News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Simple Outpatient Protocols Reduce CLABSI by 48%
Health Leaders Media

Training pediatric patients and their parents in basic infection-prevention protocols such as hand hygiene, the use of gloves and masks, and proper tube and needle replacement dramatically lowered bloodstream infections for children with central lines receiving outpatient chemotherapy. A study published this week in Pediatrics by researchers at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) found that the protocols reduce Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSIs) by 48% and bacteria in the blood by 54%.

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Hospitals and insurers struggle to reduce costs by patients dubbed “super-utilizers”
Washington Post

A 58-year-old Maryland woman breaks her ankle, develops a blood clot and, unable to find a doctor to monitor her blood-thinning drug, winds up in an emergency room 30 times in six months. A 55-year-old Mississippi man with severe hypertension and kidney disease is repeatedly hospitalized for worsening heart and kidney failure; doctors don’t know that his utilities have been disconnected, leaving him without air conditioning or a refrigerator in the sweltering summer heat.

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ACOs more likely to be in markets with hospital, doctor consolidation, study finds
Modern Healthcare

In five markets around the country, accountable care organizations were providing care to more than half the Medicare patients in the traditional fee-for-service program, a new study found. In addition, ACOs were more likely to be found in markets with greater consolidation by hospitals and doctors. Researchers with Rand Corp. and Harvard University identified five markets where more than half the traditional Medicare beneficiaries were served by Medicare ACOs, either those participating in the Medicare Pioneer program or the Medicare Shared Savings program. The authors identified the markets in a map included in the study.

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Insurers, others say ‘Obamacare’ glitches fixable
San Francisco Chronicle

The federal government’s biggest foray into online commerce has left millions of tech-savvy Americans thoroughly bewildered.

But the insurance industry and others experienced with rolling out new programs say there’s still enough time to fix the glitches with President Barack Obama’s health care law before uninsured people start getting coverage on Jan. 1.

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Health Care Reform Works in Massachusetts and It Will Work in America
The Huffington Post

As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) takes effect this month, it might be helpful for people to know how its prototype in Massachusetts is working, after nearly seven years.

Virtually every resident in the Commonwealth is insured. More private companies offer insurance to their employees than ever before. Over 90 percent of our residents have a primary care physician.

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Health law glitches: fatal or fleeting?
Modern Healthcare

The glitch-ridden rollout of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law has opponents crowing: “Told you so!” and insisting it should be paused, if not scrapped. But others, including insurance companies, say there’s still enough time to fix the online enrollment system before uninsured Americans start getting coverage on Jan. 1. After emergency repairs over the weekend, consumers in different parts of the country Monday continued to report delays on healthcare.gov, as well as problems setting up security questions for their accounts.

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U.S. Health Exchange’s Stumbles Continue Into Second Week
San Francisco Chronicle

Consumers couldn’t access parts of the U.S. government’s online health-insurance exchange today, after a weekend of technical upgrades failed to eliminate delays in the system at the heart of the Affordable Care Act.

The federal website, meant to serve people in 36 states, was still delivering error messages to users trying to create accounts. While most of the 14 states running their own health exchanges, including California, ran better, New York’s website had problems registering some consumers.

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Darrell Issa’s Health-Care Plan Is Basically a Plush Obamacare
The Atlantic

Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, took to Twitter Monday to propose replacing Obamacare with an array of subsidized, state-based, market-driven comprehensive health-insurance options that are not linked to employment and don’t penalize people for having pre-existing conditions.

Wait, what?

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California aggressively pushes health-care law
Washington Post

Fliers and tablet computers in hand, a small team of outreach workers from a local nonprofit health clinic blanketed a shopping strip east of Los Angeles, spreading the word about the state’s expanding health insurance landscape under Obamacare. Stopping passersby on the sidewalk as they ducked in and out of the row of discount stores and easy-credit furniture shops at the Valley Mall, the workers assured them that the changes would put health insurance within the reach of more Californians.

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Obamacare Downside: Reports of Premiums Going Up
KQED Radio

The notice from Kaiser came in the mail about ten days ago. Luke Donavan’s health insurance premiums were going up. A lot. Donavan, 41 of San Francisco, is self-employed and buys his own health insurance. Currently he pays $841 per month for insurance for himself, his wife and three young children. Effective Jan. 1, that’s going up to $1,000, with a higher deductible.

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Healthcare Reform Top of Mind for Small Business Owners
SmallBusinessPatch

Our friends at SurePayroll, a leading provider of online payroll services for small businesses, have released their September 2013 Small Business Scorecard, a comprehensive summary of nationwide trends in small business hiring and salaries.

Healthcare reform is top of mind for small business owners not only because of the impact it will have on their current business, but also because of the ways it can affect their hiring practices.

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Health savings vs. flexible spending accounts
USA Today

Going through open enrollment? Want to save on your taxes at the same time? There’s a way to do that.

Health savings plans and flexible spending accounts become available to you based on what kind of health plan you sign up for, but both let you sock away pretax dollars for future medical costs. While there are benefits to both types of savings accounts, there are also important differences to keep in mind.

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Obamacare’s next round
Los Angeles Times

For all the acrimony in Washington over Obamacare, there’s an intriguing consensus around one issue: the ratchet effect. Neither side uses the term, but both the right and left treat it as an article of faith.

The term was coined by the libertarian economist Robert Higgs. In his book “Crisis and Leviathan,” Higgs described how the state takes on massive new powers during a crisis, usually wars.

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Going for the Bronze! Or Maybe Even Silver!
Mission & State

Health-coverage salvation and celebration—or at least a decent beginning—I think. This morning, a friend forwarded a Barbara Boxer newsletter on Covered California, the state’s new healthcare exchange. Instead of navigating the Internet as instructed, I rang the phone number provided in the newsletter. Delighted to know there is a real person available to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act from Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., except holidays, I hastily dial (888) 975-1142. I get a brief, amateur-sounding recorded introduction.

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We all have pre-existing conditions now
San Francisco Chronicle

Monday I spoke with a freelance journalist who made $98,000 last year — she writes for trade publications. I was a little surprised when she told me that she felt that Obamacare premiums — $3,600 for her alone or $7,200 for her husband — was too expensive and she would rather pay a fine. She and her husband are both 51, he smokes. The premiums seem reasonable and within reach given their income to me, but she’s not so sure. (She lives in a rural county. If she lived in Alameda, her premiums would be $2,000 higher.)

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I’m just saying no to mammography: Why the numbers are in my favor
Washington Post

A few days after my 40th birthday, I had a routine appointment with my gynecologist. As she turned to leave the exam room, she handed me a slip of paper without saying a word. It was a prescription for a mammogram. “Wait — you’re not going to discuss this with me?” I asked. I knew that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) had advised that for women in their 40s, the decision to start mammography should be an individual one, based on family history and a patient’s values.

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California should update policy on biosimilar medicines
Sacramento Bee

A bill now on the governor’s desk – Senate Bill 598, which I authored – not only will save lives of patients with serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, but also will grow California’s economy by expanding access to a new class of more affordable medicines called biosimilars.

The legislation is timely since these new treatments are expected to hit the U.S. health care market soon.

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New medical plan for Monterey County seniors offered
The Californian - Salinas

A new Medicare Advantage plan launched Oct. 1 in Monterey County offers seniors the chance to join a health maintenance organization, the only one locally.

Aspire Health Plan is a start-up underwritten by Community Hospital Foundation, which has put about $3 million into the enterprise, said Scott Kelly, chief operating officer of Aspire Health Plan.

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CNA settles longrunning dispute with Sutter, turns sights to Kaiser
San Francisco Business Times

More than 3,000 RNs and several hundred technicians ratified new contracts at five Bay Area hospitals run by Sutter Health, in what appears to be a clear victory for the California Nurses Association. CNA members voted “overwhelmingly” for the new contract, which provides pay increases of up to 6 percent over the course of the deal, according to the Oakland-based union. It didn’t supply a tally of the votes.

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Sutter Health sells midtown facility
Sacramento Bee

Sutter Health today said it is selling its 100-bed skilled-nursing facility in midtown Sacramento. The facility, known as Sutter Oaks Midtown Nursing Center, is being sold to Plum Healthcare Group, a privately owned chain of skilled-nursing facilities based in San Marcos. The price wasn’t disclosed. Sutter made the decision to sell because “we want to focus on the hospital care – the acute care,” said spokeswoman Nancy Turner. “That’s our core business.”

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Sutter Health shifting long-term care, cutting jobs
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Health announced Monday a shake up in its long-term care facilities that will force staff and patients to relocate before the end of the year. The health system wants to make room for more patients needing acute medical care, which involves more immediate hospital intervention. To do that, the system on Dec. 1 will close its 30-bed subacute care unit at Sutter Roseville Medical Center, which provides specialized care for patients with tracheotomies or ventilators. Subacute care involves more rehabilitation and less immediate medical intervention than acute care.

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