News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California is the White House’s proof that Obamacare is working
Washington Post

President Obama will try to allay anxiety over his signature health-care law Friday during a visit to California, a state that the White House is highlighting as proof that the law is working. With the focus in recent months on the law’s shaky rollout and continuing political battles, the president wants to draw attention to a state that has embraced the law and yielded some good news: Officials in the Democrat-led state recently released figures that show insurers expect to charge lower-than-expected premiums for individual policies sold under the law.

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County Official Says State Budget Could Endanger Public Health Programs
capital public radio

Governor Jerry Brown says counties will save money under the federal health overhaul because the state will enroll uninsured people in Medi-Cal. So the Governor proposes to capture health money going to counties.

That idea doesn’t sit well with county officials.

“We think health services that protect the public and citizens are genuinely at risk,” says Sacramento County Director of Health and Human Services, Sherri Z. Heller.

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Affordable Care Act spurs hiring blitz
Los Angeles Times

The nation’s complicated healthcare overhaul is proving to be a surprising source of work: People are needed to explain the law’s provisions to consumers.

In addition to the expected demand for more nurses and doctors to treat millions of newly insured patients, the federal Affordable Care Act is feeding a cottage industry in call centers.

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Lawmakers call for delay of DMEPOS program
Modern Healthcare

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have asked CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to delay the second-round implementation of Medicare’s Durable Medical Equipment Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program, scheduled to take effect July 1. Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) have circulated a letter urging their congressional colleagues to press Tavenner to halt Round Two of the program through the end of the year.

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Obama California Trip Focuses On Health Care Reform
The Huffington Post

President Barack Obama will tell Americans they are getting a good deal out of healthcare reform during a trip to California on Friday, where an argument is raging over whether it is living up to its name as the Affordable Care Act.

Support for the reform in California, the nation’s most populous state, is seen as crucial to the success of Obama’s signature domestic policy when millions of uninsured Americans are able to choose health plans beginning on Oct. 1.

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Obama to spotlight Calif. effort promoting ACA
Modern Healthcare

President Barack Obama on Friday will promote a California effort to educate Americans about the health reform law and insurance coverage enrollment that the administration hopes will serve as a model for other states.

In California on Thursday to attend events for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the president continued his trip in the Golden State and is expected to provide a statement about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose around 9 a.m. Pacific Time Friday.

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Obama’s day: Health care, fundraising, China
USA Today

President Obama spends Friday in California, talking about a landmark domestic program, raising money for the Democratic Party, and meeting with a key global leader. The major issues: Health care and China. First, in San Jose, Obama delivers remarks on the new health care law. With major parts of the law set to take effect later this year, Obama will discuss “what the Affordable Care Act will mean for all Americans nationwide and the efforts underway in California to implement the law and enroll Americans who currently don’t have access to quality, affordable insurance,” says the White House.

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Good News: Americans Saved Billions Thanks to the Affordable Care Act – And Medical Loss Rebates Are On the Way
The White House Blog

According to a new report, Americans buying individual market health insurance saved $1.2 billion in 2011 and $2.1 billion in 2012 because law has begun to hold insurance companies accountable. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to spend 80 to 85 percent of premium dollars on medical care and health care quality improvement, rather than on administrative costs.

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Health law led to $2.1 billion in savings for consumers, report says
Los Angeles Times

A new report estimates that U.S. consumers who purchase their own health insurance saved $2.1 billion last year due to tougher rules in the federal healthcare law.

Thursday’s report by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that individual premiums would have been $1.9 billion higher in 2012 without the requirements in the federal Affordable Care Act. In addition, the nonprofit group said individual policyholders nationwide should receive $241 million in rebates this summer.

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Reform Update: Rate shock fears may have lost their spark
Modern Healthcare

An analysis released today from the consulting group Avalere Health downplays some of the concerns that the healthcare reform law will lead to insurance rate shock for younger people. Avalere argues that potentially higher premiums will be offset by new federal subsidies for people buying coverage on the state exchanges. “Many of these individuals and family will benefit from new subsidies designed to increase affordability for those earning between 133 and 400 percent of poverty,” the report states.

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Health care law’s unpopularity reaches new highs
NBC News

President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law remains unpopular with the American public just months before it fully goes into effect, according to the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll shows 49 percent of Americans say they believe the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea. That’s the highest number recorded on this question since the poll began measuring it in 2009. Just 37 percent say the plan is a good idea.

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Health care reforms squander opportunity to give Americans the care they need
The Mercury News

President Obama is scheduled to give a speech in San Jose on Friday about his health care law. Over the past three years, the American people have learned even more about how this law affects their jobs, their paychecks and their care. The president has a responsibility to address honestly the concerns surrounding this law. I hope he’ll do that Friday. First, President Obama should admit that millions of hardworking Americans will see their premiums continue to rise.

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Doctor says, keep [healthcare] simple, stupid
MSNBC

The White House “blew it” communicating and rolling out Obamacare because not even doctors can explain the policy to their patients, Dr. Nancy Snyderman said during an Afternoon Mo Joe roundtable discussion on Thursday. “There’s that old adage: ‘Keep it simple, stupid.’ Well that comes to healthcare, and policy, and politics, too. The message was never clear,” she said. Just months before Obamacare goes into full effect, 49% of Americans say the law is a bad idea, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

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How to Fail at the Next Health Care
The Health Care Blog

So I was beta testing FutureSearch, this cool new Google add-on app I’m writing with a coder, and I found an article that I wrote in 2025. My first thought was, “Cool! It works!” My second thought was, “I’m still working at the age of 75?” It was only then that I focused on the title of the article: “Fail: The 16 Steps by Which Hospitals Failed in the Post-ACA Risk Environment — An Analysis.” The article detailed a dispiriting history from 2013 to 2020.

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Employers eye new health plan reimbursement approaches, survey finds
Modern Healthcare

As part of their strategy to hold down their healthcare plan costs, more employers are considering new approaches to reimburse plan participants for claims expenses and encourage them to use providers with the best medical outcomes, according to a survey released Thursday.

The Aon Hewitt survey of about 800 large and midsize employers found that 62% are considering redesigning their plans so participant reimbursement would be limited to a fixed amount for services where there are now wide cost variations.

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Sutter unveils name, growth plans for its new HMO
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Health quietly received its HMO license from state regulators April 5, but publicly launched the plan Thursday as Sutter Health Plus. The name builds on Sutter’s new advertising tag line: “We Plus You.” The idea is to reflect the partnership among patients, employers, doctors and the 25 hospitals in Sutter’s far-flung network across Northern California. The tag line was approved at Sutter’s leadership symposium earlier this year and is currently rolling out in television, radio and billboard ads.

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HMO agency launches consumer website
Sacramento Business Journal

California’s state HMO regulator has launched a new rate review website for consumers. The website provides information about the Department of Managed Health Care’s rate review process, useful terms, questions and answers — and resources related to rate review and health care costs. Health plans are required to file rate information with the agency to justify proposed premium rates in the individual and small employer markets.

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Governor Brown Announces Appointments
Imperial Valley News

Sacramento, California – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the following appointments.

Dan Burch, 47, of Turlock, has been appointed to the California Commission on Emergency Medical Services. Burch has been administrator at the San Joaquin County Emergency Medical Services Agency since 2005. He was a coordinator at Tuolumne County Emergency Medical Services Agency from 1997 to 2005 and a quality improvement coordinator at the Alpine, Mother Lode, San Joaquin Emergency Medical Services Agency from 1991 to 1997.

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F.D.A. Vote Is Minor Victory for Troubled Diabetes Drug
New York Times

A panel of experts voted Thursday to loosen restrictions on a controversial diabetes drug, saying doctors should have more freedom to prescribe it to patients. But the decision was unlikely to improve prospects for the drug; sales have sagged since a highly publicized episode in 2007, when a doctor showed evidence that it increased the risk of heart problems.

Thirteen members of a 26-member Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted to soften the restrictions on the drug, Avandia, which has gone from being one of the industry’s biggest blockbusters to a marginalized drug used by a few thousand people.

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FDA panel wants changes to Avandia safety measures
Modern Healthcare

Federal health experts have recommended changing safety restrictions on former blockbuster diabetes pill Avandia, in light of a new analysis suggesting that the drug may not increase the risk of heart attack as previously believed.

A majority of Food and Drug Administration advisers voted to modify or remove measures that currently limit patient access to GlaxoSmithKline’s Avandia. Among other rules, patients currently must sign a waiver that they understand the drug’s risks before getting a prescription. The drug can only be dispensed by specially registered pharmacies.

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Petaluma hospital nurses reach tentative contract agreement
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The California Nurses Association, which represents about 170 nurses at Petaluma Valley Hospital, announced a tentative agreement Thursday with St. Joseph Health, which runs the hospital.

CNA negotiators representing more than 900 union nurses at two other St. Joseph hospitals, St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka and St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, also reached tentative labor agreements. Nurses are expected to vote next week on whether or not to ratify the three-year agreement.

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St. Joseph nurses reach tentative collective bargaining agreement
Times-Standard

Registered nurses at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, along with nurses from St. Joseph Health System medical centers in Apple Valley and Petaluma, announced on Thursday a tentative settlement with hospital officials on a new collective bargaining agreement. Susan Johnson, a registered nurse in St. Joseph’s labor and delivery unit, said, in a press release from the California Nurses Association, that language improvements under the new agreement will create safer staffing conditions for both nurses and patients.

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Vacaville Kaiser’s trauma, stroke centers pass muster
The Reporter

Kaiser Permanente’s Vacaville Medical Center has achieved verification as a Level III trauma center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Kaiser also announced it is now certified as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission.

“Kaiser Permanente has invested in trauma services more than any other health-care system in Solano County,” said Max Villalobos, hospital administrator for Kaiser Permanente in Napa and Solano counties.

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Sutter Health announces insurance plans for Modesto region
Modesto Bee

Sacramento-based Sutter Health on Thursday unveiled some details of a newly created health plan that marks its inroad into the insurance market. Sutter Health Plus will offer an assortment of managed-care plans in the Sacramento area and Northern San Joaquin Valley to small and midsize employers, as well as people who buy their own insurance. With the health plan, the nonprofit Sutter will serve as insurer and health care provider.

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S.F. General Hospital Foundation nets $1.12 million donation from Bank of America art auction
San Francisco Business Times

San Francisco General Hospital Foundation received a $1.12 million donation Wednesday night from Bank of America from an auction of art works held by the bank. The $1,122,500 donation resulted from a June 5 auction of works from Bank of America’s 5,000-piece collection plus proceeds from a May sales event at Sotheby’s in New York City.

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Retiree benefits and ObamaCare collide: Column
USA Today

Oct. 1, 2013 is a focus of increasing anxiety in this country. That’s the date when enrollments begin for the federally run health insurance exchanges, created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). No one really knows what to expect, but it could be far worse than advertised —and for a reason that has more to do with the federal deficit than health care.

What’s anticipated is unsettling enough. President Obama speaks of inevitable “glitches and bumps” in the implementation. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) sees the possibility of “a huge train wreck” if the public isn’t adequately educated and prepared. Supporters of the ACA, especially Democrats in the Congress, are nervous about taking the blame if the exchanges don’t unfold as intended.

Commands