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Health care news from around the state and nation

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CEO Exchange: Physician Leadership Seen as Crucial
Health Leaders Media

Strong physician leadership is critical to aligning the goals of medical groups and hospitals and to redefining the way their organizations deliver healthcare, say chief executive officers from some of the most innovative health systems and hospitals around the country. In roundtable discussions Thursday at HealthLeaders Media’s second annual CEO Exchange, attendees discussed a range of topics and trends, including new cost reduction strategies, changing reimbursement models, and the clinical shift from a volume to a value-based business model.

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EHR Interoperability Remains Elusive
Health Leaders Media

Healthcare providers have made solid progress over the last decade building in-house electronic health records systems to share patient data within their networks. However, interoperability with outside providers and payers remains a significant barrier, according to eHealth Initiative’s 10th annual survey of health information exchanges. Three-quarters of the nearly 200 eHI survey respondents said they’ve had to build numerous time-consuming and expensive interfaces between different systems to facilitate information sharing, including 68 organizations that said they had to build 10 or more interfaces with different systems.

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Obama apologizes to people losing health coverage
Modern Healthcare

Bowing to intense criticism, President Barack Obama apologized to Americans who are losing health insurance plans he repeatedly said they could keep and pledged to find fixes that might allow people to keep their coverage.

“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” he said in an interview Thursday with NBC News.

He added: “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them, and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.

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FDA action would effectively ban trans fats
Los Angeles Times

The long war on trans fats may be drawing to a close.

The government proposed new rules Thursday that would all but ban the artery-clogging fats, a move that will force makers of margarine, frozen pizza and other processed foods to reformulate their products.

Under the new rules, the Food and Drug Administration has declared that partially hydrogenated oils, the source of trans fats, are a food additive no longer “generally recognized as safe.”

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Exclusive: Obama personally apologizes for Americans losing health coverage
NBC Bay Area

President Obama said Thursday that he is “sorry” that some Americans are losing their current health insurance plans as a result of the Affordable Care Act, despite his promise that no one would have to give up a health plan they liked. “I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” he told NBC News in an exclusive interview at the White House. “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

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Contrite Obama apologizes for healthcare insurance pledge, website
Reuters

President Barack Obama apologized on Thursday to Americans who are losing their healthcare insurance policies, saying in an interview that he regrets “we weren’t as clear as we needed to be” about the reforms of his landmark healthcare restructuring.

Obama’s expression of regret was aimed at placating Americans whose insurance plans are being canceled in spite of his oft-repeated pledge that if people liked their health plans, they would be able to keep them under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

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Obama ’sorry’ for health insurance cancellations
Los Angeles Times

President Obama apologized Thursday for the fact that some people are losing their current health insurance plans even though he had told Americans they could keep their plans if they wanted to, saying his administration was working on changes to his healthcare law to address the problem.

“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” the president told NBC News in an interview that aired Thursday evening.

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President Obama: ‘I am sorry’
POLITICO

President Barack Obama offered an apology Thursday to those Americans who have been told they’re losing their health insurance plans, contrary to his promise that no one would be forced off a plan they wanted to keep. “I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” the president said in a Thursday interview with NBC News, offering his first mea culpa for an issue that’s generated negative headlines for the White House for the past two weeks.

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Obama apologizes to people losing health coverage
San Francisco Chronicle

Bowing to intense criticism, President Barack Obama apologized to Americans who are losing health insurance plans he repeatedly said they could keep and pledged to find fixes that might allow people to keep their coverage.

“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” he said in an interview Thursday with NBC News.

He added: “We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them, and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

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Obama Says He’s Sorry Over Americans Losing Health-Care Plans
San Francisco Chronicle

President Barack Obama said he’s sorry that thousands of Americans are losing their medical insurance as a result of his health-care law, as his administration works to contain the political damage from the troubled rollout of his signature domestic achievement.

Hundreds of thousands of individual health insurance plans are being canceled, contradicting Obama’s repeated pledge that people who like their coverage would be able to keep it when the law took effect.

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Obama yields to criticism of health law
San Francisco Chronicle

President Obama bowed Thursday night to mounting criticism that he had misled the American people about the health care law, apologizing to people who were forced off their health insurance plans by the Affordable Care Act despite “assurances from me.” In an interview with NBC News, Obama said he had not done enough to ensure that the law did not force the termination of insurance policies that people like because they do not meet the law’s new coverage requirements.

“It means a lot to them. And it’s scary to them. And I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me,” Obama told NBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview in the Diplomatic Room of the White House.

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Blue Shield postpones cancellations
San Francisco Business Times

Blue Shield of California looks to be the only insurer affected by a Department of Insurance decree that it delay cancellations affecting 113,000 enrollees. The reasons are technical, but the result could be added confusion in an already uncertain California health care insurance marketplace. Dave Jones, California’s insurance commissioner, determined that Blue Shield’s life and health unit, which is under his jurisdiction, needed to delay Obamacare-related individual policy cancellations from Dec. 31 to March 31, because — DOI says — it didn’t give policyholders enough notice of the change.

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Sen. Hagan wants people to be able to keep their health insurance
Sacramento Bee

Sen. Kay Hagan on Thursday joined a push by Senate Democrats to get the Obama administration to make sure that people who like their health insurance can keep it.

North Carolina’s Democratic senator said she supported a bill that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., introduced on Monday, the Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act.

Republicans have attacked Obama for misleading Americans when he repeatedly assured them that those who liked their insurance coverage could keep it.

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Analysis: Tens of millions could be forced out of health insurance they had
Sacramento Bee

Even as President Barack Obama sold a new health care law in part by assuring Americans they would be able to keep their insurance plans, his administration knew that tens of millions of people actually could lose those their policies. “If you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep your plan. Period,” Obama said as he pitched the plan, the unqualified promise he made repeatedly. Yet advisers did say in 2010 that there were large caveats and that anyone whose insurance plan changed would lose the promised protection of being able to keep existing plans.

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Health care reform, governing by anecdote
The Mercury News

It did not sound good for Sen. Pat Toomey.

“I’m a two-time breast cancer survivor and I’m facing the loss of insurance,” the Pennsylvania Republican declared Wednesday at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the health care law. “Three years ago, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis,” he added. “If my coverage is not in place before January 1, I will have to go without my medications. This may cause permanent disability, blindness, inability to walk, speech problems.”

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Obamacare exchange waiting game: Some numbers now, more next week
San Francisco Business Times

Get ready. Some Obamacare numbers are expected to start escaping from prison next week. Both here in California, where Executive Director Peter Lee and other officials have promised an update on how many Golden State residents have completed applications by the end of next week, and nationally, when federal officials have made the same promise. So far, the evidence of progress is surprisingly skimpy.

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10 GOP senators call for firing of Sebelius in letter to Obama
Modern Healthcare

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ appearance before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday failed to convince GOP lawmakers she’s capable of overseeing the rest of the health reform law’s implementation. On Thursday, 10 Republican senators asked the president to fire her. Spearheaded by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)—who called on Sebelius to resign in late October—the letter cites massive problems with HealthCare.gov and Sebelius’ actions after last month’s calamitous launch of the federal Web portal as reasons why they want the president to relieve the secretary of her duties.

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Even doctors in dark about new health plans
Visialia Times-Delta

More than a month after HealthCare.gov and 15 state-based exchanges opened for business, consumers and even physicians are finding it’s isn’t easy or even possible sometimes to find out which doctors and hospitals are in the plans’ provider networks.

“Some states, they have it, and for some, it isn’t available. It ’s a big unknown for the patient,” says Anders Gilberg, senior vice president of government affairs for the Medical Group Management Association, whose members manage doctors’ practices. “It’s very much up in the air.”

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Public health advocates praise FDA’s plan to end trans fat use
Modern Healthcare

Public health advocates are praising the Food and Drug Administration’s bid to end to the use of trans fats in foods, a move the agency said could significantly reduce deaths from heart disease.

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No more trans fat: FDA banning the artery-clogger
Sacramento Bee

Heart-clogging trans fats were once a staple of the American diet, plentiful in baked goods, microwave popcorn and fried foods.

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FDA to ban artery-clogging trans fats
San Diego Union-Tribune

Heart-clogging trans fats have been slowly disappearing from grocery aisles and restaurant menus in the last decade. Now, the Food and Drug Administration is finishing the job.

The FDA announced Thursday it will require the food industry to gradually phase out artificial trans fats, saying they are a threat to people’s health. Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the move could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths each year.

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Report Shines Light on County Variation in California’s Health Safety Net
capital public radio

Health Access says millions of Californians will stay uninsured next year. They include undocumented immigrants, people who have missed enrollment deadlines, or others who are excluded from the mandate to buy insurance. Anthony Wright of Health Access says there’s a patchwork system of care for them.

“A family with the same circumstances in different counties will have potentially different access to care and to coverage as a result of their income or immigration status,” said Wright.

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Business, labor interests flummoxed by potential change to reinsurance fee
Modern Healthcare

A proposed change to a fee imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is causing widespread confusion and consternation over whether the Obama administration tried to give organized labor relief from it.

At issue is the reinsurance fee that will be assessed on large employers and unions that run their own insurance plans beginning in 2014. Those groups have long questioned the fairness of requiring them to subsidize the health insurance exchanges when they won’t be participating in the government-run marketplaces.

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