News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Obamacare has Southern California health officials scrambling
Long Beach Press-Telegram

Veronica Vidal flashed a smile, pleased with the doctor’s examination on her 2-year-old daughter, but she frowned when she reflects on the pending changes to the nation’s healthcare delivery system. She’s able to get her daughter, Savanah, treated in a timely manner, but she worries that a referral to a specialist or a dentist might require extended delays for treatment. “I don’t like the change,” said the young mother, lifting the girl from the examining table.

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Many employees opt for lower-cost healthcare coverage through exchanges
Modern Healthcare

More than 40% of employees opted for a less expensive plan than what they previously had when their employers offered them coverage through a private health insurance exchange, according to an Aon Hewitt analysis released Monday.

The analysis involves a private exchange Aon Hewitt launched last year, with the first policies effective Jan. 1.

The exchange offers coverage to nearly 100,000 employees, including the U.S. employees of Aon Hewitt parent Aon P.L.C., Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based retailer Sears Holdings Corp. and Orlando, Fla.-based chain Darden Restaurants.

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Hospital CPI growth quickens in February; doc prices stay flat
Modern Healthcare

Hospital consumer prices increased 0.8% last month after the prior month’s 0.2% rise, newly released federal figures show. Consumer prices increased more rapidly last month compared with the same month a year ago, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index showed a 0.1% increase. For the year that ended last month, hospital consumer prices increased 5.4%, which was identical to growth during the prior 12 months. The figures are seasonally adjusted.

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Call for screening of healthcare enrollers meets resistance
Los Angeles Times

State officials say they need 20,000 people for the job of signing up millions of Californians for health insurance in the coming months, but a battle is brewing over whether these workers should undergo background checks and fingerprinting. At issue is the level of screening these “assisters” should receive before they handle confidential information about the people they are enrolling this year in the state’s new health insurance exchange, called Covered California.

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The More Businesses Learn About Obamacare, The More Reluctant They Are To Hire
Forbes

Earlier this month, the Fed released its latest “beige book” – a monthly report on economic conditions across the country. The book noted that employers across the country have “cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.”

The more businesses learn about the president’s health reform law, the more they’re coming to realize that “affordable care” is the last thing it will provide.

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CMS Unveils Hospital Violations Database
Health Leaders Media

For the first time, providers, payers, and patients now have an enormous searchable database containing documents detailing about 8,000 serious federal safety rule violations—many of which have caused serious patient harm or death—at about 1,000 U.S. hospitals since January, 2011. The documents, which resulted from federally authorized complaint investigations and are called “2567s,” were released over the weekend by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services after a long-standing request from and collaboration with the Association of Health Care Journalists. The AHCJ has organized the document files on a searchable website on its site, hospitalinspections.org.

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Medicare bidding competition in danger: Our view
USA Today

In 2010, Medicare spent more than $14 billion on oxygen devices, mobility scooters, diabetes test strips and other “durable medical equipment” and supplies that patients use at home. For taxpayers, and for beneficiaries with a 20% co-pay, that was about $5 billion too much. Everyone overpaid because for years, Medicare bought or rented things like this on a fee schedule set by Congress, for prices that had nothing to do with normal market competition.

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When States Reject Medicaid Expansion, Providers, Businesses Will Pay
Health Leaders Media

States that reject Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act will subject the hospitals and employers within their borders to a considerable financial hit, separate analyses show. At last count, 14 states have said that they would reject Medicaid expansion and three other states are leaning that way despite the federal government’s assurances that it would pay 100% of the cost for the first three years of the expansion, and 90% of the cost after that.

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County wants state to run Medi-Cal expansion
Napa Valley Register

As California prepares to deliver health care to an estimated 1 million more residents next year due to federal health care reform, Napa County is looking for the state government to shoulder the burden of providing the expanded care.

A major portion of the almost 3-year-old federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is an option for states to expand Medicaid to low-income adults currently ineligible for the program.

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What the US Can Learn From China’s Health Care Reform
The Health Care Blog

Wang Li is a 48-year-old farmer from Dalian, China. After a two-day trip to the major provincial hospital, he’s heading home to his village to die. Wang has lung cancer, and even with insurance, his surgery will cost him 20,000 RMB — $3,000, which is twice his annual salary. The surgery would be curative, but it doesn’t matter. “I cannot burden my family,” he said. I am a Chinese-born, American physician who just returned from a two-month research trip spanning twelve cities and nine provinces in China, where many of the health care reforms in contention in the U.S. have already been tried.

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Case Study: What Should the Health Plan Executive Do?
The Health Care Blog

Here’s a hypothetical question Roger Longman posed to a panel at the recent Real Endpoints Symposium that is probably worth a little thought from everyone; since the issues raised are intended to be general, I’ve modified this scenario slightly to try to make it as non-specific as possible, so it explicitly doesn’t (and isn’t intended to) apply to a particular disease state or to particular drugs. Here’s his hypothetical:

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Health-care reform forum draws overflow Yuba City crowd
The Appeal-Democrat

Much remains unknown about the federal Affordable Care Act that begins Jan. 1, people who packed into a town hall forum Friday in Yuba City were told.

“We’re talking the federal government here,” Assemblyman Dan Logue said. “Everybody’s going to have health coverage. But is everybody going to get health care?

“The people in California really have no idea where we’re headed,” he said.

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Bill seeks nonprofit hospital charity boost, Eisenhower Medical Center on list
The Desert Sun

A new bill under consideration in Sacramento would require not-for-profit hospitals such as Eisenhower Medical Center to raise charity spending to 5 percent of their net revenue.

The law, proposed by California Assemblymen Bob Wieckowski of Fremont and Rob Bonta of Alameda — both Democrats — would require full disclosure of where the charity dollars are spent. The bill establishes a new regulatory step to review community benefit statements and plans that nonprofit hospitals already are required to produce.

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UC San Diego Health System Listed among Nation’s Top Neurosurgery and Spine Programs
UCSD News

University of California, San Diego Health System has been named among “100 Hospitals with Great Neurosurgery and Spine Programs” by Becker’s Hospital Review, a news publication for hospital and health system leadership. According to the Becker’s Hospital Review editorial team, these hospitals offer outstanding spine and neurosurgical care, and were selected based on nominations, clinical accolades, quality care and other spine and neurosurgical proficiencies.

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Why don’t teens get shots for HPV and other diseases?
USA Today

Concerns about safety and side effects for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine — one of the newest shots recommended for adolescents — has increased among parents: 16% cited these fears as the main reason they did not have their daughters vaccinated in 2010, up from 5% in 2008, a new study finds.

And the percentage of parents who said they did not intend to vaccinate their daughters against HPV in the next 12 months also grew, from 40% in 2008 to 41% in 2009 to 44% in 2010, even as parents reported increasing physician recommendations to get the shot, says the study in April’s Pediatrics, released online Monday.

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Flawless operation
RecordNet

Patience. Focus. Sure hands.

And the training to cut someone open, know what they’re looking at, and proceed safely to heal their patient. Just some of the qualities people expect from a surgeon.

Dr. Sam Zaid, chief resident surgeon at San Joaquin General Hospital in his fifth and final year of training in the hospital’s highly regarded surgery residency program, has those attributes.

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State insurance commissioner presses case for power over health premiums
North Bay Business Journal

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones continued to apply public pressure on Blue Shield of California and other large insurers for recent rate hikes, saying the increases will negatively impact individuals and small businesses disproportionally and that the increases aren’t in tune with national medical inflation rates. In an interview with the Business Journal between speaking engagements in Sonoma County on Thursday, Mr.

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S.F. avoids retirees’ health care issue
San Francisco Chronicle

For politicians who get awfully riled up about exposed genitalia in the Castro or what to call our local airport, the good folks at City Hall sure do have a knack for looking the other way when it comes to matters of huge financial import. Take the city’s $4.4 billion unfunded liability to pay for health care for its employees and retirees over the next 30 years.

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National Health Foundation honors Loma Linda University Medical Center CEO Ruthita J. Fike with Leadership Award
PRWeb.com

The National Health Foundation (NHF), in association with the Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC), honored Loma Linda University Medical Center’s (LLUMC) CEO Ruthita J. Fike with the Ludlam-Gamble award on Tuesday, March 12 at a Tribute Dinner, “A Celebration of Leadership, Vision and Commitment.” “I am truly honored to have been invited to be a part of National Health Foundation and the good work your organization does for so many,” shared Ms. Fike in her acceptance speech amongst hundreds of her colleagues, partners, board members, professionals and family members who comprised the sold-out crowd.

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Kaiser managers to receive bonus after all
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente has figured out a way to pay a bonus to managers, supervisors and other non-union employees after all. Up to 14,000 employees will receive a one-time recognition bonus in April, spokeswoman Gerri Ginsburg said Friday. How much is unclear. She declined further comment. This is a turnabout from an announcement in February — and stories in the Business Journal — that the nonprofit health plan and health system did not generate the extra money needed last year to fund performance bonuses expected this week.

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Match day underscores interest in primary care
Modern Physician

Primary care was a winner in this year’s National Resident Matching Program match day, with the number of students choosing primary-care specialties rising by nearly 400 to 7,328, according to the NRMP, which brings together specialty programs with applicants using a computer program based on the preferences of both.

Primary care is getting more attention as a result of expected changes to healthcare, said Dr. Wayne Riley, president and CEO of Meharry Medical College in Nashville.

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Most states earn ‘F’ in price transparency: report
Modern Healthcare

Most states have limited laws or no laws at all to guarantee patient access to information on hospital and clinic prices, according a newly released report that found poor disclosure and incomplete information in three dozen states. The report, released by the Catalyst for Payment Reform and the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, awarded an F to 29 states—including seven without any price laws whatsoever—and gave another seven states a D.

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