News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Poll finds drop in uninsured rate
Modern Healthcare

The nation’s uninsured rate dropped modestly this month as the major coverage expansion under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law got underway, according to a closely watched survey released Thursday.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that the uninsured rate for U.S. adults dropped by 1.2 percentage points in January, to 16.1 percent. The biggest change was for unemployed people, a drop of 6.7 percentage points. That was followed by a 2.6 percentage-point decline for nonwhites. Traditionally both groups are far more likely to be uninsured than the population as a whole.

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Former Apple CEO backs virtual doctor’s office to create the ‘consumer era’ of medicine
VentureBeat

For the past decade, former Apple chief executive John Sculley has been taking on the problem of reforming health care through new technologies. And now that the Obamacare rollout is in full effect, Sculley is betting on the Sunrise, Fla.-based MDLive to bring the practice of medicine into the modern area. The rise of telemedicine — connecting doctors and patients via a secure video line — is a field investors perceive as one of the hottest opportunities in health care.

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2 leading Bay Area children’s hospitals unite for efficiency
San Francisco Chronicle

Improved health care for Bay Area children is the promise of the latest alliance in the hospital industry.

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Oakland announced Wednesday a joining of forces that “brings together two leading Bay Area children’s hospitals, strengthening their abilities to meet marketplace expectations, including the Affordable Care Act.”

The agreement, two years in the making, combines UCSF’s 800 pediatricians and pediatric specialists with Children’s 750 physicians and specialists in a combined 23 separate sites, forming the largest network of pediatric providers in Northern California, stretching from the Oregon border to San Luis Obispo and east to Reno.

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Telemedicine Emerging as Rural ICU Solution
Health Leaders Media

Since the first programs were launched in the early 2000s, telemedicine has become a staple of nearly every area of care in the healthcare industry. But one area where it is just beginning to carve out a niche is intensive care. ICU beds account for about 7% of total acute care hospital beds in the United States but generate 13.4% of total spending, with the cost of an inpatient stay ranging from $2,500 to $4,000 per day, according to the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

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Health roundup: Under new criteria, autism diagnoses could fall
Orange County Register

The number of children estimated to have autism spectrum disorder could drop under the guidelines of the influential guide published by the American Psychiatric Association, says a new federal study. Under the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 11.3 people per 1,000 would have been diagnosed as falling somewhere on the spectrum; under the new fifth edition, DSM-5, only 10 people per 1,000 would be diagnosed, according to an analysis by the National Center on Birth…

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Under 34? Obamacare wants you
Orange County Register

At one point during a six-hour health care marathon streamed live on YouTube last week, a young man warned his peers that even if they were youthful and healthy, they might still be hit by a bus. He pulled out his smartphone, dialed a number and told an uninsured friend to steer clear of buses. The event, part of the “Tell a Friend – Get Covered” campaign, produced a steady stream of advice, cautionary tales and clips of mostly young people…

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11 Companies Offering Health Care Benefits to Part-Time Workers
ABC News

For the unemployed or employed who hope to secure company-sponsored health care, the good news is that certain companies offer that benefit to part-timers. The bad news is that companies including Target are paring down their benefits to part-time employees. This week the retailer announced that it will discontinue health insurance coverage for its part-time retail staff starting April 1, in part due to the recent introduction of health insurance marketplaces, but will give a cash payout of $500 to those losing coverage.

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Target Joins Home Depot, Walmart, Others In Cutting Health Care For Part-Timers, Citing Obamacare
Forbes

Target has become the latest high-profile retailer to cut health benefits for part-time workers, citing both low employee participation and “health care reform” in a letter posted on its website. The Minnesota-based discount chain joins Home Depot HD -0.32%, Trader Joe’s, Forever 21 and other large retailers in ending health insurance coverage for part-time staff as the Affordable Care Act, commonly dubbed Obamacare, comes into effect.

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Covered California wants to boost Hispanic outreach
Sacramento Business Journal

With Hispanic residents signing up for insurance at Covered California in numbers far below their potential to swell the new insurance marketplace, the state health benefit exchange expects to boost outreach to this group. Just under 18 percent of the individuals out of almost 400,000 individuals who enrolled in Covered California in the first three months of operation and identified their ethnicity are of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.

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Trying Spanish Covered California line gets unexpected response
Sacramento Business Journal

Bob Quinn, a certified insurance agent with Covered California, thought he had a way to get through to a call center representative familiar with the new state insurance marketplace despite jammed phone lines. When he has to call a company for technical support, he hates getting connected with an outsourced employee on the English line of a phone bank in India or someplace else, so he presses “2” for Spanish.

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Sutter Health invests $8.15M in telehealth company
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Health has invested $8.15 million in a Florida telehealth company called MDLive — and plans to explore how to use distance technology to improve patient access to non-emergency care. The investment is part of $23.6 million round of funding MDLive secured from three sources. Others include the Nashville-based venture capital firm Heritage Group and Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors in Los Angeles. The money will be used to further build out the company’s virtual services and integrate a second opinion program for patients.

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Bay Area flu death tally jumps to 29
San Francisco Business Times

The current flu outbreak’s death toll in the greater San Francisco Bay Area jumped to 29 on Wednesday, as officials added nine new cases to the list. The nine new fatal cases included three in Contra Costa County, while others came in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma counties, according to accounts in the San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times and from county health officials.

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Diabetes, cost of care top health concerns for US Latinos
Southern California Public Radio

Latino immigrants in the U.S. say the quality and affordability of health care is better in the U.S. than in the countries they came from, according to the latest survey by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. But many report having health care problems. About a third of immigrant respondents (31 percent) said they’d had a serious problem with being able to pay for health insurance in the past 12 months. And more than 1 in 4 had a serious problem affording doctor and hospital bills and prescription medicines.

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Ailments related to synthetic marijuana likely to rise, experts say
Los Angeles Times

It’s been labeled incense, potpourri and herbal smoking blend, and it’s sold over the counter with brand names like Black Mamba, K2 and Spice. Though synthetic marijuana has, until recently, triggered relatively few emergency room admissions, a sudden surge in illnesses at hospitals in Denver may presage similar outbreaks in other parts of the country, experts say.

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Support resources help prepare for the end
Santa Ynez Valley News

Woody Allen wrote, “Forever is a long time, especially toward the end.”

“Toward the end” is what I write about today.

So many of my friends and co-workers in the entertainment business seem to wear a sheath of “live forever” invincibility. Perhaps it’s because so many of our careers are built on a high-grade, plutonium-like core of self-confidence; the sureness to gamble on oneself.

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Mark Zuckerberg, wife give $5 million to East Palo Alto clinic
San Francisco Business Times

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife have given $5 million to help fund a new health clinic in East Palo Alto run by the nonprofit Ravenswood Family Health Center. Ravenswood broke ground Wednesday on the new facility at 1885 Bay Road that will double its current capacity, allowing it to serve 22,000 predominantly low-income Latino patients a year.

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CEOs explain UCSF-Children’s affiliation
San Francisco Business Times

The chief executives of UCSF Medical Center and Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland, which earlier today confirmed their affiliation is complete, said the Regents of the University of California now constitute the “sole corporate member” of the East Bay pediatric hospital’s corporation, giving them a large degree of control over the non-profit hospital. Children’s Oakland CEO Bert Lubin, M.D., also said the affiliation will lead his hospital to re-evaluate plans for the second, $270 million phase of a planned $450 million expansion, upgrade and seismic strengthening of Children’s Oakland, “now that we’re an affiliate.”

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Natividad forecasts almost $14 million profit for first year of trauma center
Monterey Herald

Natividad Medical Center expects to earn an annual $13.6 million profit on treating the most seriously injured patients if, and when, it establishes the area’s first Level II trauma center.

According to a report to the hospital board’s finance committee, Natividad expects annual revenues of about $40.5 million and expenses of about $26.9 million per year under full trauma center operation starting next year, leaving it with a healthy bottom line.

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TRMC gives financial review
Visialia Times-Delta

It’s been a long process, but the West Street Healthcare Center is now open, and soon it will have its dedication ceremony.

Luther Khachigian of Cal-Western Nurseries in Visalia will be donating $100,000 to Tulare Regional Medical Center to dedicate the clinic to his wife Glenda, the TRMC board of directors announced Wednesday at its monthly meeting. The dedication will be scheduled within the next month.

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