News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Report finds telehealth services are cost effective, clinically successful
Modern Healthcare

Studies of healthcare systems in the U.S. and abroad show providers have achieved financial and clinical success with implementing telehealth services, according to a report by the healthcare research arm of Computer Sciences Corp.

The four-page report, by the Falls Church, Va.-based defense, intelligence and information technology consulting firm’s Global Institute for Emerging Healthcare Practices, reviews telehealth studies in Germany, the U.K., as well as the U.S.

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Cigarette smoking at new low among youths, survey finds
Los Angeles Times

Cigarette smoking hit the lowest point ever recorded among American eighth-graders and high school sophomores and seniors last year, a newly released report shows.

Last year, only 5% of high school sophomores said they had smoked cigarettes daily in the previous 30 days, compared with 18% of sophomores who were smoking daily at one point in the 1990s. The numbers have also plunged for eighth-graders and high school seniors, hitting their lowest point since the surveys began.

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Study says urgent-care centers filling void
Modern Physician

Urgent-care centers are more frequently becoming alternative sites for convenient and timely healthcare access, without the downside of interrupted care coordination, according to a qualitative study conducted by the Center for Studying Health System Change.

Researchers affiliated with the National Institute for Health Care Reform looked at administrative data and conducted interviews in six locations—Detroit, Jacksonville, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco—and found that the number of urgent-care centers has grown significantly since the concept was first introduced in the 1980s.

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Report urges feds to push open-source solutions
Modern Healthcare

While there have been successes and failures in the deployment of open-source health information technology by federally supported safety net healthcare organizations, the federal government could and should do more to ensure more frequent successes, according to an HHS-funded report.

Open-source electronic health records have been seen as a cheaper solution for financially strapped indigent-care providers.

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The Future Of Therapy: $5 Million On Breakthrough
Forbes

Who says therapy sessions need to be face to face? Online mental health gateway, Breakthrough, is betting that they don’t and just found some generous backers to pay for them to prove it.

The company just raised $5 million in growth capital from The Social+Capital Partnership, First Round Capital and Great Oaks Venture Capital. The company had previously raised about $900,000 from angels last year.

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Is U.S. Health-Care Reform on Track for 2014?
WebMD

At the heart of President Barack Obama’s sweeping yet controversial health-reform law is the largest expansion of health insurance in decades, and it’s set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. But some observers wonder whether it will get off the ground as scheduled.

The law requires most adults to purchase health insurance or face a penalty — the so-called individual mandate.

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Mapping out health reform
San Francisco Business Times

Peter Lee’s engineer’s cap is still in place, but whether it can stay there until Oct. 1 is an open question.

Doubts persist about the feds’ ability to get state insurance exchanges — one of the centerpieces of federal health care reform — up and running in dozens of states by Oct. 1. With executive director Lee in the driver’s seat, the Golden State’s Covered California exchange has been chugging down the tracks toward that goal, even if it’s having to build the tracks and finish assembling the locomotive as it picks up speed.

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Confusion surrounds plan for state exchanges
San Francisco Business Times

If implementing national health reform has faced delays and challenges in the deep blue state of California, the state of Obamacare nationally is much more fraught.

Serious doubts about the federal government’s ability to get health insurance exchanges up and running in 35 states by Oct. 1 are growing, as are concerns about resistance by many states to expanding Medicaid in their jurisdictions.

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The savvy tech strategy behind Obamacare
InfoWorld

The U.S. health care industry is undergoing several massive transformations, and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology in the Health and Human Services Dept. is spearheading the technical requirements and interpreting the legislative mandates into the specific policy requirements.

Its efforts started during the George W. Bush administration, which mandated in 2004 the use of interoperable electronic health records (EHR) systems by 2014 in what is known as the HITECH Act, and its efforts have become even more important due to the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, that changes the rules to ease citizens’ access to medical care and to further require electronic systems use by providers and patients alike.

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Thompson to host business forum on health care reform
Lake County Record-Bee

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) will host a forum for Lake County small businesses on the Affordable Care Act on Monday in Kelseyville.

Thompson will be joined by U.S. Health and Human Services Regional Director Herb Schultz. The forum starts at 5 p.m. at the Riviera Hills Golf and Country Club, 10200 Fairway Dr.

Thompson believes the Affordable Care Act has already improved health care access for millions, and saved people in the 5th Congressional District, which includes parts of Lake County, and across the nation billions of dollars on prescription drugs and health insurance premiums.

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Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center adds hospitalists to staff
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center has recently launched a program meant to provide patients care in a faster and more efficient manner.

Hospital administrators added to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center’s staff a group of physicians who specialize in providing medical care to hospitalized patients. The program went into effect July 1.

Having these hospitalists, as they are known, on staff has several advantages, said Dr. Heather Davis-Kingston, medical director and leader in Pomona Valley’s adult hospitalist program.

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Kaiser Permanente awards $1.4M in grants
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente is donating $1.4 million to nonprofit community organizations in the Sacramento region that serve the community by improving access to health services, promoting health eating and active living, and preventing community and family violence.

The 56 grant awards, which range from $7,500 to almost $100,000, were announced Wednesday. They are part of nonprofit Kaiser’s program to provide benefits to the communities it serves in exchange for tax-exempt status.

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Observation Status Costly for Hospitals
Health Leaders Media

Hospitals are likely losing money and incurring ill will from patients when they assign them to observation status under Medicare rules, especially if the patient has a general medicine diagnosis, and is female, an 18-month study of the practice at a Wisconsin academic medical center has found.

“Though the cost of hospital observation care costs less, reimbursement per encounter is proportionally a lot less,” says Ann Sheehy, MD, principal investigator of the study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Adventist Health has plans for limited HMO license
Sacramento Business Journal

Roseville-based Adventist Health plans to get a limited HMO license so its hospitals and doctors can have more control over patient care under the Affordable Care Act — and expand their market share.

The health system’s board approved the move last month. Lawyers and consultants are working with Adventist’s managed care division to design a strategy that could launch in three regional markets next year.

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Private Doctors Provide Personalized Care, For a Price
capital public radio

The N1 Health Center for Functional Medicine sits in an average looking corporate business park. But there’s nothing average about the doctor’s office inside.

Patients check in at a marble countertop, and can sip hot tea in the waiting room. They’ll see one of the two ‘private’ physicians here. Patients pay an annual membership of $2,400 for this concierge care.

“I called today to get an appointment, thinking I wouldn’t get it for a couple of days, and I’m in today,” says Darrin Stafford, who wanted to get checked for an ear infection before he goes on a flight.

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Docs urged to consider patients’ financial stress
Modern Physician

Doctors should talk to patients about their financial concerns relating to their medical care with questions such as, “Are you worried about how your medical care will be paid for?” And they should discuss treatment options and costs with patients. To avoid treating patients differently based on income, all patients should be screen for financial stress. Doctors should be prepared to help patients identify financial resources when payment is an issue.

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HRC names Eisenhower Medical Center a leader in LGBT care
The Desert Sun

Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBT organization, named Eisenhower Medical Center a leader in LGBT health care equality in its July 2013 Healthcare Equality Index.

Eisenhower — which includes Eisenhower Hospital, the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences and the Betty Ford Center — is one of 464 health care facilities in the country, 18 in the state and the only health care center in the Coachella Valley to receive this recognition. This is the first time Einsenhower has been on the list.

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WellPoint to pay $1.7 million HIPAA penalty
Modern Healthcare

WellPoint, which serves nearly 36 million people through its affiliated health plans, has agreed to pay a $1.7 million penalty to HHS for potential violations of the privacy and security rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

Between Oct. 23, 2009, and March 7, 2010, access to personal data for 612,402 people—their names, dates of birth, addresses, Social Security numbers, telephone numbers and health information—was made available to unauthorized users as the result of online security weaknesses, HHS said Thursday.

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The American Health Care System Should Be Terrified Of The Rise Of The Pharmacy Clinic
San Francisco Chronicle

In a country that’s getting fatter, older, and in need of more medical care, there’s a huge opportunity for companies to really disrupt the American health care system. Rattle the dust off those old bones if you will.

The opportunity waits in plain sight at your local pharmacy, and some companies like Walgreens and CVS have taken notice and hope that you will too.

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It’s time to focus on fixing the Affordable Care Act, not gutting it
Los Angeles Times

The woman in the TV commercial is identified as Julie, a mother of two. She’s sitting on a bench in a nice yard containing a kids’ play structure. A little boy swings in the background.

“Two years ago,” Julie says, “my son Caleb began having seizures. The medical care he received meant the world to me. Now I’m paying more attention.

“I have some questions about Obamacare,” she continues.

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Breakthrough raises $5 million for online therapy
San Francisco Business Times

Breakthrough, an online counseling and “telepsychiatry” service, raised a $5 million Series A round of funding led by the Social+Capital Partnership with participation from First Round Capital and Great Oaks Venture Capital.

Founded in 2009, Redwood City-based Breakthrough’s platform lets patients search detailed profiles of licensed therapists, watch therapist video introductions, book online appointments, and get live care via high definition web conferencing.

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Kaiser to abandon Potrero Hill clinic plans, move project to Mission Bay
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente is abandoning controversial plans for a 190,000-square-foot medical office building at 16th and Mississippi streets in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill district, and instead will put the clinic at 1600 Owens Street in nearby Mission Bay.

Kaiser officials confirmed the switcheroo July 11.

The new site, at 1600 Owens St., is owned by Alexandria Real Estate Equities. Joe Fragola, a Kaiser spokesman, said the site is already approved and permitted, “and allows us to open two years sooner at a big costs savings.”

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Mayor Lee signs bill allowing CPMC to start work on $2 billion Cathedral Hill project
San Francisco Business Times

“It’s official,” said officials at California Pacific Medical Center. Mayor Ed Lee earlier this afternoon signed a bill that permits CPMC to proceed with its $2 billion new Cathedral Hill hospital and a related rebuild of St. Luke’s Hospital.

The once-troubled and long-delayed construction project can now begin. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the compromise plan on Tuesday. The hospital hopes to begin demolition of the Cathedral Hill Hotel at Geary Ave. and Van Ness Blvd. by the end of the year.

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Health Insurance Exchange Subsidies–Another Warning Sign???
The Health Care Blog

Come October millions of people will be applying for tens of billions of dollars in federal health insurance premium subsidies on the honor system.

On the Friday after the Fourth of July––when the administration apparently hoped no one would be paying attention––the Obama administration dropped 606 pages of regulations. Buried inside was the news that that insurance exchanges can ignore any personal income information they get from the Federal Data Hub during 2014 if it conflicts with “attestations” made by individuals.

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The GOP’s Endless War on Obamacare-and the White House Delay
The Health Care Blog

The official reason given by the Administration for delaying, by one year, the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers with more than 50 full-time workers provide insurance coverage or face fines, is that employers need more time to implement it. The unofficial reason has more to do with the Republicans’ incessant efforts to bulldoze the law.

Soon after the GOP lost its fight against Obamacare in Congress, it began warring against the new legislation in the courts, rounding up and backstopping litigants all the way up to the Supreme Court.

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