News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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ACA spurs hospitals and health centers to work together
Dot Med News

Under the impending health reform, community health centers expect increased funding and floods of new patients, with hospitals likely seeing a drop in both. Still, hospitals and community health centers alike concur, one is not a threat to the other under the new law. In fact, the two systems seem happy to work together for the greater good – at least for now.

“Many community health centers work in partnership with hospitals to direct patients with non-emergent conditions away from the ERs to the health center,” Amy Simmons Farber, director of communications for the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), told DOTmed News.

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Don’t Shift Payments by Medicare, Panel Says
New York Times

Adjusting Medicare payments to reward doctors and hospitals in regions that provide high-quality care at low cost would be a bad idea, the National Academy of Sciences said Wednesday. After a three-year study, the academy’s Institute of Medicine rebuffed arguments by members of Congress from states like Minnesota and Iowa who say Medicare has shortchanged their health care providers for decades.

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Work group delves into deluge of health data, offers best practices
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare providers are receiving a much larger volume of personal health data from patients with the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and home- and wearable-monitoring devices. And expert groups are studying these developments and crafting recommendations for providers on how best to handle and use these data, enhancing patient care and minimizing liability.

“There is an expected deluge coming,” said Dr. Jonathan Wald, director of patient-centered technologies at RTI International, a North Carolina think tank.

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MU Stage 2 Requirements ‘Overly Burdensome,’ Say AHA, AMA
Health Leaders Media

With Meaningful Use Stage 2 implementation deadlines looming in the next few months, the nation’s two largest provider associations this week asked the federal government for “flexibility” to meet the program’s “all-or-nothing” requirements. In a joint letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association pledged their support for the widespread adoption of electronic health records.

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Teaching health centers get $12M to train primary care docs
FierceHealthcare

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $12 million in healthcare reform funds to train more than 300 primary care residents at 32 teaching health centers during the 2013 -2014 academic year, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has announced. The awards will help train twice as many residents than in the previous academic year. And thanks to the federal funding, 21 states now have teaching health centers, up from 14 in 2012.

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Marketing ‘Obamacare’ shaping up as big challenge
San Francisco Chronicle

It will make you stronger. It will give you peace of mind and make you feel like a winner. Health insurance is what the whole country has been talking about, so don’t be left out.

Sound like a sales pitch? Get ready for a lot more. As President Barack Obama’s health care law moves from theory to reality in the coming months, its success may hinge on whether the best minds in advertising can reach one of the hardest-to-find parts of the population: people without health coverage.

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Use health law to fight tooth decay in kids
Sacramento Bee

Tooth decay is the most common chronic health problem in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than a quarter of kids have decay in their baby teeth by the time they enter kindergarten. Nearly 68 percent of teenagers 16 to 19 have decay in their permanent teeth.

The Affordable Care Act provides an opportunity to improve children’s access to dental care starting in January 2014 – if the California state health exchange, called Covered California, does things right.

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Where federal health care reform falls short, local reform steps up
U.C. Berkeley News

San Francisco is an exciting place to be — especially because of its history of progressive politics and culture of grassroots organizing. The city’s passage of the Health Care Security Ordinance (HCSO) in 2006 represented an attempt to implement near-universal health care throughout San Francisco and reaffirmed the city’s commitment to vulnerable people. No doubt the focus of this legislation on prevention, primary care, and increasing equity in access to care has this UC Berkeley student in public health and doctor-in-training jumping for joy.

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Most Physicians Blame Others for Rising Healthcare Costs
Health Leaders Media

More than half of practicing physicians say trial lawyers, insurers, drug and device makers, and hospitals bear a major responsibility for rising health costs, but only one third point to themselves as the primary driver of the problem, according to national survey by Mayo Clinic researchers.

Moreover, nearly one in three said they did not think that electronic health records shared a responsibility to reduce healthcare costs, one in four did not think expanding access to quality and safety data would bend the cost curve, and 65% said they did not think bundled or fixed payment models for managing population health would do the job, preferring to stick with fee for service.

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Big-bucks battle shaping up over bid to raise malpractice award limit
Los Angeles Times

You don’t need to be a Nobel economist to understand that dollars today aren’t anything close to their worth four decades ago.

Gasoline, real estate, medical care—they’ve all skyrocketed in cost.

Everything’s gone up, that is, except damage awards for pain and suffering caused by medical malpractice. In 1975, the Legislature passed and Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill capping pain and suffering damages at $250,000. And that’s what it still is today.

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IOM won’t back geographically based value index
Modern Healthcare

Congress should not adopt a geographically based value index for Medicare because healthcare decisions are not made at the regional level, but rather at the physician or organizational level, an Institute of Medicine committee concluded in a report released Wednesday. The findings in the 178-page study reiterate the committee’s preliminary observations in an interim report this year: Because individual physician performance varies, an index that is based on regions is not likely to encourage more efficient behavior among providers and is unlikely to improve the overall value of care.

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Skin cancer treatment that’s less invasive
ABC News

Over the last 30 years, more and more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer. In fact, the latest figures show it has skyrocketed over 70 percent. Some types of treatment can be painful or leave scars, but there’s a different and less invasive option available. Daily ocean swims are invigorating for 80-year-old Tom Girven, but sun exposure has taken its toll on his nose. Five years ago, Girven underwent surgery to get rid of skin cancer on the right side of his nose.

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Thriving Community Farms Bear Benefits for California
HealthyCal.org

Small organic farms cropping up all over California are helping residents get back to their roots — and also their leafy greens and vitamins. The first two community-supported agriculture ventures began on the East Coast in 1986, and since then, the number of community-supported farms across the country has grown exponentially as word of mouth travels. “They are definitely still on the rise in California,” said Professor Ryan Galt of the Department of Human Ecology at the University of California, Davis, who studies CSAs, as they are commonly called.

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WellPoint earnings jump 24% in second-quarter as medical costs drop
Los Angeles Times

WellPoint Inc., the country’s second-largest insurer, beat Wall Street expectations with a second-quarter profit jump of 24% as lower medical costs partly helped the Indianapolis company post strong results.

“We are pleased with our second-quarter results and encouraged by the positive momentum we have across the organization,” said Joseph Swedish, WellPoint’s chief executive since March.

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Kaiser’s rising premiums spark employer backlash
Los Angeles Times

For years, Kaiser Permanente has won accolades for delivering high-quality care at an affordable price.

The Oakland company’s unique HMO model kept a lid on costs, and big employers flocked to enroll their workers to the point that Kaiser has become the largest health plan in California, grabbing more than 40% of the market.

Now, some of Kaiser’s biggest customers are complaining that the company is no longer a bargain and, even worse, standing in the way of controlling healthcare costs.

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University of California chooses interim director for UC Center Sacramento
Sacramento Business Journal

Dr. Richard Kravitz, a professor and attending physician with the UC Davis Health System, has been appointed interim director of the University of California Center Sacramento.

Located on K Street, one block from the State Capitol, the center offers academic programs in public policy and journalism to students throughout the university’s 10-campus system. The director reports jointly to the UC and UC Davis provosts. Kravitz will start the new position Aug. 15. He replaces Robert Huckfeldt, who is returning to the UC Davis Department of Political Science after three years as center director.

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New Central Valley Specialty Hospital is taking patients
Merced Sun-Star

Central Valley Specialty Hospital is admitting patients to the downtown Modesto facility after state health officials gave approval last week, its leader said.

The first patient was admitted to the 100-bed hospital Friday afternoon, and nine patients were receiving care as of Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer Gia Smith said.

“We are getting referrals from area hospitals,” Smith said.

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Scripps closes escrow on SD Hospice building
San Diego Union-Tribune

Nearly three months after submitting a winning bid of $16.55 million, Scripps Health closed escrow Wednesday on the San Diego Hospice property, clearing the way for renovations to start this fall.

On April 30, Scripps prevailed over Sharp HealthCare in an auction for the 24-bed hospital and its eight-acre Hillcrest grounds, but it needed final approval from the California attorney general’s office before the sale could go through.

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Delta Dental renews lease in Rancho Cordova
Sacramento Business Journal

Delta Dental has renewed its lease in Rancho Cordova, continuing to occupy more than 156,000 square feet on International Drive. According to a press release from Cushman & Wakefield, which advised on the transaction, the renewal constitutes the largest leasing deal in Sacramento region during the second quarter of the year. Though exact terms were not disclosed, the deal will keep Delta Dental at 11125 and 11155 International Drive for a number of years to come, according to the press release.

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