News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California Hospitals May Help People Get Health Insurance
KPBS

California hospitals could play a key role in helping to enroll people in health insurance plans. Beginning in October, hospitals will have a special tool at their disposal: a web portal that’s linked to Covered California, the online exchange where people will be able to shop for health plans and apply for federal subsidies. Hospitals that want to help people with the process will need to get special training from the state. Jan Emerson Shea, vice president of external affairs for the California Hospital Association, said she believes hospitals should help enroll the uninsured. She said, after all, they’re treating people anyway.

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Blocking pay-for-delay deals a priority for FTC
Modern Healthcare

Bolstered by a high-profile legal victory at the U.S. Supreme Court this spring, the Federal Trade Commission has made the blocking of “pay-for-delay” settlements by drug companies one of its highest priorities—even reviewing older settlements to see if retroactive enforcement is possible, according to congressional testimony Tuesday. The FTC opposes the increasing number of legal deals in which the makers of high-priced branded drugs pay settlements to generic manufacturers to delay the flood of cheaper generics that typically drives down drug prices by 85% after patents expire.

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ECH salary-cap measure thrown out of court
Los Altos Town Crier

The El Camino Healthcare District is in the clear on Measure M, a voter-approved November 2012 initiative that sought to limit the salaries of top executives. El Camino officials reported Monday that Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Socrates “Pete” Manoukian declared the initiative unconstitutional July 16, ruling that El Camino Hospital may provide compensation to its executives without regard to the limit imposed by Measure M.

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Are doctors passing the buck on healthcare costs?
Los Angeles Times

Physicians are concerned about skyrocketing healthcare costs — but most don’t think they have “major responsibility” for reducing those costs, according to survey results released Tuesday. Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. Jon C. Tilburt and colleagues polled 2,556 doctors on healthcare costs in 2012, asking them to gauge their level of responsibility for controlling costs — as well as others’ responsibility.

More than half of respondents said that trial lawyers, health insurance companies, hospitals and health systems, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers and patients had a major responsibility for cutting costs.

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Black-White Divide Persists in Breast Cancer
New York Times

Breast cancer survival is, over all, three years shorter for black women compared with white women, mostly because their cancer is often more advanced when they first seek medical care, new research shows. While cancer researchers have known for two decades that black women with breast cancer tend to fare worse than white women, questions remain about the reasons behind the black-white divide.

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The Racial Divide on Obamacare
National Journal Magazine

Minorities say that the president’s health care plan will make things better for everyone. Whites say it will help the poor and uninsured, but make things worse for the middle class, the country as a whole, and people like themselves.

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Poll: Americans Broadly Doubt Obamacare Will Help Them
National Journal Magazine

The share of Americans who believe that President Obama’s health care plan will “make things better” for the middle class, their own families, and the country overall has tumbled sharply since last September, underscoring the administration’s formidable public-relations challenge as it prepares to roll out the sweeping legislation’s key remaining elements. The latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll also revealed a deep racial schism in expectations about the law, with whites far more skeptical than minorities that the Affordable Care Act will benefit not only their own families but the country as a whole.

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California, other states prepare to promote health insurance
Sacramento Bee

Barns, crab-fishing boats and beach bonfires create the backdrop for Portland-based musician Matt Sheehy’s performance of the Oregon health care exchange anthem, “Long Live Oregonians,” in a recent ad.

“We’re free to be healthy / gonna breathe our fresh air / want to get the best care / that a state can get,” Sheehy croons in the Cover Oregon spot that debuted in early July.

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Health plan legislation addresses rate reporting, essentially targeting Kaiser
Sacramento Business Journal

Legislation is pending in the State Assembly that would require health plans that sell coverage to large employers to report detailed information to state regulators about how they set rates. The bill also would require HMOs that contract with no more than two medical groups to provide additional aggregate data on cost increases, as well as claims data or equivalent cost information to any large purchaser that asks for it.

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SGR Repeal Bill Advances to Full House Committee
Health Leaders Media

A bipartisan proposal to repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate formula took a critical step forward on Tuesday. By voice vote, the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health passed a bill that replaces the existing Medicare’s physician payment formula with a system to reward physicians for delivering quality care. The action clears the way for a full committee vote, which could happen this week. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who chairs the E&C Committee, has let it be known that he wants a full House vote on the SGR repeal and replace bill before Congress takes its annual August recess.

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Medicaid pilot projects cost $32 billion more than expected, GAO says
Modern Healthcare

HHS has allowed states to spend billions more on Medicaid pilot projects in recent years than the agency’s own rules allow, and the problem may grow in the future, according to a new federal audit.

States regularly apply for approval of so-called demonstration projects that provide Medicaid coverage or services to populations beyond those required by federal rules. A key factor determining whether the demonstrations are approved is whether they are budget-neutral—in other words they will not cost more than the program would have spent without the pilot.

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ECRMC nurse staff in contract negotiations with hospital
Imperial Valley News

El Centro Regional Medical Center’s nurse staff has presented the hospital with a financial proposal as part of its first contract with the hospital as an organized labor group, a union representative confirmed Wednesday.

If or when it is approved, the contract will cover all of the hospital’s nurses, more than 200 employees. The move to organize began in February, said Phil Farias, president of Teamsters Local Union 542, which now represents the nurses.

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Why breast cancer is more likely to kill black women
Los Angeles Times

A diagnosis of breast cancer is more likely to lead to early death for black women than for white women, a disparity that’s mainly the result of having more health problems before cancer develops, new research shows.

Of the black women on Medicare who were told they had breast cancer, 55.9% were still alive five years later. That compared with 68.8% of white women who were the same age, lived in the same area and were diagnosed in the same year, according to a study published in Wednesday’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

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Bay Area residents live longer; here’s why
Santa Cruz Sentinel

Bay Area residents are among the nation’s longest-lived people, surviving on average more than a decade longer than residents of rural Kentucky, West Virginia or Mississippi.

Around the bay, we also top the charts in fitness, with rates of healthy weight and physical activity double those of the most obese and sedentary parts of the nation.

That is the revelation of a major new analysis of a University of Washington database widely regarded as the best county-by-county look at the landscape of health of America.

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WellPoint’s 2Q profit soars 24%
Modern Healthcare

WellPoint’s second-quarter net income jumped 24% as an acquisition boosted revenue and a lower-than-expected increase in medical costs helped the nation’s second-largest health insurer.

The performance topped Wall Street’s earnings expectations and prompted the insurer to raise its forecast for 2013.

The Indianapolis company earned $800.1 million, or $2.64 per share, in the three months that ended June 30. That’s up from $643.6 million, or $1.94 per share, a year ago.

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County gets first trauma center
RecordNet

Officials on Tuesday named San Joaquin General Hospital as the county’s first designated trauma center, filling an oft-mentioned hole in the local health care system. As part of a recently adopted trauma plan for the county, San Joaquin General will be the first choice to take most patients in the county suffering from traumatic injuries.

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Yuba-Sutter teen birth rates fall
The Appeal-Democrat

Yuba County’s teen birth rate dropped significantly from 53.9 births for every 1,000 teens in 2010 to 36.4 births for 15 to 19 year olds in 2011, according to the California Department of Public Health. California’s teen birth rates have dropped to its lowest level since 1991, with declines in both Yuba and Sutter counties, according to a report released last week. The 2011 statewide statistics, the most recent year released, show 28.7 births for every 1,000 teens, down from the peak year of 1991 when there were 70.9 births per 1,000 teens.

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Monterey County: We live longer, we’re more active, but we also have obesity problems
Monterey Herald

Monterey County residents have among the nation’s longest life spans, above both the state and national average. Locals also are more physically active than most United States residents, but obesity rates are still relatively high and have been rising.

Those are among the findings contained in a report issued earlier this month analyzing a University of Washington database focused on three major health indicators for every county in the nation going back to 1985.

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St. Bernardine Medical Center Named Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement
Highland Community News

St. Bernardine Medical Center has been designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement by Blue Shield of California. The Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program is a national designation awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies to medical facilities that have demonstrated expertise in delivering quality specialty care.

In 2013, the criteria for designation was expanded to include more robust quality measures focused on improved patient health and safety, as well as new cost efficiency measures.

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Delta Dental signs huge S.F. renewal
San Francisco Business Times

Delta Dental is staying put at 100 First St. The company signed a a 188,546-square-foot lease renewal for the company’s headquarters at 100 First St. in San Francisco. The transaction, which was completed June 7, was San Francisco’s largest leasing deal in the second quarter of 2013. Kilroy Realty was the landlord. Cushman & Wakefield Vice Chairman & Managing Broker Mark McGranahan and Senior Director Mark Anderson represented Delta Dental.

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