News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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When Hospital Regulations Go Too Far
Pacific Standard

Most surgeons-in-training dislike new rules that limit how many hours they can work, according to a new study that also found the majority said they skirt the restrictions.

Researchers surveyed 1,013 surgical residents—who train for years alongside more senior surgeons—and found that about two of every three said they disapproved of the 2011 regulations, which aimed to improve patient care as well as the residents’ education and quality of life.

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3 Reasons Urinary Catheters are Overused in Hospitals
Health Leaders Media

It’s not surprising that Michigan’s hospital caregivers adopted proven strategies to prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) faster than hospitals in other states, and had lower infections overall. It was Michigan, after all, that launched the 2007 Keystone Project, which has become a model for reducing infections nationwide.

But even in the Wolverine state, three troublesome obstacles continue to block the use of best practices in most settings.

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Patients who helped with medical choices had higher bills: study
Los Angeles Times

Many patients like having a say in their medical care. But according to a new survey, the people who say they want to take a relatively aggressive, hands-on approach may also wind up with longer hospital stays and higher bills than their peers who leave the decision making up to their doctors. A team of researchers from the University of Chicago School of Medicine reported on the survey’s findings Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Obamacare Unveiled as California With New York Lead U.S.: Health
San Francisco Chronicle

While politicians in Washington argue over the Affordable Care Act, its ultimate fate is being decided far from Capitol Hill.

Amid the periodic repeal votes in Congress and activist campaigns on both sides of the debate, states from New York to California are striving to meet an Oct. 1 deadline to implement the heart of the health-care law, the online insurance “exchanges” meant to enroll millions of Americans. The law has already had a major impact on U.S. health care since its passage in 2010.

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Republicans see ‘Obamacare’ issues as key to 2014
Modern Healthcare

If Republicans were writing a movie script for next year’s congressional elections, the working title might be “2014: Apocalypse of Obamacare.”

The plot: The rollout of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law turns into such a disaster that enraged voters rebuke him by rewarding the GOP with undisputed control of Congress. But there’s a risk for Republicans if they’re wrong and the Affordable Care Act works reasonably well, particularly in states that have embraced it.

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Obamacare Poll: Most Americans Still Oppose Health Care Law
The Huffington Post

A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday finds that a majority of Americans still oppose the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law.

The poll shows that 54 percent of respondents oppose Obamacare, which the president signed into law in 2010. Of those who oppose it, 16 percent say they disapprove of the law because it is not liberal enough, while 35 percent say the measure is too liberal.

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Obama’s Next Big Campaign: Selling Health Care To The Public
National Public Radio

President Obama often tells audiences that he has waged his last campaign. But that’s not exactly true.

The White House is gearing up for a massive campaign this summer that will cover all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. And the president’s legacy may hinge on whether it succeeds or fails.

The Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” has been through more life-and-death cliffhangers than a season finale of Homeland.

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Major health insurance providers in California ’sitting out’ ObamaCare
Catholic Online

All eyes are focused on California, which offers quite the blend of individual and commercial customers, as well as a number of soon-to-be Medicaid participants under the PPACA’s Medicaid expansion. California has revealed the 13 contract winners who will be participating in its insurance exchange in the coming months.

Many familiar names remain on the list such as Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of California, Anthem Blue Cross and Health Net, which collectively make up a big portion of California’s individual insurance market.

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Health Care’s Forgotten Crisis, Part 1: Families Can’t Afford Medical Care.
The Huffington Post

The real health care battle in this country isn’t the one being fought over the bill everyone now calls “Obamacare.” In fact, it’s not a battle between Republicans and Democrats at all. The real battle is the one millions of Americans face every day as they struggle to pay medical bills that now average nearly $10,000 per year — if they’re “lucky.”

The United States is now the only developed nation on Earth where the average family with insurance pays more for health care than it does for groceries.

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One Strategy for Health-Law Costs: Self Insure
The Wall Street Journal

As businesses cast about for ways to minimize new costs related to the federal health law, health insurers are stepping up. Among their latest offerings: allowing ever-smaller companies to switch to a riskier form of coverage traditionally favored by big employers.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH +2.26% and Humana Inc. HUM +2.05% will begin offering smaller employers—including firms with as few as 10 members in UnitedHealth’s case—the option of so-called self-insurance in some markets later this year.

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High-End Health Plans Scale Back to Avoid ‘Cadillac Tax’
New York Times

Say goodbye to that $500 deductible insurance plan and the $20 co-payment for a doctor’s office visit. They are likely to become luxuries of the past.

Get ready to enroll in a program to manage your diabetes. Or prepare for a health screening to determine your odds of developing a costly health condition. Expect to have your blood pressure checked or a prescription filled at a clinic at your office, rather than by your private doctor.

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Shared decisionmaking may spur higher costs, longer hospital stays: researchers
Modern Healthcare

Engaging patients in their care is often touted as a surefire way to control costs and reduce utilization of services, but new research calls that assumption into question.

Armed with eight years of survey data from more than 20,000 patients, researchers from the University of Chicago argue that shared decisionmaking may actually result in increased inpatient spending and longer lengths of stay.

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University hospitals, nurses continue contract dispute
The Stanford Daily

An ongoing contract dispute between University hospitals and 2,700 nurses looks set to continue after nurses last week rejected a new contract agreement negotiated by the hospitals and union leaders earlier this month.

Negotiations between the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA), the Stanford Hospital and Clinics (SHC) and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital (LPCH) started in January. Gregory Lim, a federal mediator, was brought in at the beginning of April to facilitate further discussions between CRONA representatives and the hospitals.

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Facility offers primary care, residency program
Santa Maria Times

It’s not often you get two for the price of one nowadays, but that’s what Marian Regional Medical Center is getting with its new Dignity Health Family Medicine Center.

The hospital has recently opened the Family Medicine Center, which is a new facility where residents can access family practice doctors, better known as general practitioners or primary care physicians. The center will also serve as a classroom for medical residents when the hospital begins a teaching program next year.

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Blood clots can be deadly, but they are often preventable and treatable
Washington Post

Blood clots — jellylike masses of protein, blood cells and platelets — can be lifesaving when they stop bleeding caused by an injury. But they can be deadly if they form where they aren’t needed.

A clot in a vein close to the skin’s surface causes a burning or itching sensation yet typically doesn’t lead to serious problems. But a clot that develops in a vein deep in the lower abdomen or legs, called a deep-vein thrombosis, or DVT, can interfere with blood flow, often causing swelling and inflammation.

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Figures on back procedures raise overtreatment issues
Santa Cruz Sentinel

Residents here seeking pain relief from fractured vertebrae underwent two controversial back procedures at double the statewide rate from 2005 to 2010, according to an analysis of state hospital data released earlier this month.

Just a half hour’s drive away, during the same period, Stockton residents underwent the same treatment at a frequency about half the state average, or only one fourth as often as Modestans.

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When a doctor doesn’t take Medicare

What does it mean when a doctor tells you he or she has “opted out” of Medicare?

An opt-out doctor is one who doesn’t accept Medicare. Doctors who have opted out of Medicare can charge their Medicare patients whatever fees the physicians choose. These doctors don’t submit any health care claims to Medicare. In addition, opt-out doctors aren’t subject to Medicare laws that limit the amount they can charge their patients.

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Obamacare shock: Health reform plan may be a success
Sacramento Bee

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, goes fully into effect at the beginning of next year, and predictions of disaster are being heard far and wide. There will be an administrative “train wreck,” we’re told; consumers will face a terrible shock.

Republicans, one hears, are already counting on the law’s troubles to give them a big electoral advantage. No doubt there will be problems, as there are with any large new government initiative, and in this case, we have the added complication that many Republican governors and legislators are doing all they can to sabotage reform.

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How UCSF Is Solving the Quality, Cost and Value Equation
The Health Care Blog

I sometimes explain to medical students that they are entering a profession being transformed, like coal to diamonds, under the pressure of a new mandate. “The world is going to push us, relentlessly and without mercy, to deliver the highest quality, safest, most satisfying care at the lowest cost,” I’ll say gravely, trying to get their attention.

“What exactly were you trying to do before?” some have asked, in that wonderful way that smart students blend naiveté with blinding insight.