News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

California MD license revocations hit 10-year high
Sacramento Bee

The California Medical Board revoked 58 medical licenses during the 2013 fiscal year and 80 more doctors decided to give up their licenses instead of fighting accusations against them, new state figures show. That’s the highest number of revocations and surrenders in the last decade — and about 35 percent higher than the average for the last 10 years. Asked about the increase, medical board spokeswoman Cassandra Hockenson said, “This year we added a ‘Prescription Drug Strike Force’ that specifically looks into physicians who are alleged illegally prescribing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose… Our burden of proof is “clear and convincing evidence” which is a high standard to meet.”

News Headlines Article

Health plan sticker shock ahead for some buyers
Modern Healthcare

As a key enrollment deadline hits Monday, many people without health insurance have been sizing up policies on the new government healthcare marketplace and making what seems like a logical choice: They’re picking the cheapest one. Increasingly, experts in health insurance are becoming concerned that many of these first-time buyers will be in for a shock when they get medical care next year and discover they’re on the hook for most of the initial cost.

The prospect of sticker shock after Jan. 1, when those who sign up for policies now can begin getting coverage, is seen as a looming problem for a new national system that has been plagued by trouble since the new marketplaces went online in the states in October.

News Headlines Article

Monday marks key health care deadline
USA Today

Monday marks the last day to sign up through the federal and state health exchanges to have insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1. And while government officials said the federal site, HealthCare.gov, can handle a last-minute rush of consumers, there’s still fear that the word may not be getting out to the people who most need to enroll.

“It’s certainly important to people who are used to having some health care coverage because they want to make sure there’s no gap in coverage,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a non-profit health care advocacy group.

News Headlines Article

Federal officials seek more time for people to enroll in health care
Washington Post

President Obama expressed confidence Friday that “a couple million” Americans will have new health coverage as of New Year’s Day. But behind the scenes, federal health officials have been pressing the insurance industry to give people more time to sign up. According to insurance industry executives, federal officials have been asking health plans to provide insurance starting Jan. 1 even for customers who sign up after a looming deadline on Monday.

News Headlines Article

Obama says 1 million signed up for healthcare coverage
Modern Healthcare

His healthcare plan facing a dicey transition, President Barack Obama said Friday that insurance sign-ups are surging now that the government’s website is working better for consumers. But it was too soon to say the rollout has turned the corner.

More than 1 million people have enrolled since Oct. 1, Obama said at his end-of-the-year press conference. That’s more than two-and-a-half times the number on Nov. 30, when major fixes to the website were completed. At that point, only 365,000 had signed up through new federal and state markets offering subsidized private insurance.

News Headlines Article

Even in willing states, health law’s rollout rocky
Modern Healthcare

A bug-ridden website. Endless wait times on a toll-free helpline. Error-laden data sent to insurance companies.

These are not problems burdening Republican-led states that had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the federal health insurance overhaul. These are recent complications in the rollout of MNsure, the state-based exchange in Minnesota, a place with a long tradition of activist government and generous social programs.

Political opposition to President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act runs deep in states led by Republican governors and legislators.

News Headlines Article

No one knows if Obamacare will increase health care coverage next month
Washington Post

On Jan. 1, Obamacare’s huge coverage expansion officially begins. But with millions of insurers canceling health insurance plans and many Americans finding it difficult to sign up for coverage on HealthCare.gov, will the number of uninsured go down — or up? Health care experts say that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is likely to offset any cancellations and drive the ranks of the uninsured down.

News Headlines Article

Covered California braces for Monday deadline
San Francisco Business Times

Enrollments for health insurance under the new federal health law have surged ahead of a Monday deadline to get coverage before the Jan. 1 mandate. The San Francisco Chronicle reported tens of thousands of people were signing up last week though Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, with more than 20,000 enrollments in just one day. Some 53,500 people enrolled over three days last week, compared with 31,000 for all of October.

News Headlines Article

Californians scrambling to make Monday deadline to sign up for health insurance
Contra Costa Times

Lynn Engelman still has no idea whether her doctors in Contra Costa County will be on her new health care plan — and neither, she says, do her doctors.

Capitola resident Kathryn Johnson has already paid the first month’s bill for her new policy through the state’s new health insurance exchange, but she just received a letter telling her she hasn’t signed up for a plan.

News Headlines Article

Obamacare deadline day: 5 things to know for enrolling in California
Los Angeles Times

Time’s almost up. Monday is the last chance for consumers to sign up for Obamacare insurance that starts Jan. 1 under the federal healthcare law. Last-minute shoppers should prepare for busy signals if they call the Covered California insurance exchange, or for long waits at some enrollment events.

There’s been a sharp increase in applications in recent days ahead of Monday’s deadline for January coverage, according to state officials, agents and enrollment counselors.

News Headlines Article

Only 500,000 people with cancelled policies will lose health care coverage
McClatchy

Fewer than 500,000 people who had their individual insurance policies cancelled will be without coverage on January 1, the Obama administration estimated Thursday.

That’s far less than the millions of people that health law critics said would lack insurance after their old policies were terminated because they didn’t meet new minimal standards under the Affordable Care Act.

News Headlines Article

Year in Review: Covered California turns health insurance market inside out
Sacramento Business Journal

What: All eyes were on the state’s health insurance exchange this year as it barreled toward launch of the new online marketplace Oct. 1. Covered California made policy, staffed up, trained people, picked health plans and cranked out advertising to get the word out to the millions of people without insurance expected to qualify for coverage in 2014. The website launched on schedule, and it didn’t crash. Who: Ultimately, decisions about Covered California are made by the exchange’s five-member board, but executive director Peter Lee shepherds the policymaking up to that level.

News Headlines Article

California’s insurance commissioner seeks re-election, more power
Sacramento Bee

He was an early supporter, but that hasn’t prevented Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones from finding plenty of fault with President Barack Obama’s new health care program and its rollout in California.

Jones wasn’t happy the state’s health insurance exchange told insurers not to include pediatric dental care as a standard benefit in their plans. He criticized the exchange, Covered California, for rejecting Obama’s offer to let insurers grant extensions to more than 1 million customers with policies set to terminate at year’s end.

News Headlines Article

Need for tonsillectomies in question
Contra Costa Times

Decades ago, entire classrooms of children would check into the hospital and get their tonsils removed en masse.

Though tonsillectomies fell out of favor in the 1980s, the procedure has spiked again in recent years to treat a new diagnosis — sleep apnea, a breathing disorder — but not without controversy. And the surgery is now sure to garner renewed scrutiny because of the case of 13-year-old Jahi McMath of Oakland, who suffered sudden bleeding from her nose and mouth and cardiac arrest after a Dec. 9 surgery intended to help with her sleeping problem.

News Headlines Article

Athena Health ditches San Mateo for SoMa
San Francisco Business Times

The final piece of the 680 Folsom St. puzzle has fallen into place. Property owner Boston Properties has inked a 60,000-square-foot lease with Athena Health, a cloud-based electronic health records company. Athena will take the entirety of 50 Hawthorne, a stand-alone building that is part of the 680 Folsom St. redevelopment. The Massachusetts-based Athena Health is moving its Bay Area office from San Mateo, where it occupies just 20,000 square feet.

News Headlines Article

Coachella Valley officials push for health insurance sign-ups
The Desert Sun

Community health leaders across the Coachella Valley on Monday will continue their push to enroll area residents in the new Affordable Care Act insurance plans and ensure they will get coverage when 2014 starts.

Monday marks the last day people can participate in the nationwide health care reform and still get coverage on Jan. 1. Enrollment will continue until March 31, but the insurance will kick in after the year starts.

News Headlines Article

Mayor’s health care task force has not reached consensus on blending Healthy SF, Affordable Care Act
San Francisco Examiner

With many provisions of the Affordable Care Act taking effect Jan. 1, confusion persists in San Francisco over how to mesh the federal mandate with The City’s 7-year-old landmark universal health care program. The 41-member Universal Healthcare Council — established by Mayor Ed Lee in July amid a political quarrel over how employers can deal with both health-related mandates — has yet to reach a consensus on the issue. The local Health Care Security Ordinance requires city employers to contribute to their employees’ health expenses.

News Headlines Article

Year in Review: Change at the top for UC Davis Health System
Sacramento Business Journal

What: University of California Davis chose a new medical school dean and vice chancellor for human health services in September to replace Dr. Claire Pomeroy. She left the university in June to work for a New York nonprofit that supports medical research, but her departure was clouded by a scandal involving two UC Davis neurosurgeons banned from human research after they experimented on dying brain cancer patients without university permission. Who: Dr. Julie Freischlag, a professor and surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins University, will replace Pomeroy on Feb. 10, 2014.

News Headlines Article

Why Hoag is hard to find on health exchange
Orange County Register

When Ellia Kassoff signed up for an Obamacare insurance plan last month, he wanted top-of-the-line coverage and to keep his Newport Beach doctor. He verified that his primary care physician accepted the Blue Shield platinum PPO. But he never thought to check for Hoag Hospital. Kassoff, 45, was shocked to subsequently learn that Hoag is only accessible on the state’s Covered California insurance market through one plan: a PPO offered by Health Net at the bronze level, which has the cheapest…

News Headlines Article

Providing local care: St. Joseph and Stanford to bring top-notch treatment to North Coast
Times-Standard

Cancer patients who need access to different treatment options such as clinical trials will no longer have to drive down to the Bay Area every week to receive the care they need.

Instead, they will have the option of enrolling in trials, while staying in Humboldt County and being treated by their doctors.

”One of our visions and goals is to bring state of the art medical care to our patients locally so they don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to access that care,” said David O’Brien, president of St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County.

News Headlines Article

A leader on health care reform, Alameda County could get penalized for doing too much
The Mercury News

Long before President Barack Obama made universal health coverage a national priority, Alameda County earned accolades with its mission to ensure decent medical care for all its nearly 1.5 million residents. A tax hike approved by voters a decade ago fortified an expansive safety net of public hospitals and primary care clinics.

So why are local health leaders so worried as the new federal law takes effect in January? An arcane state funding formula, they say, will soon penalize the county for its commitment to treating everyone, including the poor and immigrants denied health insurance because they are in the country illegally.

Commands