News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Shutdown over Obamacare won’t stop Obamacare
POLITICO

The fights over Obamacare could shut down the government next month. But shutting down the government wouldn’t necessarily shut down Obamacare. The shutdown date — Oct. 1 — is also the first day people can start signing up in the new health insurance exchanges. Many Republicans, particularly in the House, are determined to do whatever they can to stop it.

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Health spending for 2013 will be sluggish but will pick up in 2014
Modern Healthcare

Health spending in the U.S. continued to rise at a historically low rate last year and will remain weak this year as the economy continues to drag, blockbuster drugs go off patent and households are responsible for a growing share of medical bills, federal projections show. U.S. health spending increased 3.9% last year for the fourth straight year and is projected to grow 3.8% this year, according to federal economists and actuaries who published the estimates online Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs.

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Healthcare Reform Puts Pressure on Hospital HR Execs
Health Leaders Media

With less than two weeks to go until health insurance exchanges, also known as marketplaces, open for business, human resource executives at hospitals and health systems are preparing for a raft of changes that will affect healthcare workers and HR processes. From improving patient experience to reducing costs, human resource departments are implementing mandates laid out in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by putting them at the top of their hiring, recruitment, and retention priorities.

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California ranks 20th of all states in new health index
Sacramento Bee

It’s really nothing to write home about: Overall, California ranks 20th of 50 states in health care climate, according to a study that measures factors ranging from tooth loss to obesity to accessibility of health care.

The Commonwealth Fund’s scorecard provides the first state-by-state, in-depth comparison between the health care experiences of low- and high-income Americans.

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UC Davis professor strives to close gaps in mental health care
Sacramento Bee

Ever since he read Sigmund Freud while a curious youth attending a Jesuit institute of sciences in Guadalajara, Mexico, Dr. Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola has been fascinated by the inner workings of the mind. Combine that fascination with an affinity for people – his mother’s kitchen was like a bustling open house, often filled with town characters — and you have the makings of a man who’s considered a pioneering mental health professional.

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GOP’s latest plan would fund government but defund ACA
Modern Healthcare

Continuing a game of who-blinks-first, House Republican leaders on Wednesday promised to vote this week on a budget bill that would temporarily fund the government after Sept. 30 but also defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The plan could lead to a showdown pitting the healthcare law against a government shutdown.

The move comes after GOP leaders in the House floated a plan that would have forced the Senate to vote on pulling the plug on healthcare reform but also allowed Senate Democrats to defeat it while sending the funding measure directly to the president.

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Obama promises veto of ‘Obamacare’ defunding bill
San Francisco Chronicle

The White House is promising that President Barack Obama would veto GOP-backed legislation that would gut his signature health care law.

In an official statement, the White House said the effort to “defund ‘Obamacare’” would deny health care to millions of people.

House Republicans have attached it to a must-pass stopgap spending bill required to avert a partial shutdown of the government after the Sept. 30 end of the government’s fiscal year.

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Cruz Predicts Senate Defeat on Obamacare Defunding, Asks House to Keep Up Fight
Roll Call

Even before the House passes legislation to keep the government running while cutting funds for Obamacare, Sen. Ted Cruz is already telling House Republicans to not back down in the next round. Cruz made the comment in a statement predicting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and his Democratic majority will back a spending bill that holds the 2010 health care law harmless.

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The 3 Reasons Why Republicans Should Keep Pushing To Defund Obamacare
Forbes

A new conventional wisdom has congealed among political and media elites in Washington DC: conservative Republicans are insane because they want to defund Obamacare.

On the surface, this idea has merit: after all, Democrats control the Senate, so a defund-Obamacare bill would be highly unlikely to pass it. And it would certainly be vetoed by the President, and conservatives certainly don’t have the votes to override the President’s veto.

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GOP’s health care alternative not much of one
Monterey Herald

A mere 48 months after the law was introduced, only 42 months after it was signed, with just two weeks until one of its main provisions takes effect, Republicans on Wednesday finally offered their alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

Which would be cause for genuine (if belated) congratulations, except for one thing: It’s not really an alternative. Understanding why can help clarify the U.S.’s seemingly endless debate about health care.

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A Dozen Hospitals Are Laying Off Staff and Blaming Obamacare. Don’t Believe Them.
The Health Care Blog

Hospitals tend to be among the largest employers in their communities — which means that any individual decision to lay off staff can have an outsized local impact. And taken together, a dozen recent announcements seem to paint an especially dire picture for hospitals (and their communities) around the nation.

For example, NorthShore in Illinois says it will lay off 1% of its workforce. The staffing cuts “ensure NorthShore remains well positioned to deal with the unprecedented changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act,” according to a memo from the health system’s chief human resources executive.

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Government Says Health Spending to Jump Next Year
NBC Bay Area

The nation’s health care spending will jump by 6.1 percent next year as the big coverage expansion in President Barack Obama’s overhaul kicks in, government experts predicted Wednesday.

That’s more than 2 percentage points higher than the growth rate forecast for this year, and compares with a growth rate that has hovered under 4 percent, historically low, for the past four years.

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Lower Rise in Health Spending Predicted
The Wall Street Journal

Total U.S. health-care spending will jump by 6.1% next year when key provisions of the federal overhaul law take effect, a slower growth pace than previously had been expected, federal number-crunchers projected Wednesday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the rise would result from more Americans gaining insurance coverage and using more care.

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Obamacare: Doctor, hospital participation in exchange health plans still being determined
the ct mirror

As the state’s new insurance marketplace prepares to begin selling coverage in less than two weeks, officials are still waiting to find out which doctors, hospitals and other health care providers will accept the health plans being offered.

Besides price, the lists of doctors and hospitals that take each insurance plan will be among the only differences between the insurance plans offered to customers of the new marketplace — those who are uninsured, who buy coverage on their own, or who work for small employers.

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Will healthcare reform drive up ED use?
FierceHealthcare

Medicaid patients use the emergency department more frequently than uninsured patients, as they still have trouble accessing primary care, according to a research letter in today’s issue of JAMA. Researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of California ED visits by adults 19 to 64 years of age from 2005 to 2010, and found the number of visits to EDs increased by 13.2 percent to 6.1 million per year.

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Safety Net: Health-Care Providers Face Significant Challenges Serving Uninsured
Noozhawk

The large population of uninsured and underinsured patients in Santa Barbara County is served mainly by what are called “safety net” providers such as the county’s Public Health Department clinics. Santa Barbara County is relatively healthy, with higher life expectancy than the state average for California, but there are vast disparities based on race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, said Dr. Takashi Wada, the county’s public health director.

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White House pushing healthcare security measures
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration is planning a high-level effort to reassure Americans about the privacy and security of the information submitted under the new healthcare law, hoping to blunt complaints from Republican opponents that enough isn’t being done to protect consumer data.

Attorney General Eric Holder, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Edith Ramirez and other federal and state officials are set to meet Wednesday at the White House to discuss security measures designed to keep scammers and identity thieves from taking advantage of what could be m

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Whittier forum on new health care law provides answers to coverage questions
Whittier Daily News

Nancy Parker of Whittier is a part-time employee of a school district and as a result doesn’t have any insurance, so she’s paying nearly $900 for her own plan.

Parker received some good news Tuesday at a town hall meeting held by state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, at the Whittier Community Center held to discuss the federal Affordable Health Care Act — often called Obamacare. Cheaper rates may be available.

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Employers urged to notify workers about Obamacare insurance exchanges
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Under the federal Affordable Health Care Act, businesses are required to notify employees about the state-run health insurance exchanges that open Oct. 1.

But penalties — $100 per employee for companies that do not inform workers — were eliminated late last week.

Local insurance brokers are still are urging employers to tell workers about the exchanges.

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Feds move to prevent fraud, privacy violations on health exchanges
Modern Healthcare

At the White House on Wednesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Attorney General Eric Holder and Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez launched an interagency effort to prevent and detect consumer fraud and privacy violations on the health insurance exchanges that are scheduled to open for business Oct. 1. Although the initiative was described as a planned part of the rollout rather than a response to political opponents, the administration will have to counter a perception fanned by Republicans that consumers will be putting their health and financial information at risk when they engage with the insurance marketplaces and the federally funded “navigators” that help them enroll in coverage beginning Oct. 1.

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Obese cancer patients often shorted on chemo doses
San Francisco Chronicle

Obese people are less likely to survive cancer, and one reason may be a surprising inequality: The overweight are undertreated. Doctors often short them on chemotherapy by not basing the dose on size, as they should. They use ideal weight or cap the dose out of fear about how much treatment an obese patient can bear. Yet research shows that bigger people handle chemo better than smaller people do. Even a little less chemo can mean worse odds of survival, and studies suggest that as many as 40 percent of obese cancer patients have been getting less than 85 percent of the right dose for their size.

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Walgreens expected to announce health care switch to private plans
CBS News

Drugstore giant Walgreens is expected to announce Wednesday that it will move 160,000 thousand workers to private health care plans. It’s one of the largest employers to make that switch.

The move would be a switch to a fixed amount of money designated for each employee for health care. The change — like those in recent months at Sears, Darden Restaurants, IBM, Time Warner — is to protect the company against rising costs in the future.

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Walgreen to Shift Health Plan for 160,000 Workers
The Wall Street Journal

Rising health-care costs and a climate of change brought about by the new federal health law are prompting American corporations to revisit the pact they’ve long had with employees over medical benefits.

Walgreen Co. is set to become one of the largest employers yet to make sweeping changes to company-backed health programs.

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Vallejo’s Kaiser Permanente starts family medicine residency program
Vallejo Times-Herald

Because family doctors deal with all kinds of people, Vallejo’s ethnic diversity is a big plus in recruiting for the new family medicine residency program Kaiser Permanente’s putting together here, a spokeswoman and teaching doctor said. It will be Kaiser’s first family medicine residency program in Northern California, they said.

The new program, set to launch in July, means more medical students aiming to be primary care doctors can complete their training here, teacher/doctor Sherry Fung-Sakita said.

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Permits OK’d for new hospital building
Ukiah Daily Journal

After expressing concern about retaining and replacing trees, the Ukiah Planning Commission approved a plan to add a new building to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center.

“This project will gather all the inefficient buildings on the east side and collect them all into one, much more efficient, building,” applicant Charles Ackerley of the San Francisco firm LIONAKIS told the commission at its Sept. 11 meeting.

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