News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California Hospitals Implore Legislators to Protect Seniors by Reversing Medi-Cal Cuts
PR Newswire

The following statement is being issued by C. Duane Dauner, President/CEO, California Hospital Association: California’s seniors deserve the best possible care, including access to hospital-based skilled- nursing facilities. These services are being threatened, however, by looming Medi-Cal cuts. Today’s action by the Senate Appropriations Committee to put Assembly Bill 900 (Alejo, D-Salinas) on the Suspense File, while expected, endangers frail and elderly Medi-Cal patients who are being cared for in these specialized hospital units.

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Patients Can Pay A High Price For ER Convenience
capital public radio

Medical entrepreneurs are remaking the emergency room experience. They’re pulling the emergency room out of the hospital and planting it in the strip mall. It’s called a “free-standing ER,” and some 400 of them have opened across the country in the past four years. The trend is hot around Houston, where there are already 41 free-standing ERs and 10 more in the works. “I think these emergency medical centers are springing up like Texas wildflowers in the springtime,” says Vivian Ho, a health economist at Rice University in Houston. “It’s really amazing.”

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Mobile medical clinic helps the uninsured
The Press-Enterprise

Fernando Barajas had nowhere to go for medical care. He couldn’t afford health insurance through his construction job. He doesn’t qualify for a government plan. So, the 52-year-old Riverside resident went to the emergency room to get treatment for his diabetes. He found out his blood sugar level was sky high. The visit cost him $3,000 — a bill he never paid. Barajas would still be in the same predicament if he hadn’t found a mobile medical clinic near his home.

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UC Davis report: Paramedics should have more choices on patient transport
Sacramento Business Journal

In a new report, the UC Davis Institute for Population Health recommends a closer look at an expanded role for paramedics that may increase access to primary care and take the load off over-used emergency rooms. Institute director Ken Kizer, the guy who revamped and improved care at the Veterans Administration in the 1990s, suggests up to a dozen pilot projects to test a new model where paramedics would have more authority to decide where to transport patients.

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How Health Insurance Reform Affects You
Fox News

In October, America’s health insurance landscape will change dramatically as health insurance exchanges begin selling plans to consumers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The shift is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — commonly called Obamacare — and represents the heart of President Barack Obama’s plan to require nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance.

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Low-premium, high-deductible health plans are endangered by Affordable Care Act
Washington Post

Rod Coons and Florence Peace pay $403 a month for a family health plan that covers barely any medical care for either of them until he or she reaches up to $10,000 in claims in a given year. And that’s just the way they like it.

“I’m only really interested in catastrophic coverage,” says Coons, 58, who retired last year after selling an electronics manufacturing business in Indianapolis. Beyond their premium, the couple typically spends no more than $500 annually on medical care, Coons says. “I’d prefer to stay with our current plan.”

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Health Care Centers Celebrate A Vital Resource Under Health Care Reform
Santa Barbara Independent

The Public Health Department Health Care Centers celebrate National Health Center Week, August 11 – 17, 2013. Health Care Centers provide local solutions for affordable and accessible health care. In January 2014, with thousands of Santa Barbara residents eligible for New Medi-Cal benefits, Health Care Centers will serve as a quality primary health care provider for many of these individuals. On Wednesday August 14, between noon – 1:00 pm, our Health Care Centers will hold receptions open to the community to learn more about our services:

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Training immigrant doctors
The Press-Enterprise

Dr. Jose Chavez arrived in Southern California with a medical degree from his native El Salvador. He wanted to work as a doctor but faced a daunting series of costly hurdles to obtain a U.S. medical license. Instead of treating patients in a region with a severe shortage of Spanish-speaking doctors, Chavez cleaned houses, worked in a meatpacking plant and installed flooring. “After working construction eight to ten hours, it’s impossible to study,” Chavez said. “You’re burned out.”

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Insurers Limit Providers to Drive Down Costs
Memphis Daily News

In a bid to halt rising health care costs, local insurance carriers are pushing lower-cost plans with fewer choices of physicians and hospitals. The tradeoff: In exchange for lower overall health care costs, some Americans may have to switch physicians or end up paying higher out-of-network rates to keep their longtime family doctor.

The trend isn’t new. But it has been accelerated by the Affordable Care Act and the creation of Accountable Care Organizations, a new kind of health care model, says Gary Shorb, president and CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

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AMA blasts new Medicare physician fee schedule, defends RUC
Modern Healthcare

The American Medical Association has issued a strong criticism of the proposed 2014 Medicare physician-fee schedule, and also fired back against attacks on its widely criticized Medicare physician payment advisory panel. In its summary of the proposed fee schedule, the AMA accused the CMS of proposing “an arbitrary new policy” that would lower payment for more than 200 services that Medicare pays more for when the service is provided in a doctor’s office and less when it’s performed in a hospital outpatient department or ambulatory surgery center.

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AMA to close news magazine
Modern Healthcare

The American Medical Association, the country’s largest professional organization for physicians, is shutting down the news magazine it has published for 55 years.

The publication, which also operates a website at AmedNews.com, has a print circulation of about 230,000 but has had trouble turning a profit over the last decade, amid declining ad revenue from drug companies, increased competition from other news sources and a steady migration of readers to the Internet.

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California bill expanding optometrists’ authority on hold
Sacramento Bee

State Sen. Ed Hernandez is giving up for this year his effort to expand the kinds of medical services optometrists can offer in California. The Democrat from West Covina said Monday that he is pulling his Senate Bill 492 from any further action in the Legislature this year, and will instead push for its passage in 2014. The bill would allow optometrists to diagnose and treat all kinds of ailments related to the eye, including conditions such as diabetes.

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Kaiser Permanente income rockets in Q2
Sacramento Business Journal

Nonprofit Kaiser Permanente generated net income of $756 million for the second quarter, a whopping 47 percent increase from $514 million for the same period last year. Operating revenue rose 6 percent to $13.4 billion from $12.6 billion, while operating income for the quarter rose almost 45 percent, to $613 million from $424 million. Numbers for the first half of 2013 are strong, too.

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