News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California Hospital Association Re-Files 2014 Medi-Cal Ballot Initiative
PR Newswire

The California Hospital Association (CHA) today re-filed ballot initiative language for a 2014 measure that will protect hospital funds intended to support care provided to low-income Californians and health care for children from being diverted for non-patient care purposes. The re-filing of the initiative was made necessary because of amendments included in SB 239 (Hernandez, D-West Covina/ Steinberg D-Sacramento).

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Professional satisfaction for docs tied to better care, RAND study shows
Modern Healthcare

Physicians’ perception of their ability to provide high-quality care most strongly determines their level of professional satisfaction, according to a newly released RAND Corp. study. The American Medical Association sponsored the study as a way to better understand — and hopefully address — the issue of declining physician morale. Researchers conducted hundreds of face-to-face interviews and surveys of physicians and other health professionals in 30 practices across six states.

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Questionable design blamed for health website woes
Modern Healthcare

A decision by the Obama administration to require that consumers create online accounts before they can browse health overhaul insurance plans appears to have led to many of the glitches that have frustrated customers, independent experts say. Most e-commerce websites — as well as medicare.gov — are not designed to require those merely browsing to set up accounts. But it’s one of the first steps on healthcare.gov.

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In medicine, more care may not be better
Los Angeles Times

The dull whir of the computer running in the background seemed to have gotten louder as the patient fell quiet. She was a young woman, a primary-care patient of mine, seeking a referral to yet another gastroenterologist. Her abdominal pain had already been checked out by two of the city’s most renowned gastroenterologists with invasive testing, CAT scans and endoscopic procedures. But she wasn’t satisfied with her diagnosis — irritable bowel syndrome — or the recommended treatment and wanted a third opinion.

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HHS works to fix insurance marketplace glitches
Modern Healthcare

Federal officials say they have identified and can fix the biggest flaws in their online insurance marketplace after an inaugural week marked by system outages and long wait times. In response to a flood of visitors to its healthcare.gov site, HHS said it continues to beef up server capacity while updating software to make the site better able to accommodate large numbers of users. Healthcare.gov is the enrollment conduit for 36 states that declined to operate their own exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Obamacare failed website’s clever innovation: Column
USA Today

The nation’s new health-insurance exchanges, the online marketplaces for medical coverage that are an integral part of Obamacare, opened for business last week. Immediately the trouble began. Webpages went blank. Attempts to enroll in coverage were delayed, or altogether stymied, as sites crashed. Critics of the law pounced. “Too many unanswered questions and too many unsolved problems,” said U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah. Yet there’s another way to see these growing pains: as evidence not of change but of continuity for consumers of health insurance in America.

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Gov. actuaries say ObamaCare will increase health care spending by $621 billion over next 10 years
Fox News

President Obama has made many promises about his signature health care plan, but one of the simplest was an assurance that it would lower national health care spending and save every family thousands of dollars.

For example, in May 2009 he hailed “comprehensive health care reform — so that we can do what I pledged to do as a candidate and save a typical family an average of $2,500 on their health care costs in the coming years.”

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Placing the Affordable Care Act in the Wider Debate on Healthcare Systems
The Huffington Post

Right now, hysteria inside the Republican Party about the flaws of the Affordable Care Act is running very high indeed. So high in fact that Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN) was not treated as mentally insane by his party’s leadership last week for denouncing Obamacare as “one of the most insidious laws ever devised.” Nor was Representative William O’Brien (R-NH) dismissed by them as an idiot for likening the Affordable Care Act to the nineteenth century Fugitive Slave Act.

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Health tech helps create capacity on eve of Obamacare
San Diego Union-Tribune

On New Year’s Day, nearly 200,000 San Diego County residents will qualify for subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and an additional 100,000 will be newly eligible for Medi-Cal coverage. While it is not clear how many of those people will sign up right away, local health systems say they are turning to technology to help increase the capacity of their delivery systems when the wave of newly insured patients arrives.

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Businesses question health care law requirement
San Francisco Chronicle

Some businesses say they’ll be forced to hire fewer people or cut employee hours to avoid having to offer insurance coverage to workers under the new health care law. But an economic researcher says there’s too much misinformation circulating about the law and that there’s no data to support claims that companies have already been cutting workers hours.

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These two small biz owners do their best to convince Congress to change Obamacare
San Francisco Business Times

How many hours do you think an employee has to work in order to be considered full-time? If you think the answer is 40, you’d be wrong, at least according to the Affordable Care Act. Under health care reform, an employee who works only 30 hours is counted as a full-time employee when it comes to the law’s insurance coverage requirements. Two business owners traveled to Washington, D.C., Wednesday to tell Congress about the problems this definition of a full-time employee is creating.

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Poll: Health exchange rollout gets poor reviews
San Francisco Chronicle

The government’s new health insurance marketplaces are drawing lots of rotten tomatoes in early reviews, but people are at least checking them out.

Seven percent of Americans report that somebody in their household has tried to sign up for insurance through the health care exchanges, according to an AP-GfK poll.

While that’s a small percentage, it could represent more than 20 million people.

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Searching For a Healthcare Provider Superhero
Mission & State

Late Tuesday afternoon, Donnie Flores, Sansum Clinic’s director of business services, returned my call and referred me to his colleague, a nice lady in the marketing department. After a bit of procrastination, I push myself to get back on the health-insurance beat to see if I can find out if Sansum Clinic will eventually cover ACA health plans. I call her. “It’s really a difficult issue,” she says. ”A lot of this is new to us. I’m a little leery to speak with you.”

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Hospitals slash labor costs to make up for lost Medicare revenue
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals spend less on operations—largely by squeezing labor costs—to make up for lost revenue when Medicare cuts hospital prices, according to a study published in the journal Health Services Research.

The study found that hospitals eliminate 1.7 full-time jobs for every $100,000 drop in Medicare revenue. Nurses accounted for one-third of the reduced workforce. The study did not look at any impact on quality of care.

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Open enrollment for CalPERS health insurance closes Friday
Sacramento Bee

A reminder to all the state government, local government and school district employees who receive medical insurance through CalPERS: You have until Friday to choose your health coverage for 2014. The menu of options for next year includes four new HMO providers — Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Sharp Health and UnitedHealthcare – in addition to current providers Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente.

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Kaiser plans new medical building in Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Kaiser Permanente is working on plans to build a new medical hub in southwest Santa Rosa, a move that would provide greater medical services to its members in that part of the city and improve its position to serve newly insured patients under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Sources say Kaiser is considering erecting a medical office building in a business park along Northpoint Parkway, off Stony Point Road. Kaiser officials have been in talks with Santa Rosa community development officials for several months.

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Sutter Health gets grant to study heart disease treatment
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Health announced Wednesday that it has received a $2 million joint research grant from the federal government to study the treatment of heart disease. Sutter will share the grant with IBM Research and Geisinger Health System, a health services organization located in Pennsylvania. The money, which comes from the National Institutes of Health and will lead to a three-year collaboration with the three recipients, will help develop early-detection methods to find heart disease earlier.

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Biggest threat to Manteca Kaiser Hospital is quake safety overkill
Manteca Bulletin

The clock is ticking for the Manteca Kaiser Permanente Hospital.

The California Hospital Facility Seismic Safety Law passed in 1983 created a do or die deadline for the Manteca Kaiser Hospital.

If the existing building doesn’t meet stringent new seismic standards by 2030 it will cease to exist as a hospital.

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