News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

California Doctors Praise Governor’s Move, But Say Medi-Cal Pay Still Too Low
KPBS

California Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget eliminates a planned 10 percent Medi-Cal payment cut that was to be retroactive to 2011. But it still preserves a 10 percent cut to Medi-Cal rates going forward. Approximately 8.5 million Californians have Medi-Cal coverage, including more than 350,000 people in San Diego County. And thanks to Obamacare, 1.4 million additional people are now eligible for it.

News Headlines Article

Swine flu is on the rise: Local hospitals see more patients with flu symptoms, vaccines still available
Times-Standard

Got the flu? You are not alone. Local hospitals have seen a huge influx of people coming in to the emergency room with flu-like symptoms. ”We’ve definitely seen more patients coming in with influenza-like illness cases,” said Leslie Broomall, a spokeswoman for St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial hospitals. “Our ED director said, ‘Our volumes have been sky high.’”

News Headlines Article

UCLA and Harvard University Study Finds Kids’ Ear Infections Cost Health Care System Nearly $3 Billion a Year
Sierra Sun Times

Acute otitis media, or ear infection, is the most common ailment among kids of preschool age and younger in the U.S., primarily because these children have immature middle-ear drainage systems, higher exposure to respiratory illnesses and undeveloped immune systems. And because it’s also the most common reason for antibiotic use among all children, the costs associated with acute otitis media (AOM) are under more scrutiny than ever by health care and government administrators, especially given today’s political and economic climate, strained health-care resources and cost-containment efforts.

News Headlines Article

Doctors say cutting food stamps could backfire
San Francisco Chronicle

Doctors are warning that if Congress cuts food stamps, the federal government could be socked with bigger health bills. Maybe not immediately, they say, but over time if the poor wind up in doctors’ offices or hospitals as a result.

Among the health risks of hunger are spiked rates of diabetes and developmental problems for young children down the road.

The doctors’ lobbying effort comes as Congress is working on a compromise farm bill that’s certain to include food stamp cuts.

News Headlines Article

Gender Could Be as Big a Problem as Age for the Affordable Care Act
The Health Care Blog

Concerns about whether insurance sold on the individual Exchanges under the Affordable Care Act will succumb to an adverse selection death spiral have focused mainly on the shortage of younger enrollees into the system. This shortage is potentially a problem because, due to section 1201 of the ACA, premiums for younger enrollees must be at least one third of that for older enrollees even though actuarial science tells us that younger enrollee expenses are perhaps just one fifth of those for older enrollees.

News Headlines Article

House passes bill targeting health care law
San Francisco Chronicle

The House overwhelmingly passed a bill to impose new security requirements on President Barack Obama’s health care law as Republicans maintained an election-year focus on the contentious program and its troubled rollout.

The vote Friday was 291-122 for the measure that Republicans said would address potential data breaches, though they offered no examples in which personal data had been compromised through the government website. There were 67 Democrats who joined with Republicans to back the measure.

News Headlines Article

Insurers under fire as Obamacare kicks in
Los Angeles Times

Obamacare’s biggest problem isn’t the troubled HealthCare.gov website anymore. Consumers are easing up on criticism of government exchanges and turning their frustration and fury toward some of the nation’s biggest health insurers. All too often, new policyholders say, the companies can’t confirm coverage, won’t answer basic questions, and haven’t issued identification numbers needed to fill prescriptions or get medical care. Day after day, people say, they contact insurance company call centers waiting hours at a time with no response.

News Headlines Article

Most uninsured unaware of cost breaks for Obamacare
Sacramento Bee

Obamacare supporters say nonstop news coverage of HealthCare.gov’s early technical problems has hurt efforts to inform the uninsured about financial assistance that can help them purchase marketplace health coverage.

With less than three months before the Affordable Care Act’s six-month open enrollment period ends on March 31, a whopping 69 percent of uninsured Americans don’t know about the tax credits and other assistance that will make coverage more affordable, according to a new survey of the uninsured released Thursday by Enroll America, a national coalition working on behalf of Obamacare.

News Headlines Article

Governor’s budget keeps prospective 10% Medi-Cal cut
Sacramento Business Journal

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget allocates $670 million to expand Medi-Cal and nixes a plan to collect 10 percent of Medi-Cal fees paid to doctors, clinics and some other providers since mid-2011. It does not stop a 10 percent Medi-Cal fee cut going forward. Implemented in stages, it’s scheduled to hit pharmacies and doctors today. The budget includes some limited increases, including $17.5 million for a pediatric dental outreach program and continues the transition of senior and people with disabilities into managed care.

News Headlines Article

Governor’s budget: No overtime for home-care workers
Sacramento Business Journal

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget for the In-Home Supportive Services Program includes a 6.4 percent increase in funding but would prohibit providers from working overtime. The budget increase is to accommodate growth in the average number of seniors or persons with disabilities served by caregivers in their own homes. The caseload is estimated at 453,000, up about 1.2 percent from 2013.

News Headlines Article

Governor’s Budget Includes $670 Million for Medi-Cal; Preserves Provider Rate Cuts
KQED Radio

The governor’s budget is out and for the first time in years, California is expecting a multibillion dollar tax surplus. The governor is proposing a $8 billion in increased spending, with $670 million earmarked to expanded benefits under Medi-Cal. The expanded benefits include mental health, substance use disorder, adult dental, and specialized nutrition services. In his proposal, Brown noted that Medi-Cal is the “budget’s second largest program.

News Headlines Article

Budget proposal calls for extended outreach to get more children into the dentist chair
EdSource

With student dental disease one of the most widespread public health issues in schools, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday put a new focus on early dental health outreach in his proposed budget for the coming year, praising prevention as a way to keep down future medical problems and costs. But in keeping with Brown’s avowed fiscal prudence, the budget proposal does not allocate any new funds for the $17.5 million effort, deflating some advocates’ hopes.

News Headlines Article

Six more Bay Area flu deaths reported
San Francisco Chronicle

Six more deaths in relatively young Bay Area residents have been attributed to influenza, likely the subtype known as “swine flu,” public health officials reported Thursday. So far, that makes eight flu-related deaths in the region as the annual flu season kicks into high gear.

In Marin County, a 63-year-old man with serious chronic conditions in addition to the flu died on Dec. 27, and a 48-year-old woman with no underlying conditions died Jan. 6, according to public health officials.

News Headlines Article

Four Valley adults die from swine flu
Fresno Bee

Four people have died of complications from swine flu in the central San Joaquin Valley, health officials said Thursday.

A woman in Fresno County, a man in Kings County and two people in Merced County died within the past week. The deaths are the first this flu season, and health officials said they are seeing an increase in patients requiring hospitalizations in the Valley and statewide.

News Headlines Article

Napa health officials urge flu shots as virus spreads in state
Vallejo Times-Herald

A rapid increase in flu cases — some serious — has prompted Napa County health officials to urge residents to get vaccinated and offer other advice for staying healthy. “We’re seeing a rapid increase in influenza, including severe cases requiring admission to hospital intensive care units,” county medical officials said. “The predominant strain of influenza across the U.S. this year is the H1N1 strain that emerged in 2009.

News Headlines Article

Lung cancer rates down, with a narrowing gender gap
Los Angeles Times

Invasive lung cancer, still the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, claimed fewer lives over the five-year period ending in 2009, says a report issued Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Driven largely by the success of anti-tobacco campaigns, the decline in lung cancer was greater in men than in women, however. The grim result: a longstanding gender gap, in which women have lagged behind men in lung cancer rates, is narrowing.

News Headlines Article

HL20: Karen Davis, Economist—Healthcare is More Than a Numbers Game
Health Leaders Media

Growing up on a wheat farm in Ponka City, Okla., a small town about 100 miles north of Oklahoma City, Karen Davis, PhD, was raised with “that basic Midwestern ideal value system that you try to help people out, and you use the talents you’ve been given to do that.”

Davis, who is a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, and director of the Roger C. Lipitz Center for Integrated Health Care at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, was actively involved in 4-H as a girl, which she says rounded out her philosophy on life.

News Headlines Article

Licensing deals add 2 blood cancer drugs to Sunesis pipeline
San Francisco Business Times

Sunesis Pharmaceuticals Inc. licensed two experimental blood cancer drugs from Biogen Idec Inc. and Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ cancer unit. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. Both drugs are not yet in the clinic, said South San Francisco-based Sunesis (NASDAQ: SNSS), but both were developed under a research deal between Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) and Sunesis.

News Headlines Article

Five Prime, Adimab ink deal around potential cancer treatments
San Francisco Chronicle

Five Prime Therapeutics Inc. closed its second collaboration since it went public in September, bagging a deal around antibodies that could stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells. Terms of the deal with Adimab LLC were not disclosed Thursday, but Adimab will use its antibody discovery technology to identify fully human antibodies for South San Francisco-based Five Prime.

News Headlines Article

UCSF, Quest Diagnostics target autism, brain cancer in early ‘precision med’ projects
San Francisco Business Times

UCSF scientists will work with Quest Diagnostics to jointly research, develop and validate diagnostics aimed at building tools that can give doctors and patients a more-precise path for therapy for autism, cancer, neurology and women’s health. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the University of California, San Francisco, said the master deal initially focuses on two projects already under way with Madison, N.J.-based Quest (NYSE: DGX).

News Headlines Article

Trauma center proposal scheduled to be reviewed by Monterey County supervisors
Monterey Herald

Natividad Medical Center’s plan for establishing the area’s first Level II trauma center is finally slated for review by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors later this month.

County emergency medical services director Kirk Schmitt said Wednesday the Natividad implementation plan proposal would be scheduled for the supervisors’ Jan. 28 session, though he would not disclose details about the proposal.

Commands