News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Senators Want Provider Feedback on Medicare Payments
Health Leaders Media

In advance of a “doc fix” repeal hearing scheduled for Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee has reached out to more than 100 healthcare providers for specific recommendations on how to improve Medicare’s physician payment system. In a co-signed letter Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), committee chair, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), ranking member, call for “a permanent solution that will address the SGR and physician payment reform.”

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Value-Based Healthcare Needs New Bond Rating Metrics
Health Leaders Media

As hospitals move away from volume-based reimbursement models to less-tangible value-based reimbursements bond rating agencies are trying to figure out the best way to measure it. Moody’s Investors Service this year issued a report that outlined 20 new indicators that the rating agency will use to evaluate hospitals. Lisa Goldstein, associate managing director at Moody’s, says the new indicators focus on value and measuring demand in ways other than admissions.

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Communication skills key to exam room computing: AMA report
Modern Healthcare

There is no consensus about the best way to incorporate computers into a patient visit, but whether computers are a negative or positive influence in the exam room appears to depend on the communication skills of the physician, according to a report from the American Medical Association board of trustees. The five-page report, “Exam Room Computing & Patient-Physician Interactions,” will be presented for approval at the AMA House of Delegates June 15-19 meeting in Chicago and will be considered as only “informational” and not an official position of the organization until then.

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Valley Fever Cases Soar in West, Yet ‘Off The Radar’ of East Coast Policymakers
KQED Radio

When she was just 6, Emily Gorospe became very tired and sick. The spunky girl, now 8, developed a fever that wouldn’t go away, and red blotches appeared across her body. “She’s got so much energy usually,” says Emily’s mother, Valerie Gorospe. “Just walking from one part of the house … she was drained.” The little girl was also very pale. “She just didn’t look like herself,” Valerie recalls.

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Most doctors still reject Medicaid as program expansion nears
McClatchy

Sandra Duck thinks she’s the victim of an undeclared Medicaid boycott. And she’s probably right.

When her artificial right hip became infected with the superbug MRSA in late 2009, Dr. Dale Mitchum, a general surgeon, drained, cleaned and closed the infected area. But when the infection returned in early 2010, Mitchum knew Duck needed another hip replacement surgery, which he couldn’t perform. He tried to find an orthopedic surgeon who would operate. More than a year later, he’s still trying.

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New Medicare Program Penalizes Hospitals With High Re-Admit Rates
KPBS

A new Medicare program that punishes hospitals with high patient readmissions rates is forcing administrators to reach out and improve how patients are cared for even after they’re wheeled out the hospital doors. Working to reduce runaway costs, Medicare is now penalizing hospitals across California and nationwide for patients who must be admitted again within 30 days.

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Medi-Cal expansion mired in money fight
Southern California Public Radio

When Governor Jerry Brown unveils his revised state budget Tuesday morning, healthcare advocates will be looking for a more detailed Medi-Cal expansion plan. The Governor has committed to extend the healthcare coverage for low-income families to one million more residents, as part of federal healthcare reform, but he’s yet to produce a detailed plan.

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CMS Proposes Reduced Hospital DSH Cuts
Health Leaders Media

Some 2,000 acute care hospitals that treat large numbers of the uninsured would see a $1.1 billion reduction in federal subsidies, called Medicaid disproportionate share funds, over the next two years under a proposed rule released Monday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The reduction methodology to accommodate “data refinement and methodology improvement before larger reductions begin in FY 2017″ is being proposed just for FY 2014 and 2015, rather than the full $18.1 billion specified through 2020.

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After CMS releases chargemaster data, hospital mull price changes
FierceHealthcare

Days after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released hospital chargemaster data for dozens of the most common procedures they perform, providers are mulling whether to cut their prices or do nothing at all. Bruce Lamoureux, chief executive officer of Providence Alaska Medical Center, told Kaiser Health News he was reconsidering the prices his facility charges.

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Sebelius’ fundraising for healthcare reform questioned
Modern Healthcare

Republican lawmakers are digging in their teeth on the Obama administration’s efforts to solicit help and donations for private organizations that are working to enroll millions of Americans in new coverage under the healthcare reform law.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said late Monday that he will ask the Government Accountability Office this week to open an investigation into the legality of HHS Secretary Katherine Sebelius’ efforts to encourage private health stakeholders to spend money promoting Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Reform Update: Synergies seen with RWJF, Innovation Center initiatives
Modern Healthcare

An eight-year initiative aimed at improving healthcare quality and lowering costs has entered its final phase, and its director says the project’s lessons could serve as best practices for healthcare providers across the nation. Launched in 2006, Aligning Forces for Quality is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded effort involving 16 communities, including Albuquerque, N.M.; Detroit; Cleveland; Puget Sound, Wash.; and Kansas City, Mo.

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Docs press AMA to ‘educate’ feds on EHR use
Modern Physician

The New Jersey delegation to the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates meeting next month wants the AMA to “educate” the CMS that the appropriate use of templates and cutting and pasting within an electronic health-record system is not tantamount to fraud. The request comes in the form of a resolution proposed for the annual meeting of delegates set for June 15-19 in Chicago.

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Access to EHR Notes Lauded by Patients, Providers
Health Leaders Media

Possibly the most famous consumer of electronic health records is Dave deBronkart, better known as e-Patient Dave. Several years ago, deBronkart participated in a trial of a new program that permitted patients to view all the notes in their EHR.

“I experienced a direct benefit,” deBronkart recalls. “Weeks after a visit, I thought, ‘Wasn’t I supposed to have something followed up?’ Heaven knows where my printed visit notes were … it was late in the evening, so ordinarily I’d have waited till morning and maybe remembered to call in and have someone look it up—very inefficient and vulnerable to ‘I forgot.’

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HHS issues rules cutting Medicaid DSH
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration issued the rules Monday to carry out a major hospital Medicaid cut, even as it is trying to delay the reduction scheduled to begin in five months. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required $18.1 billion in reductions to Medicaid disproportionate-share hospital payments from fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2020. Those payments offer extra financial support to hospitals that serve larger-than-average shares of low-income patients and uncompensated-care cases.

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Doc pay reform remains a ‘top priority’
Modern Healthcare

Physician advocates see signs of progress in the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing Tuesday—the panel’s first in six years on replacing Medicare’s physician payment system.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) last convened a hearing to replace Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula, which determines physician payments, on March 1, 2007. That hearing was followed by the contentious battle over the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was notably silent on Medicare’s physician payment system.

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Hospitals could lose $500M in federal funds
The Mercury News

Hospitals nationwide could lose half a billion dollars in federal funding for uninsured patients next year under the national health overhaul—a loss that will hit especially hard in states that decided against expanding Medicaid coverage. Cuts could jump to $4 billion in 2020, according to estimates released Monday by federal health officials. Hospitals that treat a large number of uninsured residents have relied on federal funding in the past to offset the cost.

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Health law lets young people stay on a parent’s plan or buy their own insurance
Washington Post

More than 3 million young people have gained health insurance since the Affordable Care Act became law three years ago, allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.

Starting next year, young adults will have more options for health insurance. But despite the expanded choices, some may continue to face problems commonly associated with their age group: coverage for mental health issues, substance abuse and maternity care.

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Gang Crime Spills Into Central Coast Hospitals
KION

Four people were shot and two of those victims are dead, after a shooting on the Central Coast. Now we’re learning how a crime like that could affect you in a way you may not expect.

Hospitals are the first place a shooting victim typically ends up. But it’s also where other patients are getting critical care. We dug deeper to figure out how you could be in harm’s way without even knowing it.

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Nearly 13,000 University Of California Healthcare Workers Threaten Strike
KPBS

Nearly 13,000 healthcare workers at University of California medical centers are threatening to go on a two-day strike next week. Workers and the UC system are at loggerheads over a new contract. The previous one expired last year. AFSCME, the union representing healthcare workers, says UC refuses to ensure adequate staffing at its five medical centers. Union rep Todd Stenhouse said that’s creating unsafe working conditions.

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Hospitals issue caution on comparing rates
Monterey Herald

Monterey County hospital administrators cautioned that figures released by the federal government last week, showing vast disparities in the amount facilities charge for the same services, can be deceiving.

The figures show average charges and reimbursements that can vary by tens of thousands of dollars between Monterey, Salinas and King City. Administrators said the numbers do not give a true comparison and stressed the facilities are all trying to reduce the costs of health care.

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Sutter set to pay Alameda County $22 million to take San Leandro Hospital
San Francisco Business Times

Sutter Health has a plan to give away San Leandro Hospital — long an unwanted part of its East Bay infrastructure — to Alameda County Medical Center, and to sweeten the deal with $22 million to help the county system run the hospital. Sutter “would give (San Leandro Hospital) and all of its equipment lock, stock and barrel” to Alameda County Medical Center, and establish a $22 million fund to help run it, said a source close to the negotiations.

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Ahead of the Bell: 3 WellPoint directors resign
San Francisco Chronicle

Health insurer WellPoint Inc. says that three long-standing members of its board of directors have resigned for personal reasons. The Indianapolis company said in a brief statement after the markets closed Monday that Sheila P. Burke, Dr. Lenox D. Baker Jr. and Susan B. Bayh did not resign due to disagreements or disputes with the company.

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Faith and Healthcare Combine at Mission Hospital
Orange County Register

Among the organizations named to The Orange County Register’s Top Workplaces for 2012 was Mission Hospital, a not-for-profit, combined 509-bed tertiary medical facility with campuses in Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach. Mission Hospital is also a three-time winner of the Gallup Great Workplaces Award, which it received in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

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My Medical Choice
New York Times

My Mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.

We often speak of “Mommy’s mommy,” and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us.

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Renderings of CPMC’s new Cathedral Hill and St. Luke’s Hospital now online
San Francisco Business Times

New renderings of the proposed California Pacific Medical Center campuses at Cathedral Hill and St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco are now available on the San Francisco Planning Department’s web site and on CPMC’s www.RebuildCPMC.org site. The new renderings reflect changes made to downsize CPMC’s controversial new hospital campus at Cathedral Hill (Van Ness Ave. at Geary Boulevard) and increase the size of a proposed rebuild of St. Luke’s, now a CPMC campus.

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Sutter Health names new administrator Brian Alexander at Novato Community Hospital
San Francisco Business Times

Sutter Health’s West Bay Region has named Brian Alexander as the next administrator at Novato Community Hospital. He will succeed longtime Chief Administrative Officer Anne Hosfeld on July 1. Hosfeld is retiring at the end of June after 34 years with the 40-bed Novato hospital. It joined Sacramento-based Sutter system in 1984, officials said Monday.

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