News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Alejo bill would reverse Medi-Cal cuts
The Californian - Salinas

A Salinas Assemblyman has been joined by a chorus of health-care providers in support of bills that would reverse planned cuts to Medi-Cal reimbursements to skilled nursing facilities associated with a hospital.

AB 900, authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, would reverse implementation of cuts to Medi-Cal provider rates that are already the lowest in the nation. The cuts are part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget.

News Headlines Article

Reform Update: Delaying DSH cuts may hamper Medicaid expansion
Modern Healthcare

The president’s proposed delay in cuts to disproportionate-share hospital payments could be undermining efforts to expand Medicaid in some states.

Healthcare analysts tracking efforts to expand Medicaid eligibility as part of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have seen prospects for the expansion dim in some states where state officials appeared more supportive a couple of months earlier.

News Headlines Article

Lawmakers urged to ease HIPAA limits for parents
Modern Healthcare

It is a tragic, terrifying, heart- and gut-wrenching experience for a parent to watch helplessly as the child they’ve raised from infancy spirals out of control as a young adult, caught in the whirlpool of drug or alcohol addiction or mental illness.

It’s an even greater tragedy to bury that adult child, knowing that healthcare information that might have enabled a parent to intervene had been kept from them due to provider interpretations of the chief federal healthcare privacy law.

News Headlines Article

Brown Administration Supports Discussion on Non-Physician ‘Scope of Practice’
capital public radio

Experts say most California counties have a shortage of primary care physicians, a problem that may be compounded when millions more people get insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Lifting restrictions on non-physicians could help meet the new demand, supporters say.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley says there may be ways to modernize provider licenses.

News Headlines Article

Federal officials cite Nevada mental hospital for deficiencies
Sacramento Bee

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Thursday sent a letter to Nevada health officials telling them that, due to “serious deficiencies,” the state’s primary psychiatric hospital “may be subject to termination of its Medicare provider agreement,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Bee. The federal agency, in concert with state officials, conducted a survey March 20 of Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas after The Bee first reported that one of the facility’s patients was discharged improperly to Sacramento with no arrangement for housing or care.

News Headlines Article

Feds warn Vegas hospital over dumping patients
San Francisco Chronicle

The Las Vegas hospital accused of dumping psychiatric patients in San Francisco and other cities throughout California and the rest of the nation has been warned by the federal government to clean up its act or else face potential loss of its Medicare funding. Thursday’s letter from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services put the state-run Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital under the direct supervision of Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services and gave hospital officials 1o days to submit a plan to correct its deficiencies.

News Headlines Article

IPPS Proposed Rule Adds Readmission Measures, HAC Timeline
Health Leaders Media

Under a proposed federal rule, some 3,400 acute care hospitals would receive a net .8% reimbursement increase, including sequestration cuts, but would face penalties for new categories of readmitted patients, and new measures in quality incentive pay starting Oct. 1. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued its heavily anticipated proposed rule governing acute care payment for FY 2014 on Friday, shortly after the stock market closed.

News Headlines Article

Rate change: CMS payment schedule proposal already drawing fire
Modern Healthcare

While the CMS‘ proposed payment schedule for 2014 includes small increases in Medicare payments for the nation’s acute- and long-term care hospitals, it would change reimbursement for facilities serving high numbers of the uninsured in a way that is already drawing fire from public hospitals. The proposed rule, released late Friday, also launches a new penalty program for hospitals that fail to curb hospital-acquired conditions, a provision mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

News Headlines Article

Germ-zapping ‘robots’: Hospitals combat superbugs
San Francisco Chronicle

They sweep. They swab. They sterilize. And still the germs persist. In U.S. hospitals, an estimated 1 in 20 patients pick up infections they didn’t have when they arrived, some caused by dangerous ’superbugs’ that are hard to treat. The rise of these superbugs, along with increased pressure from the government and insurers, is driving hospitals to try all sorts of new approaches to stop their spread: Machines that resemble “Star Wars” robots and emit ultraviolet light or hydrogen peroxide vapors. Germ-resistant copper bed rails, call buttons and IV poles. Antimicrobial linens, curtains and wall paint.

News Headlines Article

Healthcare M&A Activity Dips
Health Leaders Media

While sections of the overall economy are on a slight upswing, the recent frenzy of activity in healthcare mergers and acquisitions has cooled a bit, at least for now.

Healthcare merger and acquisition activity was down in both deal volume and deal value in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the last quarter of 2012, says a new report from research and publishing firm Irving Levin Associates.

News Headlines Article

Autistic children losing services in state health insurance transition, parents say
Contra Costa Times

When 4-year-old Catalena DiBattista learned her autism therapist would not return, her lips began to quiver and her eyes welled with tears. “She was very sad” before the service was temporarily restored, said her mother, Pamela. “She loves Miss Alana.” She and other parents of autistic children have been on a roller-coaster ride since the state began transitioning to Medi-Cal some 860,000 children who received low-cost health, dental and vision care through its soon-to-be-defunct Healthy Families program.

News Headlines Article

Healthcare For Immigrants: Now, Later, or Never?
Neon Tommy

As all the talk about immigration reform brings Washington closer to creating a comprehensive plan, more questions arise about what the future may hold for currently undocumented residents. One such question: should the US provide healthcare to undocumented immigrants? Perhaps a more difficult question is whether advocating for the extension of healthcare benefits will end up hurting immigrants more than helping them by prompting Republicans to recoil from the idea of expanded benefits altogether.

News Headlines Article

Nurses push state by state for hospital staffing standards
Sacramento Bee

How many nurses does it take to run a hospital?

Legislatures in at least seven states and the District of Columbia are trying to answer that question as they debate bills that would require hospitals to have a minimum number of nurses on staff at all times.

California’s Legislature passed a minimum nurse staffing law in 1999. While no other state has done so since then, the nursing unions backing the bills have grown increasingly powerful in statehouses across the country.

News Headlines Article

Calif. medical board backs prescription drug reforms
Modern Healthcare

The Medical Board of California is backing measures to combat prescription drug abuse in the wake of a report that found a link between physician-prescribed narcotics and overdose deaths.

The board, meeting in Los Angeles on Friday, voted to support legislation requiring coroners to report prescription drug overdose deaths to the board and to give the panel new power to halt a doctor’s prescribing in some cases, the Los Angeles Times reported.

News Headlines Article

Anthem Blue Cross to pay $3.2 million in overdue-claims case
Los Angeles Times

Anthem Blue Cross will pay more than $3.2 million to medical providers under a settlement reached this week with California regulators related to the company’s mishandling of overdue bills.

The California Department of Managed Health Care said Anthem owed doctors and other providers interest on claims that were paid late from 2007 to 2011. The state said Anthem, the state’s largest for-profit health insurer, must make these payments, including penalties, within 120 days.

News Headlines Article

UCLA to test drugs for autism in weeks not years
Modern Healthcare

In an effort to find a treatment for autism, scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, are leading a $9 million experiment that aims to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs within weeks rather than years.

It’s part of a push by the National Institutes of Health to fast-track the pace of discovery that hopefully will lead to new therapies for several neurological disorders. Besides autism, the federal agency is also backing rapid efforts to seek treatments for schizophrenia and mood and anxiety disorders.

News Headlines Article

Kaiser Roseville takes environmental honor
Sacramento Bee

Kaiser Permanente’s Roseville Medical Center is one of only three U.S. facilities named to the “Environmental Leadership Circle” by Practice Greenhealth, a national organization that promotes green practices in health care. The leadership circle is considered the highest honor among the Reston, Va.-based group’s 2013 Environmental Excellence Awards. To qualify, health facilities must meet high standards in various segments, including waste recycling, medical waste management and eradication of mercury use.

News Headlines Article

Long Beach-area hospitals under pressure from health care reform to reduce readmissions
Long Beach Press-Telegram

In an effort to meet the pending standards of the Affordable Care Act, Long Beach-area hospitals are collaborating on a push to reduce patient readmissions.

Most of the readmission problems are with elderly patients, who often seek medical help at different hospitals, resulting in administrative costs that can range from $8,000 to $13,000 for each readmission.

News Headlines Article

Fix ‘compounding pharmacy’ oversight: Our view
USA Today

The first time most people heard of a “compounding pharmacy” was last fall, when people started dying after getting routine shots produced by one such operation in the Boston area. By early this month, the death toll stood at 53, or 50 more than the marathon bombings. Among the dead was Douglas Wingate, 47, a Virginia account executive whose only complaint was a pinched nerve in his shoulder. He got a steroid shot and became a victim of a meningitis outbreak tied to tainted injections made by the New England Compounding Center (NECC).

News Headlines Article

We’re dedicated to patients’ health: Another view
USA Today

When the tragic news of the deaths and sickness associated with products made at the New England Compounding Center came out last fall, the nation’s attention appropriately focused on what went terribly wrong — and what steps to take to keep anything like it from ever happening again. Pharmacists were more concerned than anyone because our profession is dedicated to one thing: the health of the patients we serve by compounding drugs upon request from authorized prescribers, such as doctors. NECC was essentially manufacturing drugs, not compounding.

News Headlines Article

The ACO Failure Hypothesis: Likely But Not Inevitable
The Health Care Blog

We recently participated in a program at Columbia Business School’s Healthcare Program on whether ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) will fail. For those of you that don’t know, ACOs are one of the structures promulgated by PPACA (aka Obamacare) designed to encourage better cost control and quality improvement in the healthcare system. The current zeitgeist among the commentariat is that ACOs will fail (examples: here and here).

News Headlines Article

Doctors Fear HIV Patients Will Fall Through Cracks As Obamacare Rolls Out
KQED Radio

A major goal of the federal health care law is that millions of people who currently do not have health insurance will have improved access to care. But the massive overhaul is also expected to be widely disruptive, and doctors worry that many people with chronic illness could suffer during the changeover, as KQED’s Mina Kim details today on The California Report. Kim tells the story of 33-year-old Andrew Solis who stopped taking HIV medications more than a year ago after becoming addicted to methamphetamine while in a “rocky relationship.”

Commands