News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Budget Deal Restores Some Health Programs — While Slashing Others
The California Report

After years of devastating cuts to the health and human services budget, this year’s small surplus brought restoration of some programs. Mental health programs will get a one-time boost of $140 million. The adult dental program, Denti-Cal, cut back in 2009 and leaving tooth extraction as just about the only service being covered, has been restored, albeit partially. Benefits won’t start until next May.

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Study highlights key strategies, pitfalls for bundled-payment programs
Modern Healthcare

New research highlights what makes bundled-payment programs effective and what gets in the way of their success. A year ago, the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute commissioned Bailit Health Purchasing to provide an overview of 19 active pilot programs testing bundled payments.

“Early adopters such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Horizon Healthcare Services are now moving to fully scaled implementations and making bundled payments a core provider reimbursement strategy,” Francois de Brantes, executive director of the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, said in a news release.

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Nevada facing lawsuit over busing of mentally ill patients
Sacramento Bee

The state of Nevada and its primary psychiatric hospital violated the constitutional rights of mentally ill people by discharging them via Greyhound bus to cities across the nation without proper consent or making arrangements for their care, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas charges.

Sacramento civil rights attorney Mark Merin and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada on Tuesday jointly filed the lawsuit involving patient treatment at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas.

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Health Care’s Overlooked Cost Factor
New York Times

When the Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Corporation merged its two hospitals with the neighboring Highland Park Hospital just north of Chicago 13 years ago, the deal was presented as an opportunity to increase efficiency and improve the quality of patient care. But when the Federal Trade Commission finally decided to look at the deal, it encountered an entirely different objective: to gain market power.

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The Wellness Game: The Employer As the New Parent
The Health Care Blog

Eat your vegetables. Turn off the TV. Go outside and play. Go to bed on time. These four imperatives were once amongst the core messages delivered to children by their parents and neighbors, a setting of behavioral parameters that people intuitively expected would help to produce healthy, well-balanced kids. We’re not so good at this anymore. Like so many other behaviors that animate the phrase “personal responsibility,” in the face of economic and demographic tumult we have decided to pass the buck on them in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, and churches.

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Medicaid expansion could occur in red states in coming weeks
Modern Healthcare

The coming weeks are shaping up to be a big deal for states still on the fence regarding Medicaid expansion. Democrats in Pennsylvania are trying to force a vote in that state’s Legislature, Philadelphia’s CBS affiliate reported today. Democrats in the Keystone State recently failed in an effort to get a Medicaid expansion included in a budget bill that could be voted on today. In addition, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is said to be in negotiations with the Obama administration on how the state might satisfy the Medicaid provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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In dropping opposition to Plan B, U.S. joins small group of nations
Washington Post

The U.S. government, in dropping its legal opposition this week to unrestricted sales of the popular Plan B One-Step morning-after pill, joined a short list of nations that have followed a similar path: India, Bangladesh, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands, as well as some provinces of Canada. Sixty-three other countries allow the sale of emergency contraceptives without a prescription but require consumers to ask a pharmacist for medication kept behind the counter, according to the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception.

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United Healthcare Sued Over HIV/AIDS Mail Order Drug Service
KPBS

A California consumer group is suing the nation’s largest health insurer for discrimination against HIV / AIDS patients. The class-action suit alleges United Healthcare is breaking the law by requiring patients to get all of their medications by mail order. Under the new policy, United Healthcare won’t cover HIV/AIDS drugs from local pharmacies. Patients will be required to use United’s in-house mail order service instead.

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Class Arbitration Upheld in Physician-Insurer Case
Health Leaders Media

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court Monday affirmed an arbitrator’s ruling to permit class arbitration of a physician-insurer dispute even when the two parties had not expressly agreed to that procedure. In the case, which dates back to 2003, John Sutter, a New Jersey pediatrician, contended that he and other physicians were underpaid by Oxford Health Plans, LLC.

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Physicians Shut Out of ACOs Seek to Merge Practices
Health Leaders Media

Physician practices are beginning to feel the changes in managed care forced by the Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and are looking for ways to stay profitable as the payer landscape shifts. In the coming 12 months, as more components of the PPACA kick in, there will be increasing consolidation of practices, says John D. Fanburg, JD, managing member and head of the healthcare practice at the law firm of Brach Eichler, based in Roseland, N.J.

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EHR trade group issues code of conduct to improve patient safety
Modern Healthcare

Getting out front of possible federal regulation of their industry and its products, a trade group representing more than 40 developers of electronic health-record systems

issued an EHR Developer Code of Conduct. By signing on, vendors would commit to dropping “gag clauses” that hinder patient-safety reporting and promise the smooth transfer of data from their products to another vendor’s.

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Sacramento judge upholds $23 million judgment against Emeritus care facility in woman’s death
Sacramento Bee

First, it was the jury that pummeled the Emeritus senior living corporation for $23 million. Now, it’s the judge – who backed up the panel’s punitive-damage award in a wrongful death and elder abuse civil trial Emeritus lost earlier this year in Sacramento Superior Court. Besides upholding the jury’s decision, Judge Judy Holzer Hersher awarded plaintiffs’ lawyers $4.3 million more in fees and costs. In her final ruling, Hersher wrote that the evidence was there to permit the jury to find the Seattle-based firm guilty of “a high degree of reprehensibility” in the care it provided to 81-year-old Joan Boice.

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Breast cancer treatments less disruptive
San Francisco Chronicle

Early in my practice, it became clear to me that breast cancer treatment was not just a health issue, but a family and work disruption issue for busy women. This was frankly pointed out by a patient who presented me with the book she had written after her treatment called “Breast Cancer? Let Me Check My Schedule.”

Cancer remains a disruption, but not nearly as much as three decades ago.

Thirty years ago, treatment was the same for most breast cancers and included mastectomy, chemotherapy and often radiation.

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Napa insurer receives “anthrax” package, evacuates
San Francisco Business Times

The Doctors Co., a medical malpractice insurer located near Napa County Airport, received a package marked “anthrax” and evacuated its 200-person headquarters early Tuesday morning, according to General Counsel Dave McHale. McHale confirmed earlier reports in the Napa Valley Register and Santa Rosa Press Democrat, but said the San Francisco Business Times is the first news organization that the Doctors Co. has talked to about the June 11 incident.

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