News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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GOP plays offense in medical device tax fight
San Francisco Chronicle

For Republicans, it’s an irresistible trifecta: A bill that gives them an election-season chance to say they’re fighting to protect jobs and cut taxes, even as it erodes financing for President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul they despise. So though it is destined to die in the Democratic-run Senate, GOP leaders plan to push legislation through the House this week to repeal an excise tax on the makers of medical devices sold in the U.S.

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Are You Ready for an ACO?
Health Leaders Media

It seems like each week brings yet another announcement about some combination of physicians, hospitals, and even health plans that are forming collaborations or partnerships, and calling them accountable care organizations. The ACO moniker carries a lot of weight these days. It signals that providers and payers are committed to coordinating healthcare to achieve the vaunted triple aim of improving the experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing per capita costs of care.

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Outdated CA mental health law serves no one
San Francisco Chronicle

Visiting San Francisco General Hospital’s medical emergency room or walking the streets of San Francisco and seeing untreated, seriously mentally ill people would convince most observers that the biggest problem of the mentally ill is not stigma. Yet millions of tax dollars are spent on antistigma campaigns. Those funds might be better used to open more acute psychiatric beds so mentally disturbed people don’t have to spend days strapped to a gurney in medical facilities not equipped to handle them.

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Treating patients at home may be cheaper, better
Modesto Bee

A program that allows patients to be treated at home instead of the hospital can improve care and satisfaction, new research from Johns Hopkins shows. The model called Hospital at Home reduced costs by roughly 20 percent and had equal or better outcomes among patients in New Mexico who participated in a study, published in the June issue of Health Affairs.

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Doctors often order tests and recommend drugs or procedures when they shouldn’t
Washington Post

Doctors often order tests and recommend drugs or procedures when they shouldn’t — sometimes even when they know they shouldn’t. The problem has become so serious that such groups as the American College of Physicians, the ABIM Foundation, the National Physicians Alliance and a coalition of medical societies in a project called Choosing Wisely have compiled lists of tests and treatments that doctors themselves say are done too often.

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Oakland, Stanford programs tackle teen obesity
San Francisco Chronicle

Eight months ago, Taeylor Barker ate whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, and she never got any exercise. Only 13, she was already carrying more than 300 pounds on her 6-foot frame, but when her pediatrician suggested she join Healthy Hearts, a weight-loss program for teens at Oakland Children’s Hospital, Taeylor balked. She was shy and scared of facing other people – doctors, nurses, nutritionists, even other overweight teens.

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Moms plan to breast-feed for three months but don’t, study says
Los Angeles Times

While the recent conversation springing from Time magazine’s cover was about nursing into toddlerhood and beyond, studies have shown that most mothers in the United States do not breast-feed their babies for the six months that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends.

But the question remained: What did new moms plan? So researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked women their intentions about breast-feeding and then surveyed them each month for a year.

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S.F. VA Medical Center moving to Mission Bay
San Francisco Chronicle

Mission Bay will soon be welcoming a new tenant to its life science hub: the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The VA center is opening a 42,000-square-foot research center in Mission Bay once construction is complete in the late summer or early fall. Approximately 130 staff members will be relocated there from its campus on Clement Street in the Richmond District.

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Dangerous Injection Practices Still a Threat
Health Leaders Media

Dangerous needle/syringe injection practices by healthcare workers ? such as the reuse of syringes to withdraw medication from a container that was used for other patients ? have resulted in 130,000 patients being notified they were at risk of infection with viruses or bacteria over the last decade, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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‘Observation stays’ for Medicare patients create coverage problems
North County Times

Loretta Jackson spent five days in a Santa Rosa hospital in April 2009 for severe back and leg pain, and as a Medicare beneficiary, she expected the federal program for the elderly would cover her medical treatment.

At the hospital, she was given an MRI, intravenous narcotics and physical therapy. She was released five days later, and her doctor recommended that she check into a skilled nursing facility to recuperate.

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Community clinics taking hits as budgets under attack
Redlands Daily Facts

At a time when the clinics should be focused on growth to accommodate the many who will obtain health insurance in 2014, economic forces are at work to destabilize them, officials said. One category of safety net clinic – the Federally Qualified Health Center – was targeted by Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget for a $100-million cut in the funding it receives for administrative overhead.

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Hospitals add palliative teams at feverish pace
San Mateo Daily Journal

Fighting stage-four ovarian cancer, Carol Delzatto has more doctor appointments than she cares to count. But this day, she is beaming as Dr. Pamela Sutton comes into sight, greeting her patient and calling her beautiful. Delzatto looks forward to her monthly meeting with the palliative care doctor, where she won’t be pricked and won’t be rushed, just listened to and offered help.

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John Muir Health, Blue Shield of California Launch ACO
Becker's Hospital Review

Walnut Creek, Calif.-based John Muir Health and Blue Shield of California have formed an accountable care organization to cover 16,000 Blue Shield HMO enrollees, according to a San Francisco Business Times report.

The ACO is expected to start July 1 and continue for at least three years. Organizers hope to eliminate cost increases in the first year of operation and limit any annual increase thereafter to single-digits.

This is Blue Shield’s seventh ACO initiative in California, according to the report.

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Advanced home health model yields savings, study finds
Modern Healthcare

An advanced form of home healthcare offered by Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Albuquerque, N.M., provided care that was 19% less than the cost for similar inpatients, while clinical outcomes were comparable or better, according to a study published in the June issue of Health Affairs.

Most of the savings came from the 323 home healthcare patients in the study having lower average length of stays and lower use of clinical testing than the 1,048 inpatients studied.

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Childhood trauma hurts health – but what’s the remedy?
HealthyCal.org

Childhood trauma isn’t just bad for the psyche; it’s debilitating for the body, and years later, can lead to adult illness. Researchers who studied 17,000 patients at a Kaiser Permanente clinic in San Diego in the 1990s found that traumatized kids grew into adults who were not only more likely to smoke or drink or overeat, but also more likely to die young, suffer heart and lung problems, and develop cancer.

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Health Care Tax Credit Receiving Lackluster Response from State’s Small Businesses
capital public radio

Even one of the measures of the new law that has already been implemented doesn’t seem to be reaching its target audience. The provision is a tax credit aimed at helping small businesses afford pricey health insurance. John Arensmeyer, CEO of the Small Business Majority says in fact 57 percent of all small businesses in California do not know about the tax credits.

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Why the Electronic Medical Record Needs to be Viewed as a Medical Device
The Health Care Blog

In our rush to establish a national electronic medical record (EMR) system as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, powerful silos of independent EMR systems have sprung up nationwide. While most systems are being developed responsibly, like the Wild, Wild West, many have been developed without an objective eye toward quality and the potential harm they may be causing our patients.

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Why New Nurses Can’t Find Jobs (No, Really)
The Health Care Blog

This month’s wretched jobs report tells a now-familiar tale: Employment has risen nicely in health care (a net gain of more than 340,000 jobs between May 2011 and May 2012). But almost every other sector has been flat or worse. You might think that would mean that new-graduate nurses are having an easy time finding work. That’s still true in rural areas — but elsewhere, no.

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