News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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U.S. Will Finance Devices to Track Children With Autism
New York Times

Following the death of a 14-year-old who walked away from his Queens school, the Justice Department will pay for voluntary-use GPS tracking devices for children with autism or other conditions that put them at risk for fleeing their caregivers.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said on Wednesday that the federal government already provided grant money for devices to track seniors with Alzheimer’s and that the department would now allow for the grant funds’ beneficiaries to include children with autism spectrum disorder.

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Obesity Is Found to Gain Its Hold in Earliest Years
New York Times

For many obese adults, the die was cast by the time they were 5 years old. A major new study of more than 7,000 children has found that a third of children who were overweight in kindergarten were obese by eighth grade. And almost every child who was very obese remained that way.

Some obese or overweight kindergartners lost their excess weight, and some children of normal weight got fat over the years. But every year, the chances that a child would slide into or out of being overweight or obese diminished. By age 11, there were few additional changes: Those who were obese or overweight stayed that way, and those whose weight was normal did not become fat.

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ICU Infection Prevention Practices Lax
Health Leaders Media

While most hospital intensive care units now have infection control policies to prevent central line-associated bloodstream (CLABSI) and ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) infections, many clinicians do not adhere to those policies at the bedside, says a report from Columbia University and the CDC. What’s more, for four measures linked to catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) prevention, roughly one-third of hospitals had no policy for one of the measures and half or more of the hospitals had no policy for the other three.

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Why Didn’t the President Mention the Latest Good News on Health Costs?
The Health Care Blog

President Obama rarely shies away from an opportunity to tout successes in U.S. health care, but in last night’s State of the Union oddly omitted any mention of the new and optimistic report about U.S. health spending from actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The finding: from 2009 through 2012, health care spending in the U.S. grew at the slowest rate since the government started collecting this data in the 1960s.

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Health-care law loses support among uninsured, poll shows
Washington Post

Support for the health-care law declined among the uninsured this month, just as many of the program’s key provisions went into effect, according to a new poll examining Americans’ knowledge and views of the Affordable Care Act.

Large numbers of the uninsured are also unaware of some of the law’s benefits, such as subsidies to help low- and middle- income­ people pay monthly health insurance premiums, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

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Wary of Obamacare, some Republicans sign up anyway
Reuters

Julie Davis has every reason to be skeptical of Obamacare: She’s a Republican, her father is a physician who is wary of socialized medicine and her insurance was canceled because of new requirements imposed by the healthcare law this year.

But the 44-year-old filmmaker says her decision to seek coverage under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform was a practical one, made with little political angst but plenty of doubt over whether the program will really benefit her family.

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Health Care Reform Survives a Lawsuit
New York Times

A long-shot lawsuit that could have damaged the effectiveness of health care reform got a well-deserved brushoff from a federal district judge on Wednesday. The suit was brought with the help of conservative legal groups and cheered on by Congressional Republicans eager to disable the Affordable Care Act.

The plaintiffs argued that the wording of the act allowed federal subsidies (in the form of tax credits) only for those buying insurance on the 14 health exchanges managed by a state, not on the exchanges established by the federal government in the 36 states that refused to set up their own. That contention was ridiculous on its face.

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Poll finds Californians not thrilled with Obama, health care law
Sacramento Bee

As the federal health care overhaul continues to divide Californians, President Barack Obama’s approval here plunged to a record low, according to a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California.

The president’s job approval dropped to 46 percent among likely voters while state residents gave a collective shrug to the Affordable Care Act, his signature legislative achievement. Some 46 percent view the law unfavorably, 44 percent favorably.

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Health reform or musical chairs?
San Francisco Chronicle

President Obama delivered a good State of the Union address Tuesday night, but he couldn’t get past an inconvenient truth: He means well, but his schemes don’t work.

Democrats championed the Affordable Care Act to increase the number of Americans with health coverage, but their plan led to the cancellation of private plans for about 5 million Americans, according to the Associated Press. Unless they qualify for subsidies, many now face higher premiums, often for plans that limit access to doctors.

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Youth who buy health insurance – dutiful or duped?
San Francisco Chronicle

As part of its effort to promote the Affordable Care Act ahead of the enrollment deadline for health coverage in 2014, the Obama administration aggressively campaigned to enroll more “young invincibles,” i.e., young people between ages 18 and 35. The importance of young people to the health care law is well documented; the law’s success is predicated on a large pool of young, healthy people to subsidize health care costs for seniors and for individuals with pre-existing conditions.

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Covered California signs big office lease near Cal Expo
Sacramento Business Journal

In one of the Sacramento region’s biggest office leasing deals, Covered California has signed for 123,000 square feet for its new executive headquarters across the street from Cal Expo. The deal for 1601 Expo Blvd. was signed Jan. 23. The lease takes effect May 1. About 360 Covered California staff currently working out of space at 560 J St. in downtown Sacramento will move to the new building — and there’s room there for more, said James Scullary, a spokesman for the new state health benefit exchange.

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Covered California: The COBRA Glitch
KQED Radio

“Forgive me for intruding upon your personal email,” Jill Bond wrote me earlier this month. Bond emailed that she had heard me on KQED’s “Forum” discussing Covered California, and then when a post from me popped up on our neighborhood listserv, she put two and two together and reached out for help. In the months since the Covered California marketplace opened, I have fielded a lot of inquiries from friends and colleagues. I emailed Bond back right away.

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Latino participation in Covered California lags; local agencies boost outreach
Monterey County Weekly

Magnolia Zarraga hadn’t had health coverage since graduating from Alisal High School in 1996. Between the lapse in coverage and her pre-existing conditions, she was quoted $900 per month for private insurance. “That wasn’t doable,” she says. Last month, she enrolled in a subsidized “silver” plan for $230 per month through Covered California, the state’s health-care marketplace under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Big impact on income gap is health law’s new angle
San Francisco Chronicle

Maybe the health care law was about wealth transfer, after all.

New research shows that the Affordable Care Act will significantly boost the economic fortunes of those in the bottom one-fifth of the income ladder while slightly reducing average incomes on the rungs above.

Economists at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution, a Washington public policy center, found an average increase of about 6 percent in the incomes of the poorest 20 percent of the United States, meaning those making below approximately $20,600 a year.

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WellPoint enrolls 500,000 in Obamacare policies, upbeat about trends
Los Angeles Times

Health insurance giant WellPoint Inc. has signed up 500,000 people for Obamacare policies across the country, and it struck an upbeat tone about early enrollment trends under the healthcare law. WellPoint, which runs Anthem Blue Cross plans in California and 13 other states, said new enrollees tend to be older than current customers but that enrollment is in line with its projections and pricing for the new policies.

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6 Ways to Avoid Unintentional Medicare Fraud
Health Leaders Media

As physicians push to maximize their revenue, it can be easy to stumble into fraud through simple oversights and failing to understand how regulators look for claims that don’t quite add up. Don’t rest on the fact that you have no intention to defraud the government; sometimes you can get in just as much trouble by accident.

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Union launches effort to cap hospital pricing
Southern California Public Radio

One of the state’s most powerful health care unions has begun gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would cap how much hospitals can charge for services. United Healthcare Workers West wants to put an initiative on the November ballot that would prohibit hospitals from charging patients more than 25 percent above the actual cost of providing care.

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Drug researchers create PACT for faster clinical trials statewide
San Francisco Business Times

A dozen California health centers and medical research institutions have signed on to a nascent program to create a sort of one-stop shop for drug developers to cut overhead costs and accelerate the pace of their clinical trials. Five University of California campuses, including UC San Francisco and Davis, as well as Stanford University, Children’s Hospital Oakland, Dignity Health and Sutter Health have signed on to the nonprofit Partnership to Accelerate Clinical Trials, or PACT.

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Study: Child obesity risk set by age 5
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Those efforts to fight obesity in schools? Think younger. A new study finds that much of a child’s “weight fate” is set by age 5, and that nearly half of kids who became obese by the eighth grade were already overweight when they started kindergarten. The prevalence of weight problems has long been known — about a third of U.S. kids are overweight or obese. But surprisingly little is known about which kids will develop obesity, and at what age.

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Obese at 5? Chances are higher for obesity later, study says
Los Angeles Times

Children who are overweight in kindergarten have four times the risk of becoming obese by eighth grade, researchers reported Wednesday – in just one of the ways they said that the risk of becoming overweight or obese could start even before birth. Put another way: “Half of childhood obesity occurred among children who had become overweight during the preschool years,” the scientists wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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New study raises questions about antioxidant use in lung cancer patients
Washington Post

The supermarket labels touting the benefits of antioxidant-rich foods such as frozen berries and green tea are so ubiquitous that many people assume that taking extra doses in the form of supplements is beneficial. But a growing body of evidence, including a study published Wednesday, suggests that high doses may do more harm than good in patients with certain types of cancer.

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Stanford group wins $40 million grant to launch stem cell genomics center
Sacramento Bee

California Wednesday launched a $40 million effort that is aimed both at creating medical treatments tailored for patients’ genetic makeup and making the state a world leader in the fledgling field of stem cell genomics.

Directors of the $3 billion California stem cell agency approved the grant to a seven-member consortium led by Stanford University on a 6-2 vote. The governing board has 29 members. Most of those not voting at the meeting in Berkeley were disqualified because of conflicts of interest.

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UCSF Medical Center receives $50 million from Gordon and Betty Moore to name new women’s hospital
San Francisco Business Times

UCSF Medical Center has received a $50 million gift from Gordon and Betty Moore to name its planned women’s hospital in Mission Bay after Betty Irene Moore. The new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay has elements named after three separate sets of philanthropists, the Moores, the Benioffs and a previously undisclosed couple, the Bakars. The gift announced today from Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel Corp., and his wife Betty Moore will help fund the women’s hospital component of the new $1.5 billion, 289-bed women’s, children’s and cancer hospital complex at Mission Bay, slated to open in February 2015.

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Dignity Health may hand off busy site to federally funded clinic
Sacramento Business Journal

Changes are coming to Dignity Health’s busy community clinic on Norwood Avenue, but when is unclear. The health system is not planning to close the clinic, although there have been rumors. But after years of providing support for indigent patients in the Norwood area, Dignity may spin off the business to a federally qualified health center in the area that can attract more federal money to pay for care.

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