News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Nitroglycerin, a Staple of Emergency Rooms, Is in Short Supply
New York Times

The drug nitroglycerin has long been an emergency room staple, a front-line drug that is often the first thing doctors try when a patient shows up with a heart attack.

So when Baxter International, the country’s only manufacturer of injectable nitroglycerin, recently told hospitals that it was sharply cutting shipments of the drug, the news sent pharmacists and emergency room doctors into a panic.

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Medicare Rules Make Offsite Organ Recovery Costly
Health Leaders Media

Many hospitals with transplant programs are refusing to allow brain-dead organ donors to be transported to more efficient off-site organ recovery centers citing a federal rule they say would cost them millions of dollars in Medicare reimbursement.

“This rule has a significant financial impact to transplant centers that are also medium or large donor facilities,” says Deb Maurer, administrator of the transplant program at UPMC in Pittsburgh.

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1 in 8 headache visits leads to brain scan, research shows
San Francisco Chronicle

Headaches and migraines are among the most common reason Americans visit the doctor. And although medical guidelines say most of these patients don’t need brain scans, a new study shows many are getting them anyway – at a cost of about $1 billion a year.

Researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed four years’ of headache data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and concluded that, from 2007 through 2010, about 1 in 8 headache patients – mostly women – had a CT or MRI scan. The cost of these scans totaled $3.9 billion.

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California’s preterm birth rate declines
Sacramento Business Journal

California’s preterm birth rate has declined 12 percent over the past five years and is now 9.6 percent. The greater Sacramento region has done even better than the state, with a preterm birth rate of 8.9 percent. Preterm birth, defined as before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually.

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Obama administration will allow more time to enroll in health care on federal marketplace
Washington Post

The Obama administration has decided to give extra time to Americans who say that they are unable to enroll in health plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline. Federal officials confirmed Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.

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Obama administration extends health care enrollment deadline for some
Fox News

The Obama administration will grant extra time to Americans who say they are unable to enroll in health care plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline.

All consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.

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HHS grants extra time to enroll for health care
San Francisco Chronicle

People who’ve started applying for health insurance but aren’t able to finish before the March 31 enrollment deadline will get extra time, the Obama administration announced Tuesday.

“We are experiencing a surge in demand and are making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment, either online or over the phone,” Health and Human Services spokesman Aaron Albright said.

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Employee gripes: Higher health care costs, lower raises
USA Today

Cost-cutting by big companies in response to the changing business landscape has their employees worried about money. Three out of four employees of big corporations say some of their companies’ recent decisions, such as increasing health care premiums and giving smaller raises, are hurting employees’ finances, a new survey shows.

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Here’s How We Can Fix Obamacare if We Act Now and Stop Pretending the Problems Don’t Exist
The Health Care Blog

To properly price the exchange health insurance business going forward the carriers have to sharply increase the rates.

A senior executive for Wellpoint, which sells plans in 14 Obamacare exchanges, is quoted in a Reuters article telling Wall Street analysts there will be big rate increases in 2015, “Looking at the rate increases on a year-over-year basis on our exchanges, and it will vary by carrier, but all of them will probably be double digits.”

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Another ObamaCare Delay
The Wall Street Journal

The Washington Post GHC 0.00% reports that the “Obama administration has decided to give extra time to Americans who say that they are unable to enroll in health plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline.” The Post says that “people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.”

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Latest Obamacare rules for companies
San Diego Union-Tribune

For businesses, the potential pain of the Affordable Care Act has been delayed but not eliminated.

On July 2, the Obama administration punted to 2015 the law’s requirement that companies with 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees offer affordable health insurance coverage. At the time, many employers hoped the postponement was a sign that the government would give up on Obamacare’s business-focused requirements and penalties altogether.

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Younger people, previously uninsured signing up for health insurance
Sacramento Business Journal

As the six-month open enrollment period for the individual market draws to a close, there’s a tilt in national enrollment outside state health exchanges toward younger enrollees and people who didn’t have insurance before.

High-deductible plans have gained popularity and the shift toward younger folks means average premiums are lower, according to new national data from eHealth Inc., the largest private health insurance exchange in the nation. Launched Oct. 1, open enrollment for the individual market ends on Monday.

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Obamacare has improved lives of these enrollees
Orange County Register

Annmarie Lacy’s push to buy health insurance wasn’t the requirement from the government, but a $60,000 hospital bill. Last month, Lacy, 38, signed up for Obamacare through Covered California, the state’s exchange. She picked an Anthem Blue Cross HMO and has her first doctor’s appointment on Monday. “I was so not looking forward to partaking in this program at all,” said Lacy, who lives in Fullerton. “I was always like they’re not going to make me get insurance, but now I’m kind of glad that I did.”

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Signatures turned in for medical malpractice damages initiative
Sacramento Business Journal

Consumer Watchdog and bereaved parents who lost two children to medical negligence turned in 840,000 signatures Monday to qualify an initiative for the November ballot that would raise the $250,000 state cap on damages for pain and suffering to more than $1 million.

Proponents need 504,760 verified signatures to land the measure on the Nov. 5 midterm elections ballot.

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Variety of approaches when mammograms aren’t enough
San Francisco Chronicle

In the year since California put in place a new law that requires doctors to notify women if their breast tissue is dense enough that mammography may not pick up a potential cancer, a few things have become clear.

While doctors say some women have been alarmed or confused by what the notice means, there hasn’t been widespread panic that some doctors and health systems feared when it went into effect April 1.

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CMS Confident as HIX Deadline Nears
Health Leaders Media

In contrast to the fall’s nearly disastrous rollout of the federal government’s public exchange website, HealthCare.gov, a hopeful spring appears to be dawning.

As Monday’s open enrollment deadline to obtain individual policies on the exchanges approaches, the Obama administration has reported a signup surge.

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Oakland’s Asian Health Services gets $2.8 million grant
San Francisco Business Times

Oakland’s Asian Health Services has received a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Oakland Tribune reports the grant will help the health clinic provide medical and dental services to underserved people in the East Bay.

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Hospital would be a good fit for Natomas arena site
Sacramento Bee

If a sparkling new arena rises downtown and a major hospital springs from the old arena site in Natomas, it would be the very definition of a victory for Sacramento.

The site of Sleep Train Arena, set for demolition once a new downtown arena opens in the fall of 2016, would be one of the city’s largest redevelopment areas. A 2011 city staff report said the land – 100 acres the city is granting the Kings as part of the arena deal and 84 acres already controlled by the team – could be “ideal” for a major medical center.

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Sacramento officials pushing Kaiser for a new hospital at Sleep Train Arena site
Sacramento Bee

Sacramento city officials are applying a full-court press on Kaiser Permanente to construct a new hospital at the 184-acre Sleep Train Arena site after a new arena is built downtown. Council members Angelique Ashby and Steve Cohn both made public overtures to the medical giant at Monday’s State of Natomas event. Ashby, who sat next to Kaiser’s chief Sacramento-area physician during the luncheon, has been the most vocal city official seeking to replace the arena with a new hospital when the Kings move into a planned downtown arena in 2016.

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