News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Sebelius Defends Law and Zeal in Push to Insure Millions
New York Times

Kathleen Sebelius has been facing down opponents since she was a schoolgirl campaigning for her father — a gregarious, outspoken liberal Democrat in Cincinnati, then one of the most reliably Republican big cities in the nation. “My father was routinely called a Communist in Cincinnati,” Ms. Sebelius’s older brother, Donald D. Gilligan, said in an interview. “When he first ran for City Council, Republicans ran ads against him printed on pink paper in The Cincinnati Enquirer.”

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Not-for-profits call for clarity on tax breaks under ACA
Modern Healthcare

Not-for-profit hospitals want more clarity about what could jeopardize their tax breaks under new requirements for billing, financial aid and community engagement under the 2010 healthcare reform law.

The American Hospital Association and Catholic Health Association, in letters filed with the Internal Revenue Service, called for regulators to define and offer examples of “egregious” violations that could threaten tax exemption for about 60% of U.S. hospitals.

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HHS rule allows hospitals to bill state for some presumed-eligible Medicaid patients
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals girding for an influx of Medicaid patients in 2014 under the healthcare reform law’s Medicaid coverage expansion recently were given some new regulatory tools to deal with the financial fallout. A final HHS rule issued the morning after Independence Day implemented provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that allow hospitals to presume some uninsured patients are eligible for Medicaid and then bill their state program for the cost of their care. The rule specified that states cannot hold hospitals liable for the cost of care for patients they incorrectly assumed were Medicaid-eligible.

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Study delves into why low-income patients prefer the emergency room to primary care
Southern California Public Radio

When low-income patients compare hospital care to primary care, they find the former to be more affordable, convenient and trustworthy than the latter. And that, according to a new study from the University of Pennsylvania, is why those patients tend to use emergency rooms and hospitals more heavily than primary care. Low-income patients are the norm in South Los Angeles, particularly at community health centers like UMMA Community Clinic. Dr. Tipu Khan is a family physician and the lead obstetrics provider there.

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Raising Cap on Malpractice Law Will Increase Health Care Costs
Sacramento Bee

The Consumer Attorneys of California, a trade association representing trial lawyers, and their allies are “declaring war” on physicians, according to a story last month in The Bee. Their coalition has committed to spend $1 million for a political and public relations campaign to pass legislation that would increase lawyer payouts in lawsuits against doctors, hospitals, nurses, community clinics, firefighters, EMTs and other health workers who provide care for patients.

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GOP wants delay in health law’s individual mandate
Yahoo! News

Framing a new argument against President Barack Obama’s health care law, congressional GOP leaders called Tuesday for a delay in the law’s requirement that individual Americans carry health insurance.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other senior Republicans told Obama in a letter that his decision last week to grant a one-year delay for employers but leave in place provisions for individuals and families had created many new questions and concerns.

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Obamacare delay could be costly
The Californian - Salinas

One day after the Obama administration delayed the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate until 2015, critics and supporters of the legislation were hotly debating the cost and effects of the surprise move, while business owners breathed a sigh of relief.

The law required companies with more than 50 full-time employees to provide health coverage in 2014 or face fines of $2,000 per worker.

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Seeing Opening, House G.O.P. Pushes Delay on Individual Mandate in Health Law
New York Times

House Republican leaders on Tuesday seized on the Obama administration’s one-year delay of a mandate for larger employers to offer health insurance or face penalties, demanding the same postponement for the mandate on individual insurance purchases and promising a series of showdowns aimed at dividing Democrats from the White House. After more than two years of voting repeatedly and unsuccessfully to repeal the health care law, Republicans believe they are getting traction thanks to what they see as the Obama administration’s self-inflicted wound over the employer mandate.

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More changes in rolling out health benefit exchanges
Sacramento Business Journal

The Obama administration has quietly rolled back requirements for state health benefit exchanges to verify the incomes and health insurance status of consumers during the first year of operations. Under the Affordable Care Act, low-income individuals who do not have access to health insurance through an employer are eligible for subsidized coverage. Proposed rules would have required exchanges to verify the income status of applicants and do random checks to determine their access to employer-based coverage.

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CHA satisfied with Obama administration’s contraception solution
Modern Healthcare

The Catholic Health Association, one of the Obama administration’s most reliable allies in passing and promoting the healthcare reform law, has made peace with the contraception provision that distressed many of its members.

After months of talks between church officials and the White House, the CHA said in a memorandum to Catholic healthcare providers suggesting the organization is satisfied with the administration’s solution for ensuring workers have access to contraception at no out-of-pocket cost while not compelling religious employers to pay for it or arrange it.

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What Covered California Thinks of Anti-Obamacare Ad
KQED Radio

You would think there was an election coming, judging by the way political ads are starting to air. But this is no election. The big political story is the rollout of Obamacare. In the last few days, we’ve seen a point-counterpoint between the pro-Obama Organizing for Action’s ad and one from the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. Both ads feature a mother talking about treatment for a young child’s devastating illness.

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Proposed payment schedule includes harmonization of reporting measures
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare providers have long decried the cacophony of reporting requirements under various CMS programs and have asked for harmonization of the rules. Now, the 652-page proposed rule encompassing changes to the Medicare Physician Payment Schedule, released Monday, may have providers who report clinical quality measures more often singing from the same hymnal in 2014. Harmonization of reporting has been a goal for the Medical Group Management Association, but “we’re not the only ones,” said Robert Tennant, its senior policy adviser. “It’s been ridiculous that you have to report the same measures for different programs.”

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OPPS Proposed Rule Significantly Affects Coding
Health Leaders Media

CMS released a number of proposed changes to the Outpatient Prospective Payment System payment system July 8. The 2014 OPPS Proposed Rule is shorter than normal at 718 pages, but the proposed changes are significant and probably the most sweeping changes since the inception of OPPS, says Jugna Shah, MPH, president and founder of Nimitt Consulting.

The proposed changes to the OPPS payment system are just as significant as the changes proposed in the 2014 IPPS Proposed Rule, says Kimberly Anderwood Hoy, JD, CPC, director of Medicare and compliance at HCPro, Inc., in Danvers, Mass.

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Obesity makes cancer harder to treat – researchers
ABC News

As the number of obese children continues to rise, there’s concern the number of childhood cancer cases will rise as well. Researchers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are hoping finding the link between the two could be the answer to finding new treatments. Saloman Chavez, 16, was a typical teenager until he was told he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Chavez became one of nearly 13,000 American children diagnosed with cancer each year. It’s a number that’s expected to rise as the incidence in childhood obesity does the same.

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The Office Nurse Now Treats Diabetes, Not Headaches
The Wall Street Journal

Workplace health clinics used to be a lot like the school nurse’s office, dispensing Band-Aids, treating occupational injuries, and serving as a first stop for emergencies like asthma attacks.

But as companies face rising insurance costs and an aging workforce, they’re turning clinics into something new: A place to aggressively nudge employees about long-term, expensive conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

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Children’s advocates say new dental plans not that filling after all
Sacramento Bee

Filling cavities in children’s teeth is designated by law as one of 10 “essential benefits” in next year’s federal health care overhaul.

But children’s advocates say that the fine print shows that it’s not all that essential after all.

Unlike other key medical services, California families considering the purchase of pediatric dental insurance next year:

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Scripps names new digital medicine director
San Diego Union-Tribune

Scripps Health said Tuesday it has hired Dr. Steven Steinhubl as director of its Digital Medicine Program, where his mission will be to help inventors prove that the latest crop of digital medical devices are better than the traditional tools they seek to replace.

Steinhubl will work under Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego.

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El Camino Hospital district board approves 2014 budget
Los Altos Town Crier

The El Camino Healthcare District Board of Directors unanimously approved the district’s consolidated budget June 19. In doing so, the district board also ratified the hospital’s fiscal year 2014 budget – slated to begin Monday – following its recent approval by the hospital’s board of directors. The consolidated budget for the hospital and district entities projects a net income of $83 million. Additionally, the district board approved Community Benefit program plans for the hospital and district. Combined, the plans will provide more than $8 million in grants and sponsorships to community organizations providing health services to residents with limited or no access to health care.

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Patients Protest Poor Interpretation At UCSD Medical Center
KPBS

A group of refugee patients gathered outside UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest Tuesday carrying signs that read, “To speak to me is to heal me,” and “No child should have to interpret.” Each slogan was translated into Swahili or Somali, a service the patients say they’re not getting enough of from the hospital. The group assembled as part of a statewide effort to improve interpretation in medical settings.

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Amgen heart failure drug deal is good news — but little more — for Cytokinetics
San Francisco Business Times

A deal between Amgen Inc. and French drug developer Les Laboratoires Servier for a heart failure treatment provides validation for drug developer Cytokinetics Inc. but nothing for Cytokinetics’ bottom line. Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), the world’s largest biotech company, said Tuesday that it gave Servier commercial rights in Europe for the experimental heart failure drug omecamtiv mecarbil.

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It’s time to fix California’s outdated medical malpractice law
Los Angeles Times

It’s a very rare thing for a legislator to admit that a law he sponsored hasn’t worked out as expected. It’s even rarer for him to label it “oppressive” and call for its revision.

But that’s the case with former California Assemblyman Barry Keene and one of his legislative offspring. The law is the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975, or MICRA, which tried to address a malpractice insurance “crisis” — rising premiums threatened to drive doctors out of California or into retirement — by imposing draconian restrictions on patient lawsuits.

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