News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Study examines changes in spending, quality for Medicare beneficiaries
Modern Healthcare

Medicare may enjoy the fruits of the growing and varied work among private payers and providers to boost value in healthcare, though the benefits will come sooner to costs than quality, a study suggests.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined the extent to which strategies that lower spending and improve quality for one group of patients would spill over and indirectly benefit other patients. The results show that spending dropped among patients who were not targeted by cost-control strategies, but few quality gains.

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Rotavirus vaccine for infants protects others too, CDC study says
Los Angeles Times

The infants who get the rotavirus vaccine aren’t the only ones who benefit. New research shows that older children and even adults were less likely to be hospitalized with the gastrointestinal virus after the vaccine was introduced in the U.S. in 2006.

Rotavirus causes “severe watery diarrhea, often with vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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IT needs to target health disparities, consumer groups say
Modern Healthcare

A coalition of consumer health organizations is calling on federal health information technology policymakers to live up to the congressional mandate that the federal electronic health-record incentive payment program should address health disparities.

The 2009 law that created the EHR program directed the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS to create nationwide health IT infrastructure that “improves healthcare quality, reduces medical errors, reduces health disparities and advances the delivery of patient-centered medical care,” the Consumer Partnership for eHealth noted in its 50-page “Leveraging Meaningful Use to Reduce Health Disparities/An Action Plan.”

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Patients Love A Gentler Approach To Surgery, But Surgeons Balk
capital public radio

Surgery can be a necessary misery, endured in hope of health. But what if you took away the misery, and kept the benefits? When hospitals quit subjecting patients to prolonged fasting, nasogastric tubes, abdominal drains, and other commonplaces of surgical care, a study finds, patients feel less pain and recover faster. Women who had major abdominal surgery at the Mayo Clinic under a protocol to enhance recovery went home sooner and needed less pain medication than women who had the surgery the usual way.

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Scammers attack Marin General Hospital phone lines, hospital asks FBI to investigate
Marin Independent Journal

Phone communications at Marin General Hospital were disrupted Friday by what is believed to have been a scamming operation, and the hospital has asked the FBI to investigate.

“They have technology that allows them to inundate a business’s phone system such as the phone system becomes unusable, and they demand credit card numbers,” said Jon Friedenberg, chief fund and business development officer at Marin General Hospital.

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White House enlists Bill Clinton on health care
San Francisco Chronicle

The White House is enlisting former President Bill Clinton’s help in explaining President Barack Obama’s health care law as a key phase of the reform nears.

Clinton will speak about the law on Sept. 4 at his presidential library in Little Rock, Ark. His remarks come less than one month before the public can start signing up for the health care exchanges, which will be crucial to the law’s success or failure.

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Most Still in the Dark About Health Care Reform
Business News Daily

Big changes are coming to workers’ health care plans, but a majority of those employees are unsure of how those modifications will affect them.

New research conducted by insurance provider Aflac has found that 69 percent of companies have not communicated changes in health care coverage to their employees, despite the approaching Oct. 1 deadline to do so.

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The Most Effective Obamacare Delay is Defunding
The Health Care Blog

There is nothing controversial about stopping Obamacare. A majority of Americans dislike the law and want it repealed. Obamacare is disastrous for individuals, businesses, and doctors alike. It is unaffordable and unworkable, and the Obama Administration has also made it unfair by giving its pet interest groups waivers and opt-outs. Conservatives are also united behind full repeal of Obamacare, despite what you may hear from the media and liberal operatives. The debate right now is on how this goal is best achieved.

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Covered California plans public forum to talk progress
Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California will host a public forum in Sacramento on Friday for its new health care marketplace for individuals and small businesses. The event will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Sacramento City College’s City Theatre, 3835 Freeport Blvd. in Sacramento. Doors will open at 1:30. Community members, stakeholders and others interested in progress at Covered California are invited to attend.

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State cut may cost Sacramento County $9 million for indigent health care
Sacramento Bee

Sacramento County officials said Tuesday they could lose $9 million this fiscal year because of state budget cuts that Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers tied to the federal health care overhaul.

The county has provided indigent health care for 14,000 of its poorest residents who had few other options, receiving state subsidies to help pay for it.

But under the federal Affordable Care Act, most of those residents will become eligible for the first time next year for Medi-Cal, with the federal government initially paying the tab.

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Medicaid Reform That Works
The Wall Street Journal

Medicaid’s annual price tag has exploded to $250 billion and is expected to rise even faster once ObamaCare expands the rolls by 30 million. So everyone wants to reduce costs, which is why liberal Rhode Island is the place to look.

As we reported two years ago (“Rhode Island’s Medicaid Lesson,” March 28, 2011), in its final days the Bush Administration granted the Ocean State a one-of-a-kind waiver from federal Medicaid rules in exchange for a cap on federal costs.

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Reversing Medi-Cal Cuts Will Protect Access in Quality Health Care
The California Majority Report

Ninety-two-year-old Ben Lubitz of San Francisco has seen his share of trouble and uncertainty. He was a prisoner-of-war in World War Two, survived the Holocaust, and hid in a Polish ghetto before eventually escaping with his wife and moving to the United States. Now, due to short-sighted Medi-Cal cuts, Lubitz—along with hundreds of other elderly and frail California seniors—is facing new uncertainty.

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California bill would let non-physicians perform abortions
The Mercury News

North Dakota this year banned abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. North Carolina passed a law that allows health care workers to refuse to perform an abortion. Texas outlawed abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

But the wave of abortion restrictions sweeping the nation seems to be breaking at the Sierra Nevada, as California now stands poised to increase abortion access by letting more medical professionals perform certain procedures.

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Final IRS healthcare reform rules address federal premium subsidies
Modern Healthcare

Final Internal Revenue Service healthcare reform law regulations affirm that low- and middle-income retirees younger than age 65 who are eligible for healthcare coverage from their former employers—but do not actually enroll in the plans—will be eligible for federal premium subsidies in 2014 to buy coverage through public exchanges. In addition, the regulations that were released Tuesday affirm proposed rules that former employees and dependents, such as widowed or divorced spouses, who are eligible for but not enrolled in COBRA continuation coverage also will be eligible for the federal premium subsidies.

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22 Recent Issues Between Hospitals and Payers
Becker's Hospital Review

The following are the latest issues that occurred between hospitals, health systems and payers within the past month, starting with the most recent.

1. Aetna subsidiary Coventry Health Care and Des Moines, Iowa-based UnityPoint Health expanded their partnership to offer high-performance network health plans to more Iowa residents starting next year.

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Sutter electronic records system crashed Monday
Sacramento Business Journal

At about 8 a.m. Monday, the electronic health record system at seven East Bay hospitals, medical offices and clinics went dark. The meltdown continued through late afternoon or early evening, according to early reports from the California Nurses Association.

The incident left doctors and nurses without access to patient information — including medications and patient histories — at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Mills Peninsula Health Services in Burlingame and San Mateo, Sutter Delta in Antioch, Sutter Tracy, Sutter Modesto and affiliated doctor’s offices and clinics.

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Dignity Health, CNA reach tentative deal on contract for 11,700 RNs
San Francisco Business Times

Dignity Health and the California Nurses Association have reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract covering 11,700 registered nurses in California and Nevada, the San Francisco-based health care system said late Tuesday. The two master contracts cover 10,500 RNs at 27 facilities in the Golden State and 1,200 nurses at three St. Rose Dominican Hospital campuses in Nevada, Dignity Health officials said.

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San Luis Obispo Noor Clinic Receives Grant Money

Low income residents and those without health insurance in San Luis Obispo county are getting help. A recent grant given to the SLO Noor Clinic is helping to keep their operation moving forward.

The Noor Clinic received $35,000 from the Blue Shield of California Foundation. The clinic opened it’s doors a little more than a year ago. It provides health care for the low-income and uninsured.