News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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EHR Design Flaws Contribute to Patient Harm in the ED
Health Leaders Media

Patients are being subjected to treatment mistakes and harm because of design problems in electronic health record systems now being rolled out in the nation’s emergency rooms. But emergency department doctors are powerless to correct these flaws because of gag clauses that prohibit them from publicizing the issues.

Those are among several key findings in a report released Monday by 15 members of an American College of Emergency Physicians panel who say hospital administrators have rushed to buy systems from major EHR vendors to get incentive payments without considering the ED.

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Covering the uninsured left behind by ACA
HealthyCal.org

Millions of Californians will remain uninsured after the signature reforms of the Affordable Care Act roll out in 2014.

Legislators are proposing an employer-funded trust to insure many of those who will likely fall through the cracks of the Affordable Care Act. Assemblyman Manuel Perez introduced Assembly Bill 175, which would establish a trust fund, paid for by employers, private donors and philanthropic organizations, to provide comprehensive health insurance coverage, including primary care, dental and mental health benefits, to workers who are not covered by the ACA or the proposed expansion of Medi-Cal.

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Use of advanced prostate cancer treatments growing fast in low-risk patients, researchers say
Modern Healthcare

A growing number of men who are unlikely to benefit from advanced treatment technologies for prostate cancer are receiving expensive intensity-modulated radiotherapy and robotic prostatectomies even though they are more likely to die with—rather than from—the disease, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Among men with low-risk cases of the disease, use of advanced treatment technologies increased to 44% in 2009 from 32% in 2004, according to a study led by researchers from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

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Public health advocates hope Obama’s climate change initiative will help reduce asthma, other ills
Modern Healthcare

When President Obama revealed his Climate Action Plan on Tuesday, public health advocates concerned with the impact of global warming on human health were paying close attention. They hope the president’s plan will help reduce what they say are the changing climate’s adverse effects on child and adult asthma, allergies and other respiratory diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and other air- and heat-related conditions, as well as water-borne and insect-borne diseases.

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Covered California names six companies to provide pediatric dental plans
Southern California Public Radio

Covered California officials announced on Tuesday a selection of children’s dental plans for children up to age 19 that will be available when the state-run insurance marketplace opens for business October first. The six companies chosen to participate in the state-run insurance marketplace include both multi-state insurers and smaller, locally-based companies.

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Covered California chooses pediatric dental plans
Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California has selected six plans to offer pediatric dental benefits to individuals in the new state insurance exchange, including Sacramento-based Premier Access Dental. Plan rates, also announced Tuesday, run from as low as $10 a month to a high of $44. With release of the plans and rates, Covered California took another step toward launch of a new insurance marketplace under federal health reform. Enrollment is expected to start Oct. 1 for coverage in 2014.

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Health exchange dishes dental details
San Diego Union-Tribune

Families who buy health coverage on the state’s new exchange will also be able to buy dental insurance for their children, Covered California officials said Tuesday. Peter Lee, Covered California’s executive director, released pediatric dental rates ranging from $10 to $40 per month that he said will allow as many as 140,000 currently uninsured California kids to get dental coverage.

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Six pediatric dental firms chosen for California health exchange
Merced Sun-Star

Six insurance firms will offer pediatric dental coverage on California’s new health-care exchange beginning in October.

Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Delta Dental, Health Net, Liberty Dental and Premier Access Dental were the firms selected Tuesday by Covered California, the state exchange. Unlike comprehensive health insurance, Californians are not required under federal law to purchase pediatric dental care, which is available to serve children and teenagers up to age 19.

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Low-cost dental plans unveiled for California kids
Los Angeles Daily News

Seven companies released their low-cost, competitive dental plans for children up to age 19, the state’s health exchange announced Tuesday.

Covered California, the five-member board appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators, unveiled the insurers who have agreed to be part of the marketplace: Access Dental, Anthem Dental, Blue Shield of California, Delta Dental of California, Health Net Dental, LIBERTY Dental Plan and Premier Access Dental.

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San Diego Kids More Likely To Get Dental Care Than Others In California
KQED Radio

A report out today says California is among the 10 worst states when it comes to getting kids in to see a dentist. Researchers with the Pew Charitable Trusts say nearly 60 percent of California children with dental coverage through Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, did not see a dentist in 2011. But state data show kids enrolled in Medi-Cal in San Diego County fared much better. They were about 20 percent more likely to see a dentist.

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Low-income California Children Among Least Likely to Get Dental Care
KQED Radio

Young people who don’t get the routine dental care they need find themselves at a disadvantage, studies have shown: not just in overall health but also in school performance. Now a study from the Pew Charitable Trusts finds that California is among the 10 states where low-income children are least likely to receive dental care. Almost 60 percent of children with Medi-Cal did not receive any dental care in 2011, said co-author Jane Koppelman.

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State Says Kaiser Too Slow With Mental Health Care
capital public radio

The claims against Kaiser are based on a routine medical survey done by the state Department of Managed Health Care…or DMHC…which is led by Brent Barnhart. “I wasn’t prepared for kind of the sweeping non-compliance that we encountered.” ‘ The DMHC survey found that 40% of the wait times at Kaiser for mental health service appointment were longer than 14 days, a violation of state rules. Barnhart says two-weeks is too long for someone who needs quick intervention.

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Providers likely to feel pressure as Medicaid gets new enrollees
Modern Healthcare

New Medicaid enrollees may be healthier than the program’s current beneficiaries, but that is unlikely to relieve much of the pressure on providers as millions of newly covered patients seek care next year.

Researchers—including some from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—looked at national health data collected through detailed surveys of uninsured adults and concluded that new enrollees are less likely than current beneficiaries to have chronic diseases—30% compared with 39%.

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Vision plans’ launch on California health exchange still up in the air
Sacramento Bee

Vision Service Plan’s launch on California’s new health care exchange is downright blurry, and the firm is seeing red. The Rancho Cordova company and others in the vision industry lobbied successfully last year for the right to sell adult vision insurance to individuals via the state’s new health care exchange. But a new controversy has emerged, raising the prospect that vision plans will not be part of the state’s exchange, Covered California, when it begins offering health insurance Oct. 1.

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S.F. supervisors OK deal with California Pacific
San Francisco Chronicle

California Pacific Medical Center’s once-contentious plan to build a new hospital on Cathedral Hill and rebuild St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission District sailed through the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, a year after the entire deal nearly fell apart.

Under the $2 billion plan approved unanimously by the board, the hospital giant will construct a new hospital on Cathedral Hill and rebuild St. Luke’s. The new St. Luke’s will have 120 beds, 40 more than the original plan, and will continue to serve many of the city’s lower-income residents.

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Sutter Health in discussions with Stanislaus Surgical Hospital
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Health has entered into exclusive discussions for a partnership with Stanislaus Surgical Hospital in Modesto. The Sacramento-based health system already is affiliated with Memorial Medical Center in Modesto and Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, which has a big presence in the region. The talks are at the level of due diligence; no agreements have been reached and resolution is not expected for several months. But if the deal comes to fruition, it will strengthen Sutter’s position in the Central Valley as it prepares to launch an HMO next year.

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Tenet To Buy Vanguard Health Amid ‘Obamacare’ M&A Frenzy
Forbes

Tenet Healthcare (THC) is buying Vanguard Health Systems (VHS) in a deal that further consolidates the U.S. healthcare industry in the wake of the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was mostly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court about a year ago. Tenet’s proposed acquisition of Vanguard Health Solutions values the hospital network at $21 a share, or roughly $1.8 billion, and comes at a 70% premium to the company’s Friday closing share price.

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Tenet, Vanguard deal could be boon for their vendors
Modern Healthcare

Tenet Healthcare Corp.’s plan to buy Vanguard Health Systems creates new opportunities for the vendors that work with the two companies. One of the clear winners would be Tenet subsidiary Conifer Health Solutions. On a conference call to discuss the deal, Tenet President and CEO Trevor Fetter noted that Vanguard’s 21 hospitals would become revenue-cycle management clients for Conifer.

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State Fund names new chief medical officer
San Francisco Business Times

State Compensation Insurance Fund, a large quasi-public workers’ compensation insurer, has named Dr. Dinesh Govindarao as its new chief medical officer. Less than two years ago, San Francisco-based State Fund said its board had confirmed the appointment of Dr. Bernyce Peplowski as its medical director. A State Fund spokeswoman confirmed late Tuesday that Peplowski left the organization in 2012.

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Malpractice Claims Feel Endless Because…They Are.
The Health Care Blog

I am very fortunate to have never been sued. That is not necessarily because of my amazing ability as a physician. I always practiced in Veterans Affairs medical centers, where my status as a federal employee meant I would not get sued by my patients. I also had an incredibly appreciative patient population.

But I know that most of my physician peers have been sued, successfully or unsuccessfully, at least once in their careers. And I know that these lawsuits take an emotional toll upon them. To make matters worse, malpractice lawsuits have a nagging tendency to drag themselves out for months upon months. Consider this figure, from a study led by an economist at the RAND Corporation. It shows that malpractice claims related to temporary injuries take a median of a year to resolve, while those dealing with fatalities or permanent injuries take a median of 18 months.

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What Doctors Do When They Don’t Know What to Do
The Health Care Blog

Medical care in the U.S. over-promises and under delivers. It costs about twice as much as in most other developed countries, but compared to them manages to produce only mediocre health outcomes. The profit motive has resulted in badly misallocated resources — too much testing and treatment for people who don’t need it and lousy access for many who do. The impact of advances in medical science on the delivery of clinical care has also been over sold.

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