News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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ACA Funding Threatened by House Committee Vote
Health Leaders Media

A vote by the Republican-dominated House Ways & Means Committee has set the stage for the full House to consider the repeal of provisions that would provide billions of dollars in funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In votes primarily along party lines, the committee voted Thursday 23-11 to repeal the excise tax on medical devices and 24-9 to repeal ACA provisions that prohibit using health savings accounts to purchase over-the-counter remedies such as cough syrup and pain killers.

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Obamacare’s economic effects expected to be small
San Francisco Chronicle

Any day now, the U.S. Supreme Court will tell us what it thinks of Obamacare. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, insisting it’s constitutionally “ironclad,” is sure the court will uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and by a comfortable 6-3 margin, she said at a news conference in San Francisco last week. President Obama is not so sure, reportedly telling big-ticket donors that he may have to “revisit” the law. That is, assuming he gets a second term.

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Bill would turn to inactive, retired docs to ease shortage
Modern Healthcare

The latest legislative attempt to reduce the shortage of primary-care physicians would retrain inactive or retiring physicians to provide such care.

To help close what HHS estimates is a gap of 16,000 primary-care physicians between the nation’s needs and its provider workforce, Rep. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), the second-ranking Democrat in the chamber, introduced the Physician Reentry Demonstration Program Act (PDF).

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Drug combination offers new hope in fighting breast cancer
USA Today

Doctors today will unveil the results of the first large trial of a new kind of “precision medicine” against breast cancer: a drug combination designed to act like a smart bomb, which delivers its payload directly to tumor cells while reducing collateral damage to the rest of the body. The experimental drug, T-DM1, doesn’t cure anyone. But it attacks breast cancer in a whole new way — one that may be useful against a variety of other tumors — and appears significantly better at controlling cancer than the current standard of care, says Kimberly Blackwell, who presents her findings to

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In Study, Drug Delays Worsening of Breast Cancer, With Fewer Side Effects
New York Times

A drug that delivers a powerful poison to tumors without some of the side effects of traditional treatments can delay the worsening of breast cancer and also appears to substantially prolong lives, according to results of a study presented here Saturday. Besides representing an advance in treating breast cancer, the success in the clinical trial validates an idea that is now being pursued by numerous pharmaceutical companies to treat various types of cancer in a way that delivers drugs to cancerous cells while sparing healthy ones.

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13 Hospitals Fined for Immediate Jeopardy Violations in CA
Health Leaders Media

One patient died after a nasogastric feeding tube was inserted into his lung instead of his stomach in San Francisco, a tracheostomy patient died after being transported without a ventilator in San Jose, and a nurse’s inability to recognize fetal distress resulted in the death of a full-term viable infant in Murrieta, the eighth such egregious event at that hospital in the last four years.

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Prostate cancer drug so effective trial stopped
San Francisco Chronicle

A new drug for advanced prostate cancer patients has proved so effective that researchers stopped the clinical trial early to give all patients a chance to receive the life-extending medication, according to a UCSF-led study released Saturday. The hormone treatment, Johnson & Johnson’s Zytiga, when added to a standard steroid therapy doubled the time it takes for the disease to progress in patients treated with the standard therapy alone, said the lead researcher, Dr.

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Pediatrics could be model for adult cancer treatment
USA Today

Nurse practitioner Christie Chaudry knows something about comforting children with cancer. Twenty-one years ago, she was a patient herself. Chaudry was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, the most common childhood cancer, when she was 12 years old. She underwent three years of intensive treatment, including multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Like about 80% of kids with cancer today, she was cured.

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Obama law could be shot in the arm for Valley, state
RecordNet

California could gain as much as 100,000 jobs and $4.4 billion in economic spillover if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds President Barack Obama’s health care plan, according to a report.

A Bay Area Council Economic Institute report says the San Joaquin Valley would see employment rise by more than 3,500 jobs and its economy expand by $65 million.

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Audit: Health care district should do more for community
The Bay Citizen

The publicly funded El Camino Hospital District must change its business practices and do more for the local community or it should be dissolved, a new audit recommends.

The report questions whether local taxpayers are receiving an “appropriate return on investment” or are providing funding for El Camino Hospital, which “no longer appears to be in need of taxpayer support.”

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Health insurer WellPoint to buy 1-800 Contacts
San Francisco Chronicle

WellPoint Inc. plans to buy contact lens retailer 1-800-Contacts Inc. in a deal that would give the insurer its first direct-to-consumer business outside selling individual health coverage. Terms of the deal with private equity firm Fenway Partners were not disclosed. WellPoint, based in Indianapolis, said Monday that the eyewear company will help diversify its revenue sources with a high-margin business.

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Anesthesia-services provider’s plans raise red flags
Modern Healthcare

An anesthesia-services provider’s proposals to enter into contracts with physician-owned outpatient surgery and endoscopy centers could lead to liability under the anti-kickback statute and possible administrative sanctions, the HHS‘ inspector general’s office said.

According to the May 25 advisory opinion, the provider submitted two proposed arrangements in which it would enter into contracts with ambulatory surgical centers.

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Far from cities, children lack specialized care
HealthyCal.org

Local health care is virtually non-existent for children with special needs living in rural California. Few doctors who are trained to treat the complex conditions that afflict these children practice in remote parts of the state. Traveling to major cities where physicians are more plentiful is often a day-long journey. Families often find that the multiple doctors their children see don’t have a system for communicating with each other, and parents must coordinate their child’s care themselves.

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Aetna says surgery center firm is overbilling
Sacramento Bee

Aetna has filed a $20 million lawsuit claiming a Northern California surgery center firm is overbilling the insurance carrier, including a $66,100 bunion repair, a $6,642 colonoscopy and a $23,301 knee arthroscopy.

The Santa Clara County lawsuit claims the Saratoga-based Bay Area Surgical Management recruited dozens of doctors to invest in its seven outpatient facilities in a scheme to enrich doctors by sidestepping state laws meant to protect patients and control costs.

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Health insurers owe rebates to many California policyholders
Los Angeles Times

Anthem Blue Cross owes some California policyholders nearly $40 million in rebates and nonprofit rival Blue Shield of California owes about $11 million under a requirement of the federal healthcare law.

Nationwide, insurers had to notify federal and state officials by Friday of how much they owe customers if the companies failed to spend a minimum amount of customers’ premiums on medical care last year. Insurers must pay these rebates by Aug. 1.

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Money shouldn’t decide your health
Calaveras Enterprise

My daughter called me and was near tears. Since she is now 22 years old this is not something that happens so much anymore. When she was a freshman, far away from home at UC Irvine, it was a little more common. Why should a young adult woman, who has managed to get the units required for her BA in two and a half years, finish her first year of graduate school while still a senior, and get an internship that pays her $25 an hour, be so distressed?

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Kaiser Permanente stuck in odd struggle with tiny Indio vendor
San Francisco Business Times

Giant Kaiser Permanente has found itself locked in a David-and-Goliath-scale struggle with a tiny Southern California record storage vendor over up to 1 million unencrypted Kaiser patient records the vendor claims remain on servers in his house and garage. The minuscule husband-and-wife company, Surefile Filing Systems, has been engaged in an off-and-on, multi-year dispute with Kaiser over whether the health care giant paid all it owed for Surefile cataloging and storing patient data.

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Size Matters: Hospital Consolidation and Physicians
The Health Care Blog

As health reform evolves, I’ve been watching multihospital systems grow in size and power and speculating what their gigantic size means. Here, as of 2008, were the 10 largest systems in revenue size 1. Veterans Administration Hospitals, $40.7 billion 2. Hospital Corporation of America, $28.4 billion 3. Ascension Health, $12.7 billion 4. Community Health, $10.8 billion 5. New York Presbyterian, $8.4 billion 6. Tenet Health, $8.3 billion 7. Catholic Health Initiatives, $7.8 billon 8. Catholic Health West, $7.6 billion 9. Sutter Health, $6.9 billion 10. Mayo, $6.1 billion

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