News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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U.S. probe turns up more homeless patients bused from Nevada mental hospital
Sacramento Bee

Some of them heard voices and saw imaginary people. Some talked of killing themselves by jumping off a building or walking in front of a bus. They suffered from afflictions ranging from cocaine addiction to schizoaffective disorder, and most were homeless and without medical insurance.

About 40 percent of the mental patients whose charts were reviewed recently by a federal agency were discharged from Nevada’s primary psychiatric facility to homeless shelters in Las Vegas or destinations across the country without evidence of proper planning for their continuing care.

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State has healthy jump on affordable care
San Francisco Chronicle

For years after Rachelle Hammond was diagnosed with COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – her routine treatment strategy was a visit to the emergency room.

Hammond, 54, was uninsured and could not afford the necessary medications or regular trips to a doctor’s office. So when the disease got so bad that she “couldn’t breathe,” she would head to the ER at a local public hospital in Arkansas, where she then lived. That happened, she said, about once or twice a month.

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Physicians’ Diagnostic Overconfidence May be Harming Patients
Health Leaders Media

Even though they were right only 6% of the time and should have had doubts, internists asked to diagnose tough patient cases express nearly the same strong confidence in their diagnoses as they express for much easier cases, when their accuracy rates were much better, at 55%.

That’s the finding of researchers at Baylor College of Medicine who conclude that physicians’ “overconfidence” in their diagnostic decisions may be hurting patient care, perhaps because seasoned doctors don’t think they need to look harder for an explanation behind a patient’s symptoms.

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Assembly approves bill on ‘biosimilar’ medicines
The Mercury News

California pharmacists would be allowed to dispense substitute medications that are biologically similar to brand-name treatments under a bill that cleared the state Assembly on Monday. Biological medicines, which are created from living cells rather than by mixing chemicals, have been used to treat cancer and immune-system disorders.

Those treatments are becoming a fast-growing segment of the pharmaceutical market, with manufacturers also creating medications that are similar to some biological medicines.

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California Senate bill would make reason for health care rate increases transparent
Sacramento Bee

A majority of Americans get on-the-job health benefits from their employer or that of a family member. Yet over the last several decades, the costs of these benefits have been shifted onto the individual as more employers scale back or drop coverage – many of them at least partially motivated by the cost of health care. In California, from 2002 to 2012, health insurance premiums for family coverage climbed by 169.7 percent, more than five times the 31.5 percent increase in inflation.

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Docs receiving enhanced Medicaid managed-care pay in just six states, AAFP says
Modern Healthcare

The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that there are only six states at this point where primary-care physicians are receiving enhanced Medicaid managed-care payments under the healthcare reform law to bring them up to Medicare payment levels.

The Medicaid payment parity provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was designed to promote access to primary care for new Medicaid beneficiaries under the law’s expansion of coverage to adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level.

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Senate approves abortion access bill
Sacramento Bee

It would be easier for California women to get abortions under a bill the state Senate approved Monday.

Assembly Bill 154 expands the types of medical providers that can offer abortions by allowing nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants to perform the procedure during the first trimester of pregnancy.

The bill by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, cleared the Senate on a vote of 25-11.

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UPS to cut employees’ working spouses from its health plans
Washington Post

United Parcel Service is planning to end health care coverage for thousands of its employees’ working spouses. The decision is expected to affect approximately 15,000 of the package delivery giant’s 33,000 spouses currently covered under its plan for nonunionized workers, according to a company memo first reported by USA Today and Kaiser Health Service Wednesday. Spouses who don’t have access to employer-based coverage elsewhere will continue to be covered.  In the memo, UPS attributed the change, at least in part, to the Affordable Care Act, saying that “the change is consistent with the way many large employers are responding to the costs associated with the Health Care Reform legislation.”

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Should a Doctor Prescribe Drugs that are Unapproved by the FDA?
The Health Care Blog

Here’s an interesting clinical dilemma brought to my attention by another physician. She was asked to refill a prescription for a drug called domperidone to help a patient with lactation. Domperidone is not FDA approved in the United States for any indication. However, in Europe and in Canada it is approved as a promotility agent for patients with a condition called gastroparesis, which causes the stomach to empty very slowly and results in chronic nausea and vomiting.

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Town hall meeting brings out strong opinions on health care reform
Chico Enterprise Record

A town hall meeting in Chico on Monday night mirrored the status of the national health care debate: people disagree. Strong views were expressed on both sides during a meeting held by Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) and state Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), both of whom opposed the planned health care changes. The goal of the national Affordable Health Care Act is to have all Americans obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. Medicaid eligibility is expanded and an online marketplace for health insurance created.

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Eisenhower Medical Center hosts prostate cancer symposium
The Desert Sun

The Eisenhower Medical Center’s seventh annual Arnold Palmer Prostate Cancer Symposium, focusing on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease, begins Sept. 12, a hospital spokeswoman said Monday.

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and staff at Eisenhower’s Lucy Curci Cancer Center planned the free lectures to raise public awareness of the disease, Eisenhower spokeswoman Lee Rice said.

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St. Mary Medical Center’s C.A.R.E. and other programs benefit from volunteers and fundraising
Long Beach Press-Telegram

Dan Rafferty volunteers by packaging food items needed for the next distribution to AIDS patients who benefit from St. Mary Medical Center’s C.A.R.E. program.

But he anticipates changes in the program that could result in more work and the need for more volunteers.

C.A.R.E., or Comprehensive AIDS Resource & Education, is a program that has continuously provided specialized care for people with HIV and AIDS, regardless of their ability to pay.

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Marin General, UCSF form pediatric partnership
San Francisco Business Times

Marin General Hospital and UCSF Medical Center have agreed to form a pediatric partnership in Marin County. The Business Times lifted the curtain on the two hospitals’ closed door talks earlier this month. The new collaboration involves UCSF perinatologists and neonatologists working on site at Greenbrae-based Marin General, which is run by the Marin Healthcare District. The UCSF specialists will also see patients at an outpatient multi-specialty practice.

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Children’s Hospital Oakland plans ahead
San Francisco Business Times

Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland started plans for a major revamp of its campus at 747 52nd St. and research institute at 5700 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The hospital already submitted an environmental impact report and will go before Oakland’s Planning Commission next week for feedback. The proposal is in its early stages, but here’s an overview of what Children’s Hospital wants to do with its facilities: