News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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ACOs Expand Amid Uncertain Futures
California Healthline

Accountable care organizations are spreading like wildfire in California, but whether they completely alter the health care landscape or flicker out remains to be seen.

As of July, about 100 ACOs covered 644,900 Californians in 32 counties statewide, according to a report by Catteneo and Stroud, a health care consulting firm in Burlingame.

ACOs are networks of physicians, hospitals and other providers who partner with payers to coordinate care for a defined group of patients.Under agreed-upon terms with payers, including private insurers and Medicare, providers must meet quality and performance targets in exchange for shared savings for the cost of delivering care.

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Nurse Practitioners Seek Right To Treat Patients on Their Own
The Wall Street Journal

Nurse practitioners in five states are fighting for the right to treat patients without oversight from doctors, as they can in many parts of the country.

The battle is particularly pitched in California, where a bill that would let some nurse practitioners do their work independently passed a key legislative committee this week. California doctors strenuously oppose the idea, arguing that it could jeopardize patient safety.

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Calif. hospital skirts non-compete rule, hires neonatologist
Modern Physician

A California arbitrator has ruled that a public hospital could legally hire a neonatologist who was banned by a “non-compete” agreement from working at the medical center because such restrictions are contrary to public policy in California.

The arbitrator ruled that Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside could hire a doctor formerly employed by the outside management company Pediatrix even though Pediatrix’s contract forbade it because the doctor formerly worked at Tri-City through a Pediatrix contract.

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Private HIX Pose Challenge to Public Health Insurance Exchanges
Health Leaders Media

Insurers and employers have historically squared off in an annual battle over premium costs. But as healthcare reform becomes more entrenched and pressure to reduce healthcare costs approaches a fever pitch, health insurers and employers are both embracing private health insurance exchanges as a way to affect healthcare costs by making a paradigm shift in how employers pay for employee benefits.

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Language barriers could deter minorities from benefiting from healthcare reform
San Francisco Examiner

With California at the forefront of the most comprehensive nationwide health care reform effort in half a century, it isn’t affordability but language barriers that providers and legislators fear will prevent minorities from taking advantage of greater access to coverage. The Affordable Care Act, which begins open enrollment in October and becomes effective Jan. 1, will make health insurance more accessible and affordable to millions of Americans who now lack insurance.

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Average health insurance tax credit for Obamacare estimated at $2,700
Sacramento Bee

Americans who buy health insurance outside their jobs next year can expect an average tax credit of nearly $2,700 to help them obtain coverage on the new state insurance marketplaces, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

The tax credits will vary by household income and family size, as well as the cost of coverage in a particular state and local area. About 26 million low- and moderate-income people will be eligible for the tax credits to help pay for individual coverage next year on their state marketplaces, the online health insurance shopping malls created by the Affordable Care Act.

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The Challenge of Helping the Uninsured Find Coverage
New York Times

Cyndy Dailey held a job fair at her nonprofit agency here last weekend, with a major caveat: she did not yet know if she could hire. Like many organizations across the country, Ms. Daily’s agency, Northern Virginia Family Service, is hoping to win a federal grant to help uninsured people in the state sign up for coverage under President Obama’s health care law.

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Reality Check: Will Covered California be ready by Oct. 1?
NBC Bay Area

Ready or not, Obamacare is coming.

The state’s health care insurance exchange, Covered California, rolls open its welcome mat on October 1, paving the way for some 5.3 million uninsured or under insured Californians to access affordable health care.

And in a state that presents itself as a leader in setting national policy, you can bet the eyes of the nation will be upon us.

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State exempts Southern Inyo Hospital from Medi-Cal cuts
Sierra Wave

After months of worry and intense lobbying, the State Department of Health Care Services has made public the fact that they will exempt facilities like the Southern Inyo Hospital Skilled Nursing Facility from their 10% reduction of payments. Southern Inyo Hospital officials had said early on that this reduction would close the nursing facility and likely the hospital. Now, that won’t happen.

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100 Accountable Care Organizations to Know
Becker's Hospital Review

A significant number of accountable care organizations have formed since this publication’s 2012 list of “80 Accountable Care Organizations to Know,” and there were also some noteworthy developments from existing ACOs. Medicare ACOs proliferated within the past year. CMS named the original 32 Pioneer ACOs in December 2011 and the first 27 Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs in April 2012.

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SVMH pushes for trauma designation
The Californian - Salinas

With less than 48 hours remaining on the deadline to submit applications to become Monterey County’s first Level II trauma center, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System is pushing a campaign to highlight why it is the best choice to be awarded the designation.

Both SVMHS and Natividad Medical Center have submitted letters of intent to become Level II centers — facilities that can treat the most critically injured patients — and must submit plans by Friday that will outline the specific actions the two hospitals plan to take in order to accomplish that goal.

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Reform bill for Medical Board gutted
Sacramento Business Journal

Legislation once seeking major reform of the Medical Board of California was gutted and passed by a key Assembly committee Tuesday. The state agency that regulates doctors is facing sunset review this year, meaning it will cease to exist if lawmakers and the governor don’t reauthorize it. Senate Bill 304 is a vehicle to make changes and unwind or reauthorize the agency. Initially authored by Sen. Curren Price, it is now carried by Sen. Ted Lieu. Price left office to take a seat on the Los Angeles City Council on July 1.

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Preview: At CFO Exchange, Cost Reduction Tops Agenda
Health Leaders Media

Nearly 40 financial executives from hospitals and health systems around the country have gathered at the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, CO for two days of small-group discussions on the critical issues facing their organizations and the healthcare industry.

This is HealthLeaders Media’s third annual CFO Exchange. To build this year’s agenda, we surveyed the attendees beforehand on their priorities and strategies. Two priorities rose overwhelmingly to the top:

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El Centro Regional Medical Center provides medical information at health fair
Imperial Valley Press Online

The Community Health Awareness event provided goodies and information to hundreds of community members Wednesday morning. The event, hosted by El Centro Regional Medical Center, showcased all the different health services throughout the Imperial Valley. “It’s for the community. We want to help them with their health care needs,” said Marty Dineley, executive director of ECRMC Foundation and volunteer services.

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TRMC completes repair work
Visialia Times-Delta

Tulare Regional Medical Center officials are waiting for test results on repairs made on delaminated concrete used on the expansion tower’s third and fourth floor.

The last concrete pour, according to hospital officials, was completed earlier this month. A positive test result would mean the construction project is back on after a lengthy delay.

The concrete pour was completed by Harris Construction, who’s building the tower.

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Hospital PPI rises for third month
Modern Healthcare

The acute-care hospital Producer Price Index increased 0.2% for the second straight month in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The increase is the third month that the Producer Price Index for acute-care hospitals crept upward after a record one-month drop of 1%, according to preliminary data. July’s gain to the acute-care hospital PPI is slightly smaller than the 0.4% increase reported in July 2012. For the year that ended in July, the acute-care hospital Producer Price Index increased 1.7% compared with 2.8% the prior year.

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Healthy SF’s future unclear as U.S. law kicks in
San Francisco Chronicle

Mayor Ed Lee won’t rule out trying to remove a central underpinning of San Francisco’s groundbreaking universal health care law – the requirement that most employers contribute toward their workers’ medical care – as the city tries to harmonize its rules with President Obama’s national health care overhaul.

“We’re keeping every option open,” Lee said when asked about the need for the city’s employer spending requirement, a provision loathed by some business leaders, celebrated by labor and now the focus of intense maneuvering as city officials try to implement the new federal healthcare law.

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Average Care at a Typical Hospital on an Ordinary Sunday in August
The Health Care Blog

On a warm and sunny August Sunday, I was rollerblading with my kids on the Shining Sea Bikeway. On mile nine on the trip, I hit a tree root, went flying, and landed on my shoulder. I could tell immediately that something was wrong — I couldn’t move my arm and was in the worst pain of my life. Feeling for my left shoulder, it was obvious that I had dislocated it. What happened next was that I received some of the best care of my life – unfortunately it was not from our healthcare system. As I was lying on the bike path, nearly everyone stopped and asked how they could help.