News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California’s health exchange still doesn’t list doctors, hospitals
Vallejo Times-Herald

Nearly two weeks after the debut of Covered California, the state’s online health insurance marketplace, its website still doesn’t offer a way to find out which doctors and hospitals are included in each health plan.

The website tool designed to help shoppers cross-reference tens of thousands of doctors and hundreds of hospitals that belong to the networks of Covered California’s 12 insurance providers finally launched last week after earlier promises that it would be available on Oct. 1, the day similar exchanges opened for business nationwide under the new federal health care law.

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Federal health exchange sending confusing enrollment information to insurers
Washington Post

The federal health-care exchange that opened a dozen days ago is marred by snags beyond the widely publicized computer gridlock that has thwarted Americans trying to buy a health plan. Even when consumers have been able to sign up, insurers sometimes can’t tell who their new customers are because of a separate set of computer defects. The problems stem from a feature of the online marketplace’s computer system that is designed to send each insurer a daily report listing people who have just enrolled.

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ACA resources nurses need to help patients make the right choices
Nurse.com

As open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act rolls out, the country’s top nurse administrator is calling on nurses to help their uninsured patients get coverage. “Nurses are in a natural role to do this,” said Marilyn Tavenner, RN, BSN, MHA, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “They are seen as trusted individuals.

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Support for healthcare reform grows as government shutdown drags on
FierceHealthcare

Public support for the Affordable Care Act is growing as Americans increasingly blame Republicans for the partial government shutdown, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found. In the survey taken Oct. 7-9, only a few days after the glitch-ridden launch of the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces, 38 percent of respondents said the healthcare law is a good idea, up from 31 percent a month earlier, NBC News said in reporting the findings.

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Exporting Romneycare
Boston Globe

Had any of the several hundred VIPs funneling into Faneuil Hall assumed they were headed to a run-of-the-mill legislative bill signing, the two banners greeting them inside would have instantly disabused them of the notion: “MAKING HISTORY IN HEALTH CARE” they read in foot-high letters. And on this day, the boast just happened to be true. It was April 12, 2006, and Governor Mitt Romney was going to sign the nation’s first universal health care program — known as Romneycare — into law.

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ObamaCare’s Serious Complications
The Wall Street Journal

From Silicon Valley to Wall Street, simplicity is the new watchword. Books with titles like “Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity” and “The Laws of Simplicity” are must reading in boardrooms. Companies aim for the elegance of Apple’s design and Google’s search box.

Then there’s ObamaCare.

The functional failures of the Affordable Care Act websites are well-documented, but the fundamental flaw is the law’s mind-numbing complexity.

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Americans Must Be Able to Obtain Health Care Coverage As Is Their Right Under the Law
The Huffington Post

In the 1930’s, Democrats created Social Security over the vocal opposition of Republicans. Today the program is an enduring legacy. It is recognized as the politically untouchable third rail of politics that provides for millions of Americans. In the 1960’s, Democrats created Medicare over the vocal opposition of Republicans. Today, it’s wildly popular among both older Americans and the medical community that treats them. See a pattern? It is likely to continue.

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Opposition to Obamacare is a simple matter of political math
Sacramento Bee

For most congressional Republicans, opposition to the Affordable Care Act is a simple matter of political math. The latest data by American Community Survey, which tracks demographic trends, help explain why some Republicans in Congress so readily attack Obamacare, and why Democrats adamantly support it. Although there are notable exceptions, Democrats represent most districts where the greatest numbers of uninsured residents reside. Republicans, in turn, need not rely on the votes of the people who lack health insurance and would gain most from Obamacare.

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When Talking About the Exchanges, It’s Probably a Good Idea to Look Beyond Opening Week Returns
The Health Care Blog

It was an up and down week for supporters of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans appear to have stopped linking government funding with partial repeal of the ACA. And well-publicized software problems plagued the 36 federally managed exchanges, making it difficult for enrollees to complete the application process. Still, supporters could crow about the large number of insurers who are offering products and the millions of Americans who visited the online exchange enrollment sites as a clear sign of the success of the Affordable Care Act.

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Would the Obamacare Web sites have worked better if we just had universal health care?
Washington Post

Last week was a rough one for Obamacare, whose continuing Web site glitches have prevented users from signing up for health insurance. The Switch’s Timothy Lee explained just what went wrong with the sites, prompting a torrent of reader criticism of the system. kennykatzen responded, “American taxpayers paid $634 million for the Obamacare website and all we got was a lousy 404 error page.”

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Covered California lists 10 Santa Cruz County agents as certified while others wait
Santa Cruz Sentinel

If you search on www.covereredca.com for a certified insurance agent with a Santa Cruz 95062 ZIP code to advise you on new options as of Oct. 1, you will not find any names. However, if you look beyond that ZIP code, you will find 10 agents in the county listed as certified. Agents are not allowed to sell any Covered California policies without a certification number. Among those waiting is Betty Lindstrom of Felton, owner of Lindstrom Insurance since 1995.

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Affordable Care Act: Hospitals anticipate shift in care
The Desert Sun

Walk into an emergency room across the Coachella Valley or state and you can expect to see crowded rooms, people suffering from various aches, pains and ailments. Some symptoms are severe and pressing — emergencies that immediately need a doctor’s attention. Others are mild, but nagging, recurring coughs and colds that have been left unattended for too long that eventually force people to seek care.

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Public braces for health care change
Ramona Sentinel

The push is on to help the public understand what to expect with major health care changes taking effect Jan. 1, 2014, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as Obamacare, and insurance agents and health specialists are scrambling to attain certification to sell the new plans. Open enrollment for Covered California, the state’s version of the health insurance exchange required by the ACA, began Oct. 1 and will continue until March 31, 2014, for coverage next year.

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Rural hospitals stop Medi-Cal cuts to nursing facilities
Plumas County News

The dedicated efforts of the California Hospital Association, along with rural hospitals and the communities that support them, contributed to stopping the Medi-Cal cuts that would ultimately close distinct-part skilled nursing facilities in rural areas. Among the many outcries made by those against the cuts, a September rally in Sacramento marked the final attempt to end the cuts.

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Hospitals play with Medicare patients’ status
Modern Healthcare

A growing number of senior citizens are ensnared in a Medicare crackdown on hospitals over costly inpatient admissions.

Hospitals nationwide are responding by classifying more overnight visitors as outpatients held for observation.

Caught in the middle are senior citizens, who aren’t warned about the consequences of observation and can’t appeal, patient advocates say. As outpatients, they typically shoulder a higher share of costs than they would as inpatients.

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Employers push health care savings accounts; consumer groups wary
Sacramento Bee

As millions of working Americans open their employer’s health care packets this month, many will be encountering a new option: high-deductible plans linked to health savings accounts that come loaded with tax benefits. They’re attracting workers who want lower premiums and a tax-free way to save for retirement. But they’re not for everyone, which is why some consumer groups are alarmed by their growing presence in the health care market.

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Navigating the Line Between Elation and Deflation
Mission & State

My mission today: Track down a list of health providers, doctors and clinics in the Santa Barbara area that are in-network and contracted with both Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California as Affordable Care Act and PPO providers. It should be straightforward, or so I think. My first call to Anthem Blue Cross bombs out. After experiencing a semi-permanent hold time of nearly half an hour, I speak to a customer service representative who speaks with a nearly unrecognizable dialectical emphasis on all the wrong syllables.

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State action could reduce use of vaccines
Capitol Weekly

Vaccines are one of the greatest and most successful tools ever developed for preventing disease and protecting public health. Governor Brown and the California Department of Public Health, however, are on the verge of taking action that could violate California law, undermine the statewide effort to get more children immunized and threaten the health of all California communities. California, like every other state, requires school-age children to obtain various vaccinations against childhood diseases.

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Patients Mired in Costly Credit From Doctors
New York Times

The dentist set to work, tapping and probing, then put down his tools and delivered the news. His patient, Patricia Gannon, needed a partial denture. The cost: more than $5,700. Ms. Gannon, 78, was staggered. She said she could not afford it. And her insurance would pay only a small portion. But she was barely out of the chair, her mouth still sore, when her dentist’s office held out a solution: a special line of credit to help cover her bill. Before she knew it, Ms. Gannon recalled, the office manager was taking down her financial details.

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Oroville Hospital wins contest for creating scheduling program
Chico Enterprise Record

Oroville Hospital was named one of three winners of an innovation challenge of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The hospital helped the agency develop a new medical appointment scheduling application for its award-winning Electronic Health Record, VistA, said Shanna Roelofson, director of marketing at Oroville Hospital. Oroville Hospital’s program was one of 41 entries and the only one created by a hospital.

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Nurses Rally to Save Manteca Kaiser Hospital
Fox40

Nurses at Kaiser Manteca warned the community Sunday during a forum that services at their facility were slowly diminishing.

“We do not do Echocardiograms after 5 in the evenings. That is a basic test that should be in every functioning hospital,” said Ruth Somera, Registered Nurse at Kaiser Manteca.

Nurses say those services and many more including orthopedics and cardiology tests vanished from their hospital not to mention an entire third floor shut down without warning.

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eHealth CEO Embraces Obamacare, Argues for Access to All Californians
KQED Radio

Gary Lauer is in an odd position. “I’ve been running the largest source of individual health insurance in the country and not insurable myself.” Lauer is CEO of eHealth, the Mountain View-based company which runs the online marketplace eHealthInsurance.com. But he’s also a cancer survivor. Without the regulatory changes required under the Affordable Care Act, his pre-existing condition makes him uninsurable, at least on the individual market.

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