Francisco health care. It’s being determined by the City Attorney’s office that in fact that many of those surcharges aren’t reflective of what was actually spent on health care coverage. The question is whether or not the restaurants still have the money, and what they did with it if they don’t have it. Some restaurateurs are worried stiff.

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How Many States Are Really Opting In?
The Health Care Blog

Same story, different week: A governor who opposed the Affordable Care Act changes course and announces plans to opt into the Medicaid expansion. Supporters of the ACA rejoice, conservatives grumble, and a new number gets tacked on the board – 24 states opting in, at last count. Yet there’s more to the story than governors’ speeches. In at least eight of those states, lawmakers are warning that they may not go along with expansion plans.

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