News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Medical record breaches following Kardashian birth reveal ongoing issue
Modern Healthcare

Unauthorized peeking at patient medical records remains an unsolved problem among healthcare providers, and privacy experts contend it’s just in our nature to snoop. “As long as you’re a public figure, in the public eye, whether you’re a local anchor, or a politician or Kim Kardashian, it strikes an interest,” said Angela Rose, director for health information management practice excellence at the Chicago-based American Health Information Management Association.

“The policies and procedures have definitely gotten more strict, the state and federal laws have gotten more strict, but it still happens. There is still human curiosity and there’s still human error.”

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Self-referrals costing Medicare millions, GAO report says
Modern Healthcare

Physicians who prepare and examine tissue samples in their own practices rather than referring them to labs report higher use of the services, suggesting that the financial incentives behind self-referrals may be driving the increase, according to the Government Accountability Office. In a new report, the GAO concludes that Medicare would have saved $69 million on anatomic pathology services in 2010 if self-referring physicians performed biopsies at the same rate and referred the same number of services per procedure as non-self-referring providers.

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All Pioneer ACOs improved quality; only third lowered costs
Modern Healthcare

The participants in the Obama administration’s most aggressive experiment with accountable care had better success improving quality than lowering costs, according to first-year results revealed in a published report. All 32 of the accountable care organizations in the program improved patient care and patient satisfaction against benchmarks, according to results shared with the Wall Street Journal in advance of their public release. Only 13 achieved enough savings that they qualified to share some of that money.

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How Safety-Net Hospitals Are Improving the Patient Experience
Health Leaders Media

Do hospitals that treat more low-income, ethnically diverse patients with multiple comorbidities have a tougher time getting good patient experience scores than other hospitals, as some organizations contend?

And if so, should those hospitals merit an adjustment for socioeconomic status or payer mix, especially when millions in value-based purchasing incentive pay is now at stake?

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State approves Covered California rates
Sacramento Business Journal

State regulators have signed off on the rates proposed for Covered California’s individual marketplace because state actuaries found them reasonable, the Department of Managed Health Care announced Monday. Rates — and health plans — for individuals who will buy health insurance through the new state benefit exchange were released in May, but the rates required regulatory review. The proposed premiums came in lower than expected, so state approval was expected.

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Northstate medical school taps local doctors for expertise
Sacramento Business Journal

California Northstate University College of Medicine has quietly appointed about 200 local physicians willing to share their expertise with students, as the school prepares to launch a privately funded medical school in Elk Grove as early as next summer. A senior associate dean for medical education started work last month and 15 faculty members have made commitments to the school, president and CEO Alvin Cheung said Monday.

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Obamacare primer: How is it really going to work?
POLITICO

In less than three months, people are going to be able to sign up for Obamacare coverage for the first time. To hear the Obama administration tell it, it’ll be quick and painless. Fill out a short form, and new health insurance marketplaces will be instantly able to “ping” a massive data system that can check just about everything you say — keeping most people honest and cheats to a minimum.

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Covered California starts educator training for helping people with insurance enrollment
Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California launched its certified educator training statewide this week, with three-day sessions for a total of about 2,000 trainees in two locations, including Sacramento. Training started Monday in San Gabriel in Southern California and on the Sacramento campus of the University of California Davis School of Medicine. Covered California is the new state health benefit exchanged charged with launching a new insurance marketplace next year for individuals and small businesses. Enrollment will begin Oct. 1.

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Proposed Individual Rates, Plan Providers Announced For State Healthcare
Long Beach Business Journal

The 2014 proposed rates for individual health insurance plans, available through the state’s health insurance marketplace Covered California, are lower than expected. While healthcare reform advocates welcomed this news, implementation of the marketplace infrastructure and access to care remain a top priority. As the healthcare marketplace established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Covered California revealed last month its proposal for individual plan costs with 13 selected health insurance providers.

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Doctors Heed Prescription For Computerized Records
capital public radio

Uncle Sam wants your doctor to go digital. And the federal government is backing that up with money for practices that start using computerized systems for record keeping. Nearly half of all physicians in America still rely on paper records for most patient care. Time is running out for those who do to take advantage of federal funds to make the switch. So practices like Colorado Springs Internal Medicine are scrambling to get with the program.

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SGR Repeal Effort to Resume in House
Health Leaders Media

The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health is expected to mark-up its draft proposal to repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate formula on July 22 Capital Hill sources have told HealthLeaders Media. The proposal calls for the SGR to be repealed and replaced with what the committee describes as “an improved fee-for-service system” with quality measures developed by providers and the Department of Health and Human Services.

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AAFP criticized for participation on AMA’s RUC
Modern Healthcare

The American Academy of Family Physicians is catching some heat for its participation on the American Medical Association Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee, or RUC. Dr. Paul Fischer, founder of the 27-phyisician, Augusta, Ga.-based Center for Primary Care, said he dropped his AAFP membership over the issue. He said the AAFP is more interested in keeping its seat on the RUC than it is in narrowing the payment gap between primary-care and specialist physicians.

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UCLA and Cedars-Sinai among “Best Hospitals” in U.S. News Ranking
Pasadena Star

UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center are ranked among the top hospitals in the country, according to 2013/2014 “Best Hospitals” rankings from U.S. News and World Report released online Tuesday.

Several other hospitals in metro Los Angeles and the Inland Empire are also recognized by the news magazine as being top performing in different specialty categories.

UCLA and Cedars-Sinai, ranked 5th and 13th respectively, are among the top 18 hospitals that rank at or near the top in six specialty categories. A designation known as the “honor roll.”

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UC San Diego, Scripps hospitals make national rankings
San Diego Union-Tribune

U.S. News and World Report bestowed national rankings on UC San Diego Medical Center and Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla in its annual Best Hospitals report released Monday night. The report, now in it’s 24th year, scrutinized 5,000 health-care facilities, giving rankings in 16 adult specialties to only 147. The rankings are based on federal data on patient survival rates, infection rates, patient safety, nurse-to-patient ratios, and other criteria related to the specialties.

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What you need to know about crazy hospital prices
Southern California Public Radio

The huge disparities in prices charged by hospitals for the same procedures has generated a lot of debate. But the final price paid is never anywhere near the “sticker price.” And while most Californians don’t need to concern themselves with the list price – because their insurance provider negotiates the actual price – there are is a small number of uninsured and underinsured people at certain income levels who do need to negotiate the best deal possible for their hospital’s services.

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Kidney Function Declines Faster in Black Patients
MedPage Today

Even in a universal healthcare system that presumably provides equal care to all people, blacks with chronic kidney disease had faster progression to end-stage renal disease than their white counterparts, a Dutch study showed.

Starting 15 months after the initiation of pre-dialysis care, black patients were more than two-and-a-half times more likely to need renal replacement therapy (HR 2.87, 95% CI 1.29-6.41), according to Moniek de Goeij, MSc, a PhD student at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues.

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Buh-Bye, California
InvestingDaily

Efforts to get California’s health insurance exchange up and running as mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), aka Obamacare, has been struck a blow in recent weeks as major insurers announce they are pulling out of the market.

Health insurance in the nation’s most populous state has long been dominated by Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente, which combined control nearly 90 percent of the market. That said, competition on the exchanges is a key element in keeping costs down.

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The Joint opens retail chiropractic clinic in Roseville
Sacramento Business Journal

The Joint Corp., a storefront chain that aims to sell chiropractic care to the masses, has opened a clinic in Roseville. The new clinic at 8680 Sierra College Blvd. in the Renaissance Creek Center is the company’s fourth in the Sacramento region. The clinics are managed by franchisees Chris O’Neal, Rory O’Neal and Sean O’Neal, of Joint Ventures LLC. They want to open 36 locations in Northern California.

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Tulare City Council to consider waiving fees for hospital’s clinic
Visialia Times-Delta

Tulare Regional Medical Center will seek assistance in paying for part of the development impact fees for the planned west side clinic during the council meeting today.

Slated to be built at 325 N. West St., the clinic would provide medical and dental access to west Tulare residents. A study commissioned by the hospital found west Tulare residents lack access to medical assistance.

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SNMH Ambulance at your service
The Union

What has 16 wheels and puts on 240,000 miles a year while saving lives? If you’re thinking a fleet of ice cream vending trucks, you may have been standing in the sun too long.

In truth, those are the miles racked up each year by the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Ambulance Service. There are actually eight vehicles in the fleet, according to Manager Rob Riley, but only four of them are rolling on any given day.

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Fairmont Rehabilitation Hospital director retires after 25 years
Lodi News-Sentinel

Fairmont Rehabilitation Hospital in Lodi said good-bye to Meneloas “Mike” Mamoulelis, who retired after 25 years as the hospital’s rehabilitation director. “Mike is a dedicated and compassionate professional,” hospital administrator Beverly Mannon said in a news release. “We, at Fairmont Rehabilitation Hospital, wish to thank him for his years of service and dedication to excellence.”

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