News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Study says hospital charges don’t add up
Ventura County Star

A person with acute appendicitis rushed to an emergency room in Ventura County could rack up hospital charges of anywhere from $6,782 to $84,554, according to a new study that says this gap is driven mostly by which hospital is used.In a project hospital officials say does not reflect what patients actually pay, researchers pored over charges reported by acute care hospitals throughout California for 19,368 appendicitis cases in 2009. They found charges varied dramatically from one hospital to the next.

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Fewer U.S. adults get the health care they need
Orange County Register

A new report released Tuesday has found a jump in unmet medical needs among American adults over the last decade, especially for those who lack health insurance. In a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study, researchers at the Urban Institute looked at three health access indicators for adults too young for Medicare. They examined if they had a routine checkup or dental visit during the year and also if they had unmet medical needs because of cost. In nearly every state, researchers found a drop in access to health services between 2000 and 2010.

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Sacramento’s threadbare medical network for poor getting thinner
Sacramento Bee

Getting primary medical care when you’re poor or uninsured is challenging everywhere. In some places in California, people can at least tap into extensive county services and flourishing networks of federally financed community clinics. But not in Sacramento County. Health care leaders here describe the county’s network of primary care for the poor and uninsured – including people who don’t get health insurance through their employers or can’t afford it on their own – as “fragmented,” “frayed” and two to three decades behind the times.

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Report: Valley health improves little in a decade
Fresno Bee

The health of Valley residents has improved very little over the past 10 years and by some measures has gotten worse, according to a report released Monday by Fresno State researchers.

Adults are overweight and obese while adolescents don’t get enough exercise, the Healthy People 2010 report said. Tobacco use among adults remains high and air quality remains a problem, which contributes to poor health, the report said.

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Obesity could affect 42% of Americans by 2030
USA Today

A new forecast on America’s obesity crisis has health experts fearing a dramatic jump in health care costs if nothing is done to bring the epidemic under control. The new projection, released here Monday, warns that 42% of Americans may end up obese by 2030, and 11% could be severely obese, adding billions of dollars to health care costs.

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42% of American adults will be obese by 2030, study says
Los Angeles Times

The ranks of obese Americans are expected to swell even further in the coming years, rising from 36% of the adult population today to 42% by 2030, experts said Monday.

Kicking off a government-led conference on the public health ramifications of all those expanding waistlines, the authors of a new report estimated that the cost of treating those additional obese people for diabetes, heart disease and other medical conditions would add up to nearly $550 billion over the next two decades.

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Study predicts 42 percent of Americans will be obese in 2030
Washington Post

In 2030, 42 percent of American adults will be obese, and about one-quarter of that group will be severely obese, a condition that shortens life and incurs large medical expenses, a new study predicts.

This view into the future is less ominous than one published four years ago that predicted that 51 percent of the population would be obese in 2030.

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Obesity rates creep up, still ’serious problem’
Monterey Herald

The obesity epidemic may be slowing, but don’t take in those pants yet.

Today, just over a third of U.S. adults are obese. By 2030, 42 percent will be, says a forecast released Monday.

That’s not nearly as many as experts had predicted before the once-rapid rises in obesity rates began leveling off. But the new forecast suggests even small continuing increases will add up.

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Willits to get new hospital
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

After nearly a decade of fits and starts, work is about to begin on a new, 75,000-square-foot hospital in Willits.

“It’s just so exciting,” said Margie Handley, president of the Howard Memorial Hospital’s foundation board, which initiated the drive to replace the 84-year-old structure.

State hospital regulators last week approved plans for the $64 million project, setting the stage for building to begin this summer, she said.

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Access to care declined in past decade, report says
Modern Healthcare

Adults’ access to healthcare fell considerably during the past decade, particularly among the uninsured, according to a state-by-state report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (PDF).

In 2010, for instance, nearly half of uninsured adults had unmet health needs due to cost, compared with 11% of those with insurance. The percentage of adults who received a routine checkup or visited a dentist also decreased nationwide, according to the report, authored by researchers at the Washington-based Urban Institute.

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Sonoma Valley Hospital to break ground on $39 million upgrade
North County Times

Sonoma Valley Hospital will break ground this week on a $39 million upgrade that will bring the hospital in line with state-mandated seismic standards while significantly improving the 83-bed facility’s emergency department along with other improvements, officials said.

The hospital, overseen by the Sonoma Valley Healthcare District, has received approval from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to begin site work for the project, which calls for a 16,000-square-foot, two-story addition to the west wing of the existing hospital.

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Rising cost of ‘specialty’ drugs prompts employers to limit their use
Washington Post

When Kathi Ryness’s multiple sclerosis worsened in 2000, she began taking Avonex, a drug that helps slow the progression of the disease and reduces the number of relapses. At the time, her health plan covered the drug in full.

But in 2009, she and her husband, Gary, were forced to switch plans. Under their new coverage, the Alamo, Calif., couple owed $660 every four weeks for the weekly Avonex injections, 30 percent of the $2,200 cost.

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Essential Health Benefit Packages Under Health Care Reform Have Employers Wary
Workforce Management

Employers and consumer groups are tracking state efforts to craft insurance benefit packages for individuals and small businesses as required under the federal health care reform law.

The scope and cost of these benefit packages could have ramifications for years to come, and employers are seeking flexibility in their design.

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Dual-eligibles pilot program faces rush from states
Modern Healthcare

States want to include more than 3 million dual-eligible beneficiaries in a CMS pilot program to overhaul their care and payments.

The number is 1 million more than the program was designed for and represents about a third of all that category’s beneficiaries, whose care is one of the biggest drivers of the growth in Medicaid costs.

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Stanford Hospital launches $1 billion campaign to build new hospital, fund research
The Mercury News

At first glance, the $1 billion fundraising campaign that Stanford Hospital officially launched Monday sounds audacious, even by Silicon Valley standards. But in one more example of the valley’s mind-boggling wealth and Stanford’s ability to tap into it, half the goal — $500 million — has already been committed. The donors are a who’s who of the high-tech community, including $50 million from Stanford graduate and former Cisco Systems CEO John Morgridge and his wife, Tashia.

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CHC earns $500K grant for clinics
Santa Maria Times

Community Health Centers of the Central Coast will receive a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to upgrade its Arroyo Grande and Atascadero clinics. Specifically, the grant will fund the expansion of the CHC-owned Arroyo Grande clinic to add pediatric services, said Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, who announced the grant Monday. Improvements will include six exam rooms, a waiting and receptionist area and office space, Capps said.

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Patient-Centered Care Redistributes Responsibility
Health Leaders Media

It was a wonderful and rare accomplishment. In 2008, a 23-year-old woman with severe cystic fibrosis successfully carried and delivered a healthy, full-term baby girl at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, in New Hyde Park, NY. Despite that major achievement, the complex regimen of daily medications that Christina Marie McDonald needed to manage her disease created challenges.

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Near Melrose, a national healthcare predicament plays out
Los Angeles Times

Just off the trendy Melrose strip, on the western edge of Hollywood, is a refuge of tree-lined streets where neighbors greet each other by name and young couples start families and stick around into their golden years.

Lately, it has also become a battlefront in a broader clash of conflicting imperatives: how to balance a government push to keep the aging and disabled out of institutions against community desires to protect the character and value of residential neighborhoods, particularly in a shaky housing market.

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Patients fear being seen as ‘difficult’: study
Modern Healthcare

Patients have a strong desire to engage in shared decisionmaking with their physicians but this wish is often stymied by “authoritarian” doctors or patients’ fears of being perceived as “difficult,” according to a study by the Palo Alto (Calif.) Medical Foundation Research Institute published by Health Affairs.

In December 2009, the researchers interviewed 48 people broken into six focus groups.

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Court dismisses vets’ suit on mental health care
San Francisco Chronicle

Claims of systematic delays and neglect in mental health care for the nation’s military veterans are beyond the power of courts to address, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Monday in ordering dismissal of a 5-year-old suit by veterans groups.

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States urged to revamp dual-eligible programs
Modern Healthcare

CMS officials are pushing states to control their spiraling Medicaid costs by overhauling their programs for dual-eligibles, instead of cutting provider pay, a senior agency official said.

Melanie Bella, director of the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office at the CMS, said at an American Hospital Association conference in Washington on Monday that her agency is encouraging states to embark on cost-control pilots for the roughly 9 million Medicaid beneficiaries who also are eligible for Medicare.

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Alameda Hospital seeks to stem tide of red ink
San Francisco Chronicle

Managers at Alameda Hospital have been scrambling to put new programs in place in an effort to replace $10 million in annual revenue they lost when Kaiser Permanente stopped performing surgeries there in 2010. The hospital is taking over a 120-bed nursing home, building a new wound care center, bringing in a pair of orthopedic surgeons and hiring on a company to manage and grow its rehabilitation services in the hope that the new services will add a few million dollars a year to the hospital’s bottom line.

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State, advocates disagree on future of prison healthcare
Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is sharply at odds with inmate advocates and a federal receiver over the future of the prison medical system, a new court filing showed Monday. The document was submitted after the federal judge overseeing the case asked each side to present its proposals for how to end six years of federal control of inmate healthcare.

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