News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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U.S. to boost rather than cut payments to health insurers
Washington Post

The Obama administration reversed itself Monday, scrapping plans to cut by 2.2 percent the rates paid to health insurers that take part in the Medicare Advantage program.

The insurance industry and more than 100 members of Congress had objected to the cut in the per capita growth rate, which was proposed in February. They argued that the administration was using faulty methodology.

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County leaders worried about health care cuts
Monterey Herald

Monterey County labor leaders and politicians are sounding the alarm about a proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown to decrease health care funding they say would be disastrous for Natividad Medical Center.

At issue is $2 billion the state government now gives to counties to take care of poor residents for their health care needs.

As part of ongoing negotiations in Sacramento over how to implement the federal Affordable Care Act, Democrats are at odds with Brown over how to expand medical coverage for low-income people, and who will pay for it.

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Needlestick Safety Challenges Continue
Health Leaders Media

Clinicians use needles, syringes, and related products every day to care for their patients. These devices carry inherent risk and, if not used and disposed of properly, pose a safety threat to clinicians, patients, and housekeeping, to name a few.

On November 6, 2000, the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act was signed into law, and since then, there has been a significant decrease in sharps injuries.

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Doctor-Hiring Rush is On
Health Leaders Media

In the years to come, experts may look back on healthcare reform as the time that not only made improvements in the quality of patient care and sparked efforts to reduce costs, but also when doctors traded their independent practices for hospital employment. There’s been a marked uptick in the pace with which physicians are being employed by hospitals; in fact, employment of physicians and surgeons is expected to grow by 24% from 2010 to 2020, nearly twice the rate of growth for all other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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CMS does about-face on Medicare Advantage payment cuts
Modern Healthcare

Apparently swayed by insurers and lawmakers, the CMS backtracked on an earlier plan to cut Medicare Advantage payments to insurers by 2.2% in 2014 and instead decided to give them a 3.3% increase. The CMS ultimately agreed, according to a final payment policy issued today, that “it is a more reasonable expectation” that Congress will again act to avert the dramatic physician pay cut scheduled under Medicare’s sustainable growth rate formula. A draft policy issued in February was based on the CMS’ actuary’s customary calculation based on current law.

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Medicare and Medi-Cal recipients in Oakland await health care reform
San Francisco Chronicle

Medicare and Medi-Cal are big health insurance programs with lots of tiny pieces. Medi-Cal is California’s state program that often provides health care coverage for children, some adults 18 to 21 years old, pregnant women and people with disabilities. It also covers people who make less than $13,000 a year. Medicare is the national health insurance program for people age 65 or older, and in some cases, for younger people with certain disabilities.

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Speaker’s top aide pitches Medi-Cal bill from his hospital bed
Sacramento Bee

Greg Campbell is raising standards for dedication to his job as chief of staff to Speaker John A. Peréz after using a get-well call from Gov. Jerry Brown as a way to pitch his boss’s Medi-Cal expansion bill. Campbell, 39, is recovering from two surgeries over the weekend to remove a golf-ball sized tumor in his brain, which was discovered last week. Campbell had been feeling sluggish prior to seeking medical attention, according to Peréz spokesman Steve Maviglio.

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Feds delay small business health care program
USA Today

Small businesses may not have an insurance market set up specifically for them when the state and federal health exchanges begin in January, government officials said Monday.

Instead, the federal government announced that the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) will be delayed until 2015. Small business employees will still be able to get insurance, but the states have the option to limit that to one choice, rather than a variety of plans, for the first year.

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American teens getting early start on heart disease risk, survey says
Los Angeles Times

The proportion of American adolescents who exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and are free of risk factors for future heart disease is “alarmingly low,” says a major new survey of teen health. The comprehensive five-year assessment of teens’ health status warns that the “disconcertingly high” rate of poor health habits among the nation’s youth “may contribute to unacceptably high rates of adult-onset cardiovascular disease” as this cohort matures into adulthood.

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Pediatricians urge states to expand Medicaid
Modern Physician

The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed the Medicaid expansion called for in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and—noting that Medicaid is the nation’s largest insurer of children—the AAP also developed a list of recommendations for what states’ basic Medicaid programs should cover. Published in the AAP journal, Pediatrics, the AAP Medicaid policy statement noted how, in 2009, Medicaid covered 34.2 million (39%) of all individuals in the U.S. younger than 21 and paid for 48% of all births.

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The Buzz: Ailing Capitol staff member lobbies Jerry Brown from his hospital bed
Sacramento Bee

Patient conveys Capitol wish to governor in get-well call

Greg Campbell is raising standards for dedication to his job as chief of staff to Speaker John A. Pérez after using a get-well call from Gov. Jerry Brown as a way to pitch his boss’s Medi-Cal expansion bill.

Campbell, 39, is recovering from two surgeries over the weekend to remove a just-discovered golf-ball sized tumor in his brain.

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3 local hospitals make top 100 list
San Diego Union-Tribune

Becker’s Hospital Review, a trade publication for the health care industry, has named three San Diego County Hospitals to its 2013 list of 100 great hospitals.

The hospitals are Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside and UC San Diego Medical Center, which has campuses in La Jolla and Hillcrest.

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Deaths tied to painkillers rising in the U.S.
Los Angeles Times

Despite efforts by law enforcement and public health officials to curb prescription drug abuse, drug-related deaths in the United States have continued to rise, the latest data show.

Figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that drug fatalities increased 3% in 2010, the most recent year for which complete data are available. Preliminary data for 2011 indicate the trend has continued.

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Calif. law requires new warning after breast exam
Sacramento Bee

California women who have dense breast tissue will get more information following their routine examinations under a state law that took effect Monday.

Women with that type of tissue must be notified of that finding after a mammogram. Health professionals say as many as four in 10 women over the age of 40 have dense breast tissue, which can make it more difficult to detect cancer.

Patients with such tissue also will be told that their doctor can recommend additional screening options.

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Insurers see way to dodge federal healthcare law next year
Los Angeles Times

A new fight is brewing over health insurance companies letting millions of Americans renew their current coverage for another year — and thereby avoid changes under the federal healthcare law.

That may offer a short-term benefit for certain consumers and shield some of those individual policyholders from potentially steep rate increases. But critics say this maneuver could undermine government efforts to remake the insurance market next year and keep premiums affordable overall.

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The Costs of Emergency Room Cost-Cutting
New York Times

It was the dead of winter, high season for viral gastroenteritis, so it was with a certain degree of wariness that the harried doctor and nurse finally got around to seeing the patient, a man in his late 60s who had come to the emergency room complaining of belly discomfort. “I think I’ve got the stomach bug,” he said when they approached. The nurse moved him to a far corner of the emergency department reserved for less critical cases.

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Can We Put the Hospital Marketing Genie Back in the Bottle?
The Health Care Blog

I am old enough to remember when physicians did not advertise. It was considered a professional ethical issue. Hospital advertising consisted of institutional “We’re here” ads. Anything aggressive by docs or hospitals was considered bad taste… but that was before health care became as competitive as any other type of business. I have been barraged, as have many of you, by a wave of hospital advertisements as our health care marketplaces consolidate and organizations seek to brand and differentiate themselves.

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AM Alert: Committee hearings crank up at the Capitol
Sacramento Bee

Things are starting to pick up in the Legislature as bills advance to committee hearings. Here are a couple Capitol Alert has its collective eye on today. Nonprofit hospitals: The California Nurses Association and the California Hospital Association are clashing over Assembly Bill 975, a bill co- authored by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, and Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, that would reconsider how much philanthropy nonprofit hospitals need to engage in to retain their tax-exempt status. The Assembly Health Committee is hearing the bill at 1:30 p.m. in room 4202.

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