News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Risky drug-compounding method rarely used, survey finds
Modern Healthcare

The method for mixing drugs that led to 53 deaths in an outbreak of fungal meningitis in 20 states last fall is inherently risky, but seldom-used by hospitals, a new survey finds. Meanwhile, officials with the Food and Drug Administration are wrapping up final inspection reports on 31 drug-mixing facilities that were examined for safety issues in the past seven weeks. Copies of the reports are publicly posted on the FDA’s website. All but one of the companies received a report documenting “objectionable conditions.”

News Headlines Article

Legislators threaten to kill state medical board
Los Angeles Times

In an unusual display of concern, lawmakers overseeing the Medical Board of California have threatened to dissolve the agency unless it “shows significant progress” in protecting patients from dangerous doctors.

In a letter, state Sen. Curren Price (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblyman Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park) called on the board to be more aggressive in monitoring the state’s 100,000-plus physicians.

News Headlines Article

Fewer Californians get health insurance at work as premiums rise
Los Angeles Times

A new report shows that 53% of Californians get their health insurance through work, down from 62% in 2000.

About 17.6 million state residents received employer health benefits in 2011, nearly 1.3 million fewer than a decade earlier.

The report issued Thursday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also shows that the premiums for family coverage through work shot up 146% over the same period to $14,828 annually in California.

News Headlines Article

Survey finds industry lagging on move to ICD-10
Modern Healthcare

Even with a year’s grace period, many providers, payers and health information technology vendors are still running behind schedule in their preparations for the massive conversion next year to ICD-10 diagnostic and procedural codes, according to a new industry survey.

“The industry is not where we hoped to be by the timeline,” said Jim Daley, who co-chairs the ICD-10 group of the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange, which conducted the survey, and is director of IT risk and compliance for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina. “There is a lot of work to do.”

News Headlines Article

HMO regulator clarifies coverage for transgender patients
Sacramento Business Journal

California’s HMO regulator clarified this week that managed-care plans are prohibited from denying medically necessary coverage to transgender patients. The state Department of Insurance issued non-discrimination regulations with similar protections last year for health insurance plans that agency regulates. Action by the Department of Managed Health Care expands the ban to all health plans and insurers.

News Headlines Article

Kaiser Permanente ranked top HMO
Orange County Register

Kaiser Permanente in Southern California has again topped a state list of best HMOs based on clinical performance and patient satisfaction. Kaiser was the only health plan to receive an excellent rating. The state’s other largest plans, including Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California, were all described as good. In the PPO category, two health plans were ranked as good – Cigna and United Healthcare. The others, including Anthem and Blue Shield, were rated fair. None received the highest rating.

News Headlines Article

Radiologists Push Back on Reimbursement Cuts
Health Leaders Media

Radiologists are complaining that their specialty has been the target of too many sticks and not enough carrots as the federal government looks for ways to control cost growth in Medicare.

The latest skirmish is pitched around the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ 25% multiple procedure payment reduction to Medicare reimbursements for interpretations of advanced diagnostic imaging scans performed on the same patient in the same session.

News Headlines Article

Affordable Care Act brings valley uncertainty
The Desert Sun

Regional leaders are cautiously hopeful about the future of health care after the Affordable Care Act is implemented, and the effects it will have on the valley as thousands more people become insured at the Coachella Valley.

The law, which will take effect January 2014, mandates health insurance for all. It aims to provide more affordable access to those without private plans through state exchanges that will function as online insurance marketplaces, such as Cover California in this state.

News Headlines Article

Blue Shield of California to Deploy Go-To-Exchange
Insurance NETWORKING.COM

In an effort to streamline participation in Covered California, the state-sponsored public health insurance exchange, Blue Shield of California will use the Go-To-Exchange platform from HealthPlan Services (HPS), a technology, sales, retention and administrative services provider for the insurance and managed care markets. “The HPS solution enables us to implement a high quality customer-focused solution for processing exchange enrollment and billing, while providing us the flexibility to meet the demands of an evolving exchange population of new members,” said Lou Lombardo, VP, markets performance for Blue Shield of California.

News Headlines Article

Mercy Medical Center collaborates to boost critical patient care
Merced Sun-Star

Added steps have been taken at Mercy Medical Center to improve care of critically ill patients through collaboration with a St. Louis medical group. Mercy Medical Center started using the services of Missouri-based Advanced ICU Care three weeks ago in a pilot program unique in California. Through telemetry and television hookups, patients in Mercy’s Intensive Care Unit can be monitored around the clock by a team of critical care specialists thousands of miles away.

News Headlines Article

Unlikely allies offer ideas to curb health costs
Modern Healthcare

A new group that includes a health insurance trade association, a major health system and consumer advocacy and business organizations, is offering five recommendations that they say will improve the quality of healthcare delivered while cutting costs. The Partnership for Sustainable Health Care’s recommendations for the public and private sector include payment reforms to transition away from the traditional fee-for-service system to a more value-based one, as well as incentives for consumers to choose providers that demonstrate high-quality care through value-based insurance design.

News Headlines Article

Meningococcal infection reported in L.A. County
Los Angeles Times

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been alerted about a Los Angeles County case of meningococcal infection, a bacteria-caused illness that can lead to potentially deadly meningitis, according to a spokesperson.

Public health officials take such cases very seriously because they involve a “potentially devastating” disease, said Dr. Thomas Clark, a CDC medical epidemiologist and meningitis expert. “They really are a medical emergency and a public health emergency,” he said.

News Headlines Article

FDA finds widespread safety issues at compounding pharmacies
Washington Post

Federal inspectors have found dozens of potentially dangerous safety problems at 30 specialized pharmacies, months after tainted steroid shots made by a Massachusetts pharmacy triggered the worst drug disaster in decades.

At a Florida company, Food and Drug Administration inspectors discovered “black particles of unknown origin” in seven vials of an injectable medicine.

News Headlines Article

CA Won’t Keep up With Everyone Eligible for Health Insurance, Says Senator
Fox40

Can our medical system keep up with the five million additional Californians eligible and required to buy health insurance next year? California State Senator Ed Hernandez says it won’t and is proposing nurse practitioners, optometrists and pharmacists should be able to diagnose, treat and manage some illnesses for the growing number of people eligible for health insurance through Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

News Headlines Article

Fewer companies offering health coverage
The Desert Sun

The availability of employer-sponsored insurance has fallen by about 10 percent over the past decade, which has spurred an increase in the number of Americans without health insurance, according to a report released Thursday.

“This documents that in virtually every state across the country, there has been a steady decline in employers that provide coverage over the past 10 years,” said Andrew Hyman, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s health care coverage team.

News Headlines Article

L.A. jury sides with doctor in Anthem Blue Cross case
Los Angeles Times

In a rare case, a Los Angeles jury awarded $3.8 million in compensatory damages to a Porter Ranch doctor who contended insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross retaliated against him for being a strong patient advocate.

The jury ruled late Monday in favor of Jeffrey Nordella, 58, an urgent-care and family-practice doctor who alleged that Anthem barred him from its network in 2010, when he applied to be a preferred provider.

News Headlines Article

Tom McCaffery, vice president, California state partnerships, Blue Shield of California
Sacramento Business Journal

Tom McCaffrey’s affable air and quick smile belie the stress he’s under. He heads up Blue Shield of California’s CalPERS unit — and the Public Employees’ Retirement System is beating the bushes for new HMO partners for its health benefits pool. Blue Shield is one of two statewide plans with this business now, but the only one in the cross hairs because Kaiser has been given a pass to stay in the program without rebidding for the business.

News Headlines Article

$100,000 health grant helps needy Valley cities
Fresno Bee

For Fresno County farming communities preparing for a dry summer and fewer farming jobs, a $100,000 grant to educate residents about healthy eating choices was a bit of bright news Thursday.

The UnitedHealthcare grant, awarded to Centro La Familia Advocacy Services, won’t eliminate food needs in struggling communities but will help families find ways to cope, Fresno County officials said.

News Headlines Article

ACP, FSMB Issue Stern Guidance on Social Media
Health Leaders Media

Physicians should never “friend” their patients on Facebook, and should be extra careful about anything they post online because it could come back to haunt them ethically, and professionally in a way that jeopardizes their licenses.

That’s new guidance in a position paper issued Thursday by the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards.

News Headlines Article

Physicians urged to ‘pause before posting’
Modern Healthcare

Physicians should exercise caution—and “pause before posting”—when interacting in online settings in order to preserve professionalism and maintain appropriate patient-physician relationships, according to a policy paper released today by the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards.

“This is a very important addition to the ethics literature,” Dr. David Fleming, chair of the ACP’s ethics, professionalism and human rights committee, said during a news briefing.

News Headlines Article

CVS customers say unauthorized prescription refills still occur
Los Angeles Times

Barbara De Maria received calls from her local CVS store in Glendale recently saying that her son’s prescription had been automatically refilled, as per his instructions.

Problem was, De Maria’s son had given no such instructions, and the prescription was for a temporary skin problem, not any type of chronic condition. No refills were needed.

Even worse for CVS: De Maria, 60, works in the drug industry and knows a thing or two about how the game gets played.

Commands