News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Two-midnight rule will short-change hospitals, providers say
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare providers say Medicare is going to short-change them on patients who spend fewer than two nights in the hospital, and delaying implementation of a new payment policy until October won’t change that.

What the delay will do is give hospitals, doctors and special-interest groups more time to study the new “two midnight” rule and find ways to block it—whether through negotiation, legislation or litigation.

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30% of college students report being uninsured, most citing cost
Los Angeles Times

About a third of California college students report being uninsured and they said the primary reason was cost, not an aura of invincibility, according to a new survey. The results released Monday are based on a poll of 836 students at three Cal State University campuses last fall in Los Angeles, Fresno and San Jose. Enrollment among young people remains a top priority for government exchanges and other supporters of the healthcare law.

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RAND study cites telemedicine benefits: lowers costs, expands access
Modern Healthcare

The first assessment of a wide-scale deployment of telemedicine suggests the technology shows promise as a means of addressing an expected shortage of physicians in some areas as millions of Americans gain health coverage.

The study, conducted by the RAND Corp. and published Monday in the journal Health Affairs, found that using telecommunication services to provide clinical care from a distance were used mostly by younger, more affluent patients who were more tech savvy. Researchers found no increase in clinical misdiagnosis or errors in treatment among those using the service.

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The Republican Alternative to Obamacare: Their Aversion to Fixing it May Prove to Be a Political Mistake
The Health Care Blog

The Republicans have an alternative to Obamacare and they may have given the Democrats a big political gift. The proposal was unveiled last Monday by Republican Senators Richard Burr, (NC), Tom Coburn (OK), and Orrin Hatch (UT). The Republican plan targets many of the most unpopular parts of the Affordable Care Act such as expensive mandated benefits and the resulting lack of choice, the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and age-rating disruptions.

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Cal State students say health insurance too expensive
Los Angeles Daily News

Uninsured California State University students have avoided signing up for health care coverage because they believe it’s expensive, not because they think they don’t need it, results from a poll released on Monday show.

At least 80 percent of the 836 students who responded said that they did not have health insurance because they could not afford it, while 7percent replied that they did not think they needed it.

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The Key to Turning Obamacare Around? The Exchanges. A Republican Idea.
The Health Care Blog

In the State of the Union, President Obama told Republican Members of Congress to stop holding votes to repeal the ACA and start proposing alternative ideas for health reform. In response, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor promised a vote in the House of Representatives in 2014 on a Republican alternative to the ACA. There were few specifics about what this alternative would entail.

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State health care sign-ups faster than expected
Sacramento Bee

Sacramento-area residents are buying insurance on the state’s new health care exchange much faster than anticipated – but hundreds of thousands still lack coverage, new figures show.

The Affordable Care Act requires most individuals without health insurance to obtain it and provides subsidies to those unable to afford premiums. One way to purchase insurance is through the state’s health care exchange, Covered California.

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Hospitals Welcome Two-Midnight Rule Delay
Health Leaders Media

CMS’s decision late Friday to delay full implementation of a new rule that reforms Medicare reimbursement for short-term hospital admissions is drawing cautious praise from providers and their allies in Washington, D.C. In the announcement, officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services stated that they are extending the so-called two-midnight rule’s “probe and educate” transition period to the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30.

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Drug adherence may improve with incentives, but spending reduction might not offset cost
Modern Healthcare

Eliminating or lowering drug co-pays may improve patients’ adherence to their medication regimens, but the reduction in overall health spending may not be enough to offset the cost.

That was the experience of one insurer in a study published Monday in the policy journal Health Affairs.

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FDA approves pill camera to screen colon
San Francisco Chronicle

A kinder, gentler approach to one of the most dreaded exams in medicine is on the way: U.S. regulators have cleared a bite-size camera to help screen patients who have trouble with colonoscopies.

The ingestible pill camera from Given Imaging is designed to help doctors spot polyps and other early signs of colon cancer. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the device for patients who have had trouble with the cringe-inducing colonoscopy procedure, which involves probing the large intestine with a tiny camera embedded in a four-foot long, flexible tube.

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The State Of Healthcare Reform California So Far In 2014
The Valley Business Journal

We are over one week into 2014, the first year of health insurance reform under Obamacare. So far, healthcare reform California and Covered California are rolling along. Not without problems, however. Glitches and paperwork problems continue to occur in the system, even after the deadline at the end of the year. Some customers have experienced difficulties with paying online, while others haven’t yet received invoices or insurance cards.

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Healthcare district OKs ballot measure for lease
San Diego Union-Tribune

The Grossmont Healthcare District has launched preparations for a possible June ballot measure to extend the existing lease agreement with Sharp HealthCare for the operation of Grossmont Hospital.

District board members on Monday gave the go-ahead to begin preparing a ballot measure with the June election as a target date. The board’s final decision whether to proceed in June is expected in early March.

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Hospitalized flu patients rise to 91 in Sacramento County; death toll at 21 under age 65
Sacramento Bee

When Sacramento County public health officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye visited News10 studios last week at the invitation of co-workers concerned about a colleague’s sudden death from the flu, she was hit by a barrage of questions:

“What is this flu?”

“Why is it acting so differently?”

“Why does it take the life of someone so young and healthy?”

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New rule allows patients to get test results directly from labs, without doctors’ clearance
Washington Post

Patients may obtain their test results directly from the laboratory that produced them, without having to go through their doctors first, under regulations announced Monday by the Obama administration.

The rule is part of a broader effort by the administration to give Americans more control over their health care. It supersedes state law and will have particular significance in 13 states that forbid labs from releasing test results directly to patients.

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Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital still interested in partnership with Natividad
Monterey Herald

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital board president Harry Wardwell said hospital leaders are still committed to an offer to start formal partnership negotiations with the county even after the Board of Supervisors gave Natividad Medical Center’s plan for a trauma center the go-ahead.

But Supervisor Lou Calcagno, the board chairman, said he’s not sure the supervisors would support such a proposal.

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Tough fight looms for new tax to support San Pablo hospital
Contra Costa Times

The only ones who can save Doctors Medical Center are the voters of the health care district that owns the hospital.

The question is whether they will be willing to tack another special tax onto their already lengthy list of property assessments, to the tune of about $20 million annually.

“There is clearly voter tax fatigue in West County,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, of Richmond, who plans to campaign hard for a new tax to save the hospital.

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