News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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Hospital-union deal tackles issues but is risky for both sides
Sacramento Business Journal

With their recent deal to work together on some of the health care industry’s most pressing problems, the California Hospital Association and the state’s largest health care union have set the stage for a major shift in labor relations for California. The May 2 agreement is a risky move for both sides. CHA and Service Employees International Union — United Healthcare Workers West are unlikely partners, traditionally at odds over policy and tactics.

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Industry leaders voice optimism on curbing defensive medicine
Modern Healthcare

Undertaking extensive efforts to improve the quality of care provided has not mitigated malpractice costs—including the cost of defensive medicine—for some providers, but it may in the future, representatives of several providers undertaking delivery reforms told a Senate panel.

Dr. Lee Sacks, chief medical officer for Advocate Health Care, based in Oak Brook, Ill., told the Senate Finance Committee that the health system’s medical liability costs were $90 million in 2011, despite the broad use of a model quality improvement system since 2004.

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Five Hospitals Share Three Secrets to Improve Knee Surgery Outcomes
Health Leaders Media

When surgeons at five healthcare systems shared their individual processes for 11,000 knee replacement operations, three best practices emerged that reduced lengths of stay, lowered readmission rates, and improved other outcomes for hospitals that embraced them.

That’s the finding from the High Value Healthcare Collaborative, composed of orthopedic surgical teams from Cleveland Clinic, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Denver Health, Intermountain Healthcare, and the Mayo Clinic.

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Senate agrees on FDA overhaul
Los Angeles Times

In a momentary flash of bipartisanship, the Senate approved legislation that would allow Americans speedier access to generic drugs as well as breakthrough treatments for life-threatening diseases as part of a Food and Drug Administration revamping that now heads to the House.

But the comity didn’t last, and the FDA accord was quickly followed by another round of partisan fighting over President Obama’s push to keep student loan interest rates low.

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Will doctors follow new PSA test advice? Signs aren’t great
Los Angeles Times

Is the routine PSA test to screen for prostate cancer going to fade away now that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended against it for men of all ages?

The signs are maybe not, according to a survey of primary care physicians done by Dr. Craig E. Pollack and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The survey was done in November, after the task force’s draft recommendations had been released but before the final ones were published earlier this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Calcium supplements may raise heart attack risk
USA Today

Taking a calcium supplement to help prevent bones from thinning puts people at a greater risk for heart attacks, says a report out today in the journal Heart. The study of approximately 24,000 people between the ages of 35 and 64 found participants who took regular calcium supplements were 86% more likely to have a heart attack than those who didn’t take supplements. Those who took only calcium supplements were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack as those who didn’t take any vitamin supplements.

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Screening for breast cancer: Ultrasounds can be vital for women with dense breast tissue
Monterey Herald

When Marianne Medeiros volunteered to participate in a clinical research trial using ultrasound as a breast cancer-screening tool, she hoped to help other women and advance medicine.

Instead, she may have saved her own life.

Medeiros, 57, from Carmel, is among a large group of women (4 in 10) who have “dense breast tissue,” which can sometimes obscure abnormalities in a mammogram, the traditional screening tool.

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Costs in New Adult Day Program Almost Same as Old One
California Healthline

After more than a year of battling over eliminating and then restructuring adult day health care coverage for Medi-Cal beneficiaries, California’s budget for delivering that care is similar to what it was before all the haggling started. The Community-Based Adult Services program, which grew out of a lawsuit challenging the state’s proposal and replaces the ADHC program, will provide services to 80% of previous ADHC beneficiaries and is funded at a similar level to the original program.

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Blue Shield CEO Bodaken to retire, COO Markovich to move up
Los Angeles Business Journal

Blue Shield of California said Wednesday that CEO Bruce Bodaken will retire at the end of the year and Chief Operating Officer Paul Markovich will take the job. Bodaken, 60, became CEO in January 2000. He joined Blue Shield as executive vice president and chief operating officer in 1994, and added the president title a year later. Markovich, 45, has held several senior roles at Blue Shield since beginning a second stint at the company in 2002, becoming executive vice president and COO three years ago.

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Sutter Davis Hospital tapped as a primary stroke center
Daily Democrat

After undergoing an on-site evaluation and demonstrating compliance with nationally developed standards for stroke care, Sutter Davis Hospital received certification from The Joint Commission as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center. The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies hospitals across the United States to provide acute stroke treatment, reviewed and evaluated Sutter Davis Hospital’s stroke program and determined that it qualified as a center of excellence for stroke service.

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Senate OKs measure to reauthorize user-fee programs
Modern Healthcare

The Senate easily passed a reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration’s drug and device user-fee programs and authorized new generic and biosimilar user-fee programs.

The 96-1 vote to pass the measure followed a series of close votes that crossed partisan lines in which the chamber rejected a series on amendments, including one to allow the importation of pharmaceuticals from Canada.

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Legislation may enable states to offer universal healthcare
Los Angeles Times

Universal coverage, Medicare for all, single payer — call it what you will. It’s clear that conservative forces are determined to prevent such a system from ever being introduced at the national level. So it’s up to the states.

The catch is that to make universal coverage work at the state level, you’d need some way to channel Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare funds into the system. At the moment, that’s difficult if not impossible.

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HMO profits remain small as health costs soar
Sacramento Business Journal

Though health care costs continue to rise, profits at the seven big health plans that serve the Sacramento region remain slim, new state figures show. The companies together reported almost $86 billion in revenue from nearly 17 million Californians in 2011. But profit totaled just $3.2 billion. The overall profit margin among HMOs that serve the Sacramento region is 3.7 percent, according to financial reports posted online by the California Department of Managed Health Care .

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Electronic Medical Records Can Mean Life or Death
San Francisco Chronicle

When it comes to heathcare, having the right information at the right time can mean life or death, especially in an emergency situation as doctors and nurses try to quickly evaluate a patient’s symptoms. Increasingly, Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), are starting to play a bigger role in the quality of care for patients, improving the way that healthcare providers can interact with each other and directly with patients.

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How Much Weight Should Anecdotes Really Have In Health Policy?
The Health Care Blog

There’s something compelling about the personal narrative that vast mountains of quantitative data cannot rival. Anecdotes are, quite simply, powerful. They tap into our shared humanity, making something seem somehow more real by putting a face on it. This is why, if you follow politics for very long, you will find numerous cases of policymakers championing issues that have touched their own lives in some way. For example, Senator X doesn’t care about issue Y, until they discover that their son or daughter is affected by it.

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Should the States Set Up ObamaCare Exchanges?
The Health Care Blog

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), state governments are expected to set up health insurance exchanges through which individuals will buy their own health insurance, in many cases with substantial subsidies. Should the states comply? In the following point-counterpoint discussion, Linda Gorman and I give opposing answers to this important question. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Child health advocates await Supreme Court decision
San Francisco Chronicle

Societies around the world recognize child literacy and elementary education as human rights. It’s actually guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 24 of that Convention also guarantees the following: “States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.”

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Single-payer health plan death inspires thought change
Visialia Times-Delta

With the entire country focused on the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision regarding the new health care reform legislation, you might have missed the fact that California’s own efforts at health care reform — the so-called “Medicare for all” bill — has died. The fight for a home-grown single-payer health care system, originally introduced by Sen. Sheila Kuehl as SB840 in 2005, vetoed twice by Gov. [Arnold] Schwarzenegger in 2006 and 2008, and twice resurrected by Sen. Mark Leno as SB810 in 2009 and 2011, appears to be over.

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