News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Healthcare Hiring Strong Despite Looming Sequester Cuts
Health Leaders Media

The healthcare sector created 32,000 jobs in February despite the specter of 2% Medicare cuts mandated by sequestration, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Within the healthcare sector there was a gain of 14,000 jobs in ambulatory healthcare services, which include physicians’ offices and outpatient care centers. Hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities each created 9,000 jobs for the month.

News Headlines Article

Visalia and Tulare hospitals retool for health reform
Modesto Bee

With the Affordable Care Act arriving on Jan. 1, three local health care organizations are beginning to prepare for the changes that will be brought on by the 2,409-page document.

The act, also known as Obamacare, was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, with the goal of bringing health care coverage to the uninsured. That could mean nearly 2 million more people that will enroll in Medi-Cal, the state’s publicly funded Medicaid program for low-income residents.

News Headlines Article

Too few doctors take Medi-Cal as access is set to expand
Modesto Bee

In less than one year, Obamacare’s promise to bring health care to perhaps 1 million more poor California residents will be tested. The big day arrives Jan. 1, 2014, when Medi-Cal, a publicly funded health program for low-income and disabled residents, launches a huge statewide expansion. But making a promise is one thing, and delivering is another.

News Headlines Article

Must work together to save our East Bay hospitals
The Mercury News

On behalf of the 3,500 members of the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association, I am writing to share the medical community’s grave concern over the possible closure of several East Bay hospitals. Limitations in the existing hospital bed capacity in the East Bay have physicians concerned that any further loss in the capacity could pose a public health threat to this community. Physicians’ concerns about hospital capacity are the result of observations about the limitations in our local system during this time of year, when the flu and other seasonal viruses spike demand for medical care.

News Headlines Article

Americans Without Insurance Get Hit With Biggest Hospital Bills
San Francisco Chronicle

By the time Astra Augustus left Virtua Memorial Hospital in New Jersey after the last of four surgeries, she’d run up about $255,000 in bills. At first, Augustus said, she thought she was lucky. Virtua gave her a charity discount, to $30,530. Then she got statements from the doctors who treated her in the hospital, adding $18,000. “I didn’t know who to pay first,” Augustus said. Virtua sued last month after she fell behind in her $400-a- month installment plan.

News Headlines Article

Experts help hospitals communicate through art
Sacramento Bee

Northern California’s health care providers have been on a building binge lately, and their need to brighten up all those new hallways, waiting rooms and lobbies has helped keep a handful of professional art consultants busy despite the soft economy. Just like Sacramento’s public buildings, the area’s newest health care facilities feature plenty of original artwork, chosen by people with a practiced eye and time to search for art en masse. “If they’re looking for something that’s really distinctive, they’re going to look toward an original art source,” said Beth Jones, an art consultant since 1991 and co-owner of the Jay Jay gallery in east Sacramento. “Not just something that’s a pretty picture.”

News Headlines Article

Bundled Payments Come to Cancer Care
Health Leaders Media

When UnitedHealthcare first met two years ago with five oncology medical groups that volunteered to participate in a bundled payment program designed to reduce costs for cancer care, there was definitely uncertainty, but “nobody came into this kicking and screaming,” says Lee Newcomer, MD, an oncologist and vice president of oncology for UnitedHealthcare, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based health benefits company with 2012 revenues (through September 30) of nearly $77 billion and earnings from operations exceeding $6 billion.

News Headlines Article

Molina Medical in expansion mode
Sacramento Bee

Look around the region, and you’ll see that Molina Medical is expanding almost everywhere: doubling the size of its Norwood Avenue location, opening a new clinic this summer on Mack Road and hunting for larger space in Citrus Heights.

While cuts to Medi-Cal are threatening some hospitals’ ability to remain open, this managed-care company is actually benefiting from efforts to reduce costs in public welfare programs.

News Headlines Article

Affordable care alone may not be enough to help Latinos overcome cancer care barriers
Imperial Valley News

A combination of financial, cultural and communication barriers plays a role in preventing underserved Latino men with prostate cancer from accessing the care and treatment they need, according to a new study by researchers at the UCLA School of Nursing.

The study, “Barriers to Prostate Cancer Care: Affordable Care Is Not Enough,” is published in the March issue of the peer-reviewed journal Qualitative Health Research.

News Headlines Article

Stroke prevention device misses key goal in study
San Francisco Chronicle

The future is unclear for a promising heart device aimed at preventing strokes in people at high risk of them because of an irregular heartbeat. Early results from a key study of Boston Scientific Corp.’s Watchman device suggested it is safer than previous testing found, but may not be better than a drug that is used now for preventing strokes, heart-related deaths and blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation over the long term.

News Headlines Article

Stanislaus County clinics expect wave of people seeking care
Modesto Bee

Officials who manage safety-net clinics in Stanislaus County said they expect to see a wave of people seeking health care with the federally funded Medi-Cal expansion next year. These county residents have contact with the local health system when they walk into an emergency room or use a health clinic to take care of an urgent medical need. But they are expected to seek health care more often once enrolled in Medi-Cal, especially those with diabetes or other ongoing medical conditions.

News Headlines Article

Survey: Kaiser tops in customer satisfaction for health insurance
Los Angeles Times

For the sixth consecutive year, Kaiser Permanente ranked highest in customer satisfaction for health insurance among California policyholders, according to ratings firm J.D. Power and Associates.

Anthem Blue Cross, the state’s largest for-profit health insurer, and Woodland Hills insurer Health Net Inc. scored the lowest on customer satisfaction among seven California health plans.

News Headlines Article

Medicare, Medicaid post calls for steady leader
Monterey Herald

Once upon a time, the Defense Department and the Social Security Administration reigned as the budgetary giants of the federal bureaucracy. But as health care costs have grown and Washington has taken on more financial responsibility for them, a once-obscure civilian agency has surpassed them both: the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. In fiscal year 2011, CMS spent $962 billion on Medicare and Medicaid, about a quarter of all federal outlays that year.

News Headlines Article

Health care becomes a crapshoot
Daily Democrat

I read Steven Brill’s excellent overview of U.S. health-care costs (“Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” Feb. 20, Time magazine) a few weeks after spotting a news item about the CALSTAR membership program, and I can’t help but connect the two. Among the points Brill makes is that there is often little relationship between what a medical service actually costs and the amount the service provider charges.

News Headlines Article

Can Health Care Transparency Make a Difference?
The Health Care Blog

There’s been a lot of discussion of transparency in health care recently, e.g., a USA Today op-ed and a counterpoint by Paul Ginsburg. The appeal of transparency is obvious. As movingly documented by Steven Brill in Time, prices are high and often differ quite substantially, even across close by providers. However, we don’t know the prices for the health care that we consume, and it’s extremely difficult to find out what these things cost (e.g., this recent study in JAMA).

Commands