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News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Sacramento event takes stock of health care overhaul
San Luis Obispo Tribune

With open enrollment for California’s health insurance exchange just days away, an event co-sponsored by Capitol Weekly and the University of California Sacramento Center will take stock of the much-maligned, endlessly debated federal health care overhaul and evaluate what comes next.

Attendees will hear from a long roster including officials with Covered California and business representatives. Speakers will include Diana Dooley, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency; California Medical Association CEO Dustin Corcoran; John Kabateck, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business; Matt Cate, head of the California State Association of Counties; Duane Dauner, president of the California Hospital Association; and Charles Bacchi of the California Association of Health Plans.

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Individuals will define Obamacare’s fate
Washington Post

On the day in 2010 that he put his signature to the biggest domestic achievement of his presidency, President Obama declared: “After a century of striving, after a year of debate, after a historic vote, health-care reform is no longer an unmet promise. It is the law of the land.”

Now, we get to see whether it works. Starting Oct. 1, more than 40 million Americans who lack medical insurance will have their first chance to sign up for coverage under the new system that has come to be known as Obamacare.

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Pricey technology may drive growth in health spending, not economy or reform, analysis finds
Modern Healthcare

High-priced technology—not the economy and not healthcare reform—has the most potential to drive U.S. health spending growth upward in the years ahead, a new analysis published by the Brookings Institution has found. Economists at Harvard University and Dartmouth College said pricey brand-name drugs and capital-intensive technology are “the primary determinant of long-term growth.” They also said that despite sluggish spending on prescriptions in recent years, “there is little evidence of slowdowns in the technology pipeline.”

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Win-Win Payments for Healthcare Providers
Health Leaders Media

As healthcare moves away from fee-for-service to reimbursement models that reward quality and value, payers and providers are entering into new contract arrangements designed to align their financial incentives.

Although the relationship between these two sides historically has been adversarial, this innovative approach represents a chance for provider organizations to partner with payers to receive compensation for improving the quality of the care they deliver.

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Did We Get It Right? A Behind the Scenes Look at California’s Healthcare Strategy
The Health Care Blog

Back in 2010 — before two elections, before the Supreme Court ruled, before the word “crisis” stopped following the words “California budget” — Kim Belshé settled on a guiding principle: “2014 is tomorrow.” And now, it almost is. The Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate takes effect in less than 100 days. The nation’s health insurance exchanges go live next week.

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Healthcare law: White House shifts from selling to explaining
Los Angeles Times

In the years since the Affordable Care Act became law, the measure known as Obamacare has been debated, excoriated, legally challenged, upheld and then debated some more.

Now, with its centerpiece element opening for business in six days, the White House is focusing on a task that many critics of the administration say is long overdue: explaining it.

Explaining was Priority No. 1 for the Obama administration during much of the week, with everyone from the commander in chief to the rank-and-file press staff setting out details for reporters.

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Affordable Care Act insurance plans revealed
ABC News

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014 all Americans without health insurance must get it.

Most Californians who have medical insurance haven’t made changes to their policies in years. But when annual open-enrollment starts in the next couple weeks, everyone’s plan will look a little different.

Wade Overgaard is with Kaiser Permanente, one of the insurance companies providing coverage in California. He said the Affordable Care Act “will standardize the market.”

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Popularity aside, Obama just wants healthcare reform to work
FierceHealthcare

President Barack Obama said what matters most is getting healthcare reform off the ground and getting people enrolled, not the political popularity of the Affordable Care Act, The Hill’s Healthwatch reported. “I don’t have pride of authorship on this, I just want the thing to work,” Obama said Tuesday. He wants Americans to at least look at their coverage options and decide for themselves whether the law is good for them.

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Obamacare: Californians will pay 10th highest rates in country under health exchange
The Mercury News

The price of health insurance under Obamacare came sharply into focus Thursday, as Californians learned that they will pay the 10th-highest rates in the country for a mid-range policy.

With less than a week to go until open enrollment begins on the new health-insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration published insurance premiums and plan choices for 26 states where the federal government is taking the lead to cover uninsured residents.

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Navigating the Affordable Care Act, whose health insurance exchanges open Tuesday
Washington Post

It’s time for the Affordable Care Act’s first big test. On Tuesday, the online health insurance marketplaces — the centerpiece of President Obama’s health-care law — are scheduled to open for business. The plan is for millions of Americans to go online to compare health plans, find out if they’re eligible for federal help with premiums and buy coverage. But problems — which include the District’s announcement on Wednesday that a major part of its online marketplace will not be ready Tuesday — could impede the program’s debut.

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Janet Coffman: ACA’s Impact on San Francisco and California
UCSF Today

Q: How does the health insurance exchange impact Healthy San Francisco, the city’s program that makes health care services accessible to uninsured San Francisco residents?

Some persons who currently are enrolled in Healthy San Francisco will be eligible for subsidized coverage through Covered California. Others will be eligible to enroll in Medi-Cal under the new eligibility rules.

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Could narrow networks discourage expensive consumers from enrolling?
FierceHealthPayer

Insurers have clearly demonstrated their belief that narrow network plans will help them soften the impact of rising costs associated with new members under the reform law.

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Firms Drop, Rather Than Upgrade, Cheapest Health Plans
The Wall Street Journal

The nation’s largest provider of security guards plans to discontinue its lowest-cost health plans and steer roughly 55,000 workers to new government-sponsored insurance exchanges for coverage next year, in the latest sign of the fraying ties between employment and health care. The U.S. arm of Sweden’s Securitas AB SECU-B.SK +0.95% is among more than 1,200 employers that offer the kind of bare-bones health plans that must be phased out beginning Jan. 1 under the health-care law.

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Obama Lied, My Health Plan Died
National Review Online

Like an estimated 22 million other Americans, I am a self-employed small-business owner who buys health insurance for my family directly on the individual market. We have a high-deductible PPO plan that allows us to choose from a wide range of doctors.

Or rather, we had such a plan.

Last week, our family received notice from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado that we can no longer keep the plan we like because of “changes from health care reform (also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA).”

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Disruptive Innovation and the Affordable Care Act
The Health Care Blog

Since its passage in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been analyzed by experts from nearly every political, economic, and health policy angle possible. Yet in the noisy debate about whether the legislation is good or bad and whether to implement or repeal it, we think there’s something missing: a rigorous but practical discussion of the innovation opportunities created by the legislation and the barriers to innovation it imposes.

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Consumers could see high cost sharing with exchange plans, analysts warn
Modern Healthcare

A new report from HHS may do little to quell the heated debate over whether the health insurance exchanges will be affordable enough that millions of Americans can be persuaded to buy the plans during the six-month open enrollment period that begins next week. Congressional Democrats cheered the Obama administration’s findings as proof that Americans will face more choices, greater competition and better value when they shop for their 2014 insurance policies on the exchanges, which will launch in January.

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Fewer certified EHRs for Stage 2 may pose problems for hospitals, doc practices
Modern Healthcare

There is growing concern that far fewer software developers have certified electronic health-record systems for use by healthcare providers under federal Stage 2 meaningful-use requirements than under Stage 1. A Modern Healthcare review of the Certified Health IT Product List compiled by HHS‘ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology shows that just 79 companies, providers and other organizations have developed software and had it tested and certified to ONC-determined software functionality standards for Stage 2 meaningful-use requirements.

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Sierra Health Foundation giving $1.5M to community health centers
Sacramento Business Journal

A few lucky health clinics will receive grants Thursday at a special event in Sacramento. The Sierra Health Foundation, a local health philanthropy, is giving $1.5 million to five local health centers to improve patient care and coordination before the Affordable Care Act ramps up next month.

Each center will receive $300,000 over two years. The grantees include the Center for AIDS, Research, Education and Services; Midtown Medical Center for Children and Families in Sacramento; Wellspace Health in Rancho Cordova; Chapa-De Indian Health Program in Woodland and Winters Healthcare Foundation in Winters.

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