News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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New Study by Economist and Former Finance Director Tom Campbell Shows Access to Care At Risk
PR Newswire

Former Congressman and State Finance Director Tom Campbell released results today of a new study that warns that thousands of Californians could be shut out of the health care they need, even if they have health coverage, if new regulations and mandates are approved by the state Legislature. Campbell, working in partnership with the Berkeley Research Group and the California Hospital Association (CHA), found that new mandates, such as those contained in Assembly Bill (AB) 975, would put pressure on the state budget, reduce public access to health care, and threaten successful implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act.

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House passes bill requiring weekly health care numbers
USA Today

The House on Thursday backed a bill that would require the Obama administration to report weekly on how many Americans have signed up for health care coverage as Republicans maintain an election-year spotlight on the troubled law.

The vote was 259-154, with 33 Democrats breaking ranks and joining the GOP majority in supporting the legislation. It marked the second time in a week — and certainly not the last — that the House has targeted President Barack Obama’s law, with Republicans confident that Americans’ unease with the overhaul will produce major GOP wins in the November elections.

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California gets failing grade for access to emergency care
Sacramento Business Journal

Emergency room overcrowding and lack of psychiatric hospital beds are critical problems in California that hamper access to care, according to a new state-by-state report card released Thursday by the American College of Emergency Physicians. California earned an “F” for access to emergency care. The grade also reflects a lack of on-call specialists who provide specialized care; a below-average number of trauma centers; a lack of inpatient hospital beds and the lowest number of ERs per person in the nation, the report shows.

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Google developing contact lenses for diabetics to monitor glucose
Los Angeles Times

Google is searching for a better way for millions of diabetics to manage their disease by developing a contact lens that monitors glucose levels in tears. The contact lenses are the latest project from Google’s secretive X lab that also came up with the driverless car, the Internet-connected eyewear Glass, and Project Loon, which is using balloons to bring the Internet to far-flung places.

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The Obama Administration Keeps Extending a Conservative Health-Care Reform
National Review Online

Sort of. The administration announced last night that it’s extending the temporary federally run high-risk pool (“PCIP”) created by the Affordable Care Act for another 90 days, providing coverage until March 15. Federally subsidized insurance programs for people with preexisting conditions aren’t, of course, the most conservative idea on earth, but they’ve actually been a part of GOP health-care thinking for a long time.

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Enrollees struggle with ACA demands, delays
San Francisco Business Times

With both the federal Healthcare.gov and the Covered California exchanges inundated with late December sign-ups by would-be Obamacare enrollees, it’s hard to know where things stand now from the macro perspective. But from an individual-eye view, there are still frustrating demands and delays that are making signing up for Obamacare coverage way more difficult and stressful than many anticipated.

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Health care reform may be finding success
Live Insurance News

Over half of the 2.2 million people that have purchased health insurance coverage from federal and state-run exchanges are over the age of 45, according to data released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to the agency, some 1.2 million people enrolled for private insurance coverage through an exchange between October 1 and December 28 of 2013. That number has grown in January, suggesting that health care reform may be accomplishing its goal of making insurance coverage more accessible to a wider range of consumers.

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7 things to watch about Obamacare
San Francisco Chronicle

1) Enrollment obstacles
ACA proponents, including Executive Director Peter Lee at Covered California, are convinced the web site’s glitches and back-end enrollment confirmation snafus will soon be a thing of the past. But if infrastructure problems continue to plague Covered California, it could have trouble reaching its goals and covering its expenses once $910 million in federal subsidies run dry. By next Jan. 1, Covered California must be self sustaining and can’t be bailed out by the state, and it’s projecting a $70 million-plus deficit for fiscal 2015.

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Emergency Room Care Declines as Obamacare Brings More Patients
San Francisco Chronicle

With Obamacare bearing down on them, a doctors’ group said emergency rooms are less able to provide quality care than three years ago, and more resources will be needed to handle an expected surge of patients.

Hospitals have fewer beds available, causing delays in ERs that saw visits climb to 130 million in 2010, according to a report from the Dallas-based American College of Emergency Physicians.

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Study: Large Variation in Cost of Giving Birth at Calif. Hospitals
California Healthline

The cost of giving birth in a California hospital can vary by tens of thousands of dollars, and the cost differences cannot be explained by market factors, according to a study published Thursday in the journal BMJ Open, Bloomberg reports (Chen, Bloomberg, 1/16). For the study, researchers from UC-San Francisco examined data on 110,000 births in California (Aliferis, “State of Health,” KQED, 1/16).

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Cost of giving birth varies wildly, study reveals
National Monitor

A new study, published in the open access journal BMJ Open, examined the costs of giving birth via cesarean section and vaginal delivery. The researchers hoped to understand the variation in charges between hospitals for normal and discounted charges. Specifically, they sought to identify the institutional and market-level characteristics that influence adjusted charges.

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California hospitals charge $3,000 to $37,000 for childbirth, study says
Los Angeles Times

Amid growing scrutiny of hospital billing, a new study finds that California hospitals charged mothers $3,296 to $37,227 for a routine delivery. For women having a cesarean section, the UC San Francisco study found patients were billed $8,312 to nearly $71,000. Few of the patients in the study released Thursday had serious health issues, and most were discharged within six days of admission.

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Surgeon general report links more diseases, health problems to smoking tobacco
Washington Post

Fifty years after the U.S. surgeon general first linked cigarette smoking to deadly diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease, his successors continue to add to the list of health problems associated with tobacco use.

Smoking is a cause of liver cancer and colorectal cancer, the fourth-most-diagnosed form of the disease in the United States, Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak found in a report released Friday.

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California gets F in speedy treatments at ERs from advocacy group
Los Angeles Times

An updated national report on U.S. emergency medical care has again awarded California an F for lacking access to speedy treatment, noting that the state has the fewest hospital emergency rooms per capita — 6.7 per 1 million people — in the nation. The America’s Emergency Care Environment report card, which gauges how well states support emergency care, was released Thursday by the advocacy group American College of Emergency Physicians.

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A Dem candidate who would expand O’care and Social Security
Washington Post

Yesterday, GOP Rep. Buck McKeon, a longtime member of Congress and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, announced his retirement. The move could pave the way for an interesting experiment, one that could provide a glimpse into how progressive policies play in a swing district that’s already very difficult for Democrats. The Democrat vying for the seat is Dr. Lee Rogers, who not only aggressively embraces Obamacare, but wants to expand it to achieve “universal” coverage, and even wants to expand Social Security.

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Survey Says: EHR Incentive Program Is on Track
The Health Care Blog

We continue to see progress in improving the nation’s health care system, and a key tool to helping achieve that goal is the increased use of electronic health records by the nation’s doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers. These electronic tools serve as the infrastructure to implementing reforms that improve care – many of which are part of the Affordable Care Act.

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J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference: Revenue Shifts to Outpatient
Health Leaders Media

The annual invitation-only J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco is where Wall Street meets healthcare to talk business. This year’s themes ranged from preparing for the newly insured to continuing the expansion of clinically integrated networks.

For the fourth year, the conference featured big, competitive not-for-profit systems such as Geisinger Health System, Intermountain Healthcare, and The Cleveland Clinic and academic institutions such as Rush University Medical Center.

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UC Davis Medical Center wins back magnet nursing designation
Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Medical Center has won back a prestigious ”magnet” nursing designation, a national benchmark for nursing excellence and quality of patient care. In 1997, the Sacramento hospital was the first in California to earn the “magnet” label from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. But UC Davis lost the designation in 2006 because of inconsistencies in the program and labor unrest.

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