News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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L.A. Mobile Clinic Key Example Of Community Benefit Programs Threatened By AB 975
PR Newswire

In a new online video released today, the California Hospital Association (CHA) profiled an innovative mobile medical clinic program in Los Angeles County that would be jeopardized by the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 975, a costly and unnecessary rewrite of the state’s community benefit requirements for nonprofit hospitals. “I would say this is a quintessential community benefit program,” said Glenn Lopez , M.D., referring to his 34-foot “clinic-on-wheels” that serves communities throughout the San Fernando Valley five nights a week.

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Bill takes aim at reform law’s rural-floor provision
Modern Healthcare

New legislation from Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is welcome news to 20 state hospital associations working to eliminate a contentious hospital wage-index provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Brady’s bill—the Medicare Hospital Wage Index Equity Act of 2013—relates to the rural floor component of Medicare’s hospital wage index, which guarantees the wage index for rural hospitals is not more than the index for urban hospitals.

Before the 2010 healthcare overhaul, federal law required that payments for hospital wage-index adjustments be budget-neutral within a state so that only hospitals in that state would be affected by the changes.

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Not-for-profit healthcare providers move to ease pension burdens
Modern Healthcare

Not-for-profit healthcare providers are making a number of changes to decrease the burden of underfunded pension obligations, including making sweeping changes to their retirement plans and investment strategies.

A report from Moody’s Investors Service noted that underfunded pension liabilities are continuing to put pressure on hospital balance sheets, as providers find themselves weighing numerous competing capital requirements. About 72% of the 460 hospitals that Moody’s rates currently offer pension plans.

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56% of patients don’t follow prescription
San Francisco Chronicle

It might take more than a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down for many Americans. In a survey of more than 1,000 adult patients who are on prescription medication for chronic illnesses, 40 percent say they haven’t followed doctor’s instructions or have skipped taking their meds at least once in the past year. More than a quarter said they’ve stopped taking medications altogether or never even filled a prescription. It’s a problem known as medication nonadherence and is linked to 125,000 deaths in the United States each year.

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Healthcare workers strike at five California public hospitals
Reuters

Thousands of healthcare workers walked off the job at the University of California’s five medical centers on Tuesday, delaying emergency care, surgeries, diagnostic procedures and other medical treatment throughout the state.

The union representing nearly 13,000 vocational nurses, respiratory therapists and radiology technicians said it called the two-day strike to draw attention to staff shortages they said undermine patient care at the hospitals in San Francisco, Davis, Los Angeles, San Diego and Irvine.

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Reform Update: Proponents of Medicaid expansion weigh next moves
Modern Healthcare

As many state legislative sessions have finished or are nearing completion, advocates of expanding Medicaid eligibility are looking at their next steps.

Expansion of Medicaid eligibility as called for by the 2010 healthcare overhaul will not happen in 19 states, and seven more states are leaning against expanding, according to the latest estimates by Avalere Health.

But the failure of the expansion to pass in many recently or nearly concluded state legislative sessions is unlikely to spell the end for those measures.

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Loophole in health care law could stick doctors with tab
Sacramento Bee

A loophole in California’s upcoming health care overhaul could be exploited by families gaming the system or responding to hardship in a way that doctors say could leave a pile of unpaid bills.

A chain of events would create a two-month period during which a family has medical coverage but no insurer must pay its claims.

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Two healthcare reform regulations move forward
FierceHealthPayer

Despite the ongoing attempts of Republicans to repeal President Obama’s health reform law and link it to the current scandal at the Internal Revenue Service, the administration is going ahead with two major Affordable Care Act regulations that provide insurance to people with pre-existing conditions and set maximum profit margins for certain providers. The rules for both regulations will be published this week in the Federal Register, according to the The Hill’s RegWatch blog post.

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GOP trains fire on ObamaCare ‘navigators’
The Hill

Congressional Republicans warned Tuesday that the public might not be able to trust the people who will help navigate new coverage options under President Obama’s healthcare law. Republicans questioned whether felons could sign up to help people navigate the healthcare law, then make off with reams of personal information. They also said lax regulations might lead to bad advice.

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Unions Turn Against Obamacare Fearing Lost Coverage
MoneyNews

The White House is losing support for Obamacare from some leading labor unions that are concerned their members could lose healthcare coverage once the program is fully implemented.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) said it is worried that its members will actually lose healthcare coverage they have now once the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented early next year, reports The Hill.

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Poll Shows Young People to Skip Coverage, Opt for Penalty Tax Instead
Fox News

The main premise of the president’s health-care reform is to extend coverage to everyone, and to make that financially attainable, the system will rely on young (and presumably more healthy) consumers entering the market. But there’s a potential snag in the financing plan: younger Americans might not opt to sign up for insurance. The Affordable Care Act requires citizens to sign up for health-care insurance by 2014 or face a fine.

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House Lawmakers Grill CMS Over Health Exchange Navigators
Health Leaders Media

A meeting of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform called ostensibly to discuss the role that navigators and assistors will play in the enrollment process for new health insurance marketplaces included statements and questions about role the IRS is expected to play in the implementation of healthcare reform. The meeting veered further off topic into concerns over the fundraising efforts of Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Feds take over Calif. high-risk insurance program
San Francisco Chronicle

About 17,000 Californians with serious medical problems will be moved from a state-run stopgap health insurance program to a federal plan starting in July, ensuring they will have no break in medical coverage until the national health care reforms kick in next year, state officials announced this week. The state board that oversees the California Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan said participants will continue receiving benefits from the federal government until 2014.

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Uncompensated Care Faces a Double Hit in Some States
Health Leaders Media

Medicaid is widely regarded as a poor payer related to costs, but hospitals, especially the nation’s safety-nets, are eager to get more of their state’s residents on the plan nevertheless. That’s because Medicaid’s reimbursement rate, which varies by state, is much better than nothing at all, which is what many hospitals claim they get, in reimbursement terms, from treating the uninsured.

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State medical board not protecting patients from incompetent doctors
KTVU.com

Patients usually are able to put their trust in medical professionals, but in the Bay Area some bad doctors are showing up with perfect records because the medical board that oversees them isn’t doing its job. Robyn Frankel had an active and accomplished life as a horsewomen and trainer in Woodside. She was raising two beautiful children and living an extremely active life with family and friends. That was until she went into the hospital to have an operation for her migraines.

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Clinicians often poor at predicting medication adherence
Modern Healthcare

Patients do not always take prescriptions as instructed and doctors cannot always tell who has lapsed, with potentially harmful and costly consequences. But that could change with more training, better tracking and less reliance by clinicians on rules of thumb for quick decisions, wrote three researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Those decision shortcuts can speed treatment, but not always effectively, said Zachary Marcum, a pharmacist and one of the report’s three authors. Research suggests that clinicians often fail to accurately predict how closely patients stick to their prescriptions.

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Groups cite gains under EHR incentive programs
Modern Healthcare

Three healthcare organizations are defending the federal health IT booster programs against calls from GOP senators who want a “reboot.” Six U.S. senators who last month criticized the health information technology efforts of the Obama administration had asked for comments on issues raised in their 28-page white paper, and they received several of those. The three healthcare groups offered criticism along with their support.

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SJCH opens new cancer center
Bakersfield Californian

With the snip of a giant red ribbon, San Joaquin Community Hospital celebrated the long-awaited opening of its new cancer and outpatient surgery center Tuesday morning.

The AIS Cancer Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital has been open since late April, but Mayor Harvey Hall, hospital administrators and donors gathered with the center’s staff to memorialize the occasion this week.

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