News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Patients balk at considering cost in medical decision-making, study says
Washington Post

In recent years, consumers have increasingly been encouraged to factor cost into their medical decisions — by, for example, avoiding unnecessary tests, buying generic drugs and reducing visits to the emergency room. The hope is that a patient better educated and more engaged in his or her health decisions will choose options that will both promote better health and decrease costs.

But a study published last month in the journal Health Affairs found that a majority of patients were reluctant to consider cost when making medical decisions, nor did they want their doctors to do so.

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Data-Driven Healthcare Comes with IT Hurdles
Health Leaders Media

In healthcare, the IT group is in a pivotal position to enable its organization’s response to reform and other industry changes by putting in place an infrastructure that can guide administrative and clinical leaders alike to deliver better outcomes at reduced cost.

But the hurdles to be overcome in reaching those goals can be considerable.

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‘Virtual house calls’ for Parkinson’s as beneficial as office visits: study
Modern Healthcare

“Virtual house calls” using Web-based videoconferencing are comparable to in-person physician office visits, according to a study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center. The study, which followed the care of 20 people with Parkinson’s disease, demonstrated that virtual house calls can provide equivalent clinical benefits to patients, while also saving them time and travel.

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GOP budget takes aim again at Obamacare, Medicaid
San Francisco Chronicle

House Republicans are sticking to their guns on the federal budget, promising to try to repeal so-called Obamacare, cut domestic programs from Medicaid to college grants and require future Medicare patients to bear more of the program’s cost. The point is to prove it’s possible to balance the budget within 10 years by simply cutting spending and avoiding further tax hikes, even as the fiscal blueprint to be released Tuesday by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will be dead on arrival with the White House and Democrats controlling the Senate.

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RyanCare, third time’s no charm: Our view
USA Today

Thanks largely to Paul Ryan, Medicare is no longer an issue that dare not be mentioned in American politics. In 2011 and 2012, House Republicans passed his overhaul of the popular health program for seniors and lived to retain their majority in last November’s election.

That has prompted Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and last year’s Republican vice presidential candidate, to try a third time. His overhaul plan is expected to be part of his budget out today.

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Sebelius urges expansion of Medicaid programs
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration sought to recruit city leaders Monday in the ongoing battle to expand Medicaid nationwide.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urged attendees at the National League of Cities’ annual legislative forum to join in the administration’s ongoing push to convince Republican governors to expand their Medicaid programs, as called for by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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To save Medicare, change the model: Opposing view
USA Today

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is proposing important Medicare reforms as part of a 10-year balanced budget plan. He’s absolutely right to do so. Medicare is not sustainable in its current form. It costs too much even as the quality of care it provides falls well short of what seniors deserve. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Medicare’s costs will reach $1.09 trillion in 2023, up from $551 billion in 2012.

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Will Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion Pay Off?
San Francisco Chronicle

In the following video, Motley Fool health care bureau chief Brenton Flynn continues his coverage of all things related to the Affordable Care Act, and discusses an article from Kaiser Health News highlighting the massive enrollment opportunity offered to Medicaid-focused managed care companies. He takes a look at the numbers to show just how big this new opportunity could be, but also warns of some potential uncertainties and headwinds, as this new group of beneficiaries has some qualities that could crimp insurance company profits.

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Obamacare’s other benefit
Los Angeles Times

If it is done right, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) may well promise uninsured Americans a lot more than cheap, reliable medical care. It can also open the door to the democratic empowerment of millions of poor people, who are often alienated from much of the nation’s civic life, by strengthening the organizations that give them a voice.

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Supervisors hear of health reform’s implications for KMC
Bakersfield Californian

The leader of a trade group for California public hospitals cautioned the Kern County Board of Supervisors Monday to keep an eye on how the expansion of Medicaid will impact public hospitals.

Those hospitals, like Kern Medical Center, and counties may have to help foot the bill and still have to cover many indigent residents. One way the Affordable Care Act expands health care coverage is by giving more people access to Medicaid, a public insurance program for the poor.

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Colonoscopy ‘Potentially Inappropriate’ for 30% of Seniors
Health Leaders Media

During the year after an influential U.S. task force advised providers to stop routine screening colonoscopies in seniors over age 75 because risks of harm outweigh benefits, as many as 30% of these “potentially or probably inappropriate” procedures were still being performed, with huge pattern variation across the nation, especially in Texas. “We found that a large proportion of colonoscopies that are performed in these older patients were potentially inappropriate based on age-based screening guidelines,” says Kristin Sheffield, PhD, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, lead researcher of the study.

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Special report: Doctors report big pharma payouts for drug endorsements
San Bernardino Sun

Drug money runs deep in the Golden State. It comes from the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies and leads to a mental health clinic in Granada Hills, an anesthesiologist’s office in Santa Monica, and to a cardiologist with practices in Glendale, Pasadena, and Long Beach. In fact, hundreds of physicians, psychiatrists, and medical school faculty members across California are on the payroll of major drug companies, earning tens of thousands of dollars for speaking to other medical professionals at events held by industry leaders that make drugs such as Advair, Cymbalta, Viagra and Zoloft.

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UC SHIP Advisory Board postpones coverage cap decision
The Daily Californian

The UC SHIP Advisory Board met Monday to weigh options on the controversial health care coverage cap issue.

Representatives from the UC Office of the President urged the board to take a firm position on the coverage caps, but board members refrained from taking a position until student groups had a chance to present their views, according to campus board representative and Graduate Assembly President Bahar Navab.

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Inland Empire Provider Positioning for Growth in Reform
California Healthline

Marking yet another step in the steady expansion of its reach in the Inland Empire, Loma Linda University Health is planning to construct a medical and educational complex in San Bernardino that could serve up to 250,000 patients each year. Experts said the expansion is likely part of the health system’s strategy to better position itself for changes to health care reimbursement and hospital patient volume expected as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

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UC hospital workers allege patient neglect, harm
Orange County Register

A labor union representing about 15,000 UC hospital workers has issued a report accusing UCI Medical Center and four other hospitals of inadequate and uneven staffing levels that have led to patient neglect and harm. In the 40-page report released Thursday, union leaders alleged that bedridden patients at UCI Medical Center in Orange were developing pressure sores and urinary tract infections because of understaffing, and that workers tasked with monitoring sick and critical patients were skipping their breaks to avoid jeopardizing patient safety.

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Widespread Flaws Found in Ovarian Cancer Treatment
New York Times

Most women with ovarian cancer receive inadequate care and miss out on treatments that could add a year or more to their lives, a new study has found. The results highlight what many experts say is a neglected problem: widespread, persistent flaws in the care of women with this disease, which kills 15,000 a year in the United States. About 22,000 new cases are diagnosed annually, most of them discovered at an advanced stage and needing aggressive treatment. Worldwide, there are about 200,000 new cases a year.

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Nurses’ group offers ICU telecare guidelines
Modern Physician

Communication skills and prior bedside clinical experience are vital for nurses involved with remote monitoring of patients in the intensive-care unit, according to new guidelines issued by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. “Tele-ICU nurses demonstrate that shared goals, shared knowledge, and mutual respect are the elements necessary to create successful integration between the tele-ICU environment and bedside nursing practice,” the document states as the first “essential element” in the practice guideline on effective communication.

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Small businesses running out of time for health care tax credit
Sacramento Business Journal

Many small employers qualify for a health care tax credit under the federal health reform law — but they must file by the March 15 corporate tax filing deadline, according to the California Chamber of Commerce. The credit is intended to help small businesses and small tax-exempt organizations afford the cost of providing health benefits for their employees. It equals up to 35 percent of the insurance premium costs small employers pay for providing health benefits to their workers.

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Wal-Mart not the right face for California’s health care reform
The Daily Titan

The health plan Covered California is attempting to partner with Wal-Mart franchise in order to help enroll Californians in a health care plan. This can come as a shock to some who do not see Wal-Mart as a company who should be representing the health care for the state.

Let’s think about this for a minute; since when has Wal-Mart been the “shining example” of what is right when it comes to health benefits? The company has had quite some trouble in the past for not treating their workers the best.

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Kaiser Permanente tops J.D. Power rankings in California for sixth consecutive year; Health Net trails pack
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente is on top of the J.D. Power and Associates health plan rankings once again, heading the parade for the sixth year in a row in a study released Monday morning. Overall, the marketing information services company’s 2013 survey covers 136 health insurers in 17 U.S. regions. In California, Kaiser’s Kaiser Foundation Health Plan topped the rankings in the 1,000-point scale with 760 points.

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