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News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Funding Cuts Spur Healthcare Job Shifts
Health Leaders Media

Healthcare reform, federal funding cuts, a sluggish economy, and new technologies and treatments are accelerating a longstanding trend that has seen healthcare job creation shift away from hospitals and toward outpatient ambulatory care. Nicole Smith and Artem Gulish, analysts from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, said in an email exchange with HealthLeaders Media that ambulatory care employment first outgrew hospital employment in 1995 with the gap widening ever since.

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F.D.A. Approves a Drug for Late-Stage Pancreatic Cancer
New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Celgene’s drug Abraxane for use in treating advanced pancreatic cancer, supplementing the thin arsenal available to fight the disease. In a clinical trial, Abraxane prolonged the lives of patients by a little less than two months on average. Pancreatic specialists have said the drug was a welcome, if modest, advance against a disease that is extremely tough to treat. “Patients with pancreatic cancer are often diagnosed after the cancer has advanced and cannot be surgically removed,” Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of cancer drugs for the F.D.A., said in a statement on Friday.

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Mammograms Before 50 Could Save Lives, Researchers Say
Yahoo! News

In a new study that promises to reinvigorate the debate over when a woman should begin routine breast cancer screening, Harvard University researchers say mammograms before age 50 could dramatically cut deaths from breast cancer. A team of researchers led by Dr. Blake Cady of Massachusetts General Hospital identified women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1990 and 1999 at two Boston hospitals and tracked their cases until 2007.

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The Shocking Truth About Medication Errors
The Health Care Blog

Let’s say a physician writes a prescription for Colchicine and accidentally orders “10.0 mg,” when he should have ordered “1.0 mg.” That’s a tiny decimal error, a mistake even the best doctor could make. But it can be catastrophic for the patient. The higher dose could cause Colchicine poisoning, similar to arsenic poisoning: burning in the mouth and throat, excruciating abdominal pain.

Internal organs would melt away and death would likely occur within 24 to 72 hours. The ease with which even the best doctors can make gruesome errors is why hospitals set up elaborate systems to check and double check orders before drugs are given to patients.

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Yes, we know premium prices under Obamacare. No, we don’t know if people will think they’re affordable.
Washington Post

Premium subsidies may be one of the most complicated parts of the Affordable Care Act to understand, and that says something when you’re talking about a 2,000-page law that overhauls the American health-care system. They’re also crucially important to the health care law, the factors that determine how much health insurance will cost under Obamacare and whether Americans will decide that price tag is affordable.  So, today, we’re going to use a brand new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation to explain how the subsidies work. Get. Excited.

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Analysis indicates some consumers could get better deal outside of exchanges
Modern Healthcare

Some consumers may find lower premiums next year buying health coverage outside of the state insurance exchanges, according to a survey released Thursday by HealthPocket, a Sunnyvale, Calif., firm that helps people make informed health plan choices. HealthPocket looked at more than 1,600 health plans currently available in 10 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, San Diego and Washington) where some major commercial insurers have said they will not participate in the state exchanges.

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GOP lawmakers seen as bullying navigator groups before open enrollment
Modern Healthcare

Organizations receiving federal funds to help Americans sign up for healthcare coverage on the state insurance exchanges are coming under pressure from House Republican lawmakers who are demanding that they provide extensive information by Sept. 13.

Critics say the request from the House Energy and Commerce Committee is an effort to intimidate the navigator groups and delay their work in the crucial run-up to the Oct. 1 launch of open enrollment on the exchanges.

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GOP warns Americans of healthcare ’sticker shock’
Modern Healthcare

Republicans are using their weekly radio and Internet address to focus on health insurance costs under President Barack Obama’s health overhaul.

GOP Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, who was an orthopedic surgeon before coming to Congress, says many families “are going to have real sticker shock when they see their new insurance rates.” He says Republicans want to help people get the medical care they need, from the doctor they want, at a lower cost — and that they only way to accomplish that is by repealing the health law.

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Tax credit looms large for plans in state health exchange
North Bay Business Journal

As small businesses in California consider the purchase of employee health insurance through the newly formed California Health Benefits Exchange, experts in insurance and accounting in the North Bay said that the federal tax credits connected to the program are likely to be a key factor during the coming enrollment season.

Similar to tax credits available for individual plans on Covered California — the state’s version of the federally mandated health insurance exchange and a one-stop shop for comparing participating plans — the credits available to qualifying small businesses stand to significantly impact the cost-competitiveness of those plans compared to the open market, insurance brokers said.

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Selling healthcare reform
The 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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Care home deaths show system failures
San Diego Union-Tribune

Hundreds of seniors in San Diego County have suffered broken bones, deadly bed sores, sexual assaults and other injuries at assisted living homes that promised them care and safety in their waning years, state regulatory records show.

For many, poor care hastened their deaths. At least 27 San Diego County seniors have died since 2008 from injuries and neglect suffered in the facilities.

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Payoffs alleged at assisted living centers
San Diego Union-Tribune

State officials received a complaint in 2007 alleging that residents at the Ambassador Senior Retreat, an assisted living home in Mira Mesa, were overmedicated and underfed and that the food they were served was not healthy.

State inspector Conchita Valero was dispatched and found no such problems. “When I arrived at the facility, the residents had just finished lunch which was garlic bread, chicken alfredo, broccoli and lemon cake,” Valero wrote.

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Acing Acute Care for Elders
Health Leaders Media

The unnecessary suffering of one special patient 14 years ago haunted Aurora Health Care’s Senior Services director Michael Malone, MD. It put him through “days of heart-wrenching reflection” about how poorly the healthcare system in general, and the currently 15-hospital system in Wisconsin in particular, was taking care of its seniors.

An octogenarian had been admitted for treatment of a hand infection, but he became confused, agitated, and delirious, probably because of the strangeness of his new hospital environment.

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California dumps a patient in Nevada
Sacramento Bee

Shannon Brandes sat at the kitchen table of her modest home in this small mountain town and told the story of her daughter – a pawn and a costly inconvenience for two states’ mental health care systems.

Amanda Brandes, 26, has spent most of the past decade battling delusions and paranoia. She is back at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas today, unless the staff sent her on her way in the past 36 hours as staffers at Rawson-Neal and other psych wards have done so many times before.

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The right germs may help fight obesity
Monterey Herald

Call it a hidden ally: The right germs just might be able to help fight fat.

Different kinds of bacteria that live inside the gut can help spur obesity or protect against it, say scientists at Washington University in St. Louis who transplanted intestinal germs from fat or lean people into mice and watched the rodents change.

And what they ate determined whether the good germs could move in and do their job.

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IBM to Move Retirees Off Health Plan
The Wall Street Journal

International Business Machines Corp. IBM plans to move about 110,000 retirees off its company-sponsored health plan and instead give them a payment to buy coverage on a health-insurance exchange, in a sign that even big, well-capitalized employers aren’t likely to keep providing the once-common benefits as medical costs continue to rise. The move, which will affect all IBM retirees once they become eligible for Medicare, will relieve the technology company of the responsibility of managing retirement health-care benefits.

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CNA union seeks to represent 600 RNs at CPMC’s Pacific campus
San Francisco Business Times

The California Nurses Association is seeking a secret-ballot union representation election at California Pacific Medical Center’s Pacific campus, which it calls “one of the few hospitals in San Francisco where the RNs remain non-union.” The Oakland-based union, which represents 85,000 registered nurses in the state, said it asked the National Labor Relations Board on Sept. 5 to schedule an election for the 600 RNs who work on CPMC’s Pacific campus in San Francisco’s posh Pacific Heights neighborhood.

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Bay Area hospitals build towards a $20 billion future
San Francisco Business Times

The Bay Area is in the midst of a historic hospital-building boom, a nearly two-decade burst to add or upgrade more than $20 billion in facilities. The entire metropolitan area is refurbishing and renewing its acute care infrastructure at the same time, driven by market demand and a state deadline to be better prepared for the next big earthquake. That confluence has created a pace of health care construction in California unmatched anywhere in the country.

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Seaside Health Plan Operating in Long Beach
BelmontShore-Naples Patch

MemorialCare Health System’s Seaside Health Plan has opened for business to serve those enrolled in Medicare, Medi-Cal, Dual Eligibles and Commercial health plans.

The new health plan serves individuals and families who are members of partner health plans and select Seaside Health Plan as a participating network.

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Bernard Tyson, CEO, Kaiser Permanente
San Francisco Business Times

Company: Kaiser is one of the largest integrated health care organizations in the world, netting $2.6 billion in 2012 profits, enrolling 9.1 million and operating 38 hospitals and more than 600 medical office buildings/clinics nationwide, most of them in California.

Background: Tyson, who’s been at Kaiser for 29 years, took over as CEO from George Halvorson July 1. Halvorson remains chairman until year-end, when Tyson, 54, will garner that title as well. Previously, Tyson was Kaiser’s president and chief operating officer. He rose through the ranks, starting in late 1984 on an MBA fellowship and joining the payroll in January 1985.

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