News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Obamacare Mandate Delay Saves Big Business
San Francisco Chronicle

Shares of hospital stocks fell, as news comes out of the White House that one part of the Affordable Care Act, the large-employer mandate, will be postponed a year until 2015. This directly impacts businesses with more than 50 employees, but is not to be confused with health exchanges or, more importantly, the individual mandate that requires everyone to buy insurance.

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Delay in Obamacare requirement puts onus on the honor system

The Obama administration’s move to delay a key element of healthcare reform has another, unintended, consequence: A crucial part of that reform will depend on consumers observing the honor system, with millions of dollars at stake.

The U.S. government said on Tuesday it would postpone by a year the provision that employers with 50 or more workers provide them with health insurance; the delay is intended to let companies work out how they report their compliance to tax authorities.

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Insurer will drop individual plans
Sacramento Business Journal

United Healthcare is pulling out of the commercial individual health insurance market in California at the end of the year.

The company’s market share in California has always been relatively small and the company currently serves fewer than 8,000 individual customers statewide, spokeswoman Cheryl Randolph said.

“Over the years, it has become more difficult to administer these plans in a cost-effective way for our members,” she said.

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State insurance chief, health exchange differ on kids’ dental care
Los Angeles Times

Backed by children’s health advocates, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is challenging the state’s health insurance exchange over the way it wants to provide children’s dental benefits.

At issue is whether pediatric dental care should be part of the basic health insurance package sold through the exchange or sold separately. The exchange has proposed selling it on a stand-alone basis to parents.

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SY Valley Cottage Hospital dedicates new MRI facility
Lompoc Record

A state-of-the-art MRI facility is now available weekdays at Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital.

To commemorate its opening, hospital officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony recently for the new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) facility.

Cottage Health System Executive Vice President/COO Steven Fellows said June 27 it is rare to find a rural acute care hospital with an MRI facility this size of Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital.

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Madera hospital simplifies healing of hearts
Merced Sun-Star

Children’s Hospital Central California broke ground this week when doctors there replaced heart valves in two teenagers without cracking open a chest.

“This is the next big technology leap” in cardiac care, said Dr. Carl Owada, medical director of the hospital’s cardiac catheterization laboratory.

In the past, children with narrowed pulmonary arteries and defects in their pulmonary valves, which regulate the flow of blood into the lungs, had to have open-heart surgery for a valve replacement.

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Oroville Hospital honored for excellence in women’s health
Oroville Mercury-Register

Oroville Hospital has been recognized for being one of the best-performing hospitals in women’s health by an online health care consumer resource.

The hospital achieved the HealthGrades 2013 Women’s Health Excellence Award. It’s the only hospital in Butte County to earn the award this year.

“Oroville Hospital is dedicated to patient care in all areas of the hospital and has invested significant time and resources to make sure we provide excellent quality services,” said Robert J. Wentz, president and CEO of Oroville Hospital.

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New regional health plan CEO faces major changes

When Amy Shin was 10, her family emigrated from South Korea to Southern California. Her mother, who suffered from numerous ailments, was always dragging the little girl from one medical appointment to the next to translate for her. Shin hated it.

“I got exposed to health care early. I became the child interpreter for my parents when they had any problems, including health care,” said Shin, now 48.

“Even back then, I was highly frustrated with the health care system.

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Queen of the Valley wins honors
Napa Valley Register

Queen of the Valley Medical Center has received two Women’s Choice Awards for excellence in patient experience.

Also, Blue Shield of California has named Queen of the Valley Medical Center as a “Blue Distinction Center” for knee and hip replacement, as well as spine surgery.

For 2013, Queen of the Valley was named by “WomenCertified” as one of America’s best hospitals for patient experience in orthopedics, as well as one of the country’s best hospitals in obstetrics.

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Employer Mandate? Never Mind
The Wall Street Journal

These columns fought the Affordable Care Act from start to passage, and we’d now like to apologize to our readers. It turns out we weren’t nearly critical enough. The law’s implementation is turning into a fiasco for the ages, and this week’s version is the lawless White House decision to delay the law’s insurance mandate for businesses, though not for individuals.

The employer mandate is central to ObamaCare’s claim of providing universal coverage.

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Supes to decide if healthcare funding should go to voters
San Francisco Chronicle

The Board of Supervisors will decide next week whether voters should weigh in on how to tackle the city’s $4.4 billion unfunded retiree healthcare liability. That’s $13,487 per person, in case you’re counting.

Supervisor Mark Farrell’s proposed charter amendment, which is supported by a number of labor unions and business groups, would secure the Retiree Healthcare Trust Fund in large part by prohibiting withdrawals until the city can pay for all its healthcare liabilities.