News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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President Obama Touts Implementation Of Federal Health Law In California
KPBS

The President said the health care law creates insurance marketplaces that foster competition and choice. He said California’s recently announced rates are lower than expected. “In states that are working hard to implement this law properly, we’re seeing it work for people, for middle class families, for consumers. Now, that’s not to say everything’s going to go perfectly, right away,” the President explained.

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Senators seek review of Calif. health exchange secrecy
Modern Healthcare

Five Republican U.S. senators said Friday they have asked HHS to investigate whether California is inappropriately concealing details of contracts for its health insurance exchange.

Their letter was sent in response to a report last month by The Associated Press, which revealed that Covered California appears unique among states in the level of secrecy it is afforded.

When lawmakers created California’s exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act, they gave it the authority to conceal contracts for a year and the amounts paid indefinitely.

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Flu shot mandate doesn’t spur worker flight, study finds
Modern Healthcare

Requiring healthcare workers to get flu shots doesn’t necessarily lead to high quitting rates, according to results of a newly released study.

The analysis examined a four-year period, beginning in 2009, when 535-bed Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Ill., became one of the first hospitals in the country to institute a mandatory influenza vaccination policy for its employees. Fewer than 15 of the hospital’s 8,000 healthcare workers chose to voluntarily terminate their employment, the study said.

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Medical home initiative reduces costs
Modern Healthcare

One of the insurance industry’s medical home experiments has slowed costs and significantly lifted quality scores in its second year of operation, raising hopes for pilot programs initiated under the 2010 healthcare reform legislation.

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield of Owings Mill, Md., announced Friday that its medical home trial covering 3,600 doctors and nurses had reduced costs by 2.7% last year compared to projections. The savings amounted to $98 million for the estimated 1 million privately insured patients in the 279 medical groups or panels participating in the program.

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Obama touts California as health-care reform model. Will costs really fall?
Christian Science Monitor

President Obama used a visit to California Friday to promote his health-care reform law as widening access to affordable insurance. Critics, however, say the law will push health premiums up, not down, and many Americans appear to share that worry.

The debate is complicated, and it may still be early to discern the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) impact on medical costs. The impact will differ somewhat from state to state, for one thing. And since the law says insurance must cover a fuller array of medical services, the product is changing – not just its price.

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Obama praises California’s implementation of health care law
Sacramento Bee

Pausing between fundraisers with influential techies in Silicon Valley and a meeting with the Chinese leader in Southern California, President Barack Obama today lauded California’s efforts to implement the signature law of his administration, the Affordable Care Act. Flanked by supporters of the law, the president cited the lower-than-expected prices of health policies that were recently unveiled by the state agency implementing the national health coverage law in California. He noted that of the 6 million Californians who are currently uninsured, 2.6 million will be eligible for federal subsidies to help pay the premiums.

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President Obama in San Jose: Health reform “working the way it’s supposed to”
San Francisco Business Times

President Barack Obama made a political-stump style speech in San Jose this morning, praising the state’s Covered California exchange and bragging that health reform “is working the way it’s supposed to.” As of Oct. 1, the president said, “you can comparison shop an array of private health insurance plans side by side (on the Covered California exchange), just like you were going online to compare cars or airline tickets.”

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Reform Update: Obama says reform is working
Modern Healthcare

President Barack Obama on Friday insisted the health reform law is working as it should and praised lower-than-expected insurance premiums in California as he touted a public-private partnership there to help Americans enroll in coverage later this year. Speaking at the Fairmont San Jose, the president promoted a partnership among Covered California (the state’s health insurance exchange), the California Endowment, and three Spanish-speaking media outlets—Impremedia, Telemundo Station Group and Univision—that joined efforts this year to educate Californians about the law and help them get access to coverage when open enrollment begins Oct. 1.

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CMS: Healthcare reform powers fraud prevention
Fierce HealthFinance

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration has recouped more than $14.9 billion in healthcare fraud recoveries, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced yesterday. Moreover, CMS has thrown 14,663 crooked providers and suppliers out of Medicare over the past two years, compared to only 6,307 revocations two years before healthcare reform screening and review requirements took effect.

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Kaiser Permanente research method has potential to transform U.S. health care system
The Mercury News

It was a nuisance and David Gassman put it off for three weeks, but he finally put a little stool sample into a tube and mailed it to a Kaiser Permanente lab. It’s a good thing he did.

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UC Davis switches to master’s program for nurse practitioners, physician assistants
Sacramento Business Journal

The University of California Davis School of Nursing will expand its graduate programs this summer to include master’s degrees for nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The university has revamped its joint nurse practitioner-physician assistant certificate program at the medical school, turned it into a master’s degree program and moved it to the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

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Nursing program for rural areas
Sacramento Bee

UC Davis’ nursing school is offering two new master’s degree programs this summer for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, with an eye toward bolstering primary care in rural and underserved communities.

The two-year nurse practitioner program and a 27-month master’s degree program through the university’s Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing hope to groom leaders of health care teams to provide care where it’s needed most, Heather Young, the school’s dean, said in a statement.

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U.S. HealthWorks acquiring occupational health clinics
Sacramento Business Journal

U.S. HealthWorks, a subsidiary of Dignity Health, will acquire eight occupational health clinics in Indiana as part of a strategic relationship with Indiana University Health. The deal, announced Friday, is expected to be completed by the end of June. Financial terms were not disclosed. The transaction is the third for U.S. HealthWorks in the Midwest in the last six months. The growing company has acquired nine centers and worksites in Wisconsin and the Chicago area since early December.

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CA Fines 10 Hospitals $625,000 for Medical Errors
Health Leaders Media

Five patients had to undergo repeat surgeries to retrieve forgotten surgical items such as a sponge, a retractor, and a clamp; two patients died after falls; and three patients suffered harm because of medication errors, according to Thursday’s release of immediate jeopardy penalties against 10 California hospitals.

“In issuing these administrative penalties, our goal at the Department of Public Health is to improve the quality of healthcare at all California hospitals,” Debby Rogers, deputy director of the Center for Health Care Quality, said during a teleconference.

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Physician Practices Pressured to Review Revenue Cycle Management
Health Leaders Media

The changes associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, electronic medical record implementation, and new Medicare rules mean that physician practices are under increasing pressure, says Nancy Ruff, director of health advisory services for CTG Health Solutions, a consulting company in Dallas. Optimizing your revenue requires clearing some new hurdles and aggressive strategies, she says.

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MLR provision cost insurers $2.1B in rebates
FierceHealthPayer

The reform law’s medical-loss ratio provision saved consumers more than $2 billion in only one year, says a new study published Thursday. The Kaiser Family Foundation study estimated that without the MLR rule, consumers’ premiums would have been $1.9 billion higher in 2012. Plus, consumers received $241 million in rebates last year, bringing the total savings as a result of MLR requirements to $2.1 billion in 2012, according to the study.

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Treatments of physical and mental health are coming together
Los Angeles Times

Many days, the sheer weight of Iszurette Hunter’s clinical depression becomes more than she can lift. She clings to her bed in her South Los Angeles home.

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Town Hall explains healthcare reform to Los Angeles residents
Los Angeles Times

Hundreds of L.A. County residents attended a town hall meeting at Cal State L.A. on Friday afternoon to learn about the state’s new insurance exchange, which will begin enrolling people this fall.

Peter Lee, executive director of the health exchange called Covered California, explained what health plans were participating, what benefits were covered and how the enrollment would occur before taking dozens of questions from audience members.

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Minority Health Care Outcomes Have Little To Do With Health Coverage Or Lack Of It, Study Finds
The Huffington Post

Black and Hispanic populations receive lesser-quality health care, at lesser hospitals, than do whites.

Why is that?

One persistent theory is that minorities receive worse health care outcomes because they live in poorer neighborhoods and are more likely to visit lower-quality hospitals with higher complication and mortality rates due to their presumed proximity to those hospitals.

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Modesto long-term care hospital to open in July
Modesto Bee

After delays in getting license approvals from the state, a 100-bed long-term-care hospital in downtown Modesto is expecting to open in mid-July, an executive said. Central Valley Specialty Hospital hired employees and initially planned to admit patients to the 17th Street facility in April. But as often happens with health care facilities, it has taken time to meet the requirements of state regulators.

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What If Physicians Worked For Free?
The Health Care Blog

Today I am going to write about how the US could save up to 10% on its healthcare bill. The US spends more on health care than any other nation, $8,500 per person per year. Multiply that by 300 million people and try to grasp the vast sum of $2,5 trillion. A lot of changes are taking place with the intent to save healthcare dollars.

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Public health must remain a priority
Merced Sun-Star

Protecting public health is a basic government function. County health officers track illnesses and deaths from West Nile virus to hospital infections to food-borne contamination. They conduct vaccination campaigns and restaurant inspections. They respond to outbreaks and disasters. Unfortunately, this essential public health function is being lost in the budget battle between Gov. Jerry Brown and the counties in the jostling over preparing for the federal Affordable Care Act.

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