News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation


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Advocates fear patient care will suffer under state budget cuts
California Watch

Gov. Jerry Brown announced a state budget yesterday that relies on hospitals and nursing homes to achieve nearly $400 million in savings – a week after a far smaller proposal prompted concerns about patient care.

The governor’s revised budget is the starting point to closing a $15.7 billion deficit. He proposed making further cuts to human services, paring down hours of care provided to In-Home Supportive Services recipients, and limiting child care support provided by the CalWORKs program.

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New ruling on health care reform rebates for insurance coverage
Live Insurance News

Medical insurers must now inform policyholders that their checks are from the Obama administration’s changes. New federal guidelines have just been released, informing insurance companies that they must inform their policyholders that health care rebates that they are receiving are the result of the laws put into place by the Obama administration following the overhaul of the system.

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Kaiser to launch family medicine residency program
North Bay Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Rosa Medical Center will launch a family medicine residency program to expand the number of primary care physicians being trained in Sonoma County, it was announced today.

The first group of residents is expected to enter the program in July 2014.

The Oakland-based health maintenance organization said the new residency program is designed to attract and retain primary care physicians in the community.

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Romney Medicare Plan Draws a Stark Contrast
New York Times

President Obama and Mitt Romney agree on one thing about Medicare: the differences between them are huge. Each man says his opponent’s policies would end Medicare as it now exists, undermining the rock-solid guarantee of health care for older Americans. Given the emphasis both parties are placing on health care as a defining political issue, their contrasting approaches to the government-run health insurance program serving 49 million people are certain to command considerable attention in both the presidential and Congressional campaigns.

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Kaiser to launch training of family practice doctors
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Responding to a looming shortage of primary-care physicians in Sonoma County, Kaiser Permanente is launching a residency program to train six family practice physicians a year.

The program at Kaiser’s Santa Rosa Medical Center will enroll its first group in July 2014 and will graduate that class three years later.

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It’s time to serve up some big incentives to curb obesity
Los Angeles Times

Americans eat too damn much. And we all pay a rising cost for this gluttony in the form of higher insurance premiums and lost productivity.

A study last year by the Society of Actuaries calculated the total economic cost of an overweight and obese population in the United States and Canada at about $300 billion a year (with 90% of that figure attributable to America’s dietary issues).

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Kaiser Permanente, union announce labor contract
Redlands Daily Facts

Kaiser Permanente and a coalition of unions have reached a tentative three-year labor agreement including a companywide Total Health program to reduce the health care provider’s own medical costs. The announced deal would affect nearly 10,000 Kaiser employees in the Inland Empire.

“It’s a great settlement, and our people are really excited about it,” said Steve Trossman, a spokesman for Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare West.

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San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital discontinues MRIs
The Press-Enterprise

Officials at San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital in Banning say they have decided to discontinue MRI services due to low use and high costs. A press release says patients seeking an MRI will be referred to other providers in the area, such as Highland Springs Medical Plaza, which, like the hospital, is located on Highland Springs Road. The press release says the hospital had contracted with Southwest Medical Holdings, LLC, for MRI services and the company has removed its machine.

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Consumers see hospital, doc-office prices rise
Modern Healthcare

Consumer prices for hospital services climbed 0.6% in April after the prior month’s increase of 0.2%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index. The figures are seasonally adjusted. For April 2011, consumer hospital prices also increased 0.6%.

For the year that ended last month, hospital service prices climbed 5.2% compared with 5.9% the prior year.

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Nursing grads face tough job market: 43 percent can’t find work, according to state survey
The Mercury News

New nursing graduates are finding their chosen profession is not as recession-proof as they had expected. Yet Cabrillo College and others offering training for would-be nurses are being advised not to cut back on their programs. A survey last fall of nearly 1,500 California newly licensed registered nurses found 43 percent did not have a nursing job 18 months after graduating, according to the California Institute for Nursing and Health Care.

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SVMH meeting Wednesday to discuss affiliation
The Californian - Salinas

The first of two scheduled meetings on the possibility of Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital merging with Natividad Medical Center or selling to Healthcare Corporation of America will be held Wednesday night. The hospital board of directors could also consider remaining as a standalone operation.

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Cislini Plaza Conference Room, with overflow seating in the cafeteria. The hospital is located at 450 East Romie Lane.

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1 in 3 autistic young adults lack jobs, education
USA Today

One in 3 young adults with autism have no paid job experience, college or technical school nearly seven years after high school graduation, a study finds. That’s a poorer showing than those with other disabilities including those who are mentally disabled, the researchers said. With roughly half a million autistic kids reaching adulthood in the next decade, experts say it’s an issue policymakers urgently need to address.

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Health keeps wealth: Seniors save on medical bills
Monterey Herald

Ruth H. Clark of Pompano Beach, Fla., is a 95-year-old aerobic wonder, working out seven days a week.

But Clark is not just flexing her muscles, she’s protecting her retirement nest egg by staying healthy.

Economists say health care will become more crucial in retirement planning as medical expenses climb for the elderly.

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Quality of diabetes care no better when docs use EHRs: study
Modern Healthcare

Physicians’ use of electronic heath records did little to improve the quality of care for diabetes patients, according to a study in the Annals of Family Medicine.

Using data for nearly 800 patients treated at 42 physician practices over a three-year period, researchers from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey found lower-quality care at the study’s baseline at practices using EHR systems, and they found no link between EHR use and improved adherence to clinical guidelines for processes-of-care and recommended treatments.

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National plan on Alzheimer’s expected
Modern Healthcare

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is expected to release a national plan to address Alzheimer’s disease during a morning speech at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit 2012: Path to Treatment and Prevention at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

Also expected to participate in the release of the plan, which was produced as a result of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act of 2011, are Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, and Dr.

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Survey for health, poverty benefits threatened in Congress

Americans needing health insurance or disability services could be overlooked by their local governments if a bill now being considered by the Senate passes. It would eliminate a program that supporters call a vital source of information about health indicators of millions of Americans, but which opponents say is too expensive and raises privacy concerns.

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Study: Sudden heart death high among HIV patients
San Francisco Chronicle

Patients with HIV infections are 4 1/2 times more likely to die suddenly from cardiac arrest than people without HIV, even if the virus is under control and they appear relatively healthy, according to a UCSF study. The report, published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that sudden cardiac death – which occurs when the heart unexpectedly stops beating – was the second-most common killer among HIV-positive patients. AIDS was the most common cause of death.

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AIDS funding cuts could impact care, prevention
San Francisco Chronicle

Jerardo Lobato Hernandez lived on the streets of San Francisco for nearly a decade, struggling with severe depression, alcoholism and AIDS. Police arrested him regularly for public drunkenness, trespassing and illegal camping. Twice thieves put his health at risk when they stole his medications, which he is supposed to take daily. He’s “in great shape now,” said Alberto Rangel, Hernandez’s medical social worker at the Mission Neighborhood Health Center.

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Health insurance expansion looming, primary care turf battle heats up
Washington Post

President Obama’s health care law is expected to expand health insurance to 32 million Americans over the next decade. Health policy experts anticipate that the wave of new insurance subscribers will lead to a spike in demand for medical services. That has a battle heating up over who will provide that care. Nurse practitioners are rolling out a campaign this week to explain what, exactly, nurse practitioners do — and why patients should trust them with their medical needs.