News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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CMS Grants Providers $122M to Improve Care, Cut Costs
Health Leaders Media

The Obama administration on Tuesday announced grants worth $122.6 million to 26 health organizations around the country that have proposed ideas for improving care while saving money. The next round of funding, from a total pool of $900 million, will be announced in June.

“No one understands the limitations of our current healthcare system better than doctors and nurses,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a news briefing to announce the winners.

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Consumer-Directed Health Plans Show Mixed Results
Insurance Journal

Employer-sponsored health insurance plans with low premiums and high deductibles could cut U.S. healthcare costs significantly but not without potential risks for workers, according to a study published on Monday.

A Rand Corp. study, published in the May issue of the journal Health Affairs, said so-called “consumer-directed” health plans would cut healthcare costs for the nonelderly by 4 percent, or $57 billion a year, if they accounted for half of all employer-sponsored health insurance.

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Budget bill riles public health advocates
Modern Healthcare

Public health advocates this week decried healthcare reductions in a bill from the House Budget Committee that aims to replace across-the-board cuts in federal programs scheduled for next January. In a 21-9 vote, the committee approved the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012, a 187-page GOP proposal to replace the so-called sequester, which would cut $109 billion in defense and nondefense government spending on Jan. 2, 2013.

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How healthy is your county?
HealthyCal.org

New data about the health of counties throughout the US tells us that Marin is the healthiest county in California. The least healthy? Trinity County, in California’s rugged and rural far North. That’s according to The University of Wisconsin Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) recently released County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, an annual ‘check-up’ of over 3,000 counties in the United States.

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Senate Democrats urge protection of public-health fund
Modern Healthcare

Six Senate Democrats are urging the chamber’s leaders to make a stand against a Republican measure that would eliminate the healthcare reform law’s public health and prevention fund in order to freeze student loan rates.

The Democrats’ pleas came in a letter to Senate leaders after their party failed on a procedural vote to advance an approach to a student loan fix that relies on raising payroll taxes for some higher-income earners.

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Multiple strategies needed to fight obesity, study suggests
USA Today

Taming the obesity epidemic in this country needs an all-hands-on-deck strategy so that schools provide students 60 minutes of physical activity daily, fast-food restaurants offer healthier fare for kids, and communities build recreational spaces that encourage physical activity, says a new report out Tuesday.

It’s going to take “bold actions” like these and a full-scale effort across all segments of society to reduce the obesity epidemic, says the report from experts convened by the Institute of Medicine, which provides independent advice on health issues to policy makers, foundati

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Drug moves toward FDA approval for HIV prevention
Los Angeles Times

A pill that has long been used to treat HIV has moved a step closer to becoming the first drug approved in the U.S. to prevent healthy people from becoming infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that Gilead Sciences’ Truvada appears to be safe and effective for HIV prevention. It concluded that taking the pill daily could spare users “infection with a serious and life-threatening illness that requires lifelong treatment.”

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Kaiser adds an app for health care clients
Sacramento Bee

Kaiser Permanente has launched its “iOS health management” application, available free from the Apple iTunes store.

The app offers members access to the same information and services at “My Health Manager” on www.kp.org.

Via the app, members can send email to health care providers, check lab test results, order prescription refills and manage appointments via their Apple hand-held devices.

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Silicon Valley cash to fund Stanford Hospital
Palo Alto Online

Stanford University has launched a $1 billion fundraising campaign to build its new hospital and invest in medical research and teaching, and already half of that sum has been pledged by Silicon Valley companies and individuals, Stanford announced Monday. Three donors are contributing $150 million: John Morgridge, former Cisco Systems CEO, and his wife, Tashia; Anne and Robert Bass, philanthropists, and the Christopher Redlich family. Morgridge, the Basses and Redlich are all Stanford graduates.

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Retired couples may need $240,000 for health care
San Francisco Chronicle

Couples retiring this year can expect their medical bills throughout retirement to cost 4 percent more than those who retired a year ago, according to an annual projection released Wednesday by Fidelity Investments. The estimated $240,000 that a newly retired couple will need to cover health care expenses reflects the typical pattern of projected annual increases. The Boston-based company cut the estimate for the first time last year, citing President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

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In N.Y. and Calif., different approaches to patient abuse reform
California Watch

Wherever the developmentally disabled live, abuse is their neighbor.

It comes as deliberate assault by caregivers and sometimes relatives. It comes as acts of frustration, when people exhausted from the relentless difficulties of caring for patients with intellectual disabilities shove and hit the vulnerable.

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FDA favors first drug for HIV prevention
USA Today

Federal drug regulators on Tuesday affirmed landmark study results showing that a popular HIV-fighting pill can also help healthy people avoid contracting the virus that causes AIDS in the first place. While the pill appears safe and effective for prevention, scientists stressed that it only works when taken on a daily basis. The Food and Drug Administration will hold a meeting Thursday to discuss whether Truvada should be approved for people who are at risks of contracting HIV through sexual intercourse.

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St. Helena Hospital gets $1 million donation
North Bay Business Journal

St. Helena Hospital today announced that Joseph Phelps, founder of the Napa Valley winery that bears his name, donated $1 million to a hospital capital campaign called Project Transform.

Mr. Phelps has been one of the most active supporters of the St. Helena Hospital Foundation for over 25 years, according to the organization.

“This is a signature and impressive gift to the hospital and Napa Valley,” Terry Newmyer, president and chief executive officer of St. Helena region of Adventist Health, said in a statement.

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Hospital names new president
Calaveras Enterprise

Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital in San Andreas will have a new president later this month, Dignity Health, the corporation that runs the hospital, announced Friday. Craig Marks, 49, takes over as chief executive officer starting May 21. He will oversee Mark Twain St. Joseph’s Hospital as well as five family medical centers providing primary and specialty care in the communities of Angels Camp, Valley Springs, Arnold, San Andreas and Copperopolis.

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New research on probiotics shows promise
USA Today

Probiotics — or live microorganisms intended to boost health, such as the bacteria in some yogurts — have become popular items in vitamin stores and even many supermarkets. One of probiotics’ most popular uses is in preventing and treating digestive problems. A new analysis of 82 earlier studies finds that probiotics have potential in alleviating the diarrhea that afflicts about one-third of people treated with antibiotic medications.

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Brown’s proposal on child health meets strong opposition
HealthyCal.org

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to shift nearly 1 million children from subsidized private insurance into the state Medi-Cal program is running into a wall of opposition from children’s advocates, health care providers and faith-based groups. Brown included the proposal to eliminate the state’s Healthy Families program in his January budget and is expected to stick with it when he releases his revised budget next week.

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John Muir leases 144,000 square feet for Walnut Creek outpatient center
San Francisco Business Times

John Muir Health said late Tuesday it leased 144,000 square feet at 1450 Treat Blvd. in Walnut Creek for a new outpatient center — a deal that apparently ranks as the largest commercial direct lease in the Walnut Creek vicinity since 2007. The new John Muir Health Outpatient Center is slated to open at the end of next year, housing approximately 45 physicians, an Urgent Care Center, lab and imaging services.

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John Muir Leases Building on Treat Blvd. in Walnut Creek for Outpatient Services
San Francisco Chronicle

John Muir Health has signed a long-term lease for 144,000 square feet of space at 1450 Treat Boulevard (former Bank of the West offices), to open the John Muir Health Outpatient Center, Walnut Creek. The center, which is projected to open at the end of 2013, will house primary care physicians, some specialists, an Urgent Care Center, patient education, laboratory and imaging services – all in one convenient location for patients.

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