News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Transforming health with tech
San Diego Union-Tribune

Technology has the potential to change the way health care is delivered across the world, but only if those who are in charge start thinking differently about the problems they are trying to solve. That was the general consensus of four technologists who discussed the future of medical technology Thursday at The Atlantic Meets The Pacific conference under way this week at UC San Diego.

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California health insurance exchange still lacks doctor search tool
Los Angeles Times

Several days into enrollment, California’s insurance exchange still has no answers for people wanting to know if their doctors are included in health plans being sold on the state-run market.

Covered California, the state’s new insurance marketplace, said Thursday that its online search tool for doctors and hospitals won’t be ready until Monday at the earliest.

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Ted Gaines announces run for insurance commissioner
Sacramento Bee

Possibly setting up a clash over health insurance regulation, Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin, announced Thursday that he will run for California insurance commissioner next year.

Gaines won a new Senate term in 2012, which means he is not up for re-election until 2016 and can seek statewide office next year without risking the Senate seat.

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Government continues bid to streamline new health exchanges
Washington Post

The federal government on Thursday continued to tackle technological problems that have prevented many Americans from buying insurance on the new marketplaces created by the health-care law.

Health insurers and individuals, meanwhile, have begun reporting limited cases of successful enrollment through the online exchanges.

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Government continues streamlining new health exchanges
Washington Post

Health insurers and individuals began reporting a trickle of enrollments in the new online marketplaces created by the health-care law, as federal and state officials scrambled to try to fix technical problems that have prevented many consumers from buying coverage.

The White House has declined to release any national statistics on sign-ups, saying complete information was not yet available.

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Pressure mounts to fix health insurance exchanges
Modern Healthcare

The pressure is on for the federal government and states running their own health insurance exchanges to get the systems up and running after overloaded websites and jammed phone lines frustrated consumers for a second day as they tried to sign up for coverage using the new marketplaces.

In some ways, the delays that persisted Wednesday were good news for President Barack Obama and supporters of his signature domestic policy achievement because the holdups showed what appeared to be exceptionally high interest in the overhauled insurance system.

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Lessons For The Obamacare Rollout, Courtesy Of Massachusetts
National Public Radio

Today marks a milestone on the nation’s long march toward universal health coverage: the launch of online marketplaces, called exchanges, designed to help people find insurance they can afford. It’s an idea pioneered by Massachusetts seven years ago. People here call their program a success, and say the state’s exchange was an indispensable factor. Those involved since the beginning say the Massachusetts health insurance exchange, called the Connector, was the brainchild of former Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican.

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People Are Calling This Obamacare Insurance Exchange in Tears
Bloomberg.com

For Xerox’s (XRX) Kevin Walsh, “10/1,” as he calls this past Tuesday, was years in the making. Walsh is the managing director of a division of Xerox that’s working with states on the insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, and Oct. 1 was the day all of them went live. I checked in with him to see how the first few days of the exchange went in Nevada, where the company both runs the technology that underpins the website and operates the call centers that field queries from the public.

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Republicans Have Already Gutted Health Coverage in Their Home States
The Atlantic

The push to shutter the government instead of implementing Obamacare is a macrocosm of a fight Republicans have already won: condemning millions of extremely poor residents of their states to the uncertainty that comes from no health care coverage. A stunning report from The New York Timesindicates that, even after the Affordable Care Act goes into full effect on January 1, millions of Americans will still lack health coverage because they are too poor to qualify for subsidized plans and live in states that refuse to expand Medicaid coverage.

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Healthcare reform struggles plague hospitals
Fierce HealthFinance

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, hospitals across the country face multi-million-dollar losses. Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, for instance, expects a $45 million shortfall once the law fully kicks in, WSB-TV Channel 2 reported. The healthcare law cut federal funding for hospitals that care for the poor but intended for Medicaid expansion to offset those losses.

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Insurers See Enrollment on New Health Exchanges
The Wall Street Journal

Insurers said they are now getting enrollees through the health law’s new online marketplaces, though some state websites and the federally run exchange continued to be slow amid heavy traffic.

“I’d characterize the enrollments as a trickle rather than a wave at this early stage,” said Raymond Smithberger, general manager for individual and family plans at Cigna Corp., CI +0.45% which was notified of its first enrollees Wednesday night.

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Training lagging for counselors to help consumers use exchanges
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare providers and community organizations across the country that have been designated as certified application counselors to help consumers enroll in health plans on the new state health insurance exchanges are still waiting for their staff to receive certification because of delays by state and federal officials.

“People have called who would be eligible to purchase private insurance,” said Sally Goodman, a health promotion associate with the Erie Family Health Center located on Chicago’s near West Side.

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Meet One of the First Obamacare Enrollees
The Wall Street Journal

While millions of consumers stared down error messages on the online insurance marketplaces launched this week, some did make it through to shop the slate of coverage choices under the new federal health law.

Leslie Foster, a 28-year-old freelance filmmaker in Hollywood, is among the first to sign up for an insurance plan.

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Obamacare Activist, Marcelas Owens, Expresses Pride In Realizing His Affordable Healthcare Dream
The Huffington Post

Marcelas Owens has had extraordinary experiences in his lifetime.

At age eight, he lost his mother and responded to his heartbreaking loss by becoming a young activist fighting for universal healthcare. At age 11, he stood next to the president as Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Now at age 14, he saw the program launched on Oct. 1.

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How healthcare can work when it is a right, not a privilege
Los Angeles Times

Republican lawmakers are determined to protect the American people from what they call “socialized medicine” and what the rest of the world calls affordable and accessible healthcare.

What seldom comes up in this discussion, though, is what exactly we’re talking about. Is it the government owning and running all hospitals? Is it Washington bureaucrats deciding who receives treatment and who doesn’t?

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Affordable Care Act could open door to self-employment
Sacramento Business Journal

Among those who could benefit most from the Affordable Care Act are the self-employed — and those who would be self-employed if they could get health insurance on their own. The law is expected to mean less expensive health plans for most individuals. But with less than three months to go before the new policies take effect, most in this group — along with other Americans — are uncertain what the law means for them.

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Small-business options grow under ACA
Sacramento Business Journal

With less than three months to go before insurance coverage is available under the Affordable Care Act, a critical question for any small businesses is whether to sign up for a group policy through California’s health exchange, keep an existing group plan outside the exchange — or drop coverage entirely. Amid changing insurance requirements, health plan structures, reporting rules and taxes, the health insurance landscape is shifting radically under the Affordable Care Act.

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Covered California clock is ticking
San Francisco Business Times

Ready or not, the Covered California health exchange is open for business. Covered California is the Golden State’s version of the public state exchanges seen as the crux of the Affordable Care Act’s attempt to move tens of millions of uninsured Americans and up to 6 million uninsured Californians into the ranks of those with bona fide health coverage. State officials, however, have been downplaying short-term expectations for some time.

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As Covered California goes live, debate continues about ACA
Sacramento Business Journal

More than three years after the Affordable Care Act was signed, a central pillar of the law — the requirement that all individuals have insurance or pay a penalty — is about to take effect. To help people buy affordable coverage, health insurance exchanges kicked off open enrollment Oct. 1. Coverage starts Jan. 1. New insurance rules that prohibit insurers from denying coverage to anyone with pre-existing conditions take effect the same day.

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Exchanges release early transaction numbers
LifeHealthPRO

Given all of the technical glitches and marketing challenges the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchanges face, it’s tough to know how the early exchange traffic and transaction volume numbers will correlate with plan sales.

But, here’s a look at some state volume numbers collected by the Associated Press:

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Ooops! Covered California overstates first-day web hits by factor of 7.7
San Francisco Business Times

Due to “internal miscommunication” within Covered California, the new health benefits exchange drastically overstated the number of web hits it got Tuesday, day one of open enrollment, the Los Angeles Times reports. Now state officials are saying the exchange, a key element of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, got just 645,000 web hits on Oct. 1, a far cry from the 5 million they originally reported.

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Affording the Affordable Care Act
The Health Care Blog

As enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) new health care markets, or exchanges as they are also known, begins, much of the debate over the law is focused on insurance: Who will get coverage? How much will premiums cost? Should our state expand Medicaid? Yet health insurance is not an end in itself. The point of insurance is to help people get the health care they need at prices they can afford and, in the event of serious injury or accident, to protect them from catastrophically high medical bills.

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Door-to-door healthcare reform outreach for So. Cal’s ethnic communities
MedCity News

Inside Deshi Restaurant and Grocery, standing near the bags of lentils, chickpeas and curry leaves, Nina Sharmin greets customers with a rat-a-tat of questions.

“Do you have a green card? Have you been to the doctor lately?” she asks in her native Bangla.

“Have you heard of Obamacare?”

Here in a tired-out strip mall in Los Angeles’ Little Bangladesh, the answer is often the same. No.

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Walgreen partners with GoHealth for health insurance comparison shopping
Modern Healthcare

In an attempt to address the uncertainty surrounding health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act, Walgreen Co. said today it is partnering with Chicago-based GoHealth to help customers understand the new insurance marketplaces.

The pharmacy chain will refer customers in its 8,500 stores and via its website to GoHealth Marketplace, an online resource where they can compare and purchase health plans much the way people buy airline tickets on Orbitz.

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California Health & Wellness chooses CEO
Sacramento Business Journal

California Health & Wellness has appointed Greg Buchert as its CEO. Launched this year, California Health & Wellness is a subsidiary of Centene Corp. that was awarded a contract to serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries in Imperial County, as well as in 18 Northern California counties. Under the contract, California Health & Wellness serves people in the state’s Medi-Cal Managed Care programs including people in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Children’s Health Insurance Program.

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S.F. kicks off drug pricing measure Proposition D (Video)
San Francisco Business Times

San Francisco’s first-in-the nation drug pricing measure — Proposition D — formally kicked off Thursday on the steps of City Hall. The November ballot measure, dubbed the “Fair Drug Pricing” campaign and pushed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, would require the city to negotiate directly with drug makers. But its real target seems to be Foster City-based Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD), the number-one developer of HIV medications.

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