News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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State exchanges report strong interest from young people
Modern Healthcare

A few states running their own insurance exchanges are touting high levels of interest from young people, leaving observers to speculate about the likelihood of attracting a demographic group widely viewed as the linchpin of the healthcare reform law’s success.

In an Oct. 11 update, Maryland Health Connection, the state’s exchange, said the most common age group among its initial 25,000 verified accounts was 25 to 29 years old.

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Medical device makers see an opening in budget impasse
Los Angeles Times

Leaders from the medical device industry listened when President Obama vowed in 2009 that there would be shared sacrifice and “no sacred cows” to help pay for his healthcare law. But unlike the pharmaceutical industry, insurers and others at that healthcare summit, the device makers never shook hands on a deal. Instead, after a 2.3% tax on their revenue was included in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, they started a drive to repeal it. Now, with Washington paralyzed in a government shutdown and a fight over the debt limit, the device makers have seized on the impasse as a chance for victory.

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Anesthesiologists focus on patient safety
San Francisco Chronicle

If a patient’s relationship with his primary care physician is, ideally, like a long and satisfying marriage, the bond with his anesthesiologist is more like a summer fling, says Dr. Jeffrey Swisher.

“It’s a short, but very intensive relationship. Kind of like the guy you meet in Italy one summer and never forget,” said Swisher, president of the anesthesia group at California Pacific Medical Center. “It’s a very intimate kind of specialty.”

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California Medical Association chooses president
Sacramento Business Journal

The California Medical Association last weekend tapped Dr. Richard Thorp, an internist from Paradise, as the organization’s new president. The physician advocacy group named Thorp to the position in Anaheim at the association’s annual House of Delegates event. The Paradise doctor is a staff member at Feather River Hospital and has held various leadership roles with the medical association since 1995, including a spot on the board of trustees. He also is the president and CEO of Paradise Medical Group, a physician-owned primary care group in Paradise.

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Visits to federal health-care Web site off 88%
Washington Post

The number of visitors to the federal government’s HealthCare.gov Web site dropped 88 percent between Oct. 1 and Oct. 13, according to a new analysis of America’s online use, while less than half of 1 percent of the site’s visitors successfully enrolled for health insurance the first week. The new numbers on the health-care law — released by Kantar US Insights and based on an assessment conducted by the nonpartisan research firm Millward Brown Digital — provide a partial snapshot of how the federal health-care exchange has fared since it launched at the start of the month.

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Obama admin. projected strong health plan signups
San Francisco Chronicle

The Obama administration’s internal projections called for strong enrollment in the states in the first year of new health insurance markets, according to unpublished estimates obtained by The Associated Press. Whether those expectations will bear out is unclear. Technology glitches have frustrated many consumers trying to sign up for coverage online, and efforts to upgrade and repair healthcare.gov are ongoing.

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Obamacare: The Rest of the Story
New York Times

Unless you’ve been bamboozled by the frantic fictions of the right wing, you know that the Affordable Care Act, familiarly known as Obamacare, has begun to accomplish its first goal: enrolling millions of uninsured Americans, many of whom have been living one medical emergency away from the poorhouse. You realize those computer failures that have hampered sign-ups in the early days — to the smug delight of the critics — confirm that there is enormous popular demand. You have probably figured out that the real mission of the Republican extortionists and their big-money backers was to scuttle the law before most Americans recognized it as a godsend and rendered it politically untouchable.

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House Republicans will probe botched launch of Obamacare
Sacramento Bee

Republicans in the House of Representatives are making plans to investigate the disastrous Oct. 1 launch of the federal health insurance marketplace established under Obamacare.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the federal contractors involved in the rollout to explain why things have gone so badly after their earlier testimony indicated that the marketplace information technology would run smoothly.

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Small business owners ponder ACA
Capitol Weekly

Jerry Schumacher’s Fullerton-based engineering firm seems like the perfect example of what President Obama would like to see from American business when it comes to health care. The company offers coverage to all of its full-time employees, and pays 100 percent of the monthly premium. But Schumacher still lives in fear of the Affordable Care Act, the federal health insurance reform known widely as “Obamacare.” He thinks it can only make things tougher on him.

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Covered California applications pass 94,000
Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California released usage statistics on Tuesday for the exchange’s second week since open enrollment began Oct. 1 and the numbers are promising. The exchange has gotten roughly 94,500 completed applications for coverage since the month began, compared to just 16,000 during the first week of enrollment. Covered California’s website also has seen 1.5 million unique visitors since Oct. 1, although the number of hits dropped by almost 400,000 in the second week of open enrollment.

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California insurance exchange reports 94,500 application starts
Los Angeles Times

After two weeks of open enrollment, Californians have started nearly 95,000 applications for health insurance through the state’s new exchange.

Covered California, the state marketplace, announced the latest figures Tuesday and it said consumer interest in the federal healthcare law remains strong. State officials had previously reported 43,616 complete and partial applications for the first five days of enrollment through Oct. 5.

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California health exchange reports nearly 100K application starts
Sacramento Bee

Two weeks after opening its doors, the state insurance marketplace announced today that nearly 1.6 million individual visitors had come to its online portal and more than 104,000 customers called into its service center through Saturday. Covered California began enrolling customers on Oct. 1 for insurance plans that start Jan. 1. Average wait times at call centers improved significantly – to less than two minutes from 15 minutes – and roughly 94,500 applications were started at CoveredCA.com through Saturday.

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Good Luck Finding A Doctor For Obamacare In LA
Fox News

Ever since its launch a couple of weeks ago, Obamacare has been plagued with one glitch after another with an overwhelming majority of Americans polled calling the rollout a big fat flop. The Golden State’s new Obamacare health exchange, called Covered California, was thought to have had a comparatively smooth launch. But now comes word of a monumental issue that threatens to bring things to a screeching halt.

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Covered California approves SF State to be health care enrollment educators
Golden Gate Express

SF State’s Student Health Center announced last Thursday, Oct. 10 their approval as an health coverage enrollment entity by Covered California at the Health and Wellness Fair on campus. This would provide the health center with two employees paid through a $1.25 million grant given to Cal State Los Angeles to educate students on health care options through the Affordable Care Act.

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Healthcare is more affordable than you think
The Daily Aztec

As college students, our lack of substantial finances has allowed us to become the masters of Top Ramen, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Pop Tarts. We realize we don’t always have the ability to pay for certain necessities, such as healthcare. Last year, it was reported that 27 percent of young people were uninsured, and that is not OK. A 19-year-old working at Subway for $8 an hour isn’t likely to pay hundreds of dollars a month on top of other expenses. Let’s face it, our healthcare system is designed to work against us. But that’s America for you.

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Patients share tips online for managing diseases
San Francisco Chronicle

In the 15 years since Sean Ahrens was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, he has tried untold numbers of diets and prescription drugs, alternative therapies and lifestyle changes to help keep his symptoms under control.

He has been a slave to the elusive cure, constantly on the hunt for things that will make life with Crohn’s – a poorly understood, chronic inflammatory bowel disease – a little more pleasant.

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Many Not-for-Profit Hospital CEOs’ Compensation Tied to Technology
iHealthBeat

Compensation for many CEOs at not-for-profit hospitals is tied to the use of advanced medical technology, patient satisfaction scores and the number of beds, rather than patient outcomes or care quality measures, according to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Tanner, AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/14).

For the study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed tax returns, hospital survey results, performance metrics, spending records and the paychecks of 1,877 CEOs from 2,681 private not-for-profit hospitals (Pittman, Reuters, 10/14).

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Johnson & Johnson Profit Beats Estimates on New Drug Sales
San Francisco Chronicle

Johnson & Johnson, the world’s biggest maker of health-care products, reported third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as newer drugs continue to propel the company to faster growth than competitors. J&J raised its full-year forecast.

Earnings excluding one-time items of $1.36 a share beat the $1.32 average of 17 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Profit may be $5.44 to $5.49 a share for 2013, the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company said today in a statement.

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Pediatric oncology partnership aims to ease families’ hardships
Bakersfield Californian

The Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center has announced that it will partner with UCLA to open a children’s oncology program in Bakersfield next month.

CBCC, a freestanding cancer center, will partner with the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. CBCC administrators told The Californian about the new endeavor Tuesday afternoon.

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UC Merced Connect: Students get boost for med school plans
Modesto Bee

First, UC Merced senior Julio Flores wanted to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. Then, neurobiology called his name.

Now, after research experience in diabetes, he thinks that’s the field for him. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Flores just wants to help people.

“If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything,” he said. Flores is one of four UC Merced students who spent this past summer interning at Georgia Regents University as part of the Undergraduate Physician Scientist and Research Training program.

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