News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Boost to healthcare workforce could come from immigration bill
Modern Healthcare

A bipartisan Senate immigration bill could boost the nation’s healthcare workforce, in addition to expanding coverage to millions of newly legal residents. The 844-page Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which was introduced Thursday, would provide a legalization process for the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants.

Although the bill bars access to public benefits during a transitional period, the newly legal residents could qualify for private insurance for the first time—possibly reducing their dependence on emergency rooms, according to health policy experts.

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HHS, FCC form patient-safety advisory work group
Modern Healthcare

HHS and the Federal Communications Commission have formed a joint advisory panel to improve patient safety and promote innovation in health information technology. The panel also will seek to promote regulatory efficiency, according to an HHS news release. It will report to the Health IT Policy Committee, itself a federal advisory body created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The committee advises the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS on policy matters.

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Is The Affordable Care Act Really Bad For Business?
Forbes

Scores of activists have protested and scorned the Affordable Care Act. Many have waged lawsuits against the federal government to challenge the constitutionality of “Obamacare.” Despite the overwhelmingly critical and hostile reaction, this reform to our healthcare system is not poised to wreak the havoc on American small businesses that the opposition is charging. Here are some facts about the Affordable Care Act that may actually paint a brighter picture for the future of American small businesses and startups — and the life they are able to provide to the employees who play a role in their success.

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New Hospital Quality Institute focuses on quality, patient safety
Sacramento Business Journal

The California Hospital Association and its three affiliated regional councils have launched a new statewide nonprofit organization in Sacramento aimed at strengthening hospital-based patient safety and quality improvement activities. The Hospital Quality Institute will integrate existing patient safety and quality improvement programs underway at the four organizations. Among them is Patient Safety First, a three-year, $6 million collaboration between Anthem Blue Cross, the National Health Foundation and the three regional hospital councils.

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Some California leaders want low-cost health care for undocumented immigrants
Sacramento Bee

About a million of California’s poorest undocumented immigrants would have access to basic low-cost health care under a plan being pushed at the Capitol.

President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul excludes undocumented immigrants, but some California leaders want to fill that gap by offering a safety net of primary and preventive care that does not consider immigration status.

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The limits of Obamacare
HealthyCal.org

Kalwis Lo, 24, says Obamacare saved his life. But his story is also a cautionary tale about the limitations of the Affordable Care Act — especially as it applies to young people. Lo could not access insurance through a provision of the health care law meant to help younger adults like him, so he went without coverage. He was then hit by a serious illness at a time when most young people feel they are invincible and may pass on insurance. And Lo wasn’t aware of new coverage that might have helped him once he developed his illness – so he didn’t sign up for it.

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Fallout for states rejecting Medicaid expansion
Modern Healthcare

Rejecting the Medicaid expansion in the federal health care law could have unexpected consequences for states where Republican lawmakers remain steadfastly opposed to what they scorn as “Obamacare.”

It could mean exposing businesses to Internal Revenue Service penalties and leaving low-income citizens unable to afford coverage even as legal immigrants get financial aid for their premiums. For the poorest people, it could virtually guarantee that they will remain uninsured and dependent on the emergency room at local hospitals that already face federal cutbacks.

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Healing Our Healthcare System
The Huffington Post

I have yet to see a perfect piece of legislation, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as Obamacare, has real flaws. But even at this early stage, its accomplishments are important. Millions of previously uninsured people have gained healthcare coverage; the law has begun to rein in healthcare costs; consumers are starting to realize savings; patients have greater access to preventive care; and carrots and sticks throughout the healthcare industry are spurring moves to improve quality. But key elements of the act have yet to take effect, and this is a vital period to realizing its potential.

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Analysis: Ahead of reform, medical care slowdown hits companies
Reuters

As the clock ticks down to the start of a U.S. healthcare overhaul, companies from device makers to hospital chains have been surprised to see Americans make even fewer trips to the doctor’s office.

Use of non-emergency medical services has been weak for several years in the wake of a deep recession, high joblessness and the steadily rising cost of care.

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Outpatient Growth Must Keep Pace with Population
Health Leaders Media

As healthcare leaders continue to face reimbursement challenges, the No. 1 strategy they are embracing to fuel financial growth is expansion of outpatient services. This approach—cited by 69% of hospital leaders and 66% of health system leaders in the HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2013—presents attractive opportunities for organizations large and small, especially in light of anticipated growth in patient volume as millions of Americans become insured under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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How Dean Clinic Redesigned Primary Care
Health Leaders Media

One of the beauties of running an integrated delivery system that has physicians, a health plan, and affiliated hospitals is the ability to look at influencers of healthcare costs in a systematic way. Craig Samitt, MD, president and CEO of Madison, Wis.–based Dean Clinic, says a few years ago he asked the organization’s health plan to pull some data on primary care.

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Medical school money in health care turf war mix
The Press-Enterprise

Supporters of spending $15 million in state money on a medical school at UC Riverside point to a critical need for primary-care doctors as the federal Affordable Care Act kicks in next year. The federal law also is the reason given by backers of bills that would expand the types of medical care that nurse practitioners and other health care professionals could perform without physician oversight. Otherwise, they say, it will be impossible to meet the demand of up to seven million newly insured Californians come January.

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Hospital worker union threatens strike
San Diego Union-Tribune

With contract negotiations stalled, union workers at University of California hospitals, including UC San Diego Medical Center, say they will vote next week on whether to strike.

The strike talk started Friday with a statement from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, which represents about 13,000 employees at university medical facilities across the state.

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5 insurers to share Blue Shield’s CalPERS contract
FierceHealthPayer

Blue Shield of California has lost its long-time exclusive HMO contract with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) as the agency has added four additional insurers to its HMO contract.

CalPERS, the third largest healthcare buyer in the nation and Blue Shield’s largest customer, spends about $7 billion each year for its 1.3 million members, including 400,000 public workers and their families with coverage through Blue Shield of California’s HMO plans since 2003.

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Cancer Centers Racing to Map Patients’ Genes
New York Times

Electric fans growl like airplanes taking off and banks of green lights wink in a basement at Mount Sinai’s medical school, where a new $3 million supercomputer makes quick work of huge amounts of genetic and other biological information. Just a couple of miles away, a competitor, Weill Cornell Medical College and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell hospital are building a $650 million research tower. Across the street is a newly completed $550 million tower housing labs for another competitor, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

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Sequester cuts starting to hit Bay Area Medicare cancer patients
San Francisco Chronicle

Just a few days after the sequester budget cuts went into effect on April 1, the Washington Post published a story about how oncologists were turning away thousands of Medicare patients because the 2 percent cut made it too costly for them to administer expensive chemotherapy drugs. Just to be clear, patients are still getting treated; they’re just being sent to hospitals rather than getting their infusions in outpatient clinics.

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Driving Front Line Innovation In Health Care
The Health Care Blog

Jennifer Stinson was a nurse at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto who enjoyed brainstorming new ideas for improving care, especially for the kids with cancer she treats. But even as she gained status by getting her PhD and becoming a clinician scientist, she came up against persistent bureaucratic and organizational barriers to innovation. Stinson’s challenge is common at big organizations, but overcoming bureaucracy and breaking down silos is especially critical in healthcare.

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An Rx for the doctor shortage
Los Angeles Times

New subsidies and insurance regulations in the 2010 healthcare law are expected to bring coverage to millions of uninsured Californians starting next year. The newly insured are likely to put a bigger strain on the healthcare system, particularly in their demand for primary-care doctors, of whom there are already too few in many parts of the country. That’s why trained medical professionals who aren’t physicians, such as nurse practitioners, want more freedom to deliver the care they’re capable of giving than state rules allow.

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Chance to take helpful steps on primary care
Sacramento Bee

How should California approach the coming wave of newly insured patients beginning Jan. 1? Anna Reisman, a Connecticut physician who teaches at the Yale School of Medicine, has the right idea: “It’s time to unlock the gates to the primary care club. There will be plenty of patients for everyone,” she wrote in a Thursday column for slate.com.

Handled properly, that doesn’t have to mean reducing standards or “dumbing down” medicine.

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