News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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AHA seeks smoother road for hospitals on Stage 2
Modern Healthcare

American Hospital Association Executive Vice President Richard Pollack says the “digital divide” is widening between technologically advanced large and urban hospitals and their smaller and rural counterparts. Meanwhile, although nearly 3,500 hospitals have registered for federal incentive payment programs for the use of electronic health-records systems, more than 80% of hospitals have not yet achieved the first stage of meaningful use of their EHRs to qualify them for incentive payments—a result, Pollack said, of “both the high bar set and market factors such as accelerating costs and limited vendor capacity.”

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Debate Over Who Should Be Allowed to Administer Anesthesia Moves to Courts
New York Times

A long-running dispute over whether nurses should be allowed to administer anesthesia without doctor supervision has been playing out here and around the country in recent months, with some states insisting that such a move is needed to address the shortage of physicians in rural areas. The debate pits nurse anesthetists, who specialize in administering anesthesia and maintain that they are well equipped to treat patients on their own, against anesthesiologists, who are physicians and say nurses lack the necessary training.

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CMS Plan Would Tie Efficiency Scores to Hospital Payments
Health Leaders Media

Medicare officials have quietly posted on the Hospital Compare website a “cost per Medicare beneficiary” score for acute care hospitals. The data shows a 3.1-fold difference in costs across the country.

Anyone may download Hospital Compare data to see comparative risk-adjusted scores for every hospital. Users may compare the most and least expensive among 3,375 hospitals provided for an “episode” of care, described as a point three days prior to admission to 30 days after discharge for care delivered by any provider paid under Medicare Part A or Part B.

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Not-For-Profit Hospitals Eye Continued Low Revenue Growth
Health Leaders Media

If financial medians since 2009 are an accurate precursor, the nation’s not-for-profit hospital sector can continue to expect low revenue growth on sluggish admissions in the current fiscal year, according to a report from Moody’s Investors Service.

Moody’s analyst Sarah Vennekotter says the low revenue growth is due mostly to flat volumes and payer pressures. “The flat volumes we have seen since 2009 on the inpatient side are largely a function of the economy and the slow recovery,” Vennekotter tells HealthLeaders Media.

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7 Steps to Navigate Payment Allocation Under ACOs
Becker's Hospital Review

Under the Medicare Shared Savings Program, a Medicare ACO can receive payment for meeting quality metrics and reducing costs. If a Medicare ACO reduces its Medicare expenditures below a benchmark, it is eligible to receive part of the savings from Medicare — up to 50 percent for ACOs in the shared savings only track and up to 60 percent for ACOs in the shared savings/losses track, depending on the ACO’s performance score. In the first year, an ACO can collect on this potential shared savings if it reports on all 33 quality measures.

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Bay Area health centers get $19 million in grants
San Francisco Chronicle

Bay Area health centers will receive almost $19 million to expand service to thousands of uninsured, immigrant and other needy patients, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday. The grants are part of a $728 million nationwide program contained in the 2009 health care bill to help community health programs expand their capacity by building new facilities and renovating existing centers.

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Community health centers getting $700M upgrade
San Francisco Chronicle

Officials say nearly 400 community health centers will share more than $700 million in capital improvement grants as a result of President Barack Obama’s health care law. Community health centers serve mainly low-income people at more than 8,500 locations around the country. Patients can see a nurse or doctor regardless of their ability to pay. Many are uninsured.

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Facebook hopes to expand organ donation awareness
San Francisco Chronicle

Facebook members in the United States and the United Kingdom can now publicly share whether they are registered organ donors, an initiative that donor advocates say could be crucial in raising awareness of people in need of life-saving transplants. Facebook on Tuesday introduced an optional “organ donor” status into Timeline profiles.

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Facebook organ-donation option gives ‘an immediate spike’ to California registration
The Mercury News

What began as a freshman-year friendship resulted in Facebook’s announcement Tuesday that the world’s largest social network will offer help for the global shortage of donor organs, an effort that in its first day signed up tens of thousands of new donors and directed a surge of awareness at a growing problem. Nearly 25 years ago, Sheryl Sandberg and Andrew Cameron met at Harvard.

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4,500 nurses walk off job at 7 Bay Area Sutter Health hospitals
Sacramento Bee

About 4,500 nurses at seven Bay Area Sutter Health hospitals walked off the job Tuesday in an effort to force hospital officials to back off proposals such as changing sick leave policies and requiring nurses to pay more of their health care premiums. It was the third one-day strike by Sutter nurses in the Bay Area over the past year, and one in a series of recent labor actions by the California Nurses Association, the union that represents the nurses.

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San Diego Providers Having Problems With Anthem Blue Cross
KPBS

San Diego’s largest private providers of mental health services are having problems with California’s second biggest HMO.

These hospitals complain Anthem Blue Cross refuses to cover a high percentage of hospital stays for psychiatric emergencies.

Health care providers complain the situation is affecting access to care.

Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital in Kearny Mesa has seven different units, including an ICU, and an area for children and adolescents.

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UCSD names new health system CEO
San Diego Union-Tribune

UC San Diego announced Tuesday that it has chosen a new chief executive for its health system whose experience includes leadership positions both in medical academics and industry. Paul S. Viviano will start June 1 as CEO of UC San Diego Health System and associate vice chancellor for Health Sciences. He is leaving his job as chief executive of Alliance Healthcare Services, one of the nation’s largest providers of diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy services.

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In patient abuse cases, reforms come slowly
California Watch

State officials working to upgrade patient abuse investigations at California’s board-and-care institutions for the developmentally disabled aim to overhaul the in-house police force while also directing the most serious cases to outside agencies.

The first part – implementing new law enforcement policies and retraining the developmental center force, called the Office of Protective Services – is moving at a deliberate pace.

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Medicare to cover heart-valve procedure
Modern Healthcare

Medicare now will cover aortic valve replacements for patients whose aortic heart valves are damaged, if certain treatment conditions are met, the CMS announced Tuesday.

Through a mutual memorandum of understanding, the CMS and the Food and Drug Administration made a joint decision that will permit the CMS to cover transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. That technology is used to treat a condition called aortic stenosis, which causes the heart valve to narrow.

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When and why should patients get a coronary stent?
California Watch

Medical studies spanning years and examining thousands of patients have upturned conventional thinking about heart attack prevention and treatment. The studies found that for many patients, coronary stents are not more likely to save lives or prevent a heart attack than medication and lifestyle changes. Yet some patients are not given the opportunity to weigh the risks and benefits of various treatment options.

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California’s Fight to Stop Health Insurance Price Gouging and the Single Payer Solution
California Progress Report

As California families continue to reel from the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, health insurance premium rates have soared by 153% since 2002, nearly five times the rate of inflation.

Businesses are finding it difficult to pay for these rate hikes, and pass the increased costs on to workers. Business owners and employees are forced to ab­sorb these rising costs or search for less expensive – and less comprehensive – coverage options.

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California rakes in health care grants
Sacramento Bee

The Obama administration on Tuesday awarded California community health centers $122 million in grants under the embattled Affordable Care Act. While the Supreme Court is considering whether to scrap the health care law, or at least its controversial individual mandate, the administration rolled out the new grants totaling $728 million nationwide as a show of the law’s benefits. All told, over five years, the law provides $11 billion for construction, renovation and expansion of the community health programs.

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