News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Hospital faces shortfall as health reform nears
The Press-Enterprise

If Riverside County’s public hospital were a patient, it might qualify for intensive care. Right now, Riverside County Regional Medical Center is expected to end the fiscal year with a budget shortfall of around $10 million. The hospital’s shaky footing worries county officials already anxious about how national health care reform will be implemented in California.

News Headlines Article

Hospitals work to keep patients from being readmitted
Visalia Times-Delta

For years, hospitals tsk’ed about “bouncebacks” – discharged patients who reappeared at their doors within days of heading home. Now, galvanized by a recent shift in government pay for this care, hospitals across the country are adopting a variety of creative approaches to reduce readmission rates. In October, Medicare began docking reimbursements for hospitals that had high rates of patients returning to that hospital or any others within 30 days.

News Headlines Article

Dominican Rehab shutdown to eliminate 80 jobs
Santa Cruz Sentinel

About 80 positions will be eliminated with the closure of three units at the Dominican Rehabilitation campus at 610 Frederick St., Dominican announced Monday.

The 30-bed skilled nursing facility known as the Restorative Care Unit, the orthopedic outpatient physical therapy program and the prenatal clinic will close in May, according to an announcement from Dominican Hospital’s communication office.

News Headlines Article

QUEST quality initiative sees big reductions in infections, costs, Premier says
Modern Healthcare

A quality improvement and cost-cutting initiative that has grown to include more than 333 hospitals has saved more than $9 billion and has reduced rates of central line-associated bloodstream infections, pressure ulcers and other types of patient harm. That’s according to newly released data from the QUEST collaborative, a project of the Charlotte, N.C.-based Premier healthcare alliance.

Launched in 2007 with an initial group of 157 hospitals, QUEST tracks participants across a range of measures, looking at progress in harm, mortality, readmissions, patient experience, cost of care and adherence to evidence-based practices. (QUEST stands for quality, efficiency, safety and transparency.)

News Headlines Article

AHIP report blames hospitals for rising prices
Modern Healthcare

America’s Health Insurance Plans, under fire for rising policy premiums, is touting a new study that shifts the responsibility for climbing prices to the hospital sector. A report from AHIP researchers, published in the March issue of the American Journal of Managed Care, found that hospital inpatient prices increased 8.2% per year between 2008 and 2010. They attributed 1.3 to 1.9 percentage points of that increase to more-complex care and a greater number of procedures.

News Headlines Article

California scores poorly on posting healthcare prices, report says
Los Angeles Times

California consumers don’t have easy access to prices for medical care, according to a national report card that gave the state a letter grade of D for its dismal showing.

Overall, 36 states received grades of D or F in the report issued Monday by two nonprofit healthcare groups that analyzed government efforts to make pricing information widely available to consumers. This issue has taken on added importance in recent years as patients shoulder a growing share of healthcare costs from higher deductibles and other insurance changes.

News Headlines Article

Prescription needed to remedy generic drug pricing shenanigans
Los Angeles Times

Wanda Ferrin fills her husband’s prescription for the generic antibiotic doxycycline at a Target in Simi Valley. For years, the medication has cost her $6 a month.

In February, however, the price tripled to $18 for 30 pills. And this month, it skyrocketed to $133.

This is noteworthy enough. But what happened next makes the entire business of drug pricing a study in lunacy.

News Headlines Article

Hearings slated on FDA regulation of health apps
Modern Healthcare

Lawmakers and mobile health advocates plan to address how the Food and Drug Administration should regulate mobile health technologies, such as smartphones and mobile medical apps that are increasingly being used for health-related reasons. The House Energy and Commerce Committee plans to hold three subcommittee hearings this week. The daily hearings, which begin Tuesday, will focus on the administration’s perspective on mobile health innovation and regulation, how innovation benefits patients and wireless innovation in healthcare.

News Headlines Article

False-positive mammograms take mental toll, study finds
Los Angeles Times

Long after learning that a troubling reading on a screening mammogram was just a false alarm, women continued suffering negative psychological effects, researchers in Denmark have reported.

Six months after hearing they did not have breast cancer, women with these false positives experienced changes in “existential values” and “inner calmness” as great as for women who had cancer. They reported having more anxiety, feeling more pessimistic and having more problems with their sleep and sex lives — as well as other negative outcomes — than women who had normal mammograms.

News Headlines Article

71 million received free preventive care under ACA: HHS
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration says about 71 million privately insured Americans received coverage for at least one free preventive healthcare service as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2011 and 2012. HHS‘ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation arrived at that conclusion using data from a Kaiser Family Foundation survey and U.S. Census Bureau data.

The Kaiser survey estimated that 41% of all workers had employer-backed insurance that expanded coverage as a result of the ACA. That figure, when applied to Census Bureau data showing that 173 million Americans have such coverage, results in the estimate of 71 million people receiving the free services.

News Headlines Article

AMGA officials stress cost of being heard in D.C.
Modern Physician

Medical groups need to tell their stories on how federal regulations are affecting their operations and it would be helpful if the physicians in those groups contributed financially to lobbying efforts, according to speakers at the American Medical Group Association annual conference, which ended March 16 in Orlando, Fla. While it’s important to be engaged in the legislative process, Karen Ferguson, AMGA director of regulatory affairs, said that—once legislation gets passed—it’s “up to the federal agencies to put the meat on the bones,” and AMGA members should participate in the public comment period of this rulemaking process.

News Headlines Article

Relief nurses must begin repaying extra bonus money
Los Angeles Times

Fiona Henlon still relives the shock of the letter that arrived three years ago.

Citing a breakdown in its payroll system, Los Angeles County health officials explained that they had mistakenly paid the registered nurse an extra $6,200 over a two-year period. And the government was demanding the money back.

Henlon, 45, said she hadn’t realized that she’d received the added money because she has no set schedule and her paychecks fluctuate.

News Headlines Article

Surgery, therapy both prove good for knee repair
The Mercury News

You might not want to rush into knee surgery. Physical therapy can be just as good for a common injury and at far less cost and risk, the most rigorous study to compare these treatments concludes. Therapy didn’t always help and some people wound up having surgery for the problem, called a torn meniscus. But those who stuck with therapy had improved as much six months and one year later as those who were given arthroscopic surgery right away, researchers found.

News Headlines Article

Black children less likely to get antibiotics: study
Yahoo! News

Black children who saw doctors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey were less likely to be prescribed antibiotics for respiratory infections than their non-black peers, according to a new study. Researchers, who looked at the health records of more than 200,000 children, found black kids were about 25 percent less likely to receive an antibiotic, compared to a predominantly white group of children.

News Headlines Article

Extra health costs on the way for employers
Orange County Register

As Orange County companies gear up to renegotiate health insurance plans for 2014, employers face the likelihood of additional costs in the form of a new fee that will be imposed on insurers under the Affordable Care Act. The fee, which applies nationwide, will finance a $25 billion, three-year transitional fund, most of which is intended to help insurers defray the extra medical costs they expect to encounter once they are required by law to fully cover patients with pre-existing conditions.

News Headlines Article

Proposed Changes to Part B Inpatient Billing Open for Comment
Health Leaders Media

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is proposing changes to Part B inpatient billing in hospitals. CMS issued a notice of ruling March 13, that establishes a policy revising the current policy on Part B billing following the denial of a Part A inpatient hospital claim that a Medicare review contractor has deemed to be not reasonable or necessary.

News Headlines Article

Making heads or tails of health care plan options
Scoop

Health insurance is confusing – regardless of whether your employer provides your insurance, you qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, or if you are footing the bill yourself for private insurance. If you’re in the market to buy insurance on your own, you may worry you might be turned down due to a pre-existing medical condition or you will be charged a higher rate once the insurer reviews your application.

News Headlines Article

CalPERS preferred provider choice down to Anthem, Blue Shield
Sacramento Business Journal

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is poised to award a five-year administrative services contract for its preferred-provider organization plans — and Anthem Blue Cross has a better scorecard than Blue Shield of California. The Pension and Health Benefits Committee will discuss the proposals at a meeting Tuesday in Sacramento and make a recommendation to the Board of Administration on Wednesday. The board will take the final vote.

News Headlines Article

Kaiser to end contract with Emanuel on March 31
Modesto Bee

Kaiser Permanente has sent notices to members in Stanislaus County that its contract with Emanuel Medical Center expires March 31 and won’t be renewed. The Oakland-based health provider has contracted with the Turlock hospital to serve Kaiser patients since April 2003. Kaiser notified the California Department of Managed Health Care in February that the contract would terminate.

News Headlines Article

States Must Step Up to Help Consumers Gain Access to Health Care Prices
The Health Care Blog

American consumers know more about the quality and prices of restaurants, cars, and household appliances than they do about their health care options, which can be a matter of life and death. While we have made some progress in getting consumers reliable quality information thanks to organizations like Bridges to Excellence and The Leapfrog Group, for most Americans, shockingly little information still exists about health care prices, even for the most basic services.

Commands