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News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Congress to mull HealthCare.gov security measures, healthcare reform
FierceHealthcare

Congress returns from its holiday break today with plans to tackle new legislation to make HealthCare.gov more secure, healthcare reform and yet another deadline to keep the government running or face another government shutdown. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor intends to schedule floor action this week to address proposals to make HealthCare.gov safer and notify consumers when there is a data breach, according to a Reuters report.

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California extends payment deadline for Obamacare policies to Jan. 15
Los Angeles Times

Amid deepening consumer frustration, California’s health exchange extended the payment deadline to Jan. 15 for insurance coverage starting Jan. 1 under the federal healthcare law. The state’s move late Saturday comes as many enrollees continue to report problems getting an invoice from their insurance company or paying their first month’s premium so coverage is retroactive to Jan. 1.

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Sen. Lieu wants California hospitals to reduce ER wait times
Examiner

In a press release issued today, Senator Ted Lieu (D-Redondo Beach) calls on California hospitals to reduce emergency room wait times by adopting national guidelines that could result in speeding up treatment. His concerns stem from a story the Los Angeles Times published on Thursday citing a recent study in Oregon. According to Lieu, “A recent study in the journal Science shows that Medicaid expansion increases emergency room visits of Medicaid enrollees by 40 percent. California is already dead last in the nation in terms of ER capacity.

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Stanford gets $90 million Ludwig grant for cancer research
San Francisco Business Times

Stanford University has received a $90 million cancer research grant from the Ludwig Cancer Research fund. The grant will go toward research at Stanford’s Ludwig Center for Cancer Stem Cell Research and Medicine. The grant is part of a $540 million gift that the New York-based fund awarded to six institutions, including Ludwig Centers at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, MIT, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the University of Chicago.

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Twelve Things We’re Pretty Sure We’ll See Happen In Health Care In 2014
The Health Care Blog

While your humble columnist eschewed forecasting for 2013, he has decided to reverse course and inaugurate the 2014 blogging season with a contrarian duodecimal exercise in futurism. Will this antidecimal augury align with the mysterious cosmic order and governing perfection? Let the readers be the judge in January 2015…

1. Obamacare will neither succeed or fail. This hugely complex law will have too many outcomes, statistics and analyses that will be subject to too much spin by both supporters and detractors. Like puppies clamoring for the mother’s attention, the loudest wins, but only in 15 minute media increments.

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HealthCare.gov defects leave many Americans eligible for Medicaid, CHIP without coverage
Washington Post

More than 100,000 Americans who applied for insurance through HealthCare.gov and were told they are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) remain unenrolled because of lingering software defects in the federal online marketplace, according to federal and state health officials. To try to provide coverage to these people before they seek medical care, the Obama administration has launched a barrage of phone calls in recent days in 21 states, advising those who applied that the quickest route into the programs is to start over at their state’s Medicaid agency.

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Romney: Health-care reform should have been left to states
Washington Times

Mitt Romney on Sunday took aim at Obamacare, saying the issue of health-care reform should have been left to the states. “The idea that the government knows better than the American people what kind of insurance they have to have makes no sense, and it’s something which I think the American people are rejecting in large numbers, and I think it’s going to hurt the president and hurt the country and a lot of families,” the 2012 Republican presidential nominee said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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Supes to consider plan to deal with Affordable Care Act
Santa Maria Times

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will discuss how to deal with the increased responsibilities of the Affordable Care Act when it meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the County Government Center, 1055 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo.

One of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act will force states to expand their health care systems.

San Luis Obispo County expects between 12,000 and 19,000 previously uninsured residents to be eligible for Medi-Cal, although all aren’t expected to enroll, according to a county staff report.

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Healthcare reform plans on course
The Nation

The public Health Ministry is pressing ahead with reforms to the country’s public healthcare system in a bid to improve the quality of and access to healthcare services.

According to the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary Dr Wachira Pengjuntr, the plan will focus on three main areas: Setting up a public-health strategy; reforming the structure of health-related agencies and overhauling the management of regional public health-service providers.

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Skimpy health law plans leave some ‘underinsured’
Modern Healthcare

For working people making modest wages and struggling with high medical bills from chronic disease, President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan sounds like long-awaited relief. But the promise could go unfulfilled.

It’s true that patients with cancer and difficult conditions such as multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease will be able to get insurance and financial help with monthly premiums.

But their annual out-of-pocket costs could still be so high they’ll have trouble staying out of debt.

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ObamaCare Is Redistribution, Not Reform
The Wall Street Journal

HealthCare.gov has started to work as a new year dawns. But work at what? It still delivers a faulty vision of health-care reform.

Let it be said that ObamaCare provides fabulous benefits for some Americans. If you have serious health problems and a low income (but not low enough to qualify for Medicaid), you can get unlimited health care for a premium largely or completely subsidized by someone else.

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Why the Health Care Law Will Make Our Nation More Secure
The Huffington Post

My interest in health care policy was spurred by researching women’s health care issues and discovering more women than men die from heart disease. Heart research, however, was primarily conducted on men. I approached Cedars-Sinai Hospital and helped establish the Women’s Heart Center there. Under the guidance of Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, the staff is conducting groundbreaking research. From this point, I naturally became interested in how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will help women, and as a mother, how it will affect young people.

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Obamacare: Hundreds of thousands of Californians finally get health insurance
Inside Bay Area

The last time John Nunnemacher had health insurance was 15 years ago, when his employer paid for his coverage.

Since then, the freelance graphic artist hasn’t been able to afford a policy. Luckily, he didn’t get seriously ill or have a bad accident — which could have left the San Jose man bankrupt.

But as of New Year’s Day, the 43-year-old Nunnemacher was once again insured.

Nearly four years after Congress passed a controversial health care law, tens of thousands of Californians like Nunnemacher can now see a doctor without begging for charity care.

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Calif. health exchange extends payment deadline
Sacramento Bee

The agency running California’s health insurance exchange extended the deadline for payments until Jan. 15 following a surge in the number of consumers signing up for coverage.

Covered California said on its website that health coverage still took effect Jan. 1 but the payment deadline was pushed back to prevent consumers from feeling rushed to pay recently received invoices.

It will also give health care companies more time to process paperwork, the agency said.

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Covered California extends deadline to pay health insurance premiums to Jan. 15
The Mercury News

Californians scrambling to pay their first month’s health insurance premium, originally due Monday, now have until Jan. 15 to do so, according to the state’s health insurance exchange.

Covered California announced the reprieve late Saturday, saying its 11 participating health insurance companies had agreed to the extension, which also assures those companies have time to mail invoices, and for consumers to have received their insurance documents.

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Covered California health plans extend premium payment deadline
Sacramento Business Journal

All of Covered California’s 11 health plans agreed Saturday to extend the deadline for consumers to submit their first premium payment to Jan. 15. The previous deadline was Jan. 6. The nine additional days are intended to ease worry about the rush to pay invoices only recently received. The extension also gives health plans more time to mail invoices and for consumers to get them.

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Nuns already can get contraception exemption, government argues
Sacramento Business Journal

Does Hobby Lobby have more of a case against health care reform’s requirement to cover contraceptives than the Little Sisters of the Poor? You might think so after reading the Justice Department’s response to the Catholic nuns who asked for an injunction relieving their nonprofit nursing homes from the contraception coverage mandate. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a temporary injunction on New Year’s Eve freeing the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged in Denver from this mandate.

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Brain-dead Jahi McMath released to her family
San Francisco Chronicle

Jahi McMath, the Oakland teenager who was declared brain-dead after a tonsillectomy, was quietly released to her family Sunday night, two days before the expiration of a court order preventing Children’s Hospital Oakland from disconnecting her from a ventilator.

In a statement, Dr. David Durand, the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, said the hospital had released Jahi’s body to the Alameda County coroner, which in turn released the body to the custody of Jahi’s mother, Nailah Winkfield, “per court order, for a destination unknown.

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California finds ‘jeopardy’ to disabled at three centers
Modern Healthcare

Three California centers for the developmentally disabled are at risk of losing Medicaid funding after some patients were found in unsafe situations, state health officials said.

The California Department of Public Health announced late Friday that it would take steps to decertify the Porterville, Lanterman and Fairview Developmental Centers.

Health officials said they discovered “situations involving immediate jeopardy” to patients at the three facilities.

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Hospital incentive to bury mistakes must be rectified
San Francisco Chronicle

A child checks into the hospital and something goes terribly wrong. Within the first few days, the family is given a grim prognosis and pressured to turn off life support. This happens more often than you think in California hospitals, not just to 13-year-olds like Jahi McMath, but in circumstances that are far closer calls. What the vulnerable families in these cases don’t know is that hospitals in California have an economic incentive to encourage families to pull the plug.

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Kaiser extends deadline for start-of-month coverage date
Sacramento Bee

Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente has extended the deadline to Jan. 15 for receipt of the first month’s premium on a Jan. 1 coverage effective date.

The health organization said payments postmarked Jan.. 15 or submitted by that day will be accepted.

Kaiser also said it is calling new members to inform them about the deadline extension and about the alternative to pay their premium online. Kaiser said the deadline extension is in response to consumer confusion about deadlines related to the federal Affordable Care Act.

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Health news: Adventist Health gets new CEO
Hanford Sentinel

The Adventist Health organization has announced that Scott Reiner will take over as the new CEO.

Reiner, formerly the executive vice president and COO, has been chosen to succeed Robert Carmen as president.

The board of directors approved Reiner for the position on Dec. 16. Reiner has begun the transition to his new role, which is expected to be complete by March 31.

Reiner also currently serves as the chairman of the board of trustees for the Adventist Medical Centers in Hanford and Selma, as well as Central Valley General Hospital.

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