News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Mental health treatment newly available at clinics
HealthyCal.org

While the heated national debate about healthcare reform continues, many health communities in California are quietly making changes to prepare for the Affordable Care Act’s implementation. Federal funding is available to help community clinics transition towards what they will resemble in 2014. One important change that’s taking place: community clinic are moving towards becoming ‘medical homes,’ or centers of care.

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Hospitals boost robotic surgery but training lags
San Francisco Business Times

Robotic surgery is already being used for hundreds of thousands of surgeries a year, but concerns are rising about a lack of standards for training that largely leaves individual surgeons or medical staffs to decide when they are ready. All too often, many experts say, they decide to do so too soon. The surgery, which involves the use of a computer console, camera and robotic arms controlled by a surgeon, has had mountains of hype in recent years, and more than 100 California hospitals have purchased robotic equipment at a cost of up to $3 million per unit.

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Automation and the Healthcare Cost Curve
Health Leaders Media

Automation, the use of labor-saving devices and information technology to reduce or eliminate the need for human labor, has yielded exponential savings in dozens of industries. But why is healthcare historically a slow adopter of potentially labor-saving, and thus cost-saving, techniques and technology? For one reason, there was no urgency. Productivity in healthcare, in the sense of wringing out incremental savings in labor, has lagged far behind the rest of business largely because competitive pressures present in other industries simply didn’t exist in healthcare.

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In Transfusion, More Blood Means More Risk, Higher Cost
Health Leaders Media

Many surgeons put their patients in harm’s way by transfusing far more blood than necessary for good outcomes, and incurring enormous and avoidable expenses for their hospitals and for society—as much as $1,100 per unit.

That’s according to a study of highly variable use of blood and components by surgeons who operated on nearly 3,000 patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital between February, 2010 and August, 2011. The research paper was published in the April issue of the journal Anesthesiology.

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HHS announces moves on community-based care
Modern Healthcare

HHS released a final rule for a new Medicaid community-based care option, released a proposed rule for the expansion of an existing community- and home-based Medicaid care option and unveiled the participants in a Medicare home healthcare demonstration program. The moves are all part of an effort to allow people to more easily receive care and services in their communities rather than being admitted to a hospital or nursing home, according to an HHS news release.

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Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Applauds Passage of SB 1431 By Senate Health Committee
insurance newsnet

The California Department of Insurance issued the following news release: Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced today that the California Senate Health Committee passed SB 1431, authored by Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), by a vote of 5 to 3. SB 1431 is sponsored by Commissioner Jones and the Department of Insurance.

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Sutter medical group expanding Airway services
North Bay Business Journal

Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation, the physician arm of Sutter Health in the Bay Area, will undergo a significant expansion of services in Sonoma County, with much of it being consolidated into 19,000 square feet of newly leased space at the Landmark Executive Center on Airway Drive. Sutter’s foundation is investing $13 million into the new space and other consolidation efforts, part of a wider Sutter Health strategy focusing on the expansion of outpatient services versus inpatient hospital services.

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Stanford Hospital, Blue Shield cut a 3-year deal on rates
The Mercury News

Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Blue Shield of California agreed to a three-year contract Thursday. The two sides cut the deal on health maintenance organization (HMO) and preferred provider organization (PPO) rates before a 12:01 a.m. Friday deadline, according to Stanford University. “Negotiations of this nature frequently go down to the wire,” Blue Shield spokeswoman Lindy Wagner said in an email Friday.

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Son’s delivery puts doctor at odds with his own Folsom hospital
Sacramento Bee

Six days old, Ivan Cooper slept peacefully in his mother’s arms last week, unaware of the turmoil surrounding his birth.

Cooper was born April 11 at Mercy Hospital in Folsom. His mother, Simone Morin, wanted a natural childbirth, even refusing ibuprofen after nine hours of labor. His father, Dr. Daniel Cooper, is the hospital’s former chief of staff who proudly delivered his son that morning.

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Facing big losses, two Lake County clinics to be closed
North Bay Business Journal

Sutter Lakeside Hospital announced recently it would close two clinics in Lake County.

The Upper Lake Community Health Clinic, which serves roughly 2,400 patients per year and was losing more than $200,000 a year, and a chronic pain clinic will both be shuttered in the coming months.

The hospital intends to move the clinic’s services to its Family Medicine Center at the main campus outside of Lakeport by May 31, with expanded hours and more providers to additional patients.

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Teens with diabetes have trouble managing it, study says
Los Angeles Times

New research sends a stark warning to overweight teens: If you develop diabetes, you’ll have a very tough time controlling it.

A major study released Sunday tested several ways to manage blood sugar in teens newly diagnosed with diabetes and found that nearly half of the teens failed to control their blood sugar within a few years and that 1 in 5 suffered serious complications. The results spell trouble for a nation facing rising rates of “diabesity,” Type 2 diabetes brought on by obesity.

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Conflicts Arise As Health Insurers Diversify
Kaiser Health News

Like hospitals and doctorseverywhere, Banner Health fights a daily battle to get paid by insurance companies and government agencies for the care it delivers.

So the hospital system hired a company called Executive Health Resources to fight back against the likes of Medicare and UnitedHealthcare when they deny claims or pay bills for less than what Banner thinks it is owed.

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Kentfield hospital to get $9 million upgrade
North Bay Business Journal

Kentfield Rehabilitation and Specialty Hospital will soon undergo a $9 million renovation and upgrade, a project five years in the making that is poised to begin in mid-May or early June, officials announced.

Renovations at the 60-bed hospital include the implementation of electronic medical records, a new nurse call system, expanded pharmacy services, all new medical equipment and rehab space, a new oxygen tank and numerous cosmetic upgrades to patient rooms, said Ann Gors, chief executive officer of the hospital, which is owned by privately held Pennsylvania-based Vibra Healthcare

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When it comes to health care, it matters where you live
Imperial Valley Press Online

The pain in Estela Delgado’s back was excruciating for months. One day the 51-year-old was fine. She had been exercising, eating right, taking vitamins. Then she felt a pop in her back, and the pain started. After getting worse and worse over a two-monthperiod, she got the call from Pioneers Memorial Hospital: she needed to come in immediately.

There was a plane waiting to take her to San Diego.

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Obesity-Linked Diabetes in Children Resists Treatment
New York Times

Obesity and the form of diabetes linked to it are taking an even worse toll on America’s youths than medical experts had realized. As obesity rates in children have climbed, so has the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, and a new study adds another worry: the disease progresses more rapidly in children than in adults and is harder to treat. “It’s frightening how severe this metabolic disease is in children,” said Dr. David M. Nathan, an author of the study and director of the diabetes center at Massachusetts General Hospital. “It’s really got a hold on them, and it’s hard to turn around.”

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Merck Wins Two Patent Lawsuits
New York Times

Merck & Company says it won two patent infringement lawsuits against Mylan Pharmaceuticals, a leading generic drug maker, which is seeking to make generic versions of Merck’s lucrative cholesterol pills, Zetia and Vytorin. Judge Jose L. Linares of Federal District Court in Newark ruled on Friday against Mylan, Merck said in a statement.

Both lawsuits concern the patent for ezetimibe, Zetia’s active ingredient and a part of Vytorin, which also includes generic Zocor. That is an older Merck cholesterol pill that works differently.

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The need for a health plan backup
Ventura County Star

We know that most people get their health insurance coverage through their jobs or through a family member’s employer. But a report just released by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute found that the percentage of the population with employment-based health benefits has been declining, most recently because of the recession.

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Palo Alto Medical Foundation opening Los Gatos locations
San Jose Business Journal

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation is expanding into Los Gatos. It has leased two sites on Samaritan Drive as it shops for land on which to build a new PAMF Los Gatos Center. PAMF is opening its family medicine clinic at 2400 Samaritan Drive on April 30. A team of pediatricians and obstetricians/gynecologists also will practice at 2577 Samaritan Drive, adjacent to the Good Samaritan Hospital campus.

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