News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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New Field Poll: Half of Californians say they’re paying more for health care this year than last
The Mercury News

With less than two months until open enrollment begins for health care coverage under Obamacare, half of Californians say they are paying more for health care coverage this year than last, and half also say that their coverage is difficult to afford, a new Field Poll released Monday found.

Californians also appear to like the government health programs already in place: 79 percent — including 84 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Republicans — say Medicare is a success in meeting its goals.

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Average price paid for PET/CT systems drops 27%
Modern Healthcare

The average price paid for PET/CT systems dropped 27% from May to June as more hospitals purchased budget-friendly models of the systems during that period, according to the most recent Modern Healthcare/ECRI Institute Technology Price Index.

The Technology Price Index looks at monthly and annual price data for about 30 supply and capital items purchased by hospitals and other healthcare providers, based on three-month rolling averages.

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Groups push CMS to keep QIOs state-based
Modern Healthcare

A handful of healthcare associations and 47 state medical societies are exhorting the CMS to maintain a state-based structure for quality improvement organizations, rather than to permit contracts with QIOs that are regional or national in scope. This issue began nearly two years ago, when healthcare quality advocates said Medicare’s Quality Improvement Organization Program didn’t get a fair deal in provisions that were tucked inside a federal trade bill.

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Rights group challenges effort by pharmacy association to revise patient privacy rule
Modern Healthcare

A privacy rights group is challenging an effort by a specialty pharmacy association to persuade the federal government to revise a privacy rule soon to take effect that will limit drugmakers’ ability to fund refill reminder programs operated by pharmacies. Pharmacies and drugmakers want HHS to ease the limits, while the head of the San Diego-based World Privacy Forum wants the agency to stand firm. The two sides have written letters to Susan McAndrew, deputy director for health information technology at HHS’ Office for Civil Rights.

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Obama Pledges To Make Health Care Law Work
The Huffington Post

President Barack Obama is pledging to do everything he can to make sure the new health care law works the way he intended.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama is criticizing congressional Republicans, who he says are trying to confuse people about the law. He targets other Republican opponents for threatening to eliminate funding for the law or shut down the government if they don’t get their way.

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Obama: Healthcare reform implementation ‘isn’t a game’
The Hill

President Obama on Saturday admonished Republicans who have threatened to shut down the government if the next federal budget does not strip funding for the president’s signature healthcare law, saying in his weekly address that “health insurance isn’t something to play politics with.” “A lot of Republicans seem to believe that if they can gum up the works and make this law fail, they’ll somehow be sticking it to me,” Obama said. “But they’d just be sticking it to you.”

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Obama: GOP trying to ‘gum up’ ACA
POLITICO

President Barack Obama criticized Republicans for trying to “gum up the works” in the health care reform law and for refusing to help constituents sign up for coverage. “A lot of Republicans seem to believe that if they can gum up the works and make this law fail, they’ll somehow be sticking it to me. But they’d just be sticking it to you,” Obama said in his weekly address.

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Balancing Individual Patients And Society Under Healthcare Reform: The Case of Amyvid
The Huffington Post

An 80-year-old successful and active businessman came to see me because of mild memory problems, and was afraid he had early Alzheimer’s disease. Before he stepped into my office he’d already been considering major life-altering questions such as “Do I now need to quit the lifelong work that I love?,” “how soon will I be disabled and demented?,” and “how will my family take care of me if I have Alzheimer’s?”

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Half of California voters report difficulty paying for health care, poll finds
Sacramento Bee

Half of California voters say they are paying more for health care than they were a year ago, and the same percentage of voters say their health care costs are hard to afford, according to a new Field Poll.

Fifty percent of California voters say the amount they pay for their family’s health care has increased in the past year, while 41 percent of voters say they are paying about the same, according to the poll. Just 5 percent of registered voters say their health care costs declined.

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Health reform hits the streets
San Diego Union-Tribune

For three years, the Affordable Care Act has been a bewildering collection of rules, regulations and reforms, but now, as its main provisions draw closer, San Diego County residents are getting a chance to meet Obamacare in the flesh.

At street fairs, farmers markets and even nail salons, experts are being dispatched to explain the state’s new heath exchange and how it will work when it opens on Oct. 1.

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Covered California making decisions as October enrollment looms
Sacramento Business Journal

With the Oct. 1 enrollment kick-off looming, Covered California will make a slew of decisions at a board meeting in Sacramento on Thursday including six sets of regulations, terms for handing Medi-Cal calls and provisions for the model health plan contract. The board will meet in the East End Auditorium at 1500 Capitol Avenue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The open session is expected to begin at 12:30 p.m.

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The Coming Liberation: Health Care For All Without Obamacare
Forbes

Obamacare was pushed through on the promise of universal health coverage for everyone. But the CBO now scores Obamacare as leaving 30 million uninsured even 10 years after implementation!

In fact, Obamacare will increase the uninsured rather than reduce them. Former CBO Chief Douglas Holtz-Eakin published a study in 2011 arguing that more than 40 million workers will lose their employer provided health insurance under the incentives of Obamacare.

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One Reform, Indivisible
New York Times

Recent political reporting suggests that Republican leaders are in a state of high anxiety, trapped between an angry base that still views Obamacare as the moral equivalent of slavery and the reality that health reform is the law of the land and is going to happen. But those leaders don’t deserve any sympathy. For one thing, that irrational base is a Frankenstein monster of their own creation.

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Californians report that coverage remains costly
The Press-Enterprise

Californians say their health costs are climbing and are difficult to afford, according to the results of a Field Poll released Monday, April 19. The poll found that 50 percent of California residents pay more for health care than they did last year and that same percentage is finding it difficult to afford health coverage. Forty-one percent said their health care costs remained the same, 4 percent said they saw a decline while the remaining 4 percent had no opinion.

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CFO Exchange: Healthcare Reform Breeds Innovation
Health Leaders Media

For a hospital or health system CFO, there’s a lot to fear in today’s marketplace. Volumes are down. Governments, employers, and payers are ratcheting back reimbursement. Hospitals and health systems are becoming the focal point for disdain for many patients as more of their healthcare is being paid for out of their own pocket.

Providers face daunting information technology investments—in some cases reinvestment.

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CMS Pays Primary Care Bonuses Amidst Bureaucracy
Health Leaders Media

While primary care physicians, lagging behind other specialists in salaries, are eager to tap into the Medicare Primary Care Incentive Program’s multimillion dollar bonus largess, some doctors are upset about bureaucratic “hoops and hassles” in seeking funds, says the head of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services paid $664 million to doctors, nurses, and other providers under the MPCIP in 2012, according to a recently released CMS report. Payment began in 2011 and will continue in 2015 to boost Medicare payment for primary care services.

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Californians still obese, but better off than most states
Los Angeles Daily News

California adults continue to struggle with their waistlines, but remain slimmer than their counterparts in 38 states, according to a new report from two national nonprofit groups.

In the report released Friday, researchers with the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that California ranked as the 11th least obese state in the nation.

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Obesity’s death toll could be higher than believed, study says
Los Angeles Times

The death toll of the nation’s obesity epidemic may be close to four times higher than has been widely believed, and all that excess weight could reverse the steady trend of lengthening life spans for a generation of younger Americans, new research warns.

Some 18.2% of premature deaths in the United States between 1986 and 2006 were associated with excess body mass, according to a team of sociologists led by a Columbia University demographer.

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Facing costly penalties, hospitals find ways to improve care
Los Angeles Daily News

They followed John Dunning out the hospital doors last February, but they still won’t let go.

They call. They leave messages. They offer to come to his Ladera Heights home.

“They’ve been there constantly,” Dunning, 63, a plumber for Los Angeles Unified School District, said of the nurses, dieticians and others who track him. “It makes you feel good that they’re concerned.”

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Pioneer ACO’s Disappointing First Year
The Health Care Blog

On July 16, the CMS Innovation Center reported the first-year results for the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program: 13 Pioneers, or about 40 percent of the participants, earned bonuses. The program saved Medicare a gross $87.6 million before bonus distributions, cutting the rate of growth in Medicare spending by 0.5 percent, from 0.8 percent to 0.3 percent annually. However, nine of the 32 members dropped out and press reports hinted at a contentious relationship between the Pioneers and a well meaning but green and overtaxed CMS staff.

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Blue Shield agent maximizes call center efficiency, customer experience
Tech Target

Jessica Kaufman, lead voice portal specialist at Blue Shield of California, takes call center efficiency and monitoring to a whole new level. Frustrated by the time spent commuting to Blue Shield’s call center in El Dorado Hills, Calif., she opted to use wireless technology to stream live calls from the center directly into her car during her drive. This sort of “solutioning,” as she calls it, enables her to spend time on something productive that would otherwise be lost.

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SRCHC names Ward new medical director
North Bay Business Journal

Santa Rosa Community Health Centers is in the midst of significant transition, announcing a new chief medical officer while also looking to fill two newly created positions — in behavioral health and dental services — that will play a key role as the center plots expansion and health care reform.

Dr. Francisco Trilla, who came to the federally qualified health center in 2010 from Massachusetts, recently told the center that he would return to the East Coast to be closer to family. In response, the health centers said it would appoint associate chief medical officer Lisa Ward, M.D., to the position permanently.

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Sutter facilities land on list of best places to work
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Medical Foundation, Sutter Davis Hospital and the Sutter Center for Psychiatry made Modern Healthcare’s list of the 100 best places to work in 2013. The award recognizes workplaces that enable employees to perform their best to provide patients and customers with the best possible care, products and services. The list will be published in a special supplement Oct. 28. Sutter Davis is the only hospital in California to make this year’s list — and Sutter Center for Psychiatry is the only psychiatric hospital in the nation honored for the way it treats workers.

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