News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

California lawmaker seeks investigation of Republican health care website
Sacramento Bee

Adding his voice to a rising chorus of criticism, a Democratic assemblyman called on Wednesday for a legislative investigation of a health care website created by California Republicans. Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, became the latest California Democrat to assail a website he says Assembly Republicans created to amplify critiques of the law, rather than help Californians enroll in insurance via Covered California, the state’s newly operational exchange. Gomez has sent the Assembly Rules Committee a letter asking them to investigate.

News Headlines Article

Poll: 66% of uninsured plan to get health coverage
San Francisco Chronicle

Most Californians have at least heard about the state’s new health insurance marketplace, and the majority of the uninsured who participated in a survey released Wednesday said they plan to get covered next year as required by the federal health law.

About 68 percent of the 1,701 Californians surveyed Nov. 12-19 – more than a month after the national launch on Oct. 1 – said they were aware a health care exchange is available to people in the state to buy medical insurance.

News Headlines Article

Feds Slow To Roll Out Spanish-Language Health Care Website
KPBS

The federal government plans to quietly roll out the Spanish-language version of HealthCare.gov any day now. The soft launch for the Affordable Care Act’s Spanish-language enrollment site is set for early December. Many suspect adding Spanish speakers might jam the system with even more problems. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department said in a statement: “We think it’s important to engage with key stakeholders and organizations in this process and get their feedback. Shortly after and into January, we will ramp up our promotional efforts to drive Spanish speakers to CuidadoDeSalud.gov.”

News Headlines Article

Bane or boon? GOP, Dems spar over Medicare Advantage cuts at hearing
Modern Healthcare

Congressional Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday offered starkly divergent views about the effects of cuts to the Medicare Advantage program that were part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

During a hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, Republicans portrayed the reductions to the program—which were designed to bring per-beneficiary costs in line with traditional Medicare—as evidence of harm caused by the federal healthcare overhaul.

News Headlines Article

Specialists notch victory in new CMS rule on quality reporting
Modern Healthcare

Medicare has agreed to allow specialist medical societies to determine the quality measures physicians will report when the new reporting system goes into effect on Jan. 1.

The rule represents a major victory for the specialty societies, which had protested a common set of quality measures that many said favored primary care and family physicians over specialists. CMS in 2015 will begin imposing penalties on physicians who fail to report to one of these new “qualified clinical directories,” which will satisfy requirements for participating in the agency’s Physician Quality Reporting System.

News Headlines Article

Millennial generation sours on Obama, skeptical of healthcare law
Los Angeles Times

Members of the huge millennial generation, who have strongly supported President Obama in the past, have soured on him and take a skeptical view of his signature healthcare law, according to a new poll from Harvard’s Institute of Politics. “Millennials have always been one of two significant parts of the Obama coalition,” said John Della Volpe, the institute’s polling director. Throughout Obama’s national political career, members of the millennial generation gave him a significantly higher approval rating than the rest of the population, he said.

News Headlines Article

Why Millennials Fell Out of Love With Obama
The Atlantic

There’s no heartbreak like the heartbreak of first love, and when it comes to politics, no disappointment more bitter than that of a young person who grows up to realize her one-time idol is all too human. That’s the explanation offered by Harvard Institute of Politics pollster John Della Volpe and IOP Director Trey Grayson for the precipitous drop in Millennial generation support for President Obama in this year’s annual Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes toward Politics and Public Service.

News Headlines Article

Assembly GOP sows health care confusion
Sacramento Bee

At the national level, congressional Republicans have gone out of their way to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans have voted 46 times to repeal the law. The billionaire Koch brothers spent a ton of money urging young people not to sign up for health insurance and urging states not to expand Medicaid.

But in California, it appeared that Republican lawmakers were bucking the national Republican trend and doing the responsible thing.

News Headlines Article

Poll: 28% would rather pay fine
POLITICO

More than a quarter of uninsured Americans say they are more likely to pay the fine than sign up for Obamacare before the deadline, a new poll shows. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed say they will likely pay the fine, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday, s number that has remained consistent despite the approachng enrollment deadline in March. Nevertheless, a majority of 63 percent of uninsured Americans say they will likely get insurance before the 2014 deadline.

News Headlines Article

Poll: State is split on Obamacare
San Diego Union-Tribune

Californians are evenly split over Obamacare, but that division will not keep a strong majority of the uninsured from signing up, according to a new statewide poll. The survey was conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California as the launch of the national health insurance registration website was being plagued by technical problems that prevented thousands of Americans from signing up and festering into a political fiasco for President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats.

News Headlines Article

Obama urges on young activists; 3-day HealthCare.gov enrollment hits 56,000
Washington Post

President Obama urged a group of young activists Wednesday not to give up on promoting his signature health-care law, as enrollment picked up on HealthCare.gov. Roughly 27,000 Americans signed up for insurance on the federal exchange on Tuesday, according to internal figures, bringing the site’s three-day enrollment total to 56,000. That figure is more than double the number who enrolled online in the entire month of October, which was almost 27,000.

News Headlines Article

Obama calls on bartenders to help sell health care reform
Washington Times

President Obama wants young bartenders to give their customers a tip — sign up for health insurance under Obamacare. Speaking at a White House Youth Summit on Wednesday, the president continued to enlist Americans from all walks to life to join in the effort to sell health care reform. “No matter how much I care, the truth is, for your friends and your family, the most important source of information is not going to be me. It’s going to be you,” the president said. “If you’re a student body president, set up a conference on campus.

News Headlines Article

Obamacare happy hour? Obama urges creativity in touting health law
Los Angeles Times

With the federal health insurance exchange now operating more smoothly for most users, President Obama assembled 160 youth leaders at the White House on Wednesday, enlisting them to help sign up their peers for health insurance — a crucial factor in whether his signature law will succeed. As the student body presidents and youth activists gathered for an afternoon of seminars with White House officials and leaders of allied groups, a new poll showed that the administration and its allies have their work cut out for them.

News Headlines Article

Obamacare’s next problem: Doc shock
San Francisco Chronicle

“The bottom line is, this law is working and will work into the future,” President Obama said of his signature Affordable Care Act on Tuesday. It would be easier to believe the president if he hadn’t said in 2009, “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.”

One million Californians who lose their individual plans in 2014 know that’s not true; when many saw their new premiums, they experienced “sticker shock.” Next comes “doc shock” – the revelation that many folks also won’t be able to keep their doctors.

News Headlines Article

How post-ACA health care is like the airline business
Market Watch

Cooper University Hospital is expecting a huge wave of patients starting next month, as millions of consumers get health insurance, some for the first time. The question for hospital executives in Camden, and around the country, is how to manage this new population. For one, there is a chance this new patient population will exacerbate existing problems at Cooper.

Today, “the patient no-show rate is in high 20s, 25, 30 percent,” says Jonathan Vogan, the associate director for financial and performance measurement at Cooper’s outpatient clinic, the Urban Health Institute.

News Headlines Article

Rush to find health options before Jan. 1
POLITICO

If people whose health insurance was canceled under Obamacare this year don’t line up new coverage this month, the Obama administration could face a political nightmare. More people could have lost coverage than gained it when the health law benefits begin on Jan. 1. That’s by no means a certainty; the sign-up website is doing better, some insurance carriers are extending plans instead of canceling them, and there are millions more uninsured people who stand to get covered than there are covered people facing plan cancellations. Medicaid sign-ups are also running strong.

News Headlines Article

California poll shows young and healthy more likely to seek medical insurance
The Mercury News

They’ve been dubbed the “young invincibles,” people in their 20s and 30s who must sign up for medical insurance in droves to ensure the success of the new health care law.

But a new California poll indicates that perhaps they should be called the “young convincibles.”

The startling finding by the Public Policy Institute of California says that young and healthy people are overwhelmingly more likely to seek health insurance than older and sicker people.

News Headlines Article

Californians divided on health care reform
Sacramento Bee

Californians fracture along partisan lines when asked about federal health care reform, a new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds.

While 60 percent of California Democrats reported a favorable view of the law, only 13 percent of Republicans hold that view, against a resounding 80 percent who rejected it. Independents were more mixed, with 40 percent approving, 51 percent disapproving and nine percent saying they didn’t know.

News Headlines Article

States Rejecting Medicaid Expansion Forgo Billions in Federal Funds
Health Leaders Media

The 20 states that are rejecting Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are leaving billions of dollars in federal funds on the table, even as the taxpayers of those states pay for the expansion costs for states that accept the deal, a new study from the Commonwealth Fund shows. “In states that don’t expand their Medicaid programs the people in their state who are below 100% of poverty will not be eligible for new options for health insurance under the ACA,” says Sara Collins, vice president, healthcare, at the Commonwealth Fund.

News Headlines Article

Abandoning fee-for-service would affect ER care, docs say in Health Affairs
Modern Healthcare

As policymakers consider jettisoning the U.S. healthcare system’s volume-based payment framework, a group of doctors is arguing that doing so would threaten providers’ ability to deliver the expensive and unpredictable care patients need when they show up in emergency departments.

“Testing and admissions are perceived as safe harbors to reduce uncertainty and protect against medical liability, and they are well reimbursed,” Dr. Jesse Pines of George Washington University and three emergency medicine physicians write in the latest issue of Health Affairs.

News Headlines Article

Hospital Infection Rates Continue To Dip
Payers and Providers

The number of central line blood stream and MRSA infections acquired in California hospitals dropped slightly in 2012 compared to the prior year, and is down considerably from less than a decade ago, according to data released last week by the state Department of Public Health. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is an often deadly infection when acquired in hospitals. It kills about 19,000 people a year, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

News Headlines Article

U.S. pregnancy rates slide, near record lows
Washington Post

Fertility rates in the United States are continuing their decades-long decline, due in large part to a steep slide in teenage pregnancies down to historic lows, according to a new government report released Thursday.

The National Center for Health Statistics said the pregnancy rate of 102 pregnancies out of every 1,000 women is 12 percent below the 1990 peak of about 116 per 1,000. Only once in the past 30 years, 1997, has it been lower, and only marginally, the center said.

News Headlines Article

CMS works with insurers on inaccurate enrollment data
Modern Healthcare

As reports suggest a surge of consumers successfully choosing health plans through HealthCare.gov, the CMS is working to calm the nerves of insurers still rattled by inaccuracies in the enrollment data they’re receiving from the site.

The agency formed a team with QSSI, the contractor assigned to lead the federal website rescue effort, to work directly with insurance companies on the problems with so-called 834 files, which are necessary to transfer enrollment data from the federal insurance marketplace to the plan issuers.

News Headlines Article

Blue Shield foundation makes $10.7 million in Q4 grants
San Francisco Business Times

Blue Shield of California Foundation is making $10.7 million in fourth-quarter grants, bringing the total this year to $31.4 million, Blue Shield officials said Wednesday. Many of the grants are aimed at expanding access to health care, in line with changes being pushed by the Affordable Care Act, and to prevent and address domestic violence, the San Francisco-based foundation said. The organization is the philanthropic arm of Blue Shield of California.

News Headlines Article

Palomar teaming up with Mayo Clinic
San Diego Union-Tribune

Palomar Health is the first in the state to join a growing collaborative network of hospitals built by the Mayo Clinic, one of the most-recognized names in health care.

Palomar and Mayo announced the initiative Wednesday, saying it would bring a higher level of expertise to the inland North County health system, which operates hospitals in Escondido and Poway.

News Headlines Article

Natividad, SVMH talks extended
The Californian - Salinas

Talks between Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital and Monterey County to forge a vaguely worded strategic partnership with Natividad Medical Center have been extended through the end of January, signaling progress in the discussions, SVMH Chief Executive Officer Pete Delgado said Wednesday in an interview with The Salinas Californian.

“The extension means there are enough potential benefits to continue with the exploration,” Delgado said.

Commands