News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Healthcare law could raise premiums 30% for some Californians
Los Angeles Times

About 5 million Californians got a first glimpse at what they might pay next year under the federal healthcare law. For many, that coverage will come with a hefty price tag.

Compared with what individual policies cost now, premiums are expected to rise an average of 30% for many middle-income residents who don’t get their insurance through their employers.

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Groundbreaking held for new Tehachapi Hospital
Tehachapi News

There were accolades all around Thursday morning as the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new hospital, culminating years of effort and a commitment by district voters to encumber property owners with $65 million in bonds. Holding a sign that said, “I’ve waited 45 years for this,” hospital employee Estella Martinez showed her obvious pleasure in the milestone.

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Better Blood Use, Better Outcomes
Health Leaders Media

What simple shift in acute care practice can reduce patients’ adverse events, cut lengths of stay, drop hospital costs by millions of dollars a year, and even prevent mortality? Not to mention save a precious human resource that may become more scarce within the next decade?

Look no further than patient blood management and a significant shift in blood transfusion service operations.

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Low-income California seniors to move into new managed care plan
Los Angeles Times

In a major shift triggered by the national healthcare law, nearly half a million low-income California seniors and disabled patients will begin moving into a new managed care program this fall.

The patients, who receive both Medi-Cal and Medicare, are among the most costly in the state. Officials believe that the program, Cal MediConnect, will reduce spending and improve care by shifting the patients out of a fragmented system and into one that is more coordinated.

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CMS unveils chronic conditions dashboard
Modern Healthcare

The CMS has created a website to make it easier for researchers to access federal data on Medicare patients, targeting those with multiple chronic conditions. According to acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, the new Medicare Chronic Conditions Dashboard focuses on the “more than two thirds of Medicare patients (who) “have multiple chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes” a percentage that Tavenner, in a news release, said is expected to rise.

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Some Californians could see 30% hike for individual health plans
Modern Healthcare

Californians who buy individual health plans will see their premiums increase an average of 14% next year under the Affordable Care Act, but payments will largely depend on income, age and where they live, according to a new report released Thursday by California’s healthcare exchange.

The report commissioned by Covered California found the increase is largely due to an influx of people who previously could not afford health insurance or were denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

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Study: Obama health law will hike some California premiums 30 percent
The Hill

Premiums on California’s individual health insurance market will rise an average of 30 percent as a result of President Obama’s healthcare law, a new study predicts. The state agency that will implement the law, Covered California, said premium increases are most likely to hit middle-income people who do not receive healthcare coverage through their employers.

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California health premiums for individual buyers will rise under federal program, study finds
Sacramento Bee

Middle-class Californians counting on the federal health care overhaul to lower their insurance premiums are in for a double-digit shock next year, a new state study shows.

People or families who buy insurance for themselves could see rate increases of up to 30 percent.

Millman consulting group performed the analysis, but the scope was limited to the individual market, meaning about 5 million Californians who do not receive insurance through their employers.

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How does your health plan measure up?
Sacramento Business Journal

New ratings from the state Office of the Patient Advocate give high marks to most HMOs in California, with PPOs generally lagging in the agency’s annual report card. Click through the slideshow to see the ratings. The Business Journal has ranked HMOs and PPOs first by the overall OPA rating and then by the average rating in patient surveys, also included in the agency’s report card.

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New gene markers for cancer risk found
Monterey Herald

A huge international effort involving more than 100 institutions and genetic tests on 200,000 people has uncovered dozens of signposts in DNA that can help reveal further a person’s risk for breast, ovarian or prostate cancer, scientists reported this week.

It’s the latest mega-collaboration to learn more about the intricate mechanisms that lead to cancer. And while the headway seems significant in many ways, the potential payoff for ordinary people is mostly this:

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Scientists discover new DNA regions associated with three cancers
Los Angeles Times

A massive gene-hunting effort involving hundreds of scientists has identified 74 newly discovered regions of DNA that are associated with breast, ovarian and prostate cancers — diseases that strike about half a million Americans every year.

The international project, known as the Collaborative Oncological Gene-environment Study, or COGS, nearly doubled the number of genetic markers known to be linked with the three cancers, scientists reported Wednesday.

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Aging with HIV poses unique health challenges
Monterey Herald

Not long after Bob Reed learned in 1986 that he had AIDS, he watched 20 of his friends die from the disease as it ravaged his body and he battled to survive.

Today, as he sits in his Saratoga home feeling better than he has in years, he ponders a question no one can answer. “Why did I make it and other people didn’t?” he asks. “There’s a part of me that has a little bit of survivor guilt.”

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Lawmakers query Sebelius on exchange grants
Modern Healthcare

Two senior Republican senators who have been critical of the healthcare reform law want to know whether the Obama administration is insulating state grants for the law’s health insurance exchanges from the spending cuts that HHS must carry out under sequestration. The sweeping federal spending cuts in effect since March 1 would deplete HHS resources by $55 billion over 10 years. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah sent a letter to Sebelius asking her to explain how the exchange grants will be affected.

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CDC launches new anti-smoking ads
Monterey Herald

Government health officials launched the second round of a graphic ad campaign Thursday that is designed to get smokers off tobacco, saying they believe the last effort convinced tens of thousands to quit.

The ads feature sad, real-life stories: There is Terrie, a North Carolina woman who lost her voice box. Bill, a diabetic smoker from Michigan who lost his leg. And Aden, a 7-year-old boy from New York, who has asthma attacks from secondhand smoke.

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Lawmaker urges extension of safe harbor for EHRs
Modern Healthcare

Normally, it would be illegal for a hospital to donate electronic medical-record software to an independent doctor who refers patients for treatment at the hospital. But federal officials created special rules to allow such transfers as a way to encourage healthcare providers to adopt the costly systems.

Those exceptions to the Stark law and the anti-kickback statute are due to expire at the end of the year, and observers say little is being done to renew them, even though federal subsidies for EHR systems are slated to continue via Medicare until 2016.

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Sequester cuts manageable for not-for-profits, ratings firms say
Modern Healthcare

Like their investor-owned counterparts, not-for-profit hospitals are expected to weather the impact of sequestration, but that doesn’t mean the belt-tightening will be easy. Medical centers across the country are preparing for April 1, when the 2% payment cut takes effect for Medicare providers. Hospitals are expected to lose $5.8 billion under sequestration—an amount that could lead to job losses and service cuts, state hospital associations warn.

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Lawmakers push to unionize, regulate Medi-Cal interpreters
Sacramento Bee

Thousands of Medi-Cal medical interpreters would have the right to join a public employees union and collectively bargain with the state under a legislative push to regulate that profession. Assembly Speaker John A. Perez is leading the drive, fueled by a major public employees union and sparked in part by federal subsidies for Medi-Cal expansion as part of national health care changes. Perez’s Assembly Bill 1263 would create an oddity in which Medi-Cal interpreters would remain independent contractors but would pay dues to a public employees union for representation. They would be guaranteed at least $60 an hour.

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Feds OK Calif. move to put dual eligibles into managed-care plans
Modern Healthcare

California on Wednesday became the fifth state—and by far the largest—to win approval of a CMS demonstration project that will put beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid into managed-care plans. The agreement between the California Department of Health Care Services and the CMS will provide a single, capitated monthly payment for providing services for about 456,000 dual-eligible enrollees, beginning in October. While that figure is significant, it is about half as much as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown requested in early 2012.

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Ease rules on who provides primary care? No
Sacramento Bee

California physicians strongly supported the Affordable Care Act because it promised first, to expand access to health coverage to all while, second, ensuring the high quality of medical practice in our state.

Those who now invoke the ACA as the sole justification for allowing non-physicians to diagnose and treat California patients and perform complex medical procedures on them are attempting to achieve the first goal by undermining the second.

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Ease rules on who provides primary care? Yes
Sacramento Bee

Chances are, if you’ve visited a hospital or a health clinic in recent years, you’ve received medical care from a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant. And if that’s the case, then you’ve come face-to-face with one of the health care professionals who are essential to successfully implementing the Affordable Care Act in our state.

The reason you may have been treated by one of these professionals, rather than or in addition to a physician, is twofold.

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App Prescribing: The Future of Patient-Centered Care
The Health Care Blog

Dr. Leslie Kernisan recently wrote a great piece about app prescribing, asking, “Should I be prescribing apps, and if so, which ones?” Since Happtique is all about integrating apps into clinical practice, I jumped at the chance to add to this important discussion. Dr. Kernisan is right to be concerned and somewhat skeptical about app prescribing. More than 40,000 health apps exist across multiple platforms.

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Stepping Up to the Long-Term Care Crisis
The Health Care Blog

It starts with a call that a loved one is in the hospital after being in a serious accident. Sometimes it comes from having chronic health conditions that minimize daily functioning as one grows older. These life-changing events present individuals and their families with a new set of needs and challenges that require a variety of human capital and financial resources to redefine and maintain daily living on their terms. The likelihood that you or someone you love will need this kind of support is greater than you may think.

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