News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Deadline Nears for U.S. Supreme Court Appeal of 10% Medi-Cal Provider Cut
California Healthline

Last week, state officials began phased-in implementation of a 10% reduction in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, but that doesn’t mean efforts to rescind or reverse the cut have subsided, according to provider groups. Legislative efforts to undo the decision appear to have stalled, with two bills currently sitting in committee as the state Legislature begins its final week of the session.

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Getting healthcare coverage for homeless may be a challenge
Modern Healthcare

The benefits of expanding Medicaid coverage to homeless and chronically ill adults under healthcare reform may seem obvious.

But enrolling this population and providing them with healthcare services will not be easily achieved, a survey published in Health Affairs shows. The survey, which included more than 700 homeless adults enrolled in a housing and healthcare effort between 2004 and 2009, found adults reported “serious physical and mental health conditions, suggesting that chronically homeless adults have a wide variety of health needs that require a broad range of health services.”

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CDC: More than 200,000 Americans quit smoking after graphic ad campaign
Washington Post

An estimated 200,000 Americans quit smoking in the wake of a federally funded ad campaign that graphically showed the consequences of tobacco use, according to a study released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said an estimated 1.6 million U.S. smokers attempted to quit last year after encountering the three-month “Tips From Former Smokers” campaign, which was funded by the Affordable Care Act. Of those, 200,000 quit shortly after the campaign. More than 100,000 are expected to stop permanently.

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Regulating Health IT: When, Who, and How?
The Health Care Blog

Health care providers and consumers are increasingly using mobile technology to exchange information. Many health IT providers readily acknowledge that some level of oversight is required to ensure patient safety and privacy protections, but many providers question whether the FDA is the right agency for the job and want to see the FDASIA recommendations. Can the FDA, with its already limited resources and lengthy review cycles, regulate the fast-moving health IT industry? Should it?

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Real estate investors seeing benefits of reform
Modern Healthcare

While healthcare reform continues to cast uncertainty over much of the healthcare industry, savvy investors are finding medical office buildings a safe and solid bet as large health systems compete aggressively and more services move out of the hospital. In the first half of 2013, Chicago-based real estate management firm Jones Lang LaSalle reports there have been 124 medical office building properties sold in deals totaling more than $1.83 billion. The average deal involves a 74,750-square-foot property selling for $14.8 million.

More than a third of the deals are “multi-asset” portfolio sales, which are also driving the market.

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California plans full online launch of Obamacare on October 1
Reuters

Last month, the state said it was considering a soft launch of the exchange if tests showed it was not ready for wide public access. But tests of the system last week were encouraging, said Dana Howard, deputy director of communications for the Covered California exchange.

“All of our testing so far indicates that there is not going to be a problem doing self-enrollment online on Oct 1,” Howard said.

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Consumers could be surprised at tax time due to federal health law
Los Angeles Times

Some families may end up owing Uncle Sam a sizable refund if they accept government help on buying health insurance next year under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

A study published Monday in Health Affairs estimates that 38% of families that qualify for federal premium subsidies might have to repay some portion if changes in their household income aren’t reported to the government.

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Patient’s bill soars as health law program falters
San Mateo Daily Journal

Coping with advanced cancer, Bev Veals was in the hospital for chemo this summer when she got a call that her health plan was shutting down. Then, the substitute insurance she was offered wanted her to pay up to $3,125, on top of premiums.

It sounds like one of those insurance horror stories President Barack Obama told to sell his health overhaul to Congress, but Veals wasn’t in the clutches of a profit-driven company. Instead, she’s covered by Obama’s law — one of about 100,000 people with serious medical issues in a financially troubled government program.

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Affordable Care Act Round-Up: 31 Million Still Uninsured
NBC Bay Area

The Affordable Care Act is expected to extend health insurance coverage to millions more Americans come Jan. 1, but there will still be millions more without coverage. The Affordable Care Act is expected to extend health coverage to 25 million Americans over the next decade, but that will still leave a projected 31 million people without coverage by 2023. Among those excluded are undocumented workers and poor people living in the 21 states that have declined to expand Medicaid under the ACA.

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Insurance Coverage Under Obamacare May Not Be Universal For Some Time: Who Are The Millions To Stay Uninsured?
Medical Daily

The World Health Organization defines universal health coverage as ensuring “that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.” The Affordable Care Act will certainly decrease the number of uninsured, which is currently calculated as 57 million by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Yet, estimates find that many will remain uninsured — 43 million people next year, a number that is expected to drop to 31 million by 2023, according to CBO calculations.

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Why More Expensive Insurance Can Pay Off
KRCB

One of the most far-reaching provisions of the federal health overhaul prohibits insurers from refusing to cover people who are sick or charging them more for policies.

Still, for people with serious medical conditions, the online health insurance marketplaces present new wrinkles that could have significant financial impact.

Obviously, premium costs will be an important consideration for consumers.

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1 in 5 ICU Patients Get ‘Futile’ Care
Health Leaders Media

UCLA critical care specialists say 11% of 1,136 patients under their care in five intensive care units received aggressive treatment the doctors considered futile, at a cost of $2.6 million for three months, and another 8.6% were “probably” receiving futile care. That account is in a report by researchers at Ronald Reagan UCLA and UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica published Monday in the JAMA Internal Medicine.

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How Value Gives Healthcare Providers an Edge
Health Leaders Media

Mercy, the nation’s sixth-largest Catholic health system, is by all accounts a thriving and innovative 32-hospital health system that is based in Chesterfield, Mo., and operates in four states. But Alan Scarrow, MD, is under no illusions. It will have to compete hard to remain so.

The neurosurgeon and president of Mercy Springfield (Mo.) Communities, which includes Mercy Hospital Springfield, is competing with dozens of hospitals and health systems, not just locally but across the country and beyond over what he and many others see as a shrinking revenue pie. Innovation and transparency, he says, are the key tools in that competition.

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Crimes go uninvestigated at care homes
San Diego Union-Tribune

Elder abuse, sexual assault and other acts regularly go uninvestigated as crimes at assisted living homes across California, as the facilities fall into a jurisdictional haze in which the first response is often administrative sanctions.

The U-T and the Center for Health Reporting at the University of Southern California examined more than 80 possible crimes at San Diego County senior homes in the past 10 years for which criminal investigations were never launched or fizzled due to delays.

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Intensive care treatment is often futile and costly, study finds
Los Angeles Times

Nearly 1 in 5 patients in a hospital’s intensive care unit gets care and treatment judged by the physician in charge to be ineffective, needlessly aggressive or pointless given the patient’s dire state, a new study says.

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Doctors can miss eating disorders in teens who have been obese
Los Angeles Times

The news is not always all good when obese teenagers lose weight. Such young people seem to be at risk for developing eating disorders that slip the attention of health professionals, scientists report.

“Physical complications of semistarvation and weight loss, which are red flags in a low-weight individual, are often misdiagnosed in these patients,” and referrals for eating disorder treatment get delayed as a result, the scientists wrote in this week’s issue of the journal Pediatrics.

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Planned union protest avoided when AFL-CIO cancels Kaiser events
FierceHealthcare

The AFL-CIO managed to avert a planned union-led protest by calling off scheduled national convention events that featured Kaiser Permanente this weekend, The Hill reports.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) had planned to picket the Sunday and Monday events highlighting the California hospital chain and health maintenance organization but found nothing to protest when AFL-CIO officials at the 11th hour removed the Kaiser sessions from the convention schedule.

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