News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Sutter expects to deliver results by cutting early elective births
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Health has significantly reduced elective early deliveries of babies for convenience rather than health issues, a move expected to send newborns home earlier and healthier. Three Sutter hospitals — Sutter Medical Center Sacramento, Sutter Roseville Medical Center and Mills-Peninsula Health Services in Burlingame — participated in a national study that examined elective births of babies born before a full-term pregnancy.

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Medicare cuts expected in Obama budget, but not big structural changes
Modern Healthcare

President Barack Obama’s spending plan is expected to identify about $400 billion in Medicare cuts over the next 10 years. Few people, however, expect his budget blueprint to put the president’s formal stamp on any major structural changes to the program.

Obama has signaled to federal lawmakers that he’s open to making some significant Medicare policy changes to reduce the federal deficit, such as expanding means testing for higher-income individuals, combining hospital and physician services under one Medicare payment structure, or adding a surcharge to Medigap plans.

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Internists Aim to End ‘Assault’ on Patient-Physician Relationship
Health Leaders Media

The American College of Physicians (ACP) is calling for a significant change to how healthcare is provided in the United States, particularly with regard to what it says are barriers to a productive relationship between patients and physicians.

“Continued improvement in the healthcare system to expand coverage and reduce unnecessary costs is imperative,” said ACP President David L. ­Bronson, MD, FACP, speaking in Washington, D.C., at the group’s annual State of the Nation’s Health Care briefing.

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Immigrant Doctors Help Ease California’s Primary Care Doctor Shortage
KQED Radio

It’s a familiar story in California. When Jose Chavez Gonzalez moved to the United States from El Salvador, he took any job he could get — stocking warehouses, construction, cleaning houses and working in a meat processing plant. But unlike most of the other immigrants he worked alongside, Chavez, 38, was a doctor with eight years of medical training.

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California Hospital Association Becomes Supporting Organization for Healthier Hospitals Initiative
PRWeb.com

The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) announced today that the California Hospital Association has signed on as a Supporting Organization of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, a collaborative of leading health care institutions united to incorporate environmentally friendly practices into daily operations for improved health of patients, staff and community, reduced environmental impact by the sector, and considerable financial savings.

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Sutter worker files another complaint against union
Sacramento Business Journal

A respiratory care worker at Sutter Roseville Medical Center has filed another federal complaint against Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West alleging the union continues to coerce her and her colleagues into paying full union dues even though they are not union members. Mary Massen won a federal settlement in late 2011 after filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board. The ruling — and ongoing legal dispute — highlights a long-standing fight over union efforts to collect fees from nonmembers.

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Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage might eliminate health-care inequities
Washington Post

Mike Bosia and Steven Obranovich, of Hardwick, Vt., were married three years ago after Vermont legalized same-sex marriage. As Bosia’s spouse, Obranovich is entitled to health insurance through Bosia’s employer, Saint Michael’s College in Colchester. But that coverage comes at a cost. The couple estimates that they have had to pay $4,500 in additional federal income tax and filing-related expenses because the federal government is prohibited by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) from recognizing same-sex marriages.

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ACP tells docs to limit use of PSA tests
Modern Healthcare

The American College of Physicians has issued new screening guidelines for prostate cancer, advising physicians to limit their use of prostate-specific antigen tests.

In the 10-page statement, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the ACP urged primary-care physicians to review the associated risks and benefits with patients and to order PSA screening only for patients who expressly ask for it. Additionally, the group advised against PSA screening in men younger than 50 years of age or older than 69, or for any men whose life expectancy is less than 10 years.

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Insurers need bargaining power to control costs: study
Modern Healthcare

Insurers must be given the same bargaining power that providers have in order to help rein in rising healthcare costs, according to a paper published today in Health Affairs. That bargaining power is critical as the U.S. prepares for health insurance exchanges next year with the goal of not only increasing competition among carriers, but also between insurers and providers.

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Examining lessons from Vermont’s universal healthcare system
FierceHealthcare

Vermont took the lead in efforts to implement federal and state healthcare reforms in May 2011 when Gov. Peter Shumlin signed legislation to implement Green Mountain Care, a single-payer, publicly financed, universal healthcare system. There are lessons to be taken from Vermont’s reform efforts, argues a perspective piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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How a 110-Year-Old Hospital Rebranded Itself
Health Leaders Media

The details of rebranding Children’s Hospital Los Angeles back in 2011 starts with the tale of a missing apostrophe.

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Robot hot among surgeons but FDA taking a new look
San Francisco Chronicle

The biggest thing in operating rooms these days is a million-dollar, multi-armed robot named da Vinci, used in nearly 400,000 surgeries nationwide last year — triple the number just four years earlier. But now the high-tech helper is under scrutiny over reports of problems, including several deaths that may be linked with it and the high cost of using the robotic system.

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Insurer, hospitals to study device performance, use data in purchasing decisions
Modern Healthcare

Health insurer UnitedHealthcare and about 50 hospitals say they will conduct research comparing some of the costliest medical devices on the market and then use that data to inform their purchasing decisions as part of a joint venture. UnitedHealthcare and Dignity Health, a 37-hospital system based in San Francisco, formed SharedClarity last year. Since then, the Phoenix-based venture has added Baylor Health Care System, which operates 11 hospitals in Texas, and Advocate Healthcare, a 10-hosptial system based in Oak Brook, Ill., as its newest members. There are plans to include up to seven other health systems over the next few months.

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Mothers battling insurers for breast pumps, despite new law
HealthyCal.org

When Adriana Stovall heard that the Affordable Care Act would require health insurance companies to provide nursing mothers with a breast pump beginning Jan. 1, she was elated. Finally, the working mother would have access to an efficient pump, enabling her to provide more milk for her 11-month-old son. Or so she thought. Stovall is among a number of California nursing mothers who have had their requests for a breast pump denied by their insurance companies this year, despite the new law.

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Leaders of insurance exchanges fear time is running out for testing
Modern Healthcare

The heads of two state-run health insurance exchanges say they are concerned that there may not be enough time for testing the marketplaces before open enrollment begins Oct. 1.

An endeavor as complex as establishing an exchange would normally take three years, Kevin Counihan, CEO of the Connecticut Health Insurance exchange said Monday during a panel discussion of the World Health Care Congress in National Harbor, Md. Under federal guidelines, the work must be done in a 10-month period.

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The Pre-existing Conditions: Buildup to Health Care Reform Bound to Bring Overload of Information
Workforce Management

If employers find that explaining benefits to their employees is challenging now, then they should brace themselves for fall enrollment when workers are expected to receive an avalanche of marketing materials from insurers, health insurance exchanges and government agencies in anticipation of health care reform, experts say. In addition to sifting through their own company’s benefits plans, employees will also be getting marketing materials from private and state health care exchanges, insurance providers and others who are expected to start peddling their products to consumers as 2014 approaches, says Jennifer Benz, founder of Benz Communications, a San Francisco-based consulting firm.

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Report: 70,000 county residents to get health insurance in health care overhaul
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

An expansion of Medicaid in President Barack Obama’s massive health care overhaul is expected to bring health coverage to 70,000 uninsured Sonoma County residents, according to a comprehensive assessment of the law’s local impacts. The report, which will be presented at 2:10 p.m. Tuesday to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, summarizes the effects of the law and was prepared by county health officials several months ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline for the state to begin enrolling patients in its health benefit exchange.

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Blue Shield quick to demand action from policyholder over its mistake
Los Angeles Times

Health insurers don’t exactly enjoy a reputation for timely payouts when people submit claims. They’ve been known to make policyholders jump through all sorts of hoops before coming across with a little cash.

But when you owe them money, that’s another story.

Karen Fairbank, 60, of Pacific Palisades discovered this recently when Blue Shield of California sent her a letter demanding that she return a payment of more than $2,400, and that she do it pronto.

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Pérez bill could add to health reform costs
Sacramento Bee

Assembly Bill 1263 by Speaker John A. Pérez seeks to improve and expand medical interpreter services for Medi-Cal patients. The measure highlights a real health care dilemma. Access to care can be difficult if patients don’t speak English well.

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