News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Americans oppose withholding funds for health law, poll shows
Los Angeles Times

While Americans remain deeply divided over President Obama’s healthcare law, a clear majority opposes withholding funding to implement the 2010 law, a new national survey indicates. Fifty-seven percent of Americans say they disapprove of cutting off funding for the Affordable Care Act, while just 36% say they would approve such a move, according to the most recent poll from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Large Employers View HIX as Viable
Health Leaders Media

Although many states have taken an adversarial stance when it comes to public health insurance exchanges, large employers see the marketplaces as a cost effective alternative for certain population groups, including COBRA participants, young retirees, and part-time employees. That is according to a survey released Wednesday by the National Business Group on Health.

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ACO contracts may slow spending, but quality may not improve, says study
Modern Healthcare

As accountable care organizations proliferate, a new study suggests that overall health spending may slow when hospitals and medical groups agree to the new payment model with even one insurer. That’s good news for proponents of accountable care, who hope to see a change in healthcare financing lead to a fundamental change in healthcare delivery.

Now the bad news: The quality of care may not improve for all patients.

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Google Glass heads into the surgery room
Silicon Valley Business Journal

We already told you that more doctors were taking Google Glass into their examination rooms. Now they’re bringing them into surgery. A surgeon at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center put on the connected specs to record and transmit an Aug. 21 operation on a patient’s ACL knee ligament. Dr. Christopher Kaeding broadcast his surgery via Google Hangouts to medical students and a colleague in two locations.

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Coordination versus Competition in Health Care Reform
The New England Journal of Medicine

Many current proposals to increase the value of care delivered in the U.S. health care system focus on improved coordination — and with good reason. Badly coordinated care, duplicated efforts, bungled handoffs, and failures to follow up result in too much care for some patients, too little care for others, and the wrong care for many. A host of current reform efforts aim to reduce these inefficiencies in both public and private markets. These efforts range from penalizing hospitals with higher-than-expected readmission rates, to rewarding primary care providers when patients receive higher-value care, to providing incentives for the adoption of electronic health records. Accountable care organizations (ACOs) and bundled payments are designed to create monetary incentives for coordinated care. The hope is that coordination will improve value by ensuring that the right care is provided in the right place at the right time.

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Insurer contracts with federal exchanges delayed
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration has delayed signing contracts with insurers for insurance exchanges in 35 states where the federal government will run the exchanges by itself or in partnership with the state, marking another delay in implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It’s not clear whether this latest delay will have any significant effect.

HHS was supposed to sign those agreements with insurers next week in preparation for the start of open enrollment on the marketplaces beginning on Oct. 1.

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Governors Buck Republican Party On Health Care Reform Law
The Huffington Post

Despite unrelenting pressure by congressional Republicans to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, GOP governors in swing-voting states are grudgingly bowing to the reality that “Obamacare” is the law of the land and almost certainly here to stay.

The governors’ reluctant acceptance is based on what they call financial prudence and what appears to be political necessity.

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States find new ways to resist health law
Washington Post

Several Republican-led states at the forefront of the campaign to undermine President Obama’s health-care law have come up with new ways to try to thwart it, refusing to enforce consumer protections, for example, and restricting federally funded workers hired to help people enroll in coverage.

And in at least one state, Missouri, local officials have been barred from doing anything to help put the law into place.

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Obamacare: Are you covered?
Sacramento Bee

On Oct. 1, Americans can begin enrolling for health coverage in 2014 through the new state insurance marketplaces. The Affordable Care Act takes effect three months later, in January. That’s when most people must have health insurance or face a fine for noncompliance. Most of the roughly 260 million Americans with job-based, individual or government coverage probably have nothing to worry about.

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Medicaid ‘coverage gap’ looming for the poor in 21 states
Sacramento Bee

One month after undergoing a partial hysterectomy in 2011 to remove a rare form of ovarian cancer, Erika Neal of St. Louis got a double dose of more bad news: Her salary as deputy director of a nonprofit museum was being cut and her job-based health coverage was being eliminated.

Without insurance, she went more than a year without tests that would tell her whether the cancer had reappeared. Neal continued to work, however, and now relies on an emergency state program to pay for the quarterly tests.

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How Medicare covers ambulance services
San Diego Union-Tribune

Nobody ever plans on needing an ambulance, but at some point you may have to take one during a medical emergency.

If you have Original Medicare, your Part B (medical insurance) covers ambulance services to or from a hospital, critical-access hospital, or skilled nursing facility only when other transportation could endanger your health.

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1 in 5 employers will offer only CDHP in 2014, survey finds
Modern Healthcare

More large employers are reducing the type of healthcare plans they offer as they try to keep better control of their costs, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Next year, 22% of employers responding to a National Business Group on Health survey say consumer-driven health plans will be the only plan design they offer to employees.

That compares with 19% this year and is triple the percentage of employers that offered only CDHPs in 2009.

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HIX Final Rule Details Payment, Appeals Standards
Health Leaders Media

Insurance companies and states now have a concrete set of federal rules to govern health insurance exchanges designed to guarantee program integrity, set standards, assure privacy and security, and an appeal process for consumer eligibility.

“The final rule provides for standards that would establish oversight of health insurance issuers,” says a fact sheet issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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New CIRM payouts target muscular dystrophy, ALS, Huntington’s Disease
San Francisco Business Times

Researchers from the Gladstone Institutes, Stanford University and a small Peninsula company were among those winning cash Wednesday from California’s stem cell research funding agency that could lead to therapies for Lou Gehrig’s disease, muscular dystrophy and Huntington’s Disease In all, the board overseeing the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine approved almost $41 million in funding to help researchers at eight colleges or research universities and one company to translate basic discoveries into potential stem cell therapies.

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Dignity Health, nurses deal includes accident prevention, protection
Sacramento Business Journal

A tentative agreement announced Tuesday between the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United and Dignity Health includes a novel nurse accident prevention program that provides supplemental insurance protection for nurses injured in workplace violence or accidents. The policy is backed by financial commitment from Dignity Health to pay supplemental benefits of up to $200,000 in the event of accidental death, felony assault or spread of HIV or hepatitis from a needle stick, according to the union. It also includes other benefits and trauma counseling.

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Dignity Health says it has tentative agreement with CNA
Sacramento Bee

San Francisco-based Dignity Health said it has a tentative four-year agreement with the California Nurses Association on two contracts covering 10,500 nurses at 27 facilities in California and 1,200 at the three St. Rose Dominican Hospital campuses in Nevada.

CNA did not disclose specifics, saying only that, if ratified, the contracts “would provide competitive wages … (and) additional workplace injury insurance and an enhanced retiree health benefit.”

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Blue Shield of California to curb coverage of pricey cancer therapy
Los Angeles Times

As hospitals race to offer the latest in high-tech care, a major California health insurer is pushing back and refusing to pay for some of the more expensive and controversial cancer treatments.

Blue Shield of California is taking on this high-cost radiation treatment just as Scripps Health in San Diego prepares to open a gleaming, $230-million proton beam therapy center this fall, only the second one in California and the 12th nationwide.

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Humana CEO: Healthcare reform isn’t working–yet
FierceHealthPayer

Although Humana is betting big on the success of health insurance exchanges, its CEO admits that healthcare reform isn’t working yet. Speaking on the insurer’s exchange strategy at the Nashville Health Care Council on Tuesday, Humana CEO Bruce Broussard was asked whether he believes the reform law is working, reported The Tennessean. His answer: “I don’t think it is. Today, it’s not.”

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El Camino Healthcare District lauded for transparency in governance
San Jose Mercury News

A year after the El Camino Hospital District was criticized for its lack of transparency, the district was awarded a transparency certificate of excellence by the Special District Leadership Foundation.

The district is the first in Santa Clara County and the 12th in the state to receive such a distinction. There are 2,184 independent special districts in California.

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Golden Valley Health to hold forum on Affordable Care Act in Merced
Merced Sun-Star

A health center will answer questions during a forum on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, parts of which go into effect in January. Golden Valley Health Centers will hold the forum at 6 tonight in the cafeteria at Tenaya Middle School, 760 W. Eighth St. Marc Smith, Golden Valley Health’s special projects manager, said the forum will be a way for the uninsured to become familiar with Covered California, the state’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

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Redlands Community Hospital Foundation receives grants
Redlands Daily Facts

Redlands Community Hospital Foundation recently received a $120,000 grant from Stater Bros. Charities and Inland Women Fighting Cancer to improve the access to care for cancer patients.

Redlands Community Hospital is one of several local organizations that will benefit from the annual Believe Walk, which will be held Oct. 6 in downtown Redlands. Stater Bros. Charities teamed up with Inland Women Fighting Cancer — an organization created by a coalition of local community leaders Annie Sellas, Cathy Stockton and Nancy Varner — to raise funds for local patients and their families.

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Loma Linda 5th hospital authorized for advanced heart attack treatment
The Press-Enterprise

Southwest Riverside County’s newest hospital just became the fifth medical center in Riverside County to be authorized to treat the most deadly heart attacks, a county official said Wednesday, Aug. 28. As a result, ambulances that used to rush Southwest Riverside County victims to Riverside or Escondido are now heading to Loma Linda University Medical Center – Murrieta, said Bruce Barton, director of the county Emergency Medical Services Agency.

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