News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Reimbursement, volumes squeezed not-for-profits in 2011, Moody’s says
Modern Healthcare

Reimbursement pressure and flat volumes continued to plague not-for-profit hospitals in fiscal 2011, according to a report from Moody’s Investors Service, which maintained a negative outlook on the sector.

The report, which looked at financial medians from 2009-2011, noted that preliminary 2011 data suggest that not-for-profit hospitals and systems are expected to again see low revenue growth for the year.

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Physicians, Hospital Executives Get Collaborative
Health Leaders Media

Physician relationships with executive leadership have always been important at hospitals and health systems, but there is a history of distrust on both sides, to put it mildly. Executives often view physicians as a huge impediment to many important initiatives within the hospital, from cost-cutting to process reengineering. Meanwhile, physicians habitually distrust senior executives who are looking out for what’s best for the hospital or health system—or maybe just the bottom line and the executives’ own bonuses—but not the physicians and not even necessarily patients, in the worst case.

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CMS no-payment policy spurs action: study
Modern Healthcare

The CMS‘ nonpayment policy for certain types of healthcare-associated infections has led hospitals to ramp up their surveillance and prevention efforts, according to results of a survey of infection preventionists, published in the May issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

Of the 371 hospitals that submitted responses for the survey, more than 80% said they had seen an increase in efforts to target infections specifically named by the federal government for nonpayment.

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Government auditors see room to improve EHR program oversight
Modern Healthcare

The CMS has begun looking for ways to collect more data from Medicare providers to verify that they meet the federal electronic health record incentive program’s requirements, according to a recent audit. A report issued Monday by the Government Accountability Office on changes needed in the CMSEHR incentive program, which is providing $30 billion to encourage providers to adopt digital patient data systems, urged various reforms.

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Studies: Focus on risk-based mammograms for women under 50
Modern Healthcare

Regular mammography screening may be appropriate for women in their 40s who have certain risk factors for breast cancer, according to companion articles published in the May 1 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Current guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend that women aged 50 to 74 receive mammograms every two years.

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Pair of studies may offer clarity on mammograms
Los Angeles Times

After several years of upheaval over the best way to conduct breast cancer screening, researchers are working to find clarity over when women should begin getting mammograms, how often and at what cost. A pair of new studies clears up some of the uncertainty by finding that women who have a mother or sister diagnosed with breast cancer, or those who have unusually dense breast tissue, should have their first test at age 40 and repeat the exam at least once every other year.

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Insurance rate-hike initiative gains high-profile backers
Los Angeles Times

Several high-profile business names, such as San Francisco hedge-fund manager Thomas Steyer and agribusiness magnate Stewart Resnick, have contributed to a proposed ballot measure seeking tighter regulation of health insurance rates, according to campaign finance records.

These contributions were among $1.5 million in donations reported Monday to the California Secretary of State by Consumer Watchdog, the Santa Monica group leading the ballot drive.

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California agency ripped over disparities in autism spending
Los Angeles Times

California lawmakers and advocates for children with autism assailed the state Department of Developmental Services during a hearing Monday over the deep racial and ethnic disparities in how it spends money on the disorder.

“Families that are already the most disadvantaged get the least,” Martha Matthews, an attorney for the advocacy group Public Counsel, testified before a panel of legislators in Sacramento. “This is exactly the opposite of what it should be.”

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Racial, Gender Disparities Seen in Surgery Board Certification
Health Leaders Media

Women and ethnic and racial minorities who, while in medical school, declare their intention to become board-certified general surgeons, are more likely to fall off that career path and into other specialties. And even if they remain in surgery, this group is less likely to complete the surgery board-certification process, a study shows.

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The Economics of an OC ADHD Diagnosis
Voice of OC

Anything but medication. That was Sylvia Sumida’s goal for her 6-year-old son, who suffers from ADHD, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, a condition of impulsive behavior and lack of concentration that is commonly treated with daily doses of stimulants. But Sumida’s wish came with some heavy costs. With help from family members, the Laguna Niguel mother spent nearly $20,000 on therapies such as hyperbaric oxygen treatments, homeopathy and biomedical intervention. None of them worked.

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Community clinics try to fill in dental care gap
HealthyCal.org

Roughly three million poor and disabled Californians had their coverage for dental services cut three years ago, and community dental clinics have struggled to cover preventative services ever since. “It was not something we wanted to do,” says Robert Isman, a consultant with the Dental Program for California Department of Health Services. “We knew that there would be repercussions and there have been.

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eHealth helps power health insurance exchange
Sacramento Business Journal

Technology developed by eHealth Inc. is powering a new private health insurance exchange for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota , officials at the online health insurance company announced Monday. The Minnesota company has launched the exchange to provide online selection and enrollment tools for a new product that allows employers to allocate a set amount of dollars toward employees’ health coverage. Workers then shop among plan offerings with variables such as copayments and deductibles to find the right combination to meet their own budgets.

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Is Health Insurance Too Cheap?
The Health Care Blog

Researchers at USC recently published a study designed to find out how much people are willing to pay for better drug coverage from their health insurance plan. The question they posed to the general public was straightforward: How much extra money would you pay per month for a health insurance plan that would pay for “specialty drugs” if you need them? Specialty drugs are expensive new treatments for diseases like leukemia, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

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