News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Timing of patient benefit should be weighed in value of preventive services, researchers say
Modern Healthcare

The value of preventive services must be measured not just by how effective they are at reducing the risk of disease but also by how long before patients will benefit, a new online commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association argues.

Elderly patients, particularly those already weakened by chronic disease, do not always live long enough to benefit from some clinically recommended interventions that carry an immediate risk, such as complications or side effects, the authors said in their commentary.

News Headlines Article

Covered California accounts for almost 1 in 3 Obamacare sign ups through November
Los Angeles Business Journal

Covered California, the health exchange that handles Obamacare applications in the Golden State, has racked up nearly 1 in 3 sign ups nationwide through November, according to data released by the feds.

It signed up more than 107,000 individuals in October and November of the nearly 365,000 who signed up nationally under President Barack Obama’s signature domestic program, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

News Headlines Article

The Mysterious Surge of Higher-Income Obamacare Enrollees
The Atlantic

Buried in a Kaiser Health News report about the latest Obamacare enrollment numbers is a curious fact that helps explain why we’ve heard so many complaints about the high costs of insurance plans on the new insurance exchanges. It seems an unexpectedly large number of people with higher incomes are exploring enrollment, which means they’re not getting the federal subsidies President Obama has touted.

News Headlines Article

Federal data show health disparities among states
San Francisco Chronicle

Residents in some parts of the U.S. are gaining health care insurance at a significantly greater rate than others through the new online insurance marketplaces now operating in every state.

The discrepancy may trace back to the political leanings of their elected leaders.

Newly released federal figures show more people are picking private insurance plans or being routed to Medicaid programs in states with Democratic leaders who have fully embraced the federal health care law than in states where Republican elected officials have derisively rejected what they call “Obamacare.”

News Headlines Article

Obamacare remains worthy: Our view
USA Today

The last couple of months have been rough for the Affordable Care Act, what with the rollout of a shockingly unready website and President Obama awkwardly scrambling to make good on his ill-advised promise that all people could keep their health plans if they liked them. Unsurprisingly, this slow-motion disaster has soured Americans on Obama and his signature law.

News Headlines Article

Obamacare isn’t a national story: Column
USA Today

If you try to understand Obamacare, you’re guaranteed to get a nation-sized headache. (I tried, and I did.) Federal and state government officials have a mess on their hands, and nearly every statement you can make about it comes with 17 qualifications. But here’s some health advice for Americans: take two aspirin — and stop thinking of Obamacare as a national story.

The Affordable Care Act created a lot of new health insurance marketplaces, and the secret is that they’re not really federal or state entities. They’re regional.

News Headlines Article

Obamacare is a disaster: Ted Cruz
USA Today

Obamacare was created with an ostensibly noble purpose: to expand health coverage to some of the uninsured and to make health care more affordable. Three-and-a-half years ago, perhaps reasonable minds could have differed as to whether it would actually work. Today, there can be no dispute that Obamacare is a disaster. The reason Obamacare is failing is not its bungled website.

News Headlines Article

Juking the ObamaCare Stats
The Wall Street Journal

Most of Washington seems to have bought the White House claim that the 36 federal exchanges are finally working, and glory, glory, hallelujah. But if that’s really true, then what explains the ongoing secrecy and evasion?

On Wednesday the Health and Human Services Department continued its Victorian-era strip tease and allowed a glimpse into the Affordable Care Act’s “enrollment” for November. Out of respect for a free press, reporters ought to boycott these releases because they’re so selective that they reveal little about real enrollment.

News Headlines Article

California enrolls 107,000 in Obamacare policies through November
Los Angeles Times

California’s health exchange has signed up 107,087 people in Obamacare policies through the end of November, federal data show, accounting for nearly a third of enrollment nationwide. The federal figures released Wednesday also show that 181,817 Californians have qualified for an expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program for the poor. California has been struggling to deal with a surge of applicants in recent weeks as part of the Affordable Care Act as well as dig through a backlog of paper applications.

News Headlines Article

How Clinical Guidelines Can Fail Both Doctors and Patients
The Health Care Blog

Any confusion over the recent news of cholesterol guidelines in the U.S. is perfectly understandable. On the one hand, the guidelines suggest that nearly half the population should use statins to stave off heart attacks and strokes. On the other, use of the drugs is not with potential side effects and, to many, will offer no substantive benefits.

The controversy highlights a problem mired in an outdated way of thinking about health care and the doctor-patient relationship. Guidelines came about after generations of physicians wanted to bring something more than “opinion and experience” to the patient’s bedside.

News Headlines Article

Dignity Health offers to meet with nurses over pensions
Sacramento Business Journal

Candlelight rallies planned at 19 Dignity Health hospitals in California and Nevada on Friday were put on hold after health system execs offered to meet with union officials over potential changes to the company pension plan, the California Nurses Association announced late Wednesday.

Nurses planned the protests after they received a letter from the health system announcing a 30 percent roll back in monthly pension benefits for retirees. The cut stems from a change in the formula used to calculate the monthly benefit, union officials say.

News Headlines Article

Feds: More than 100K select health insurance plans in California
Sacramento Bee

About 107,000 Californians have obtained health insurance plans offered by the state’s insurance marketplace, according to the latest figures Wednesday.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report that spans the launch of the exchange through November 30. Covered California has scheduled a more detailed airing of the figures Thursday.

News Headlines Article

Sebelius: Enrollment up with improving HealthCare.gov; review of problems launched
Washington Post

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday that the ailing health insurance Web site was improving thanks to “relentless” efforts to work out the bugs, and she cited an uptick in enrollment as evidence that the program is back on track after a false start.

But she told a congressional panel she has launched an investigation into what policies and management failures may have contributed to the initial failures of HealthCare.gov, the main portal for people in 36 states to buy private insurance plans under the health-care law.

News Headlines Article

Sebelius asks for investigation into development of HealthCare.gov site
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration’s top health official said it’s time for a thorough investigation of HealthCare.gov to determine what led to the flawed launch of the federal Web portal that consumers use to purchase private health plans.

Testifying Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she believes it’s time to better understand both the structural and managerial policies that led to the website’s failed roll out now that the website is running more smoothly.

News Headlines Article

Health care signups falling short
San Francisco Chronicle

With time running short, the nation’s health care rolls still aren’t filling up fast enough.

New signup numbers Wednesday showed progress for President Obama’s health care law, but not enough to guarantee that Americans who want and need coverage by Jan. 1 will be able to get it. Crunch time is now, as people face a Dec. 23 deadline to sign up if they are to have coverage by New Year’s.

That means more trouble for the White House, too, after months of repairing a dysfunctional enrollment website.

News Headlines Article

Small businesses signing up despite online SHOP enrollment delay, but CMS official offers no numbers
Modern Healthcare

The federal insurance exchange’s one-year delay in online enrollment for the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) is not stopping small employers from getting coverage for their employees, Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the CMS told lawmakers Wednesday.

News Headlines Article

Small businesses can look, but not buy, on HealthCare.gov
Sacramento Business Journal

HealthCare.gov can still be useful to small businesses even though they can’t use the website to enroll for health coverage for another year.

That’s the message delivered to the House Small Business Committee Wednesday by Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Small businesses won’t be able to enroll online for coverage in the federal health insurance exchange until next fall.

News Headlines Article

Potential conflict for insurance agents on state exchange
San Francisco Chronicle

Here’s something consumers should know when they buy an individual health insurance policy through an independent agent advertised on Covered California: These agents get a commission when they sell a policy, and they might get a bigger commission if they sell one policy over another.

For example, Kaiser Permanente pays agents $100 per member the first year and $50 for renewals, according to Howard Golden, vice president with Brock Financial & Insurance Services in San Francisco.

News Headlines Article

Is a healthcare industry ‘overwhelmed with change’ delaying patient engagement solutions?
MedCity News

All-encompassing patient engagement solutions are inevitable. But are the current concerns over health IT regulations and healthcare reform delaying implementation?

That’s one potential takeaway from the early rollout of Verizon’s Converged Health Management platform, which made its official debut in October. Since then, the company has started some early tests with a hospital and a pilot program with a self-insured employer, among others.

News Headlines Article

Critics like Kaiser but not Manteca cutbacks
Manteca Bulletin

Gary Lemesh shudders to think if Kaiser-Manteca Medical Center were to make more cuts.

His aging mother is one of 10 long-term patients in sub-acute care, which, according to register nurse Clarice Spann-Reeve, was inherited by Kaiser Permanente after taking over St. Dominic’s Hospital in 2004.

“Gary’s mom has a mind that’s fully functional. Only her body has given out on her,” she said at the ‘Town Hall on Cuts & Closures at Kaiser-Manteca Medical Center’ session hosted by the California Alliance for Retired Americans on Wednesday at the Manteca Transit station.

Commands