News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California Hospital Association effort aims to strengthen patient safety
Sacramento Business Journal

Aiming to cut the cost of hospital infections and other medical mishaps, the California Hospital Association has launched a nonprofit organization to strengthen patient safety statewide. The Hospital Quality Institute is located in the same Sacramento building at 1215 K Street that houses the association.

Its budget and strategy are under development, but already more than a dozen people are working there. The Patient Safety First initiative by Anthem Blue Cross, the National Health Foundation and three CHA-affiliated regional associations is one of the programs being incorporated into the new institute.

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CDC targets needless deaths due to poor lifestyle habits
Los Angeles Times

At least 200,000 Americans die needlessly each year due to heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, and more than half of these deaths occur in people younger than 65, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All of these premature deaths could be prevented by quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure, keeping cholesterol levels in check and taking aspirin when recommended by a physician, public health experts said.

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Battle to reform nurse practitioner rules will continue, vows author of SB 491
Southern California Public Radio

The author of a defeated measure that would have allowed California’s nurse practitioners to work independently of doctors says he will re-introduce the bill within two years. Supporters of SB 491 say the measure could have helped to ease the existing shortage of primary care physicians. It’s a problem that’s expected to worsen beginning Jan 1, when federal health law will require most Americans to have insurance or to pay a fine that starts out small, then grows over time.

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HHS argues new observation-status rule renders lawsuit moot
Modern Healthcare

Lawyers for the federal government say a new Medicare rule intended to clarify when patients ought to be admitted to the hospital or held for outpatient observation justifies dismissing a class-action lawsuit filed by a patient advocacy group challenging Medicare’s payment policies for observational care. Not so, say the plaintiff lawyers at the Center for Medicare Advocacy. They say the new rule, which was published Aug. 19 and effective Oct. 1, will not help Medicare patients avoid paying substantial out-of-pocket amounts for costly skilled nursing care in cases where doctors and hospitals say they’re too unhealthy to go home but not sick enough to qualify for full-fledged inpatient care.

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The Exchanges Won’t Be Ready in Time. And it Probably Won’t Matter.
The Health Care Blog

As states race to implement health reform, California doesn’t want to settle for second. “We don’t want to be a pace car state” when it comes to implementing health reform, HHS Secretary Diana Dooley told Politico in January 2011. “We want to be the lead car.” It’s a metaphor that California leaders have returned to time and again. And to their credit, they’ve often succeeded.

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Here’s What Obamacare Will Actually Cost
BusinessWeek

The new Obamacare insurance marketplaces open for business in 26 days. Today the Kaiser Family Foundation is out with the first broad study showing exactly what the millions of uninsured Americans who are about to go shopping for health plans can expect to pay for individual coverage. The big takeaway: These aren’t prices that will break the bank. “For the most part insurers seem to find this market attractive and they’re pricing accordingly,” Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at Kaiser, told Bloomberg News’s Alex Wayne.

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Implementing Health Reform: Reporting Requirements For Employer And Minimum Essential Coverage
HealthAffairs Blog

On September 5, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service issued two notices of proposed rules intended to implement key reporting requirements of the Affordable Care Act. One rule would require large employers to report to the IRS and to their employees information regarding the health care coverage they offer to full-time employees. The second rule would require insurers, self-insured employers, government-sponsored programs, and entities that provide minimum essential coverage to report information on this coverage to the IRS and to covered individuals. The IRS also issued a press release describing the proposed rules.

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Selling Health Care Reform
New York Times

The long years of Republican obstruction and obfuscation on health care reform have taken their toll. More than half of Americans still say they don’t know how they and their families will be affected by the Affordable Care Act, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, about the same percentage as in 2010. More Americans have a negative view of the act than a positive one. But now the Obama administration, which has been outshouted by its opponents, is fighting back.

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White House proposes new rules on employer mandate
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration on Thursday released new proposals for carrying out a major requirement of the federal healthcare law that was postponed earlier this summer. At issue is how to gather information that would allow the government to enforce a requirement that companies with 50 or more workers provide affordable health insurance to their full-time employees. Companies that don’t comply would risk fines.

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Few Options for Working Poor in States that Block Medicaid Expansion
Health Leaders Media

Many working poor who live in states that won’t expand Medicaid also won’t be eligible for federal subsidies that would make private health insurance affordable.

A Commonwealth Fund study released this week estimates that a glitch in the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was created when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the Medicaid expansion was optional for states. Even with the ruling, no one foresaw that some state would actually reject the billions of federal dollars to prop up the expansion.

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YMCA diabetes prevention program may be U.S. model
San Francisco Chronicle

Dora Andrade’s parents both died of complications related to diabetes. A few years back, her eldest brother was also diagnosed with the disease. With high blood pressure, high cholesterol and trouble keeping her weight in check, it was apparent to Andrade that if she wanted to avoid diabetes herself, something needed to happen. “I really want to learn to live healthy,” said Andrade, 52, a Gilroy resident. To address her concerns, Andrade signed up for a new diabetes prevention program at her local YMCA.

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Why Payers Like Defined Contribution Programs
Health Leaders Media

Change keeps on coming to the health insurance industry.

Pittsburgh-based Highmark Health Services is in the process of expanding its defined contribution products to large group employers. The expansion follows a successful year-long pilot with small group employers (fewer than 100 employees) that attracted 60 companies and about 6,000 covered lives, says Bill Brown, manager of digital distribution for the giant Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate.

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Medical scribes lack consensus on training, certification
Modern Healthcare

Certification of medical scribes does not satisfy concerns about whether scribes should be allowed to use computerized order entry as part of the meaningful-use program for electronic health records, the federal government says. Meanwhile, the growing medical scribe industry has yet to come together on a single broadly accepted training and certification process, though industry leaders say they will eventually do so.

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Bill Aimed at Kaiser Hits Home Stretch
California Healthline

Proponents of a bill aimed squarely at Kaiser Permanente say the legislation is needed to level the playing field for health insurers setting premium prices in California. Kaiser officials say they’re not playing on the same field and the attempt to put them there will be costly, confusing and ultimately a financial burden for Kaiser members. SB 746 by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would require insurers selling to large employers to provide detailed reports to state officials explaining pricing and justifying premium increases.

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H&R Block, online insurance broker team up to sell health plans
Modern Healthcare

GoHealth, an online health insurance broker, said Wednesday it will develop a service for tax preparer H&R Block to enable consumers to purchase health insurance while getting their income taxes done.

Most Americans will be required to obtain coverage as of Jan. 1, 2014, or else they’ll have to pay a tax penalty. They will have to report on their federal income tax return whether they have obtained coverage.

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Scripps cardiac building reaches construction midpoint
San Diego Union-Tribune

Drive east on Genesee Avenue from Interstate 5 and it’s hard to miss the seven-story facade of the new Prebys Cardiovascular Institute.

Though the building looks nearly complete from the street, there is still about 18 months of work to do on the inside before the $456 million facility is ready to be the beating heart of Scripps Health.

“Once you put the skin on, it looks finished, but 50 percent of the work to be done is on the inside of the building.

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Stanford University, Stanford Hospital pledge $3.6M grant to StartX, set up venture fund
San Francisco Business Times

Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Stanford University have pledged $3.6 million to back StartX, a nonprofit startup accelerator for Stanford-affiliated entrepreneurs. They’ll also invest in some of StartX’s ventures. The hospital and university are kicking in $1.2 million annually for three years to back the program, which was started by Stanford students in 2009 and features community-based learning. One of StartX’s divisons, StartX Med, focuses on medical and biotechnology startups.

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