News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Health Care Law’s Rule Delay Could Hamper Enforcement
The Huffington Post

There’s a bit of a domino effect undercutting President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Enforcement of the overhaul’s central mandate – that individual Americans must have coverage – could be weakened by the Obama administration’s recent delay of a requirement that larger employers provide medical insurance.

That’s because the delayed rule also required companies to report health insurance details for employees.

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9 Pioneer ACOs to Leave Program
Health Leaders Media

Nine of the 32 Pioneer ACOs will not participate in third year of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ pilot program for accountable care organizations, HealthLeaders Media has learned.

Seven of the nine are applying to transition to the Medicare Shared Savings Program, while two are abandoning the program completely, although CMS declined to identify which ACOs are leaving and which are simply shifting to the MSSP.

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California teen births drop to lowest rate since 1991
Sacramento Business Journal

California’s teen birth rate has declined to 28 births for every 1,000 teens, ages 15-19, the lowest since 1991, California Department of Public Health director Ron Chapman announced Tuesday. Early childbearing can negatively affect academic achievement, earning potential for mothers and fathers, maternal and infant health and early childhood development. The decrease was reflected in all ethnic groups.

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HIMSS launches library, collection point for HIT success stories
Modern Healthcare

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has launched an online library and collection point for health information technology success stories. The goal is to help healthcare organizations calculate return on investment for their HIT systems.

“We must understand how these investments are paying off,” said Carla Smith, HIMSS executive vice president at a news conference in Washington on Tuesday to launch the site. She said it “offers taxonomy to facilitate that discussion.”

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GOP to Obama: If you can delay health care, so can we
Sacramento Bee

Republicans will make another move Wednesday to damage the national health care law they derisively call Obamacare. This time, they’re being aided by the champion of the measure, President Barack Obama.

With Obama’s recent move to postpone one part of the law as an opening, the Republican-ruled House of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday to delay more key parts of the contentious measure before it can take full effect.

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States scramble to submit application for Medicaid expansion following late CMS rule
Modern Healthcare

A CMS rule issued in early July has set off a scramble among state officials to finalize and submit an application needed to implement their Medicaid expansions allowed by the healthcare reform law. The delay in the rule may push states hard up against the Oct. 1 start of the Medicaid enrollment process for 2014.

States were waiting for details provided by the July 5 rule before submitting state plan amendments required to expand eligibility for their Medicaid programs to all residents with incomes of up to 138% of the federal poverty level.

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House GOP seek delay in health care provisions
San Francisco Chronicle

House Republicans, politically emboldened by President Barack Obama’s delay of a key requirement of his health care law, are taking another run at scrapping his signature domestic policy.

The House has scheduled votes Wednesday to delay the law’s individual and employer mandates, the 38th time the GOP majority has tried to eliminate, defund or scale back the program since Republicans took control of the House in January 2011.

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Obamacare Gets Worse for Workers
National Review Online

This week the House of Representatives will vote, almost precisely along party lines, to postpone Obamacare’s individual mandate. Like the 37 earlier votes to repeal the entire health care law, this bill will then move to the Senate, never to be heard from again. This, despite the fact that by a two-to-one margin (56 percent to 26 percent, according to Rasmussen) voters want to delay implementation of the individual mandate.

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California’s Teen Birth Rate Falls Again
KPBS

 California’s teen birth rate  continues to fall. New state figures reveal the rate has declined by 60 percent since 1991. State officials say California’s rate now stands at 28 births for every 1000 teens. The declines have been seen across all ethnic groups. Hispanic teens in California continue to have the highest teen birth rate. Still, that rate has fallen by 42 percent over the last decade. Amy Denhart, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest interim vice president for marketing and communication, said the numbers are going in the right direction.

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Why one Medicare Pioneer ACO failed to save money
Modern Healthcare

Atrius Health, an alliance of an eastern Massachusetts hospital and several physician practices in the region, is one of nearly two dozen accountable care organizations that agreed to stick with Medicare’s test of the promising but unproven model.

Atrius is also one of two organizations to see a financial loss during the experiment’s first year, according to preliminary results.

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Why one Medicare Pioneer ACO succeeded in saving money
Modern Healthcare

How did Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization meet Medicare’s cost targets and receive substantial shared savings in the first year of the Medicare Pioneer accountable care organization experiment?

“We use a sophisticated computer algorithm and see who’s at risk for hospitalization,” said Dr. Richard Parker, chief medical officer for the Boston-based ACO, which came in 4.2% below its budget target and produced more than $15 million in shared savings, which it split with Medicare.

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CMS names ACOs leaving Pioneer program
Modern Healthcare

Seven Medicare Pioneer accountable care organizations that didn’t produce savings in the first year of the Obama administration’s most ambitious test of the accountable care model have told the CMS they will leave the Pioneer program and enter the Medicare Shared Savings Program model, while another two participants have indicated they will leave Medicare accountable care entirely, the federal agency announced Tuesday.

At the same time, the CMS said all 32 Pioneer participants did well on reported quality measures and earned incentive payments for their quality achievements.

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U.S. News & World Report Names Top Hospitals
Health Leaders Media

U.S. News & World Report released its much anticipated 24th annual Best Hospitals ranking Tuesday with familiar hospitals holding the coveted top spots. The only drama came when Johns Hopkins Hospital reclaimed the No. 1 spot on the magazine’s honor roll, a distinction it had held from 1991 through 2011, but which it lost last year to Massachusetts General Hospital. Mass General had to settle for silver this year, dropping to No. 2 on the list. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN came in third.

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UC Davis lands on best hospitals list for cancer care
Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Medical Center ranked nationally in cancer care and was high-performing in 11 other specialties in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals list. The program recognizes hospitals that excel in treating patients who need an especially high level of care. No other local hospitals made the list, which was released Tuesday. Patient survival and safety data, the adequacy of nurse staffing levels and other data determine the rankings.

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Doctors Order More Lab Tests When They Own the Labs
Bloomberg.com

Say you find a weird splotch on your arm and go to a dermatologist to get it checked out. The doctor may order a biopsy and send the tissue sample to an outside lab for analysis. Alternatively, the clinic might have an in-house lab to examine the sample. In that case, the clinic gets paid for both the procedure and the analysis, so perhaps it’s not surprising that doctors order more tests when they run their own labs.

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Voters to weigh in on retiree health care fund
San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco voters will decide this fall whether the city should shore up its retiree healthcare fund, which is otherwise underfunded by about $4.4 billion. Supervisor Mark Farrell’s proposed amendment to the city Charter secures the Retiree Health Care Trust Fund by prohibiting any withdrawals until the city can pay for all its liabilities. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to put the measure before voters this fall.

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HCA’s 2Q earnings exceed expectations
Modern Healthcare

Investors breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday as HCA, the country’s largest hospital system, previewed better-than-expected financial results for the second quarter. The Nashville-based chain exceeded expectations for both earnings and patient volume, and analysts credited efforts to heavily cut costs as helping to counteract modest growth in admissions. While analysts had braced for a decline in patient volume, HCA reported a preliminary 1.3% increase in same-facility admissions, and a 2.9% increase in same-facility revenue per equivalent admission.

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Dignity Health launches effort to bring humanity back into health care
Sacramento Business Journal

Eighteen months ago, Dignity Health changed its governance structure and took on a new name. This week, the San Francisco-based health system launched a novel campaign to spread the meaning behind the name. The goal is to highlight acts of humankindness through stories, images and actions. Dignity Health kicked off a blitz of full page ads in major metropolitan newspapers in New York, Washington D.C. and the three Western states where its services are concentrated.

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UC Berkeley taps AIDS expert Stefano Bertozzi to lead public health school
San Francisco Business Times

Stefano Bertozzi, M.D., an AIDS expert who works at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will become dean of the public health school at the University of California, Berkeley on Sept. 1. Bertozzi directs the HIV and tuberculosis programs at the Gates Foundation, and he led a team managing the foundation’s grants in HIV vaccine development and related areas. Bertozzi, 53, worked at the Mexican National Institute of Public Health in the past.

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ECH Senior Health Center offers new model of care
Los Altos Town Crier

El Camino Hospital’s Senior Health Center is designed to ensure access to fully integrated, comprehensive care so that seniors can remain healthy and independent as long as possible. A new approach to senior care, the center, one of the first of its kind in Northern California, provides a “patient-centered medical home” to patients 65 and older, according to administrators. Patrick Kearns, M.D., a longtime gerontologist and chronic-care expert, serves as the center’s medical director and was instrumental in its creation.

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Healthy San Francisco, related program to shrink dramatically, but not price tag
San Francisco Business Times

Another big battle is brewing over health reform in the deep blue city of San Francisco. Healthy San Francisco, the city’s effort to implement near-universal coverage within San Francisco’s city limits, and a related program are expected to shrink by two-thirds under Obamacare — but not the price tag that San Francisco businesses are mandated to pay.

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