News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

House GOP will offer Obamacare alternative this year
Los Angeles Times

House Republicans plan to pass a healthcare reform bill that could replace the Affordable Care Act, Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced Thursday. The No. 2 House Republican included the announcement in his presentation to rank-and-file members at the party’s three-day retreat here on its legislative agenda for 2014. Cantor’s promise comes just two days after President Obama, during his State of the Union address, mocked the House for its repeated efforts to repeal his signature legislative accomplishment.

News Headlines Article

New care organizations save $380 million in first year
USA Today

The section of the Affordable Care Act aimed at changing the treatment of Medicare beneficiaries saved the program more than $380 million in its first year of operation, a top Medicare official said Thursday.

Accountable Care Organizations were created as part of the 2010 health care law and started in a series of pilot programs around the country. Instead of paying health care providers for each service they perform, ACOs focus on keeping patients out of the hospital.

News Headlines Article

Anthem to raise some premiums as much as 25%
Los Angeles Times

Thousands of Anthem Blue Cross individual customers with older insurance policies untouched by Obamacare are getting some jarring news: Their premiums are going up as much as 25%. These increases, 16% on average, are slated to go into effect April 1 for up to 306,000 people — unless California regulators persuade the state’s largest for-profit health insurer to back down.

News Headlines Article

Physician Wait Times Vary Sharply Among Major US Markets
Health Leaders Media

A survey on wait times for physician office visits in 15 cities across the nation could be a harbinger for access to healthcare providers under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. First the bad news: Even before Obamacare’s expanded coverage really kicks in, patients hoping to schedule an appointment with a physician in 2014 should expect to wait for several weeks in most parts of the country. Those on Medicaid, stand about a 50–50 chance of being seen by a doctor.

News Headlines Article

Oncologists foresee ’snowball effect’ for single-payer healthcare
FierceHealthPayer

The single-payer system has found champions in oncologists, who have a “moral and ethical obligation” to endorse a universal healthcare system financed by a single payer, MedPage Today reported. Two oncologists made an evidence-based petition for a single-payer system in an article published this month in the Journal of Oncology Practice. Under single-payer healthcare, a public agency would administer a single insurance plan for each region of the United States.

News Headlines Article

Americans don’t know what’s in Obamacare, do know they don’t like it
Washington Post

Most Americans don’t know that the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion has started. They aren’t quite sure what policies are even part of the act, widely known as Obamacare, to begin with. But they do know, in growing numbers, that, whatever Obamacare is, they certainly don’t like it. Such is the take-away from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s monthly tracking poll, which has tracked how Americans feel about the new health-care law since 2010.

News Headlines Article

Another bogus Obamacare story: The GOP’s ‘Bette’
Los Angeles Times

The centerpiece of the Republican party’s attack on the Affordable Care Act following President Obama’s State of the Union address this week was the story of “Bette.” Bette was an otherwise unidentified Washington state resident featured in the official GOP response to the Obama speech delivered by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). According to Rodgers, Bette had written her a letter stating that she had “hoped the president’s healthcare law would save her money – but found out instead that her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month.”

News Headlines Article

Health Insurers Extend Deadline for February Premiums, Too
KQED Radio

Covered California says that yesterday was the deadline to pay your February premiums. But some of California’s biggest insurers have extended their deadlines. 

A colleague told me yesterday that her husband had spent 2 and a half hours on hold trying to pay his February Kaiser premium, then got cut off and was on hold for another 2 hours. When he finally got through, the operator told him the payment deadline had been extended. He said he asked her why Kaiser didn’t put that information in its recording that people listen to when they’re on hold.

News Headlines Article

Covered California moving to offices near Cal Expo
Sacramento Bee

Covered California, the Sacramento-based health insurance exchange, needs some room to spread out, and it will get that come springtime.

Exchange spokesman James Scullary said Thursday that Covered California recently signed a lease to move into 123,000 square feet of space at 1601 Exposition Blvd., across the street from the Cal Expo complex. The offices were once occupied by Allied Insurance. He said the move will begin in late April and the lease will take effect May 1.

News Headlines Article

ACOs Saving Some Money, But Medicare Is Short On Details
Kaiser Health News

Accountable care organizations are saving some money, though what exactly that means is still unclear. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday that overall, provider groups involved in Medicare ACO programs saved a total of $380 million in the first year. Sounds like a lot of money, but CMS declined to explain which hospitals were winners and which were losers, how it compared to expectations and how much the participants invested in coordinating care. Also missing is the scale of the savings; CMS did not provide the context of total spending by the ACOs.

News Headlines Article

Upcoming free mass flu clinic in West Sacramento needs volunteers
Sacramento Bee

Anticipating heavy demand, Yolo County public health officials are calling for volunteers to undergo training to assist in what the county is calling “a mass free flu vaccination clinic” on Feb. 5.

Officials are asking about 80 volunteers to step up to help manage registration, screening, vaccinating, crowd and traffic control. Anyone wishing to participate must first register to take an online course at www.yolopodclasses.org. No walk-in, same-day volunteers will be accepted.

News Headlines Article

Anthem Blue Cross raises rates … again
San Francisco Chronicle

Josh Libresco of San Rafael opened his mail to find out Anthem Blue Cross is again raising his rates, this time by 19.3 percent effective April 1.

He’s among the nearly 300,000 Anthem Blue Cross customers in California facing rate increases averaging 16 percent, and some as high as 25 percent. These increases do not affect policies that comply with the federal health law and that are sold through Covered California, the state health exchange.

News Headlines Article

Sacramento can save money by contracting out ambulance service
Sacramento Bee

The Sacramento Bee’s editorial ( “City must get to bottom of Sacramento fire overtime costs,” Jan. 29) makes a great case for carefully reviewing the exorbitant overtime paid in the city of Sacramento for Fire Department staff, who primarily provide emergency medical services. However, the proposal to use non-public safety emergency medical technicians to reduce costs is only a small step toward resolving the city’s Fire Department funding problems.

News Headlines Article

Dignity Health picks up RAS radiation oncology business
Sacramento Business Journal

Effective Feb. 1, Dignity Health Medical Foundation will acquire the radiation oncology business owned by Radiological Associates of Sacramento Inc. but provided on the health system’s Mercy San Juan Medical Center campus in Carmichael. The foundation will also acquire the RAS building where the care is provided, but the current doctors who work inside will go to work for Sutter Health. No financial terms were disclosed.

News Headlines Article

Riverside County Regional Med Center drastically cuts infection rates
Southern California Public Radio

When Jake Ainsworth sought help for a torn ligament in his left knee he never expected that the outpatient exploratory surgery he underwent would devolve into a medical nightmare.

“Within hours, it started to get infected,” says Ainsworth. “By the next morning, I was in excruciating pain, and by that evening, I was in the emergency ward…My knee will never be the same.”

News Headlines Article

Sonora Regional names new president
Calaveras Enterprise

Andrew Jahn has been named president and chief executive officer of Sonora Regional Medical Center. Jahn, currently chief financial officer, will replace Jeff Eller, who becomes the Northern California Network president in early February. Jahn will assume his new role on Feb. 3. “I am delighted to see Andrew promoted to president,” Eller said. “It has been a privilege to work with him in his CFO role and to personally see his dedication to this organization.

Commands