News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California hospital labor groups drop November ballot plans
San Jose Business Journal

As the result of an agreement between a major labor union and statewide hospital management described by both sides as “historic” and “ground breaking,” two health care initiatives that appeared to be headed to the November ballot have been called off. Officials of the Service Employees International Union and the California Hospital Association said Wednesday they have agreed to cooperate on finding solutions to the thorniest problems facing the health care industry.

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Lawmakers Try to Limit Hospital Executives’ Pay Packages
The Bay Citizen

California lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill that would require taxpayer-funded health care districts to restrict lavish payouts to executives.

The bill, authored by Assemblyman Luis A. Alejo, a Democrat from Salinas, would prohibit health care districts from giving financial perks to retiring administrators that are not available to other employees. The hospitals could no longer make inflated lump-sum payments exclusively to executives based on their performance or years of service, for example.

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Medicare disruptions seen if health law is struck
San Francisco Chronicle

The Obama administration has quietly told the courts that tossing out the president’s health care overhaul would have major unintended consequences for Medicare’s payment systems, which handle 100 million monthly claims from hospitals and other providers. In papers filed with the Supreme Court, administration lawyers have warned of “extraordinary disruption” if Medicare is forced to unwind countless transactions based on payment changes required by the Affordable Care Act.

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HHS distributes $10.4 million for rural health
Modern Healthcare

HHS announced the awarding of $10.4 million in grants to 70 rural providers as part of the first round of funding for three-year direct healthcare projects in their communities. The projects will address a variety of needs among different targeted population groups, including low-income families and individuals, the elderly, pregnant women, infants, adolescents, minorities and people who have special healthcare needs, according to a news release.

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Union drops hospital ballot measures
Sacramento Business Journal

A health care labor union today dropped its threat to go to the ballot box to regulate hospital charges and charity care. Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West and the California Hospital Association announced they would work together on issues that include rising health care costs. The union abandoned plans to file petitions it spent months gathering to qualify the measures for the November ballot.

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Medicare’s ‘No-Pay’ HAI Policy Reshifts Hospital Priorities
Health Leaders Media

What’s been the impact of the 2008 law that empowered Medicare to refuse payment for additional care necessitated by so-called “never events” such as wrong-site surgeries and healthcare-associated infections that should never be allowed to happen?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services initially estimated it would avoid spending $20 million the first year the policy was in place and $50 million in subsequent years.

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107 charged in Medicare fraud crackdown
Los Angeles Times

Doctors, nurses and social workers from across the country, 107 in all, were charged in what federal officials in Washington called a “nationwide takedown” of medical professionals accused of fraudulently billing Medicare out of nearly half a billion dollars.

The amount of bogus Medicare claims, totaling about $452 million, was the highest in a single raid in the history of a federal strike force combating rising fraud in the medical industry, according to the Justice Department. Arrests were made in seven major cities.

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U.S. Charges 107 People With $452 Million in Medicare Fraud
San Francisco Chronicle

Federal authorities charged 107 people with Medicare fraud in a multistate operation, alleging schemes involving about $452 million in false billing, officials in Washington announced. The U.S. charged doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals with schemes including submitting bills to Medicare for unnecessary services and providing and paying kickbacks to acquire patient information for fraudulent bills.

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New study says families aren’t in the way in the trauma ward
Southern California Public Radio

It’s a common scene in hospital dramas: the worried mother sobbing over a child that E.R. docs are desperately trying to save from whatever dread injury has been sustained. Inevitably, a nurse bustles the mother out, saying “Let us do our job!” According to a new study, that scene need not play out.

Medical professionals at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C, one of the nation’s highest ranking and busiest children’s hospitals, set up cameras in trauma wards where serious injuries like car accidents and gunshot wounds are treated.

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8 Social Media Tips for Physicians
Health Leaders Media

Develop a social media policy. This is true for all institutions no matter their size—even a small mom-and-pop clinical ­practice with one provider needs to have a social media policy. Remember, your employees will be on social media, and unless you have policy for behavior, you can’t define how they are going to engage, says Mayo Clinic’s Farris K. Timimi, MD. The AMA offers a set of guidelines.

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Physicians Leveraging Social Media to Educate Patients
Health Leaders Media

Many physicians are still hesitant about using social media in their professional lives. Concerns range from time commitment, liability, patient privacy, and unfamiliarity with the technology, to the appropriateness of social media interactions in a professional setting.

According to a study by QuantiaMD, 87% of physicians use at least one social media site for personal use, but only 67% use at least one social media site professionally.

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Nourishing the Long Beach AIDS community
HealthyCal.org

When the country was facing the growing AIDS epidemic three decades ago, members of Christ Chapel Church of Long Beach found that local residents afflicted with the disease were struggling. Too often, people living with AIDS at the beginning of the epidemic lacked basic necessities like food. During the Thanksgiving holiday in 1985, church members including Margo Martinez decided to lend a helping hand by assembling food baskets and distributing them to AIDS patients in the church.

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California leads the way
Chico News and Review

As Americans await a Supreme Court ruling on health-care-reform legislation, millions of Californians already are reaping benefits from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). According to a study by Health Access California, a consumer advocacy coalition of around 200 organizations, state legislators and governmental agencies have moved forward with notable speed since the PPACA became law in 2010. California has passed new laws, established new programs and secured more than $340 million in federal funding.

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Obamacare or not, healthcare reform in progress
Orange County Register

Nine justices are expected to determine the fate of the Affordable Care Act in June, but they alone won’t determine the course of healthcare in this country. That course has already been set. Doctors, hospitals and patients know what politicians and pundits haven’t yet realized: The transformational reformation of health care is already in progress. And it will continue to move forward irrespective of what the Supreme Court decides.

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Voters pass hospital funding tax
The Press-Enterprise

A parcel tax measure in the Pass area to fund hospital services won Tuesday’s special election, according to final election results. The Riverside County Registrar of Voters office posted the final results Wednesday night. The office’s website said that out of 11,902 ballots counted, 72.73 percent voted in favor of Measure D and 27.27 percent voted against. At least 67 percent of voters needed to approve the measure for it to pass.

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Sonoma County health clinics receive $8 million in federal grants
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Three Sonoma County health clinics will receive more than $8 million in federal money to build facilities and improve services to uninsured and low-income patients in Sonoma County, including dental aid.

Santa Rosa Community Health Centers will get $2.8 million to open a new 13-chair dental clinic in Roseland next year.

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AAMC: First-year med school enrollment on track for 30% boost
Modern Healthcare

A new survey from the Association of American Medical Colleges (PDF) predicts that by 2016, first-year enrollment in U.S. medical schools will nearly match the 30% increase in enrollment that the association called for in 2006.

According to the AAMC’s 2011 Medical School Enrollment Survey, first-year medical school enrollment will record a gain of 29.6% in the 14-year period from the 2002-03 school year to the 2016-17 school year.

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CMH address May 17 to focus on new hospital, healthcare reform
Ventura County Star

The public will receive updates on the construction of a new Community Memorial Hospital when President and CEO Gary Wilde gives the 2012 State of the Hospital address on Thursday, May 17.

The address will be held at 6 p.m. at the Museum of Ventura County, 100 E. Main Street, Ventura. Refreshments are at 5:30 p.m.

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Investing In Health Insurance Companies
San Francisco Chronicle

The health insurance industry is a very large and integrated industry in the U.S. economy. Health insurers, sometimes called managed care companies, are often thought of as the gate-keepers to American healthcare. They tend to control what doctors can be seen and how often, how much you will pay, and what the doctors and hospitals will receive. As such, these companies are perhaps the most important aspect of the American healthcare system today.

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L.A. program offers healthcare for illegal restaurant workers
Los Angeles Times

A restaurant workers’ group and a Los Angeles community clinic have launched a unique cooperative to provide health coverage to a group of people excluded from federal healthcare reform — illegal immigrants.

The pilot program, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, offers preventive and primary care to low-wage, uninsured workers in the restaurant industry. Legal immigrants and other restaurant workers who don’t meet the criteria or cannot afford coverage under the healthcare law are also eligible.

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U.S. outspends 12 other countries on healthcare, report says
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. outspends 12 other industrialized countries on healthcare, but does not provide superior care to those nations, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund.

Using data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, researchers compared healthcare spending, supply, utilization, prices and quality among the industrialized countries of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.

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Insurance companies are inducing stress disorders in patients
The Californian - Salinas

In July 2009, Carol A. Paris, a psychiatrist and an advocate for a single-payer national health care system, found herself on a speakers panel with Donna Smith of Aurora, Colo.

Smith and her husband, Larry, had been featured in the 2007 Michael Moore movie “Sicko.” After Larry Smith was diagnosed with chronic coronary disease and Donna Smith contracted uterine cancer, they couldn’t keep up with the costs of health insurance.

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The e-record cost-saving myth
San Francisco Chronicle

Researchers from Harvard University and the City University of New York have cautioned that the federal government’s multibillion-dollar investments in health information technology might not be the boon their proponents claim. In fact, replacing the racks of manila folders at doctors’ offices across the country with electronic medical records might actually drive up the cost of health care without improving it.

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GOP: Healthcare law ‘encourages’ business to cut back benefits
The Hill

President Obama’s healthcare law gives the country’s biggest businesses a strong incentive to quit offering healthcare benefits, House Republicans said Tuesday. Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee said employers would save billions of dollars if they quit offering health coverage to their employees and instead pushed workers into newly created insurance exchanges.

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