News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California’s hospitals consider ballot initiative against Medicaid tax siphoning
Fierce HealthFinance

California’s hospitals were among the first in the nation to levy a tax upon themselves in order to leverage more payments from the Medicaid program. Now, the acute care providers in the Golden State are scrambling to preserve those extra payments. The California Hospital Association has floated a ballot initiative that would prohibit state regulators from imposing the tax levy unless the Medicaid dollars flow directly to the hospitals, the Sacramento Business Journal reported.

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Hospitals help enroll uninsured
RecordNet

Hospitals play among the most critical roles in the vast health care landscape. They provide a center for medical services from the ER to rehabilitation and recuperation, from chemotherapy to the baby nursery, from setting a broken arm to open heart surgery.

Everyone in a community knows their location – or should – and relies on services being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Despite EHR, Patient ID Problems Persist
Health Leaders Media

The change from fee-for-service to coordinated care is challenging providers to solve a longstanding need to identify patients more precisely to avoid waste, fraud, and substandard care.

For years, the healthcare industry has recognized the problem of errors related to improper patient identification. If you were to think that moving to electronic health records would eliminate mistaken identity in medicine, you would be, well, mistaken, according to a variety of healthcare executives interviewed for this story.

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Generic-drug delays blamed for high costs
Sacramento Bee

Californians with cancer, heart disease, epilepsy and other conditions have been forced to pay an average of 10 times more than necessary for at least 20 key drugs, according to a report by the California Public Interest Research Group and Boston-based Community Catalyst. The report, titled “Top Twenty Pay-for-Delay Drugs: How Drug Industry Payoffs Delay Generics, Inflate Prices and Hurt Consumers,” claims the affected drugs have been subject to an industry practice called “pay for delay,” in which brand-name pharmaceutical companies pay off generic drug manufacturers to keep lower-cost equivalents off the market.

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Medicare premiums to remain stable in 2014
USA Today

Medicare Part D premiums will average about $31 in 2014 — up from $30 for the past three years.

The Part D deductible will fall from $325 to $310 in 2014.

“There is continued very strong competition within the Part D plan,” said Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator and director for the Center of Medicare. When the coverage gap program began, “there was lots of concern that filling in the doughnut hole would cause Part D costs to go up.”

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Public health organizations work to prepare providers for Medicaid expansion
Modern Healthcare

Three leading public health organizations have announced plans to partner in a project aimed at helping the nation’s healthcare providers prepare for the 2014 expansion of Medicaid coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

America’s Essential Hospitals, the National Association of Community Health Centers and The George Washington University School of Public Health Services have joined in a three-year, $1.8 million collaboration funded by Kaiser Permanente to assess areas where hospitals, clinics and other health providers can partner to meet the challenges expected to arise as a result of millions of Americans becoming newly eligible for Medicaid.

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Obama’s corporate tax bargain leaves out small business
Sacramento Business Journal

President Barack Obama on Tuesday outlined “a grand bargain for middle-class jobs … a deal that simplifies the tax code for our businesses and creates good jobs with good wages.” Speaking at an Amazon distribution center in Chattanooga, Tenn., Obama offered a ‘framework that might help break through the political logjam in Washington” and get “proven ideas” for job creation moving. Those ideas include investing in infrastructure, improving education and job-training, boosting scientific research, and developing new energy resources.

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White House takes some credit for health care cost slowdown
San Francisco Chronicle

President Obama’s signature health care law has helped slow the pace of cost increases in health care, a senior administration official told reporters Monday as the White House continued to press its campaign to defend the law.

The official also presented economic statistics aimed at rebutting claims from Republicans that the law has slowed hiring or caused large numbers of companies to cut hours for their workers.

“There’s been a lot of crying wolf,” the official said.

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Delay in employer health mandate to cost taxpayers $12 billion
San Francisco Chronicle

The Obama administration’s decision to delay the so-called employer mandate required by the Affordable Care Act will cost taxpayers an extra $12 billion, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Tuesday. The mandate originally required employers with more than 50 full-time (or equivalent) employees to offer them a minimum level of group health insurance by Jan 1., 2014 or pay a penalty in 2015. On July 2, the administration announced it would delay that requirement for one year, until Jan 1, 2015.

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Health Care Law: Delay Of Employer Penalties Will Cost Gov’t $10 Billion
The Huffington Post

The Obama administration’s surprise decision to delay a key requirement of the health care law for employers will cost the government $10 billion, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

While that’s a big number, the report from the official budget scorekeeper for Congress put the administration’s recent move within a wider perspective: It adds up to an increase of less than 1 percent in the 10-year cost of the law.

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Mayor on local health care policy: “Everything is on the table”
SFBG

A recent controversy has been brewing around San Francisco’s Health Care Security Ordinance, the 2006 legislation authored by then-Sup. Tom Ammiano that created Healthy San Francisco, the city’s medical services safety net program for the uninsured.

As we explain in greater depth in an article for tomorrow’s issue of the Guardian, influential forces in the business community such as the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association have been publicly raising questions about the Health Care Security Ordinance in light of the federal implementation of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

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Marin General Hospital will spend $500,000 on campaign to pass bond measure in November
Marin Independent Journal

Managers at Marin General Hospital said Tuesday that they expect to spend more than $500,000 this fall on a campaign to pass a $394 million general obligation bond to pay for a major rebuild of the hospital.

“Marin General Hospital will be the primary funder of the campaign,” said Jon Friedenberg, Marin General’s chief fund and business development officer. “We’re going to run a full-blown campaign with phone banking, precinct walking, direct mail, endorsements and everything. It will be robust.”

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Brown & Toland ACO saves feds $10.6 million: 12 percent of U.S. total
San Francisco Business Times

Of the 32 participants nationally in Medicare’s Pioneer ACO program, only 13 produced savings for the federal government. Savings totaled $87.6 million nationwide. San Francisco’s Brown & Toland Physicians accounted for 12 percent of that, or $10.6 million, officials said Tuesday. Richard Fish, CEO of the 1,500-physician independent practice association or IPA, said 190 Brown & Toland doctors in San Francisco and the East Bay participated in year one of the Pioneer affordable care organization project.

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Kaiser Permanente will pay $55.2 million for Mission Bay office site
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanante will be a property owner rather than a tenant in San Francisco’s Mission Bay. The health care behemoth has agreed to pay $55.2 million to buy a parcel of land at 1600 Owens St., a property that is entitled for a 264,000 square foot building. The deal is scheduled to close in December, according to public reports filed by the seller, Alexandria Real Estate Equities. The price gives a clear indication that the value of land in Mission Bay is on the rise. Kaiser is buying the property for more than $200 per buildable square foot.

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A cost of dismantling mental health care
Sacramento Bee

Kathy Gaither, the person in charge of daily operations at the California Department of State Hospitals, went on an unexplained administrative leave earlier this month, a week after the state Senate confirmed her appointment.

Cliff Allenby, a veteran administrator who started working for the state in 1963, continues to oversee the department. He is 76, having come out retirement to serve as acting director when Gov. Jerry Brown took office in 2011.

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