News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Medicare Advantage Star Ratings: Detaching Pay from Performance
The Health Care Blog

Rewarding quality health plans is an admirable goal for the Medicare Advantage program.

News Headlines Article

Student research program at Children’s Hospital receives grant
Los Angeles Times

A research institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles received a five-year, $884,000 grant this week to continue providing biomedical research training to disadvantaged college students.

The program, called the Short-Term Education Program for Underrepresented Persons, trains college students with disabilities and from low-income and minority families in biomedical research.

News Headlines Article

Beginning statins in the hospital after a stroke increases odds of going home
Los Angeles Times

Giving stroke victims cholesterol-lowering statins while they are still in the hospital increases the likelihood that they will survive the stroke and be able to go home, researchers reported Tuesday. It has been known that giving the drugs to a stroke victim lowers the odds of having a second stroke, said Dr. Alexander C. Flint, a neurologist at Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City, Calif. But it has not been clear how soon to begin the drugs after the initial stroke.

News Headlines Article

35 babies exposed to TB in two Sacramento, Solano hospitals
Sacramento Bee

With a sense of urgency, Sacramento and Solano County officials were tracking down the parents of 35 babies Tuesday, warning them that the infants had been exposed to tuberculosis while housed in two hospital neonatal intensive care units.

County and hospital officials hoped to reach all of the parents within the day to warn them that 20 babies in Sacramento County and 15 in Solano County needed testing or immediate antibiotics because their tender ages put them at greater risk of contracting tuberculosis.

News Headlines Article

How Rivals Built an ACO
Health Leaders Media

About three years ago two rival Minnesota health systems—HealthPartners and Allina Health Hospitals and Clinics—began exploring how they could combine their resources to accomplish together what they couldn’t do alone.

HealthPartners and Allina each own several medical clinics and at least one hospital in the Minneapolis area. HealthPartners also has a commercial health plan.

News Headlines Article

Death rate for diabetics drops sharply, CDC study finds
Los Angeles Times

Better management of blood sugar levels and improved tools for managing heart disease have led to a sharp drop in the death rate for diabetics, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. Between 1997 and 2006, deaths of diabetics from all causes declined 23% while deaths from heart disease fell 40%, the team reported in the journal Diabetes Care. The finding represents a two-edged sword, however:

News Headlines Article

Data trove may shed light on health-care uncertainties
Washington Post

How much do hospitals and doctors actually charge insurers for their services? How much and which of those services are privately-insured patients using? And, most significantly, what drives changes in health-care use, costs, and total spending?

They are among the most vexing questions in American health care. And a recently amassed trove of data from insurance companies could soon shed new light on them.

News Headlines Article

Doctors work via video with telemedicine
Orange County Register

Maria Pozuelos felt too bad to wait days to see a doctor, so she agreed to an appointment where she saw Dr. Robert Maurer right away, via a high-definition, 37-inch screen. Pozuelos, who is 63 and uninsured, paid $10 for her visit to the St. Jude Neighborhood Health Clinic in Fullerton. She came in with ear pain and swollen varicose veins.

News Headlines Article

Removing the Stigma from Mental Illness
HealthyCal.org

For Ron Oden, the imaginary conversations were the first sign that his wife Felicia was becoming mentally ill. “She would tell me about these conversations that we had, that I couldn’t remember. And I’ve got a good memory. So she’s relating my responses. And some of them sounded like me and others didn’t. So I’m thinking, ‘Did we have this conversation? Did this happen?’”

News Headlines Article

Bill Would Make “Opt-Out” A Little Tougher
The California Report

California is one of 20 states that allows parents to “opt out” of vaccines for their children simply by signing a form. It’s called a “personal belief exemption.” But AB 2109 would change that. The bill has cleared the Assembly and is starting its path through Senate committees.

If the bill becomes law, parents who wish to refuse vaccines would first need to receive counseling from a licensed health professional about the risks and benefits of skipping immunizations for their children.

News Headlines Article

GOP targeting reform law’s device tax
Modern Healthcare

The latest effort by Republicans to repeal components of the 2010 healthcare law is expected later this week during Senate consideration of a bill that would reauthorize FDA user fees.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) plans to offer an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act to repeal a medical-device tax included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

News Headlines Article

Lawmaker aims to close gray-market drug loopholes
Modern Healthcare

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) introduced legislation that aims to strengthen oversight of drug wholesalers by prohibiting them from purchasing drugs from pharmacies and requiring distributors to disclose to buyers the sales prices of drugs that are in short supply.

Cummings has been leading an investigation into the business practices of secondary drug distributors that have bought and sold scarce drugs.

News Headlines Article

Campaign to lobby high court on health care law is obnoxious
Sacramento Bee

Novelist John Grisham could hardly spin a more provocative fiction: The president and his surrogates mount an aggressive campaign to intimidate the chief justice of the United States, implying ruin and ridicule should he fail to vote in a pivotal case according to the ruling political party’s wishes.

If only it were fiction.

The justice is of course John Roberts and the case involves the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, which would be affordable only if the court upholds the individual mandate requiring all Americans to buy health insurance.

News Headlines Article

Skipping prostate test can kill
USA Today

Robert Reich, the 4-foot, 10-inch former secretary of Labor, is fond of saying that on average he and basketball goliath Shaquille O’Neal are 6 feet tall, which he notes is both statistically interesting and personally useless. The same can be said of a controversial new finding that, on average, the simple blood test that detects prostate cancer does more harm than good. If you have undetected cancer, the average outcome is irrelevant. Skipping the test can kill you.

News Headlines Article

Opposing view: Make informed decisions on PSA
USA Today

Amid the many messages you are hearing and reading about screening for prostate cancer, I hope this one stands out most prominently: At best, there is a very small potential benefit from the PSA test and there are substantial known harms. At most, one man in 1,000 screened will avoid a prostate cancer death through 10 years. The best and largest study in the U.S. found that no deaths were avoided. Of those 1,000 men, two to three will have a serious complication of treatment, such as a blood clot, heart attack, stroke or even death.

News Headlines Article

Crafting a Social Media Policy
The Health Care Blog

Today’s Computerworld has a great article about the issues of mixing social media and healthcare. As hospitals and clinics formulate social networking policies, there are three broad considerations. 1. Given HIPAA and HITECH privacy and breach rules, how can you best prevent the disclosure of protected healthcare information on insecure social media sites?

Commands