News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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CMS Changes Course on Rebilling RAC-Denied Claims
Health Leaders Media

The federal government announced this week that it will change its contentious policy of flatly denying any reimbursements to hospitals that provide medically necessary care determined by auditors to have been delivered inappropriately in an inpatient setting. The interim rule is seen as a major victory for hospitals, which had claimed that the existing rule prevented them from collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in reimbursements.

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Painful cuts: Jewish Home faces loss of millions from Medi-Cal
J Weekly

It’s been around since 1871, withstanding the Great Depression, several recessions and two major earthquakes. It’s been the last refuge of comfort for generations of Jewish seniors. Yet could the Jewish Home of San Francisco now face its demise all because of the stroke of a governor’s pen?

With the lifting of a temporary injunction last December, a new statewide law may soon go into effect, triggering massive Medi-Cal cuts to 100 nursing homes in California, including what some say will be a multi-million-dollar hit to the Jewish Home.

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New HIE tool kit targets rural hospitals and clinics
Modern Healthcare

Leaders of critical-access hospitals and other rural hospitals and healthcare clinics now have access to a tool kit containing five online guides to help them participate in health information exchange. The kit, developed by the not-for-profit National Rural Health Resource Center, based in Duluth, Minn., includes an assessment guide detailing what to consider before forming or joining a health information exchange; a spreadsheet to calculate an organization’s return-on-investment from HIE; a guide to understanding the federally developed Direct protocol for basic peer-to-peer records exchange; a primer on health information exchange policies; and an overview of privacy and security issues under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 2009.

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Hospitals reject new Part B rebilling rule
Modern Healthcare

Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner issued a sweeping new rule late Wednesday designed to address hospitals’ complaints that they have been collectively denied hundreds of millions of dollars by Medicare because of disputes over the differences between inpatient and outpatient care. But criticisms of the short-term ruling surfaced immediately, because it was accompanied by a detailed notice of proposed rulemaking on the same topic that critics say is actually worse than the process that is in place today.

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Does Executive Compensation Structure Need an Overhaul?
Health Leaders Media

In our November 2012 Intelligence Report, many healthcare leaders (38%) said that major enhancements are needed to their organization’s executive compensation structure to retain and engage leaders. What tactics or strategies do you think should be preserved and what needs to change? What new areas need to be developed to ensure that you can attract and keep talented leaders?

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Hospitals face dual threat if states don’t expand Medicaid: Moody’s
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals located in states that elect not to expand their Medicaid programs could find their bottom lines squeezed in the coming years as they’re hit with higher charity-care costs and fewer insured patients. A report from Moody’s Investors Service estimated that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is expected to eliminate more than $17 billion in annual aid by 2019 when the government reduces its disproportionate-share hospital payments, which compensate facilities that treat large numbers of low-income patients.

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Sutter Health posts income gain in 2012
Sacramento Bee

Sacramento-based Sutter Health reported a year-over-year gain in income in 2012.

Total income was $735 million in 2012, up nearly 16 percent from $634 million in 2011. Revenue for 2012 was $9.6 billion, compared with $9.1 billion in 2011.

Sutter said it posted a gain of $242 million in investment income and changes in net unrealized gains and losses from investments classified as trading in 2012, compared with a loss of $14 million in 2011.

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Sutter Health’s net income soars to $735 million
San Francisco Business Times

Sutter Health, the Sacramento-based health care system that runs many of the Bay Area’s biggest hospitals, saw operating revenue, and non-operating income jump last year, resulting in a healthy bottom line of $735 million. That was a 15.9 percent jump in profits from 2011’s $634 million for the 24-hospital non-profit system, led by President and CEO Pat Fry.

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Doc gender, patient-care costs not related: study
Modern Physician

There does not appear to be a link between physician gender and patient-care costs or mortality, according to a study conducted by researchers at UC Davis Health System.

Though earlier studies suggested that the communication styles and related behaviors often associated with female physicians may lower their patients’ use of services and healthcare costs, the UC Davis study demonstrated otherwise.

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OB/GYNs told robot hysterectomy not best option
San Francisco Chronicle

Pricey robotic surgery shouldn’t be the first or even second choice for most women who need a hysterectomy, says advice issued Thursday to doctors who help those women decide. The preferred method: Operate through the vagina, using standard tools rather than a robot, said Dr. James Breeden, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Increasingly, women are seeing ads that say a robot could help their doctor perform a hysterectomy more easily.

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Locals Insured Affordable Care Act
Inland Valley News

“It has been difficult not having health care coverage. I didn’t know much about the Affordable Care Act, but I just found out that I am eligible for health care. I’m excited! At least now, I won’t be scared to get sick or go to the doctor. There are a lot of people, in the same situation, who could benefit from this program,” said a 26-year-old single woman with no children.

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Docs mindful of prescription costs when given electronic access: study
Modern Healthcare

Endocrinologists and primary-care physicians use e-prescribing for 76% of their Medicare patients and 79% of their non-Medicare patients, according to a study conducted by research firm Decision Resources.

About 60% of these doctors say that within their e-prescribing program, they have access to their patients’ full lists of medicines, or formularies. As a result, they suggest that they pay closer attention to patient prescription costs.

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Health & Fitness Expo to offer free medical tests
Times Press Recorder

Products and services for those seeking health, fitness and wellness information will be on display Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24, in San Luis Obispo.

The Sierra-Twin Health Networks will present the free San Luis Obispo Health & Fitness Expo from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the Alex Madonna Expo Center, 100 Madonna Road.

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Achadjian breaks ranks on Medi-Cal
San Luis Obispo Tribune

A bipartisan bouquet is en route to Sacramento for Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, who was the only Republican in the state Legislature to vote in favor of bills expanding Medi-Cal.

The legislation, which passed both houses in spite of Republican opposition, is a first step in expanding Medi-Cal to cover another 1.2 million low-income Californians.

The enabling legislation will allow the state to take advantage of additional federal funding available through health care reform.

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Southern California hospital chain fined for unpaid wages
Los Angeles Times

California labor officials have fined a Southern California hospital chain, Pacific Health Corp., more than $7 million for not paying employee wages and bouncing payroll checks.

The company operates the Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center, Tustin Hospital, Newport Specialty Hospital, Bellflower Medical Center and Anaheim General Hospital.

All of the locations were cited except the Newport Beach facility.

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Dignity Health to sell 56 California off-site labs
San Francisco Business Times

Dignity Health, the San Francisco-based health care system with big expansion plans, confirmed Thursday that it’s entered into talks to sell 56 clinical labs and related entities in California. The Clinical Laboratory Outreach Service line includes 56 non-hospital-based labs in Sacramento, Stockton, Woodland, Redding, Long Beach, Glendale, Long Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino, Dignity Health said in a March 14 statement to the San Francisco Business Times.

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Why Haven’t Electronic Health Records Made Us Any Healthier?
The Health Care Blog

Almost 20 years ago close to 4,000 people from 200 companies gathered in San Diego for a conference to discuss the future of health-care information technology. This was before the Web. This was back when computers in physicians’ offices, to the extent they were present at all, were used only for scheduling and billing patients. Paper charts bulged out of huge filing cabinets. It was one of the first big conferences held by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

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