News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Hospital Fee Is One Step Closer to Law
California Healthline

The Assembly Committee on Health yesterday approved a bill designed to offset Medi-Cal costs for hospitals. SB 239 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) extends the Medi-Cal quality assurance fee for hospitals for an additional two years. “This bill would create a two-year fee program that would provide supplemental Medi-Cal payment to hospitals, to help reduce that annual loss of about $5 billion a year, from treating Medi-Cal patients,” said Anne McLeod, senior vice president of health policy at the California Hospital Association.

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The Affordable Care Act and Expanding Mental Health Coverage
The White House Blog

Last June, the President hosted the National Conference on Mental Health to talk about how we can raise awareness of mental health issues and make it easier for Americans of all ages to reach out and get help. The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget proposal includes a strong focus on mental health by investing in helping teachers and other adults recognize the signs of mental illness in students and referring them to help if needed; supporting innovative state-based programs to improve mental health outcomes for young people ages 16-to-25; and helping to train 5,000 additional mental health professionals with an emphasis on serving students and young adults.

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CDC announces state funding to bolster against infectious diseases
Modern Healthcare

More than $75 million will go to states to help strengthen their response to a variety of infectious diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.

Funding is slated to go to health departments in all 50 states plus local health departments in Los Angeles County, Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago, Houston and the District of Columbia as part of the CDC’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement.

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PCORI to award $300 million for research
Modern Healthcare

The organization created under the healthcare reform law to test the comparative effectiveness of treatment options is about to open the flow of money going to research projects. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute intends to award $300 million in broad funding, targeted funding and infrastructure awards before the end of this year, making a total of $418 million in 2013. One of the projects will be the first recipient of targeted funding directly overseen by PCORI.

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More residents entering family medicine, AAFP says
Modern Physician

More U.S. medical school graduates are choosing family medicine, according to a residency census conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The AAFP reports that more than 67% of family medicine residents this year graduated from U.S. allopathic or osteopathic medical schools. That rate has been rising since 2009, when it was at 58%. “This is another indicator that medical students realize primary care is the foundation of healthcare,” Dr. Perry Pugno, AAFP’s VP for medical education, said in a news release.

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Companies sweating Obamacare tax—and acting on it: Study

Mid- and large-sized companies overwhelmingly expect health-care costs to increase under Obamacare—and most are eyeing possible changes to their health insurance offerings because of a looming excise tax for pricier plans under the health-care reform law, a new survey of employers finds.

In fact, 40 percent of 420 companies surveyed by Towers Watson said they will be changing their insurance plans’ designs in 2014 in light of the coming excise tax as well as to control employee-related health costs.

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Will Obamacare destroy jobs?
The Economist

Before the recession, Richard Clark’s cleaning company in Florida had 200 employees, about half of them working full time. These days it has about 150, with 80% part-time. The downturn explains some of this. But Mr Clark also blames Barack Obama’s health reform. When it comes into effect in January 2015, Obamacare will require firms with 50 or more full-time employees to offer them affordable health insurance or pay a fine of $2,000-3,000 per worker. That is a daunting prospect for firms that do not already offer coverage. But for many, there is a way round the law.

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For UPS and others, it’s easy to blame Obamacare for what you want to do anyway
San Francisco Business Times

At last count, more than 300 news stories Wednesday had blaring headlines that said something like this: “UPS to drop 15,000 spouses from insurance, citing Obamacare.” What a weasel word “citing” is, in this context. It’s easy to “cite” Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, national health reform or President Barack Obama’s “signature” domestic initiative.

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MGMA-ACMPE Seeks Delay for Stage 2 MU Penalties
Health Leaders Media

The Medical Group Management Association has become the newest member in a grumbling chorus of prominent healthcare professional associations that want the federal government to modify components of Stage 2 Meaningful Use implementation. MGMA-ACMPE President/CEO Susan Turney, MD, in a letter this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that concern over “vendor readiness” for the move into Stage 2 Meaningful Use has left physicians in a lurch.

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Educating doctors, patients on genetics
San Diego Union-Tribune

Rapid advancements in DNA mapping have created new tools to personalize medical treatment, but many doctors remain ill-informed on how they should use genetic information to manage patient care.

That’s the main reason the Scripps Translational Science Institute is trying to develop an online video program to educate physicians, students and others about genomic medicine.

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Hospital circumcisions down 10% over three decades
Visialia Times-Delta

In-hospital circumcisions for newborn boys in the USA have fluctuated over the past three decades, but the overall percentage declined by 10% from 1979 to 2010, a new government report shows. During the 32-year span, the percentage fell from 64.5% to 58.3%, finds the analysis by the National Center for Health Statistics. It was highest in 1981 at 64.9%, and lowest in 2007 at 55.4%. Numbers do not include circumcisions outside hospitals for religious or other reasons, says study co-author Maria Owings.

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2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey
Kaiser Family Foundation

This annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, and other relevant information.

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Kaiser Permanente blood pressure control program produces results
Marin Independent Journal

A multifaceted program to control blood pressure implemented by Kaiser Permanente in Northern California in 2001 doubled the rates of blood pressure control among adult members over the next eight years.

The number of heart attacks and strokes among Northern California members fell substantially during roughly the same time. The dramatic success of the program is detailed in a study published Tuesday in the American Medical Association.

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Mercy Neurological Institute lands grant for multiple sclerosis center
Sacramento Business Journal

The Mercy Neurological Institute has received a $890,000 grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to establish the first multiple sclerosis wellness center in Northern California for people facing challenges from the disease. The grant will provide startup capital and operational support for the new center, expected to open in Sacramento in December. The site has not been disclosed.

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CalPERS puts weight behind opposing biosimilar medication notification bill
Sacramento Business Journal

California’s giant pension fund weighed in on biosimilar medications Wednesday, suggesting the stakes are high before they are even approved for sale. The Affordable Care Act calls for an abbreviated pathway for biological products demonstrated to be “biosimilar to” or “interchangeable with” a product approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But to date, the FDA has yet to approve one.

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Both Salinas hospitals want to open trauma centers
Monterey Herald

Two Salinas hospitals entered the home stretch in the contest to earn Monterey County’s nod as the Central Coast’s first Level II trauma center.

Natividad Medical Center and Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital each submitted confidential proposals for the trauma center designation last week, triggering a 45-day review.

A new Level II trauma center would treat the most seriously injured patients in the county, those involved in horrific auto accidents or suffering from gunshot wounds, most of whom are now flown to Bay Area trauma centers.