News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Feds ban some Medicare providers in crackdown
Modern Healthcare

For the first time in history, federal health officials said Friday they will ban certain types of Medicare and Medicaid providers in three high-fraud cities from enrolling in the tax-payer funded programs for the poor as part of an effort to prevent scams.

The strict moratoriums, which start Tuesday, give federal health officials unprecedented power to choose any region and industry with high fraud activity and ban new Medicare and Medicaid providers from joining the programs for six months.

News Headlines Article

AHA warns against changing hospital tax rules
Modern Healthcare

Already knee-deep in healthcare reform, the nation’s hospitals this week waded into other deep policy waters that could have a serious impact on how they do business: tax reform. Friday marks the deadline for members of the influential Senate Finance Committee to submit their policy recommendations to Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the panel’s chairman and ranking member, about their policy ideas to reform the nation’s incredibly complex tax code. Rick Pollack, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association, sent a nine-page letter and additional attachments laying out why certain healthcare-related policies exist in the tax code and why they’re important to retain.

News Headlines Article

Obamacare spurs creation of thousands of new jobs to explain law
Washington Post

Amid a torrent of speculation about the impact of Obamacare on the economy, one thing seems clear: The law is spurring a raft of new jobs in call centers, IT companies and community organizations designed to help Americans understand the complex health law and navigate the new insurance marketplaces. About 7,000 to 9,000 new customer service agents will be needed to man phones and Web chats for the marketplace, called an exchange, the federal government will run for more than half of the states, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said. Additional agents will be needed for exchanges run by the states themselves.

News Headlines Article

Providers Are Held Accountable. Why Aren’t Technology Vendors?
The Health Care Blog

As healthcare shifts from fee-for-service to fee-for-value, hospitals and physicians are increasingly being held accountable for outcomes by the government, payers and patients. Historically, provider organizations only had to meet performance criteria to earn a pay-for-performance bonus or hospital certification, but with the arrival of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), Meaningful Use and other programs, payment is now based on to quality of care rather than quantity of services.

News Headlines Article

GOP gets it wrong on health law
The Hill

Eighty-three percent of Americans, according to last week’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, disapprove of Congress. That was the highest level in the history of the poll. The anger is so deep now that 57 percent want the entire Congress thrown out. Why are people so mad at Congress? The poll produced a simple, concrete answer: “Offered a list of what makes them least happy about Washington, a plurality of Americans cited the capital’s partisanship and the inability of Congress to get things done,” according to the Journal’s story on the poll.

News Headlines Article

HHS inspector general’s funding cuts will hurt fraud probes
Modern Healthcare

Funding cuts are blocking investigations into Medicare and Medicaid fraud and the data security of the new health-insurance exchanges, among other items at HHS‘ top watchdog agency.

All told, HHS’ inspector general’s office is slated to lose more than 20% of its staff between 2012 and 2015 due to budget cuts, at a time when public alarm over fraud in government healthcare programs is arguably at an all-time high.

News Headlines Article

The Affordable Care Act’s Rate-Setting Won’t Work
The Wall Street Journal

Continuing efforts by congressional Republicans to “defund” further implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, even if it takes shutting down the federal government, are willfully destructive. As Sen. Richard Burr (R., N.C.) told the press last week, “I think it’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard . . . as long as Barack Obama is president the Affordable Care Act is gonna be law.” Clearly, the foremost achievement of President Obama’s first term is the Affordable Care Act, and when fully implemented the law will move America closer to universal health coverage—something many progressives have sought for years.

News Headlines Article

High-Deductible Health Plans, Gamble For Some, On The Rise
KVPR

Near the end of last year, a big finance company in Charlotte, N.C., was doing what a lot of other businesses have been doing recently: switching up their health care offerings.

“Everything was changing, and we would only be offered two choices and each were a high-deductible plan,” says Marty Metzl, whose husband works for the company.

High-deductible plans are the increasingly common kind of health insurance that have cheaper premiums than traditional plans, but they put you on the hook for thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs before the insurance kicks in.

News Headlines Article

The Hype Over Hospital Rankings
New York Times

Last week U.S. News and World Report released its annual list of “Best Hospitals.” Web sites are being updated to celebrate victories. (Johns Hopkins ranks No. 1!) Magazines will be plump with advertising. (NewYork-Presbyterian is first in New York and tied for seventh nationally!) And, because I am a reporter covering health care, my in-box is accumulating e-mails from the “Honor Roll” of the Top 18 hospitals.

News Headlines Article

Sutter loses labor decision
Sacramento Bee

Sacramento-based Sutter Health has suffered a setback in the latest round of a long-running collective bargaining dispute about the anticipated fiscal impact of the federal Affordable Care Act.

But significantly, it affects only about 300 registered nurses at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch.

A federal administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board ruled Tuesday that Sutter Health East Bay Region engaged in unfair labor practices with the California Nurses Association representing the Sutter Delta registered nurses.

News Headlines Article

Sutter/PAMF to open new Sunnyvale clinic and cancer center Aug. 5
San Francisco Business Times

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation, which includes roughly 1,100 physicians throughout the Peninsula, South Bay and parts of the East Bay, is opening a new 120,000-square-foot primary care clinic and cancer center in Sunnyvale early next month. The new clinic, at 301 Old San Francisco Road, replaces an earlier 55-year-old structure that was demolished about three years ago, said PAMF spokeswoman Cynthia Greaves.

News Headlines Article

‘Exoskeleton’ tested on stroke survivors at San Jose hospital
The Mercury News

With each halting stride, Richard Torres stepped out of his injured past and into the future.

A volunteer in a three-day study of a new robotic suit called an “exoskeleton” at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, the 51-year-old truck driver aims to recover from a major stroke — and contribute to medical research.

The device helps patients relearn the proper gait, weight shifts and balance of walking. Battery-powered motors drive the legs, controlled by a computer strapped onto the patient’s back.

News Headlines Article

Westside Family Health Center Receives Grant For Health Care Reform
Santa Monica Mirror

Westside Family Health Center (WFHC) has received a $148,958 federal grant to assist with the clinic’s health care reform outreach and education efforts. Funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration will be used to hire two fulltime Outreach Specialists who — along with WFHC’s already established team of fulltime Patient Care Coordinators — will be dedicated to this project. “Educating the public on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been an ongoing process for us,” said Debra A. Farmer, WFHC’s President/Chief Executive Officer.

News Headlines Article

Children’s Hospital’s $450 million plan for rebuild begins EIR process
San Francisco Business Times

And so it starts, not with a bang but with paperwork. The City of Oakland is beginning the process of preparing a draft environmental impact report for Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland’s estimated $450 million master plan project, which initially includes building a six-story Outpatient Center and internal work in existing facilities. Heather Klein, a City of Oakland planner, said July 26 that Children’s Hospital Oakland has submitted a request for an environmental review and related paperwork “to expand their existing medical services.”

Commands