News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Medi-Cal cuts must be restored
Capitol Weekly

Lost among the good news of an on-time state budget last month was a policy decision that will tear a gaping hole in California’s safety net. The $224 billion spending plan did not address the frail and vulnerable patients at hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities, leaving them and their families adrift without access to the vital health care they need.

California’s skilled-nursing facilities are in crisis. In the last five years, approximately 40 hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities in California (about one-third) have closed due to financial pressures and many more find themselves at the brink of bankruptcy and closure.

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The never-ending war on Obamacare
Reuters

What is behind the continuing campaign to repeal Obamacare? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the name by which it is never known, was signed into law by the president in March 2010 and, after a legal challenge, was confirmed as the law of the land by the conservative-leaning Supreme Court in June last year. Yet Republicans and conservative commentators continue to urge its overthrow.

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Revenue-Driving Cardio Subspecialties Thriving
Health Leaders Media

With cardiology among the fastest growing service lines, hospitals are retooling in a big way to win market share by developing cardiac care subspecialty programs that will give them a competitive edge in a flourishing market. Already, cardio care is a significant and growing margin contributor for hospitals and health systems, with 76% reporting positive margins for cardio and 66% expecting this service line margin to increase over the next three years, according to the March HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Report, Reshaping the Cardio Service Line for Population Health and Reform Challenges.

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Study ties higher blood sugar to dementia risk
San Francisco Chronicle

Higher blood-sugar levels, even those well short of diabetes, seem to raise the risk of developing dementia, a major new study finds. Researchers say it suggests a novel way to try to prevent Alzheimer’s disease — by keeping glucose at a healthy level.

Alzheimer’s is by far the most common form of dementia and it’s long been known that diabetes makes it more likely. The new study tracked blood sugar over time in all sorts of people — with and without diabetes — to see how it affects risk for the mind-robbing disease.

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130 Nonprofit Hospital and Health System CEOs to Know
Becker's Hospital Review

   Becker’s Hospital Review    has named the following hospital and health system leaders to its list of “130 Nonprofit Hospital and Health System CEOs to Know.” These men and women are named to the list based on their experience and achievements in the healthcare industry, as well as their professional involvement in the communities they serve. The nonprofit hospitals and health systems these individuals lead are recognized as some of the nation’s top healthcare organizations in terms of clinical and financial performance.

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Obama Administration Floats Health Care Fix For Congress
The Huffington Post

It started out a political “gotcha” – an amendment to President Barack Obama’s health care law requiring members of Congress and staffers to get the same coverage offered to uninsured Americans. Wednesday, the administration tossed it back in the lap of Congress.

Proposed rules – issued when the halls of Congress are empty for summer recess – say lawmakers’ offices should individually decide whether staffers are subject to a health law provision that would require them to switch their insurance from the federal plan to new coverage coming next year under Obama’s overhaul.

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Latinos are focus of grass-roots outreach on Affordable Care Act
Los Angeles Times

Standing just inside a busy Baldwin Park supermarket that caters to Latinos, Moises Herreros smiles as he flags down shoppers. “Do you have insurance? Do you have any questions about Obamacare?”

Many stop to chat in Spanish. They’ve heard of the health law but don’t know how it works.

In a state where Latinos make up 60% of those without medical insurance, that lack of awareness is a pivotal challenge facing health officials charged with rapidly educating millions of residents and enrolling them in coverage.

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Feds stand firm; patients in certain plans will face higher out-of-pocket costs
Modern Healthcare

Patient advocacy groups seeking to protect patients with chronic conditions from an exception that could increase out-of-pocket spending beyond the limits set in the federal healthcare reform law aren’t happy with the terse response they received on Tuesday from the U.S. Labor Department.

The government’s response indicates that patients could face much higher out-of-pocket costs than the limits established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Firms line up for state health insurance marketplace
The Mercury News

Twelve insurance companies have signed contracts to join the state’s newly created health benefit exchange, the Covered California agency announced Wednesday. The state exchange, a consumer health insurance marketplace set up under the national health care reform act, will open for business in January. It will permit consumers to easily comparison shop for health insurance available at variety of costs and coverage levels.

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12 insurance plans join Calif. health exchange
San Francisco Chronicle

Twelve health insurance companies have signed contracts to offer coverage through California’s new exchange as part of the federal health care law.

Covered California said Wednesday that all 12 companies will offer individual plans starting in October, and six will offer small business plans.

Among those participating are California’s largest insurers, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente and Health Net Inc. One company, the Ventura County Health Care Plan, opted not participate this year after initially being named.

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Covered California signs contracts with 12 health plans
Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California has signed contracts with the 12 health plans selected to compete for business in the new state health insurance exchange in 2014, officials announced Wednesday. All twelve will offer coverage in the individual program and six of those will also compete in the new marketplace for small employers. In the Sacramento area, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente and Western Health Advantage will compete in the individual program.

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12 health plans ink contracts with Covered California health exchange
San Francisco Business Times

Twelve health plans — one fewer than expected — have signed contracts with the new Covered California health exchange to participate next year for individual coverage. The even dozen includes giants like Anthem Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California, Health Net and Kaiser Permanente and smaller regional players. Ventura County Health Care Plan, originally the 13th plan in the roster, “opted out of the exchange in the first year,” Covered California said Wednesday.

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Health care exchange unveils list of insurers
Sacramento Bee

Californians shopping for health insurance through the state’s new marketplace will have a dozen options to choose from, officials announced Wednesday.

Covered California, the insurance exchange created under the new federal health care law, announced a list of insurance firms that have signed contracts to sell health plans on the exchange. The list includes major players like Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente as well as smaller companies like Molina Healthcare and Chinese Community Health Plan.

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California exchange signs up 12 insurers, loses Ventura County plan
Los Angeles Times

California signed contracts with 12 health insurers for its new state-run marketplace, but the Ventura County Health Care Plan unexpectedly dropped out.

Covered California, which is implementing the federal healthcare law in the state, said it supported Ventura County’s decision to opt out next year and that it welcomes a subsequent bid for 2015.

The exchange said it will now provide three health plans — Kaiser Permanente, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California — to Ventura County residents.

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North Bay insurers join state’s health exchange
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Four of the North Bay’s largest health insurance players will offer coverage through the state’s new health exchange marketplace, Covered California, the agency announced Wednesday.

The four are Anthem Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente and Health Net. Western Health Advantage, a smaller regional plan that recently entered the North Bay market, has also inked a contract with the exchange.

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Why Michael Lujan left Covered California: His side of the story
San Francisco Business Times

Michael Lujan, who until Friday is the Covered California exchange’s head of sales and marketing for small business, said Wednesday afternoon he’s “winding it down, counting the days and hours” until he exits the job, and wants to set the record straight. News of his impending departure leaked out a week ago, on July 31, right before Covered California said which health plans would be participating in its Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP.

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CDC report finds slight decrease in rate of obesity among some children
Modern Healthcare

There may be new hope in the fight against obesity among American youth.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found the first evidence of a decline in the rate of childhood obesity. Obesity rates in 19 states fell slightly from 2008 to 2011 for low-income children between the ages of 2 and 4 years old.

The study included 12 million children from 40 states and the District of Columbia, many of whom were participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, a federal nutrition program for mothers and children under the age of five.

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Kaiser Permanente to start 10th year of Thrive campaign, but won’t divulge ad spend
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente is set to start the 10th incarnation of its “Thrive” ad campaign Oct. 1, but unlike in prior years it’s not saying how much it’s spending on the latest version. The Oakland-based health care behemoth, which generated $50.6 billion in operating revenue last year, had spent about $40 million to $50 million per year on earlier campaigns, and didn’t mind saying so. But this time around, “I cannot disclose the dollar value of the ad buy,” said spokeswoman Patrice Smith, without further explanation.

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Memorial and Natividad hospitals battle to win trauma center designation in Monterey County
Monterey County Weekly

Where the man’s mouth had been, there was just ragged bloody tissue. He had no tongue or lower jaw. The shotgun blast wasn’t deadly, but it did tear off the front of his face. Paramedics arrived and radioed for helicopter paramedics. The ambulance drove him to Natividad Medical Center in North Salinas, where a CalSTAR helicopter would meet him and fly him to the nearest trauma center, San Jose Regional Medical Center, 50 miles away.

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Hospital to close pediatric unit
The Press-Enterprise

Corona Regional Medical Center will close its pediatric unit on Sept. 6, meaning children who would have been admitted to the hospital will need be treated elsewhere. Dr. Victor Ortuno, chairman of the hospital’s pediatric unit, questioned the decision. “It will have a huge impact on the community,” he said. “Corona is a prime area in a market with young kids. Patients will have to be shipped out of the area and transported elsewhere.”

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State should make dental care a priority
Sacramento Bee

A major aim of the nation’s Affordable Care Act is to increase access to affordable dental coverage for children starting in January 2014.

Not surprisingly, children whose families don’t have health insurance are more likely to have severe and untreated tooth decay, which the California Dental Association notes with understatement hinders a child’s “ability to eat well, sleep well and function well at home and at school.”

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County thinking ahead on Medi-Cal enrollment
Imperial Valley Press Online

As more people join the ranks of Medi-Cal healthcare coverage thanks to Obamacare, Imperial County officials are taking steps to ease access for recipients in a local Medi-Cal landscape that might involve tens of thousands more patients but fewer doctors. That’s a great thing. Those opposed to Obamacare have insisted the program will mean longer waits, fewer choices and lesser quality in healthcare.

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