News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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House Subcommittee Considers Obamacare’s Impact on Competition
Health Leaders Media

A U.S. House Subcommittee heard a range of perspectives on Thursday from a panel of lobbyists and policy wonks who were asked if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is hurting competition in the healthcare marketplace. The consensus from the panel was maybe, maybe not, and we’re not really sure yet.

There was a general agreement from the witnesses that healthcare industry consolidation predates the PPACA by at least two decades.

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Medicare payment bump proposed for federally qualified centers
Modern Healthcare

Federally qualified health centers would receive higher Medicare reimbursements starting next year, under a proposed rule issued by the CMS.

CMS will pay 30% higher rates to federally qualified centers under the proposal. The new prospective payment system will pay centers a single, bundled rate for each encounter that will cover all services. But the CMS will adjust payments to reflect the higher costs of some areas and provide an extra payment for an initial exam.

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Finally Some Good News on Readmission Rates
The Health Care Blog

Penalizing hospitals for high readmission rates has been pretty controversial. Critics of the program have argued that readmissions have little to do with what happens while the patient is in the hospital and are driven primarily by how sick or how poor the patient is. Advocates of the readmissions program increasingly acknowledge that while readmissions may not reflect the quality of care that occurred within the hospital, someone should be accountable for what happens to patients after discharge, and hospitals are the logical choice.

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How to Get the Most Out of Team-Based Care
Health Leaders Media

Hospitals and health systems are under unprecedented pressure to remove waste from healthcare, whether it stems from using too many expensive services or having high patient readmissions or poor quality. There are dozens of other bogeys out there that waste resources, but much of the waste lies in ineffective management and inconsistent approaches to care.

As a concept, team-based care has emerged as a critical element for removing waste and other inefficiencies in healthcare.

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Sports teams approach health reform cautiously
Marketplace

When Massachusetts was trying to promote its health care reform law in 2007, it partnered with the Boston Red Sox. Pitcher Tim Wakefield appeared in ads promoting the exchange where Massachusetts residents could buy health insurance. There was a special “cover your bases” night at Fenway Park. And there were information booths at all home games so fans could find out about health insurance plans and even enroll.

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House to vote to derail Obamacare, fund government
San Francisco Chronicle

Republicans controlling the House are moving to ship to the Senate a measure that would prevent a government shutdown but cripple the health care law that’s the signature accomplishment of President Barack Obama’s first term.

The top Senate Democrat has pronounced the bill dead and calls the House exercise a “waste of time.” The White House has issued a veto threat.

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Republican move could kill Obamacare – or the GOP
Sacramento Bee

Republicans will proclaim solidarity Friday when the House of Representatives votes to defund the 2010 health care law. Don’t be fooled: The party is bitterly divided about how and when to get rid of Obamacare. The struggle over tactics could well determine who controls the Republican Party – and just as important, its image – for years to come. One contingent is actively promoting the Friday vote, which will strip money for implementing the law, while keeping the government running after the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

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Republicans unveil healthcare reform alternative amid threats of government shutdown
FierceHealthcare

The GOP this week unveiled an alternative plan to President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law amid a threat from a minority of Republicans to defund the law before the Oct. 1 implementation date and shutdown the government. The bill–Republican Study Committee’s American Health Care Reform Act–which calls for a full repeal of the healthcare reform law “dramatically opens up options for families, and dramatically lowers costs” compared to Obama’s law, committee chairman Louisiana Rep. Steven Scalise told The Daily Caller.

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House GOP Leaders Aim to Defund Health Reform Law
PBS

The Federal Reserve will not dial back its economic stimulus program just yet. In a surprise move, the Central Bank announced today it plans to continue buying billions of dollars of bonds to hold down interest rates.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said it’s because the economic outlook has dimmed in recent months. We will have more on the Fed’s decision later in the program. The Fed’s announcement sent Wall Street on a buying binge.

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Rep. Marlin Stutzman: ObamaCare hurts all Americans
USA Today

Indiana’s largest school district is located in Fort Wayne, in the heart of the congressional district I have the privilege to represent in the U.S. House of Representatives. In May, Fort Wayne Community Schools announced it was cutting the hours of more than 600 part-time employees.

Medical device manufacturers located in my congressional district have been forced to forgo new investments and lay off hundreds of Hoosiers because of a 2.3% excise tax on medical device equipment.

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ObamaCare foes taking hostages: Our view
USA Today

Republicans’ obsession with overturning ObamaCare is getting sillier and more dangerous at the same time. Now that they’ve failed to kill the law every way the rules allow — in Congress, the Supreme Court and in a presidential election — the opponents are taking hostages and, in effect, threatening to shoot them if they don’t get their way.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, the hostages are the federal government and the U.S. economy.

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Debunking the latest creepy smear of Obamacare
Los Angeles Times

The battle over healthcare reform legislation has always been as much about politics as policy. So it’s not surprising that, as full implementation of the law approaches, the tactics are looking more and more like the last-ditch smears of a failing campaign.

And to think that the anti-Obamacare side is ahead in the polls.

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Many Americans confused about health-care law, poll finds
Washington Post

Politicians bring it up continually. Groups have spent millions of dollars promoting — and denouncing — it on television. President Obama is out lauding it virtually every week.

Yet Americans are stubbornly confounded about the health-care law known to many as Obamacare. “Never heard,” said Lenard Pringle, 54, a Greenbelt resident who said he was not aware of any changes coming to the health-care system.

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Obama says healthcare reform will boost exports
UPI.com

U.S. President Obama, speaking on trade policy Thursday at a meeting with his Export Council, says healthcare reform will boost exports.

He spoke about the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis and the recovery.

“We have worked our way back because of the incredible grit and resilience of the American people; because of the outstanding dynamism of our business sectors; because of, I think, some timely work on the part of this administration and other agencies to make sure that we were responsive to the immediate needs of the American people,” Obama said.

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Insurance commissioner approves certification process for Covered California
Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California took another step forward when the state’s insurance commissioner approved an important license this week for agents working with the health exchange. California Department of Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones also approved the exchange’s training and certification process that agents must complete to sell health insurance through the exchange.

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Doctor sees clear need to aid uninsured
RecordNet

Do you need cataract surgery? Are you uninsured?

Cataracts – a cloudiness in the lens of the eye that dulls or blurs vision – cost an average of $3,000 to $3,500 per eye to remove. That can be an extreme hardship to afford for most people without access to adequate health coverage.

Eye surgeons and staff from Delta Eye Medical Group and San Joaquin Laser & Surgery Center have vowed to help people facing visual loss by providing a free cataract surgery day on Oct. 20.

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How many die from medical mistakes in U.S. hospitals?
Central Valley Business Times

It seems that every time researchers estimate how often a medical mistake contributes to a hospital patient’s death, the numbers come out worse. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published the famous “To Err Is Human” report, which dropped a bombshell on the medical community by reporting that up to 98,000 people a year die because of mistakes in hospitals. The number was initially disputed, but is now widely accepted by doctors and hospital officials 2014 and quoted ubiquitously in the media.

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Drug-resistant superbugs multiplying: CDC report IDs ‘urgent threats’
Los Angeles Times

Thoughtless use of antibiotic medications continues to promote the growth of drug-resistant superbugs in the U.S., threatening doctors’ ability to combat infections, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 114-page publication, which was written for the general public, offered the first comprehensive picture of drug resistance in the U.S., said CDC’s director, Dr. Thomas Frieden.

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Some good news about teen obesity rates
Los Angeles Times

It’s little more than a glimmer of hope, but a comprehensive new report suggests that a trend toward healthier habits may have halted the rise of obesity among the nation’s teens.

In 2009 and 2010, American adolescents exercised more, watched less TV, ate more fruits and vegetables and drank fewer sugar-sweetened beverages than did children of the same age in 2001 and 2002, the national study found. The research was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

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Walgreens moves workers to private health-care exchange
Washington Post

Walgreens said on Wednesday that it is moving 160,000 workers to a new health-insurance model, joining a growing list of large employers seeking to control costs by having employees shop for coverage in a private marketplace. The drugstore chain said that beginning in 2014, it will give employees a set amount of money to choose health insurance coverage from a wide range of offerings in a fast-expanding private online marketplace run by Aon Hewitt, a benefits firm.

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No more Friday-doughnut days? Kaiser and its unions try collective get-healthy plan
Sacramento Bee

No more Friday doughnut days at work? In what’s being called a novel approach to the typical employee wellness program, Kaiser Permanente and its 29 employee unions are offering cash bonuses to workers who – as a group – collectively lose weight, lower their blood pressure, cut their cholesterol and stop smoking.

The bonuses – up to $500 a year – will be doled out based on the improved health of all participants in a particular region, rather than that of any individual.

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AMA celebrates new Chicago headquarters
Modern Healthcare

A landmark Chicago skyscraper is the new headquarters of the American Medical Association, a relocation being marked Thursday by a dedication ceremony.

The nation’s largest doctors’ group is making its new home at 330 N. Wabash, a building designed by famed architect Ludvig Mies van der Rohe and formerly known as the IBM Building. The building has been renamed AMA Plaza. The AMA will be the tower’s anchor tenant, occupying floors 39 through 47 of the 52-story building.

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UCSF study turns anorexia treatment on its head
San Francisco Chronicle

When an adolescent is hospitalized with anorexia nervosa, feeding their malnourished young bodies is of urgent importance. On the complicated path to recovery, gaining weight is a critical step.

But how hospitals approach that first step, called refeeding, has in recent years been subject to rethinking. Now a quartet of studies to be published in the November issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health offers evidence in favor of a new approach – and suggests an emerging shift in the way hospitals approach treating the disorder.

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UC medical workers make complaint against administrators over strike
Sacramento Business Journal

The Public Employment Relations Board issued an unfair labor practice complaint against University of California medical administrators Tuesday. The complaint stems from the strike called by the 13,000 UC Patient Care Technical Workers in May.

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County gears for health care reform
The Community Voice

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors received an extensive report on health care reform implementation on Tuesday, Sept. 17, from multiple county departments and community partners. The report, the second of ongoing quarterly updates provided to the Board of Supervisors, focused on the receipt of a highly competitive grant, the impact of health care reform on the county as the largest employer in Sonoma County and the expansion of mental health and substance abuse treatment staff.

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Treading water: Mayor names Healthy San Francisco task force members, but what’s the rush?
San Francisco Business Times

What’s the hurry? Plenty, say business interests frustrated with a lack of alacrity by City Hall on helping them avoid potential double jeopardy when it comes to paying to provide health coverage for their San Francisco workers. Many San Francisco businesses and business groups, including the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, are concerned about how the Affordable Care Act and the city’s complex health reform efforts will — or won’t — line up when key elements of Obamacare kick in come Jan. 1. Worst case, they fear they’ll face duplicative costs, continuing confusion and mountains of additional red tape.

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