News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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CHA Opposes AB 503; Legislation Would Cripple Critical Health Care Services, Conflicts with ACA
PR Newswire

The California Hospital Association (CHA) today announced its opposition to AB 503 (Wieckowski/Bonta). The bill is nearly identical to 2013’s AB 975, which was debated and soundly defeated in the Assembly last year. It is an unreasonable and costly attempt to redefine charity care for all hospitals, and community benefit standards of nonprofit hospitals in California. The bill would negatively impact the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and would result in cuts to a wide variety of community health care services.

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Doctors urge CMS to issue rule on premium grace period
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration and the CMS recently issued a flood of new regulations implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But healthcare providers are saying at least one more rule is needed.

Physician organizations are calling for the CMS to codify its recommendations on notifying providers about patients who have not paid their premiums on time for subsidized insurance plans purchased on exchanges and are in the first month of a 90-day grace period.

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ICD-10 and EHR Fuel Clinical Documentation Improvements
Health Leaders Media

With the October 1 activation date for ICD-10-coded payments and the end-of-year move to meaningful use stage 2, this will be a watershed year for clinical documentation improvement.

Technology is playing a big role in both efforts. To an unprecedented degree, and with significant cost and effort, the electronic health record is becoming the heart of clinical documentation improvement—prompting doctors to enter more specific diagnoses, reducing the need for labor-intensive coding, and propagating a common vocabulary between disparate care coordinators to enhance decision support.

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Docs, nurses learn to get along in simulation game

A new simulation game aims to teach doctors and nurses how to work more collaboratively and avoid conflicts in order to prevent dangerous or sometimes fatal miscommunications.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing, Baylor Scott & White Health and University of Texas at Dallas have developed a video-game simulation that can teach doctors and nurses to work together–helping them avert tense situations in the real world by playing them out in the game.

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Analysis: Obamacare Leads to More Competition in Insurance Market
KQED Radio

It’s still early days. The first open enrollment of the Obamacare marketplaces is ongoing. But the Covered California marketplace is more competitive than the 2012 individual market, according to a new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Entirely by coincidence, the study, released Monday, coincided with the news that Covered California had passed the million mark in enrollment.

Analysts looked at exchange data from seven states, including California. Enrollment for people buying outside exchanges, on the individual market, will not be available until later this year or early 2015, Cynthia Cox, one of the foundation’s analysts noted.

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Pace of health insurance enrollment picks up as Affordable Care Act deadline nears
Washington Post

The Obama administration announced Monday that more than 5 million people have signed up for new insurance plans under the health-care law, suggesting new momentum as the March 31 deadline for coverage this year approaches.

About 800,000 people have selected health plans on the state and federal insurance marketplaces this month, officials said in a blog post — almost as many as signed up during all of February. The figure brings the administration closer to Congressional Budget Office projections that 6 million people would enroll by the end of March.

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G.O.P. House Members Plan Tour to Test Alternatives on Health Care
New York Times

Senior House Republicans — struggling to find consensus for health care legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act — are planning to test ideas in April at town-hall-style meetings that could provide a path toward a long-promised alternative to President Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

The “House ObamaCare Accountability Project” is still months away from producing actual legislation. With Democrats opposed, Republican leaders will have a hard time finding enough votes for any plan, and Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio remains cool to guaranteeing a vote.

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Why the GOP’s new healthcare ‘reform’ plan looks so danged familiar
Los Angeles Times

Via Jonathan Cohn and Kevin Drum, it transpires that the House GOP majority is crafting a new healthcare “reform” program to substitute for the Affordable Care Act. It should surprise no one that the new plan incorporates two provisions that have been Republican nostrums, like, forever, and that are distinguished by their utter irrelevance to the goal of making healthcare more accessible and affordable to anybody.

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Poll: Coverage drives healthcare satisfaction

Health insurance status plays a major role in consumer satisfaction with the U.S. healthcare system, according to a Gallup poll conducted mid-March and released today. The phone survey of more than 1,540 adults found 66 percent said they are satisfied with how the healthcare system is working for them. Of those people with insurance, 72 percent said they were satisfied with healthcare. But only 32 percent of those who remain uninsured said they were satisfied.

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Obamacare enrollment tops 5 million amid surge in sign-ups
Los Angeles Times

More than 5 million people have now signed up for health insurance on marketplaces created by President Obama’s healthcare law, thanks to a surge in enrollment over the last two weeks, the Obama administration announced Monday. The quickening pace of sign-ups confirms that many Americans are using the new marketplaces as a March 31 deadline approaches for getting coverage this year. The latest figures indicate that roughly 1 million people enrolled during the last two weeks, surpassing the total for all of February.

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Obamacare: California health exchange tops 1 million, big motivator in type of plan — price
The Mercury News

With two weeks left to sign up for coverage, California’s health insurance exchange announced Monday it has surged past a major milestone — 1 million enrollments — well ahead of its March 31 goal.

And a new report suggests what may be the biggest motivator for people when they are choosing a new health plan: cost. Insurers like Blue Shield of California and Health Net have seen a major jump in market share, thanks to their competitively low rates, according to a report Monday from the Kaiser Family Foundation, while Anthem Blue Cross’ dominance has softene

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More than 1 million enrolled in Covered California health care exchange
Los Angeles Daily News

Covered California reached a milestone Monday as the state exchange surpassed the 1 million mark for enrollment, with 1,018,315 signing on with the marketplace as of Saturday.

“This is a historic threshold for our exchange, for the state of California and for the nation,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee in a written statement. “It speaks to the immense need for the Affordable Care Act and the millions of people who have been waiting for affordable coverage.

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Covered California hits million sign-ups for health care coverage
Los Angeles Business Journal

Covered California hit a milestone late Friday of one million people signed up for coverage in the state’s new health benefits exchange. By the end of Saturday, the figure was up to 1,018,315 people who have applied for coverage and selected a health plan. There are two weeks left to sign up for individual coverage in the new insurance marketplace. Open enrollment started Oct. 1 and ends March 31.

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A Stride Toward Simpler Health Insurance in California

A company emerging from stealth mode this week aims to make it easier for consumers to select health insurance plans, as the Affordable Care Act adds millions of Americans to the marketplace.

Stride Health of San Francisco is kicking off in California, specifically looking to serve those who would normally select insurance through Covered California, the state marketplace created by the ACA. (For now, the company isn’t targeting the more than half of Americans who obtain insurance through employer-based plans.)

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Where Sacramento region stands for health insurance sign-ups
Sacramento Business Journal

A total of 45,998 consumers in the four-county Sacramento area signed up for health insurance through Covered California by the end of February, up 16 percent from enrollment at the end of January. Eighty-nine percent of enrollees are eligible for subsidies to help them afford premiums. Total sign-ups for the region significantly exceed initial estimates for the entire open enrollment period, which still has two weeks to go. When the enrollment period launched Oct. 1, a total of 28,726 local sign-ups were projected.

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SHOP Exchanges Taking a Slice of Small Biz Market
Health Leaders Media

Federal and state Small Business Health Options Program marketplaces opened since the fall are developing slowly, but the SHOP exchanges show great promise to transform small employer health insurance, according to carriers, state officials, and a Commonwealth Fund study.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have opened SHOP exchanges since October, with the federal government operating the small business marketplaces in the remaining states. The performance of the SHOP exchanges varies from state to state, and none of the federally operated exchanges have automated billing or administration, says Sarah Dash, one of the authors of the Commonwealth Fund study and a research fellow at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute in Washington.

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For minority groups, clinical trial strength rests in numbers
San Francisco Business Times

A diverse group of doctors and patient advocates have launched a national campaign to enroll more minorities in clinical trials that could find genetic-based answers and reshape the use of life-saving medicines. The “I’m In” campaign, backed by drug makers through the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, is aimed at bringing more minority patients and their doctors as well as minority researchers into the clinical trial fold.

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The ACO Hypothesis: Farzad Mostashari Responds
The Health Care Blog

Farzad Mostashari’s post last week provoked a heated (to put it mildly) discussion between supporters and critics of the ACO model.

Farzad writes: Commenters have raised several points regarding the early results of the Medicare Shared Savings Program that bear further discussion and clarification: -The need for more details on the participants by name, along with their characteristics, actions, and outcomes.

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Sutter grant will enable ‘large company’ outreach by Metro Chamber
Sacramento Business Journal

A $25,000 grant from Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region will help the Sacramento Metro Chamber begin reaching out to bigger businesses as part of its “Business Walks” advocacy program, Chamber officials said Monday. The program, now part of a greater effort called Business Bridge, aims to connect with regional employers and address their challenges by lobbying local, state or federal government. The program has historically targeted small and medium-sized business, but the new grant will help outreach to larger companies.