News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California providers bracing for Medicaid cuts
FierceHealthcare

Some rural hospitals in California have been spared double-digit cuts in funding from portions of the state Medicaid program, but many other providers will be hit hard, the Los Angeles Times reported. The cuts in the program, known as Medi-Cal, start going into effect next month. Some payments, such as to hospital-operated nursing homes,are being cut as much as 25 percent.

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Majority of Californians stay committed to Obamacare, poll finds
The Mercury News

After years of spirited debate over Obamacare, a majority of Californians remain steadfast in their support of the vast and complex health care program, a new Field Poll released Tuesday found. Bay Area residents are the strongest enthusiasts in the state, with 66 percent endorsing the Affordable Care Act, a bold experiment to give more Americans health insurance through the private market. It requires most Americans carry health insurance or face tax penalties.

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Nevada could face suit for dumping patients in Calif.
San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is demanding that Nevada reimburse California cities and counties for treatment of about 500 indigent psychiatric patients who were given one-way bus tickets to the Golden State in recent years. Those costs include about $500,000 that Herrera says San Francisco spent on medical care, housing and other aid for 20 people shipped here in a practice sometimes called Greyhound therapy.

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Wristbands help staff keep an eye on patients
San Diego Union-Tribune

The legacy of Thomas Vera, the 57-year-old man who wandered from his hospital bed on May 27 and fell to his death in a nearby canyon, can be seen today on the wrists of some current patients at UC San Diego Health System hospitals.

About 17 patients per day at the university’s two hospitals in Hillcrest and La Jolla now wear special orange wristbands designed to provide hospital staff, from doctors to orderlies, a visual clue that they should not be roaming the halls without a care giver or family member at their side.

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Covered California: First day of training
Sacramento Business Journal

A wave of more than 300 Covered California service center staff showed up early Monday for their first day of training in Rancho Cordova. The six-week training will prepare them for what everybody hopes is a deluge of phone calls when the new state health benefit exchange for individuals and small employers kicks off enrollment Oct. 1. Workers will help consumers understand their options, enroll in health plans and determine eligibility for subsidies and tax credits.

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Covered California making decisions as October enrollment looms
Los Angeles 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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1 in 5 Health Systems to Become Payers by 2018
Health Leaders Media

Health systems are increasingly taking on new roles and becoming health insurers. Spurred by healthcare reform, the creation of health insurance exchanges, and a shift to population health, health systems are assessing the opportunities of becoming a payer against the risk of taking that step in the ever evolving healthcare industry.

In a June survey of more than 100 hospitals and health system across the country, 34% responded that they already own health plans.

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Field Poll shows continued support for health care overhaul in California
Sacramento Bee

A majority of California voters remain unflinching in their support of the federal health care overhaul, though nearly half of the electorate predicts it won’t affect them much, according to a new Field Poll.

Forty-six percent of California voters – a plurality – say they do not expect to be much better or worse off when the law is fully enacted, according to the poll. Of those who do expect their families to be affected, 23 percent predict they’ll fare better, 26 percent worse.

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Field Poll Says Half of California Voters Can’t Afford Health Care; Voters Can Remedy At Next Ballot With Measure To Reject Excessive Rates
Market Watch

The Field Poll released a survey today finding that 50% of California voters have difficulty affording health care, and 73% say insurance costs are the most difficult to afford. California voters will soon have the chance to make health insurance more affordable by requiring insurance companies to publicly justify and get approval for health insurance rates before they take effect.

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Poll: Basics of health law not understood by many
San Francisco Chronicle

Many California residents will qualify for new health care options when the Affordable Care Act takes effect in January, but a large chunk of them still don’t understand even the basics of the law and how it might apply to them.

In a new Field Poll of California voters released Tuesday, nearly a quarter of respondents reported they were either not at all or not very knowledgeable of the Affordable Care Act’s features. Just 15 percent of those polled reported being very knowledgeable – only a slight increase from 11 percent in a 2011 poll.

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Health reform could boost use of food stamps
Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown in recent years has signed legislation to eliminate the major barriers to food stamp participation in California. New laws ended burdensome and humiliating fingerprint requirements for applicants. California also reduced the number of application renewals required annually to just two, the federal minimum. Despite those improvements, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey released earlier this year, nearly half of those eligible for food assistance in California still do not receive it.

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Slow start for Medicaid fee-for-service rate bump
Modern Healthcare

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act relies heavily on expanding Medicaid eligibility to increase insurance coverage and healthcare access. But its authors had to make sure that physicians would accept new Medicaid patients. So congressional Democrats included a temporary pay increase that ups fees for primary-care doctors serving Medicaid patients to Medicare rates for 2013 and 2014. Still, implementation has been slow.

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Fed letter validates clinic’s grant spending
San Diego Union-Tribune

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has closed an investigation into the use of federal stimulus grants by Family Health Centers of San Diego, saying that the $4.5 million initially questioned by auditors was used appropriately.

In February, the department’s Office of Inspector General released an audit report that highlighted the use of funds provided to the health center in 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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Neighbors of proposed psychiatric hospital say they’ve been left out of loop
Sacramento Business Journal

Residents in the Woodlake area of Sacramento complain they’ve been left out of the loop as a development proposal for a 120-bed psychiatric hospital moves toward approval. The hospital is proposed for the northern edge of District 3, but is actually much closer to Woodlake in District 2, said Mike Acosta, who lives in the area. “They didn’t check with us and we are literally a stone’s throw away,” he said.

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PVH leads breastfeeding initiative
Petaluma360.com

Women delivering babies at Petaluma Valley Hospital can expect extra encouragement to breastfeed their newborns. PVH, as part of the countywide MotherBaby Collaborative, has begun actively prioritizing breastfeeding education and support.

As a result, PVH has attained some of the state’s highest in-hospital breastfeeding rates.

The MotherBaby Collaborative is a breastfeeding promotion group made up of Sonoma County’s five hospitals where babies are delivered.

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New South L.A. hospital to cost $32 million more than expected
Los Angeles Times

The long-awaited reopening of a hospital in South Los Angeles will cost $32 million more than anticipated due to “unforeseen site conditions” and may not be able to accept patients until early 2015, according to Los Angeles County officials.

The new spending, expected to be approved Tuesday by the county Board of Supervisors, brings the total price tag of the project to $284.4 million, nearly $50 million more than originally budgeted for the …

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UC Davis holding forums with health chief candidates
Sacramento Business Journal

Five candidates for the new dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine and executive vice chancellor of health and human sciences will participate in a series of public forums starting today. The five candidates are vying to replace Dr. Claire Pomeroy, who left UC Davis on June 2 for a job at the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation. Each candidate will be introduced to the community at a forum, starting Monday with Dr. Julie Ann Freischlag.

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Troubled Doctors Medical Center in UCSF affiliation talks
San Francisco Business Times

Doctors Medical Center, a cash-strapped safety net hospital in San Pablo with a long history of turbulence, is looking to UCSF Medical Center as a possible partner. Hospital officials, county Supervisor John Gioia and other sources confirm that preliminary discussions with UCSF have been held, although details are skimpy. “UCSF ’suits’ did visit us and plan to come back again,” said a source at Doctors Medical Center.

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San Francisco’s Public Health Department adds chief information officer
San Francisco Business Times

Barbara Garcia, who heads the San Francisco Department of Public Health, announced Monday that Bill Kim, formerly director of IT at Dignity Health, has been named chief information officer for the department. Garcia’s announcement, in her report for the Aug. 20 Health Commission Meeting, said Kim had been director of information technology at San Francisco-based Dignity Health for the last four years, and has 16 years of senior-level IT experience.

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