News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

California medical spending grew in 2009, but rate slowed
Los Angeles Times

Californians spent less per person for healthcare in 2009 than residents of all but eight other states. But the total tab is mounting, according to a new report from the California HealthCare Foundation.

Total spending for healthcare in California was $230 billion, nearly triple the level in 1991.

The state’s spending growth rate slowed, however, the report noted: “Since reaching its peak of 9.7% in 2003, the pace of growth in health spending has been decelerating.

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Calif. report highlights EHR milestones
Modern Healthcare

In a biennial report, the California Health Information Partnership and Services Organization, a not-for-profit group focused on electronic health-record adoption, said it has reached a number of milestones to expand EHRs in the state.

The report on its first two years highlights significant milestones it has accomplished, such as developing the infrastructure that could help thousands of providers implement EHRs in their practices.

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Medicaid Reimbursement Rate Hike Proposed
Health Leaders Media

Primary care providers, some subspecialist physicians, and nurse practitioners who treat Medicaid patients would be paid at Medicare rates–in some cases up to nearly three times the amount that Medicaid pays–under a proposed rule designed to stop doctors from refusing to treat the poor because of low reimbursement.

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If Individual Mandate Is Overturned, States Still Have Lots of Options
California Healthline

No individual mandate? No problem. That’s the attitude of some state health care officials who are bracing for a Supreme Court decision expected in June, a ruling that could overturn some components of the Affordable Care Act and national health care reform, including the individual mandate. That pending federal ruling scares some state officials, particularly because a number of states already have started to build a health care reform infrastructure and now depend on federal dollars to implement reform.

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Hospital Audit Questions New Construction Costs
Oakdale Leader

An independent audit done at the request of Oak Valley Hospital CEO John McCormick earlier this year has identified $689,106 in questionable costs and $30,043 in unsupported costs for the new hospital construction project.

McCormick said the audit, performed by Moss-Adams of Seattle, revealed that the costs were not allowed by their construction agreement with ACME Construction of Modesto and the project manager, Jacobs Engineering headquartered in Pasadena.

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Little Clinic, Huge Heart

Dr. Dimitri Sirakoff, the founder and medical director of Serve the People Health Center, rushed around his small, bright clinic tucked into an office complex in Santa Ana one recent afternoon. In one of the nine exam rooms, a man was suffering from back pain. In another, a woman was diagnosed with high blood pressure, and in another, a patient complained of dizziness. Dr. Sirakoff, a board certified general medicine doctor, opened the clinic in 2010. He offers the gamut of clinic services from pap smears to diabetes screening to mammograms — all for about $15.

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Nurses vote on proposed labor contract
The Signal

Nurses at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital who have been working without a contract since February have reached a tentative agreement with the hospital, a union representative said Wednesday.

The hospital’s 450 registered nurses voted Wednesday whether to ratify the contract, said Louie Rada, spokesman for the California Nurses Association and the National Nurses United, with which local nurses are affiliated.

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Hospitals Turn Up the Heat on Outpatient Centers
Health Leaders Media

There is fierce plastic surgery competition between hospitals and physician-run outpatient centers, with the debate focusing on safety.

Officials of outpatient centers say they provide personal care in a less stressful environment than hospitals and the procedures are less costly. It has become increasingly common for women to have breast reduction surgery at an outpatient surgery center.

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Retiree health care costs rising; many people not preparing
USA Today

The golden years are losing their luster as health care costs continue to outpace income and many Americans are not saving for retirement. Retiree health care costs have increased an average 6% a year since 2002, according to a study by Fidelity Investments. A 65-year-old couple would need $240,000 to cover medical expenses during their retirement years, it estimates. That amount could eat up 35% of the couple’s annual Social Security benefit. And it doesn’t even include any long-term care costs.

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Medical group opens in Redding
Red Bluff Daily News

Mercy North State Medical Group, a Service of CHW Medical Foundation in Redding, has been established.

Norman Arai, MD, a family practice physician serving the North State area for more than 30 years in Anderson, has brought his experience and talents to this stateof- the art facility that is ready to meet the needs of area residents.

CHW Medical Foundation (CHWMF) operates care centers throughout California, including in the greater Sacramento region, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Stockton, Merced and Ventura County.

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Natividad hospital receives four grants
The Californian - Salinas

Four grants are giving a boost to health programs and services at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas.

The Natividad Medical Foundation announced the grants on Wednesday.

A $100,000 grant from the Katherine Curtis Springer Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patient Support Fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County’s provides for medical care, necessary medication, in-home assistance and therapeutic counseling for people diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Gulf War Syndrome.

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Doctors are often in the dark about costs
Sacramento Bee

Commercial Internet sites have some important lessons to offer for the practice of medicine.

When shopping online, each time you select an item for purchase – say from Amazon or Lands’ End – you place the item in an electronic shopping cart. As you go along, you can monitor the total for your purchase. If the cost is too high, you can eliminate an item or two. You are informed of your cost as you shop.

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Primary-care docs to see increase in Medicaid rates
Modern Healthcare

States will receive an $11 billion boost for primary-care physicians in their Medicaid programs over the next two years, under a new proposed rule (PDF).

The temporary increase in 2013 and 2014 is mandated by a provision of the 2010 federal healthcare overhaul and aims to bring Medicaid primary-care payments in line with the level provided by Medicare. The provision, released Wednesday, would increase average Medicaid primary care payments by 34%, according to one estimate cited by CMS.

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FDA seeks to curb kids’ radiation exposure
Modern Healthcare

The Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidance that proposes manufacturers design new X-ray imaging devices (PDF) with protocols and instructions that specifically address use on children.

The draft guidance also recommends that the manufacturers who “do not adequately demonstrate that their new X-ray imaging devices are safe and effective in pediatric patients” provide labels for those devices that caution against use on children.

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Advocacy Group Says State (Mostly) Doing A Good Job
The California Report

That’s a headline that gets your attention, right? It’s somewhat unusual for an advocacy group to praise state agencies. But you see the ellipsis … the complete story is more like this: The advocacy group Health Access says four state health agencies are — mostly — doing a good job in customer service. It’s still intriguing. Health Access conducted a survey with an eye toward 2014 when the federal health care overhaul rolls out.

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Hospitals or Health Plans: Who Do You Trust to “Connect” You with Your Health Records?
The Health Care Blog

Over the past decade, I’ve seen a number of studies asking people whom they trust among various health care stakeholders. Nurses, pharmacists, and doctors always come out at the top. Beyond that: ·Trust of hospitals tends to be high (60–80%) ·Trust of health plans is at the bottom of the heap (10–20%) Is this written in stone for the future? I don’t think so…and the dynamics for change are in motion. Please read on.