News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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More than 6 million people have signed up for Obamacare
Los Angeles Times

With the Monday deadline still a few days away, the White House announced Thursday that more than 6 million people have signed up for health insurance through online marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act. That number, though shy of the 7 million sign-ups the administration had once hoped for, marks a significant milestone because 6 million was the projection for this year’s enrollment made last month by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

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House SGR Patch Bill Puts ICD-10, Two-Midnights Rule on Hold
Health Leaders Media

The U.S. Senate is about to take up potentially the most sweeping piece of healthcare legislation since the passage of Obamacare. The Senate is expected to vote Monday on a stop-gap measure that will place year-long delays on three critical, contentious, and costly federal mandates affecting a wide swath of providers and vendors.

The House passed the measure Thursday.

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U.S. autism rate surges, CDC reports
Washington Post

The number of U.S. children with autism has surged to one in 68, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday, a 30 percent increase since the agency estimated just two years ago that one child in 88 suffered from the disorder.

The new estimate, based on a review of records in 2010 for eight year olds in 11 states, also showed a marked increase in the number of children with higher IQs who fall somewhere on the autism spectrum, and a wide range of results depending on where a child lives. Only one child in 175 was diagnosed with autism in Alabama, while one in 45 was found to have the disorder in New Jersey.

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Breast gene, high-risk uterine cancer linked
Monterey Herald

Women with a faulty breast cancer gene might face a greater chance of rare but deadly uterine tumors despite having their ovaries removed to lower their main cancer risks, doctors are reporting.

A study of nearly 300 women with bad BRCA1 genes found four cases of aggressive uterine cancers years after they had preventive surgery to remove their ovaries. That rate is 26 times greater than expected.

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Deadline Near, Health Signups Show Disparity
New York Times

The online insurance marketplace in Oregon is such a technological mess that residents have been signing up for health coverage by hand. In Texas, political opposition to President Obama’s health law is so strong that some residents believe, erroneously, that the program is banned in their state.

But in Connecticut, a smoothly functioning website, run by competent managers, has successfully enrolled so many patients that officials are offering to sell their expertise to states like Maryland, which is struggling to sign people up for coverage.

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Obamacare signups top 6 million; is that a success? (Video)
Sacramento Business Journal

Are congratulations in order? The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that more than 6 million people have signed up for Obamacare through HealthCare.gov and state insurance exchanges.

HHS adopted 6 million as its new milestone for success after its original goal of 7 million enrollees became unrealistic because of HealthCare.gov’s disastrous rollout.

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Obama says more than 6M signed up for health care
San Francisco Chronicle

Back on track after a stumbling start, President Barack Obama’s heath care overhaul reached a milestone Thursday, with more than 6 million Americans signed up for coverage through new insurance markets.

The announcement — four days before open enrollment season ends Monday — fulfills a revised goal set by the Congressional Budget Office and embraced by the White House.

Like much else about Obama’s health care law, it comes with a caveat: The administration has yet to announce how many consumers actually closed the deal by paying their first month’s premium.

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Obamacare sign-ups now exceed 6 million
Washington Post

More than 6 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance under the ­Affordable Care Act, the White House announced Thursday, ­reflecting a surge in enrollment after months of technical problems prevented many people from picking a plan.

The administration originally expected 7 million to buy health plans during the law’s initial six-month enrollment period but revised its target to 6 million after the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov, the federal website.

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Health care signups reach 6 million-plus
Sacramento Bee

More than 6 million Americans have signed up for private coverage on the nation’s health insurance marketplaces, surpassing the Congressional Budget Office estimate for first-year enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. President Barack Obama announced the coverage milestone during a conference call from Rome, where he met Thursday with Pope Francis, with thousands of health care “navigators” and volunteers whose nationwide grassroots efforts helped inform people about the new marketplaces and the controversial health law that led to their creation.

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Obamacare’s national enrollment looks OK, but states matter more
Southern California Public Radio

With this year’s deadline to register for individual health insurance just a weekend away, much attention is being lavished on two numbers — the 6 million Americans who have signed up so far, and the percentage of those folks who are (or aren’t) young.

But experts say the national numbers actually don’t mean very much.

“These are really state-based markets,” says Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere Health, a consulting firm based in Washington D.C.  Because each insurance market is run within each individual state, big numbers in some states can’t make up for shortfalls in others.

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Poll: Obama health law fails to gain support
San Francisco Chronicle

Public support for President Barack Obama’s health care law is languishing at its lowest level since passage of the landmark legislation four years ago, according to a new poll.

The Associated Press-GfK survey finds that 26 percent of Americans support the Affordable Care Act. Yet even fewer — 13 percent — think it will be completely repealed. A narrow majority expects the law to be further implemented with minor changes, or as passed.

“To get something repealed that has been passed is pretty impossible,” said Gwen Sliger of Dallas. “At this point, I don’t see that happening.”

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Ticking down to Affordable Care Act’s sign-up crunch time
Sacramento Bee

The uninsured have four days to get an application started for health insurance, or pay a penalty on their 2014 taxes.

With the penalty, they get nothing but a hole in their pockets. With insurance, they are covered if they break a leg or get sick. Still, many people have waited until the last moment to act.

The state exchange, Covered California, is in “all hands on deck” mode, but concerned that a surge in the final few days could result in long wait times.

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Covered California clarifies health plan enrollment rules before Monday’s deadline
The Mercury News

California’s health insurance exchange on Wednesday announced the process for people who are trying to enroll, but fail to complete their application for a plan by Monday’s deadline. The clarification followed formal guidance issued by the Obama administration earlier Wednesday indicating that the federal government would provide consumers a “limited amount of additional time to finish the application and enrollment period.”

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Covered California made a liar out of me
San Francisco Chronicle

The problems at Covered California roll on. The latest centers on the exchange’s inability – or unwillingness – to promptly correct errors on consumer applications stored within its system.

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House OKs bill to prevent cuts to Medicare doctors’ payments
San Francisco Chronicle

The House on Thursday passed legislation to give doctors a reprieve from a looming 24 percent cut in their payments from Medicare. The bill passed on a surprise voice vote and advanced to the Senate, which hopes to pass it before a Monday deadline. The vote came after an hour-long delay amid doubt that the measure could muster the two-thirds vote required under fast-track procedures. The voice vote was engineered by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., with cooperation from senior Democrats such as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

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1 in 68 kids diagnosed with autism; better testing cited
San Francisco Chronicle

One in 68 children in the United States has been diagnosed with autism, according to a report released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which noted that the rate has more than doubled in the past decade.

And it’s likely to continue to climb, autism experts said. But the rate, while concerning, is probably not an indication that more children are developing autism – instead, doctors and other health care providers are doing a much better job finding and diagnosing kids with the disorder.

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Hospital hosting colorectal cancer seminar
Lompoc Record

As National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month winds down, Lompoc Valley Medical Center is set to host a seminar at which attendees can learn more about the disease, which is preventable and curable with early detection.

Dr. Rahim Raoufi, a board-certified gastroenterologist, will be the featured speaker at the seminar, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the hospital’s Ocean’s Seven Cafe. The seminar is open to the public.

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Kaiser Permanente names new chief medical officer
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente today named Patrick Courneya, M.D., as the new chief medical officer for its Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc.

Courneya, who reports directly to Chairman and CEO Bernard Tyson, will replace Dr. Jed Weissberg, 61, who is retiring in May, according to Oakland-based Kaiser, one of the nation’s leading integrated health systems.

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