News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Obama Sees Insurers; Health Law Is Subject
New York Times

President Obama met with insurance industry executives at the White House on Friday to coordinate the introduction this fall of the insurance marketplaces at the heart of the national health care law, and to discuss so-called rate shock if the industry sharply raises premiums.

“We’re all in this together,” Mr. Obama told the executives, according to people with knowledge of the meeting, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified discussing it.

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Report: Compounding pharmacies go untracked
Washington Post

State authorities who are supposed to oversee the type of specialized pharmacy at the heart of last fall’s deadly meningitis outbreak lack the most basic information about the companies they are supposed to regulate, according to a congressional report to be released Monday. State boards of pharmacy generally don’t know which pharmacies in their state engage in compounding, the custom mixing of medications for individual patients.

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With federal health law, medical professionals look to expand turf
Sacramento Bee

They want to take care of you.

Doctors, nurses and a variety of specialized health professionals are duking it out in California’s Capitol over who should get your business once federal law requires that everyone have health insurance.

Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are pushing laws allowing them to see more patients for routine medical care.

Optometrists want to diagnose and treat all kinds of ailments related to the eye – even diabetes – not just test vision and prescribe glasses.

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Avoiding Emergency Rooms
New York Times

On a recent Sunday afternoon, a 75-year-old Philadelphia man with a fever of over 102 degrees was unable to reach his doctor. So his daughter took him to an emergency room, where the two sat for hours until he was examined by a physician who found no reason for the fever and decided to admit him overnight. The man was given oxygen, a chest X-ray, a blood test and, finally, a urine test, which revealed a urinary tract infection. The problem was solved with a prescription for an antibiotic, but at a cost of thousands of dollars to Medicare.

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Most Employers Won’t Drop Health Care Coverage Because Of Obamacare: Survey
The Huffington Post

Despite speculation indicating otherwise, most employers don’t plan to drop workers from their healthcare plans as a result of Obamacare, a new survey finds. Nearly 70 percent of benefit professionals said their companies “definitely will” keep offering coverage to full-time workers next year, when many of the provisions of President Obama’s healthcare reform law take effect, according to a recent survey from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

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Upper Income Seniors’ Medicare Hike
TIME Online Edition

President Barack Obama’s new plan to raise Medicare premiums for upper-income seniors would create five new income brackets to squeeze more revenue for the government from the top tiers of retirees.

The administration revealed details of the plan Friday after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the Congress on the president’s budget. The details had not been provided when the budget was released earlier in the week.

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Medicare increase could ding some in middle class
Modern Healthcare

Retired city worker Sheila Pugach lives in a modest home on a quiet street in Albuquerque, N.M., and drives an 18-year-old Subaru.

Pugach doesn’t see herself as upper-income by any stretch, but President Barack Obama’s budget would raise her Medicare premiums and those of other comfortably retired seniors, adding to a surcharge that already costs some 2 million beneficiaries hundreds of dollars a year each.

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California gets ready for healthcare reform
CNN.com

California is one of 17 states in the nation that has taken the federal government up on the option to roll out healthcare reform on its own.

The state will screen, pick and offer insurance plans to nearly 6 million residents who, under the new law, must have it by January 1, 2104. Peter Lee, the executive director of California’s healthcare exchange said it’s a complicated task, but California is too diverse for a one-size-fits-all plan or a free-for-all of providers.

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Tax Code Goes to Forefront of Obamacare
KPBS

If you’re among millions of uninsured Californians eligible for government-subsidized insurance, the ripples of health reform start with Monday’s tax deadline.

The government will use your return as its first yardstick for how much of a tax break it contributes to your health coverage. And if you don’t have government-mandated health insurance a year from now, a penalty will be added to your federal tax obligations.

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Obamacare has Southern California health officials scrambling
Daily Breeze - Los Angeles

The state’s publicly funded health insurance program for low-income and disabled residents will soon launch a huge statewide expansion. But making a promise of health care is one thing, and delivering is another.

In some places, it’s already difficult for many poor California residents with state Medi-Cal insurance to find a doctor who is able – or willing – to care for them.

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FDA finds safety woes at compounding pharmacies; hearing next week
Modern Healthcare

Air filters marked with dark-amber stains, unexplained variations in drug purity, patients’ complaints dismissed without investigation: All were among the deficiencies cited at 31 drug-compounding factories inspected in the past seven weeks by the Food and Drug Administration.

In the wake of last year’s deadly outbreak of drug-borne fungal meningitis, the FDA has undertaken an aggressive inspection program at higher-risk facilities around the country that produce the sterile compounded drugs on which many hospitals rely.

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Report finds lax oversight of specialty pharmacies
Modern Healthcare

Congressional investigators say pharmacy boards in nearly all 50 states lack the information and expertise to oversee specialty pharmacies like the one that triggered a deadly meningitis outbreak last year.

A report released Monday by House Democrats shows that most states do not track or routinely inspect compounding pharmacies. Staffers surveyed officials in 50 states about their oversight of pharmacies and then compiled the responses.

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Book Excerpt: Executive’s Guide to Physician-Hospital Alignment
Health Leaders Media

Alignment in healthcare today occurs for multiple reasons, owing in part to the current climate of federally mandated healthcare reforms. One important outcome realized through alignment is “strength in numbers.” This concept is familiar to most people, as it applies to a number of industries, not just healthcare. The basis for the strength in numbers concept is that parties working together for a central purpose are more likely to succeed than those who face work challenges alone.

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Dental program for poor children improving
Sacramento Bee

Dental managed care plans that came under fire last year for failing to treat large numbers of poor children in Sacramento and Los Angeles counties have made significant strides toward getting those children into dentists’ chairs, according to a report submitted to the state Legislature last week.

In 2012, 43.7 percent of Sacramento children with Medi-Cal – the government insurance program for the poor – saw a dentist, the report by the Department of Health Care Services shows.

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North County hospitals partner, compete
San Diego Union-Tribune

Tri-City Medical Center and Palomar Health, longtime independent public district hospitals, are now looking for new partnerships amid recent budget challenges.

Despite a health care industry that rewards large integrated health systems that marry large groups of doctors with hospitals, both North County institutions are standing by their goals of maintaining independence as they look to build new alliances.

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Programs aim to boost homegrown doctor ranks in valley
The Desert Sun

Maria Clemente, 31, clutched her 3-month-old baby, soothing his cries with a bottle of milk, while the two waited in an hours-long line to see a medic at a crowded free clinic at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio.

A farmworker who picks in the fields around Mecca, Clemente can’t afford to take time off to wait in an air-conditioned office for a doctor. If she must go, she visits clinics that help low-income patients in Oasis and Indio.

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Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation Names 2013 Board
Santa Barbara Independent

The SYVCHF board of directors met recently at the hospital to name the 2013 officers and welcome two new directors.

The 2013 SYVCHF officers are: Charles “C.J.” Jackson (President), Gerry Shepherd (Vice President), Barbara Anderson (Secretary) and Kathleen Campbell (Treasurer). Returning directors are The Rev. Dr. Randall Day, Kate Firestone, Stewart Fries, Sid Goldstien, William Heringer, MD; Richard Nagler and Sandy Power.

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Doctor-owned hospitals prosper under health-care law
Washington Post

Doctor-owned hospitals are earning many of the largest bonuses from the federal health law’s new quality programs, even as the law halts their growth.

The hospitals, many of which specialize in heart or orthopedic surgeries, have long drawn the ire of federal lawmakers and competitors. They say physicians often direct the best-insured and more lucrative cases to their own facilities, while leaving the most severely ill patients to others.

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How health care overhaul may affect your tax bill
Sacramento Bee

If you’re among millions of uninsured Californians eligible for government-subsidized insurance, the ripples of health reform start with Monday’s tax deadline.

The government will use your return as its first yardstick for how much of a tax break it contributes to your health coverage. And if you don’t have government-mandated health insurance a year from now, a penalty will be added to your federal tax obligations.

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Health care reform looks expensive to Modesto-area workers, businesses
Modesto Bee

When a severe rash sent Ryan McGee of Salida to an emergency room last month, he didn’t have health insurance to help pay the bill. “It cost $500 just to be there, and I haven’t even gotten the bill from the doctor,” said McGee, 25. He wishes he had insurance, but his new minimum-wage job as a store clerk doesn’t include medical benefits, and McGee hasn’t bought it on his own.

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FDA reviewing heart risk of Glaxo diabetes drug
Modern Healthcare

The Food and Drug Administration will hold a meeting in June to reassess the safety of GlaxoSmithKline’s former blockbuster drug Avandia, which was severely restricted in 2010 due to concerns about its impact on the heart.

Regulators announced the highly unusual move in a government notice published on Friday. The FDA said it will ask a panel of outside experts to review a new analysis of the key study examining Avandia’s heart risks.

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