News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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New Telehealth Program Aims To Increase Specialist Care in Northern California
California Healthline

Two years ago, in anticipation of California’s new health insurance exchange, Blue Shield of California began to look for new ways to meet the needs of a growing insured population — particularly in remote areas. “We realized that many Californians in rural areas, which lack specialty care, would qualify for subsidies on the exchange requiring an overlay of physicians,” said Juan Davila, executive vice president of health care quality and affordability for Blue Shield of California. “We were concerned we would not be prepared.”

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Nonprofit Insurers Lag In California’s Heath Care Exchange
CBS News

Small nonprofits offering insurance plans on California’s health care exchange are lagging well behind major insurers in sign-ups, potentially undermining a key goal of the federal Affordable Care Act, which sought to drive down costs by increasing competition. Across the U.S., community nonprofits and co-op insurers have struggled with a lack of brand recognition and, in some cases, offering policies that were priced to compete with the big insurance companies.

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How to Avert a Doctor Shortage
The Health Care Blog

Anticipating a growing, aging population and the anticipated demands of those newly insured under the Affordable Care Act, the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the United States will face a shortage of 130,000 physicians just over a decade from now. This projected shortage, which also has been recognized by the federal government and some academics, could mean limited access to care for many Americans, plus longer wait times and shorter office visits for those who do find a doctor.

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Health app users beware: Column
USA Today

Patients in my clinic increasingly use health apps on their mobile devices. Many of these apps track health metrics, such as weight or calories eaten, while others go a step further and help patients make sense of their symptoms or suggest diagnoses.

By 2015, an estimated 500 million people worldwide will use a health app, turning the industry into a $26 billion business by 2017. Despite the promise of these apps, I’m not ready to recommend them to my patients. The sheer number of health apps is staggering, with more than 40,000 apps categorized as “health and fitness” or “medical” in Apple’s app store alone.

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Obamacare news: Healthcare reform prompts surge of new walk-in clinics
MedCity News

An increase in the number of walk-in clinics is one of the outcomes of new national health care reforms, according the chairwoman of the Health Care Management and Organizational Leadership program at Quinnipiac University’s Business School.

Angela Mattie said the surge in the number of so-called urgent care centers is the result of adding 170,000 people to the ranks of those with health insurance.

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The ACA–as Much as We Could Have Hoped for, despite Sensible Old Men
The Health Care Blog

The Administration has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and enrolled 7 million people (give or take a million who may not have paid their premiums) into health plans under the ACA, and more into Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) isn’t as big a change as some of us would have liked, But in this moment of modest celebration let’s remember what some of the sensible old men said all along. Sensible old men said reform couldn’t pass without bring in the Republicans. Sen.

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Covered California open enrollment ends, but many still will transition in and out
U.C. Berkeley News

Recent media reports about Covered California have focused on the crush of people trying to sign up for the program’s medical insurance programs by March 31, but analysts at UC Berkeley say not to overlook the many people who will join or leave the program after that deadline.

Researchers at UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education are providing new data on the large numbers of people who will enter and leave the program over the coming year, outside the open enrollment period, as the program makes more people, due to various life transitions, eligible for coverage.

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Obama Quietly Signs SGR Patch Bill
Health Leaders Media

President Barack Obama late Tuesday night quietly signed a bill rushed through Congress in the last five days. It delays for one year a 24% cut in Medicare reimbursements mandated under the Sustainable Growth Rate funding formula. It also delays for one year the ICD-10 coding set implementation deadline and the so-called two-midnights rule.

There was no signing ceremony and the president offered no comments for or against theProtecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (H.R.4302).

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Bill Aiming To Integrate Mental, Physical Health Care Wins Committee Approval
California Healthline

The Senate Committee on Health yesterday unanimously voted to approve a measure that would allow same-day billing in rural areas for physical and mental health office visits. SB 1150 by Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) applies to rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers — facilities with generally low-income patients, Hueso said. Many patients are homeless and often have mental health issues that need treatment, he said.

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Physician data on health services, payments to be released by Obama administration
Washington Post

The Obama administration announced Wednesday it would for the first time release data about health-care services provided by doctors who participate in Medicare, in what officials hailed as a major step toward making the health-care system more transparent and accountable.

As early as next week, the administration plans to release information about the number and type of health-care services delivered by more than 880,000 physicians in 2012, as well as how much Medicare paid them for the services. Together, those physicians collected $77 billion in payments through Medicare.

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State Battles over Medicaid Expansion Heating Up
Health Leaders Media

Medicaid expansion appears to be following the same trajectory as the original program that was created in 1966, with about half of the states joining the expansion effort quickly and the rest gripped in a highly politicized struggle.

If history repeats itself, the battle over Medicaid expansion could be grueling campaigns in some states. Arizona resisted joining the Medicaid program until 1982.

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Trim Medicare Advantage subsidies: Our view
USA Today

Here we go again. Insurance companies and members of Congress are trying to scare seniors with dire warnings that new spending cuts will hurt the popular Medicare Advantage program, forcing beneficiaries to pay more for less. The final numbers are due from the Obama administration on April 7.

Our advice: Take the warnings with a big grain of salt. Many of these same folks said many of these same, scary things back when health reform was being debated in 2009, insisting that cuts to Medicare Advantage in Obamacare would devastate the program.

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Consumers usually win when they appeal claim denials
FierceHealthPayer

When consumers challenge a healthcare service their insurer denied, they win about half the time, data from California insurance departments show.

The Affordable Care Act allows all consumers to appeal any denied service to a third party, like a state insurance department. Before the reform law, no standard process for appealing an insurer’s denial existed, reported Capital Public Radio.

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Don’t harm seniors: Opposing view
USA Today

History often repeats itself, and that reality is a daunting one for seniors in Medicare Advantage. While some have argued that cuts to the popular program would do nothing to jeopardize seniors’ health benefits, precedent tells us this isn’t true. In 1997, Congress passed substantial cuts to Medicare Advantage, then known as Medicare+Choice. As a result, between 1999 and 2003, nearly 2.4 million seniors lost their health care coverage. That’s a dangerous precedent.

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Study shows race impacts health access, education for minority students in California
KERO

A new study shows that African American, Latino and Native American students lag behind White and Asian students when it comes to health care access and education opportunities.

The “Race for Results: Building a Path for Opportunity for All Children” report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation reveals how children are progressing compared with their ethnicity.

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Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and the UCSD Medical Center named among the top 100
Scoop

Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and the UCSD Medical Center are among the top 100 U.S. hospitals listed today by Becker’s Hospital Review. The list was the result of Becker’s own research and consideration of nominations, plus a review of the various rankings that are put out each year, including those from U.S. News & World Report, Truven Health Analytics and The LeapFrog Group.

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California Northstate University plans health care science camp
Sacramento Business Journal

A for-profit university that hopes to launch a medical school in Elk Grove will offer a health care science camp for high school students this summer with an eye toward generating interest. California Northstate University has filed an application to open a medical school, but needs accreditation approval before it can enroll students. Backers started a pharmacy school in Rancho Cordova in 2008 that will move in May to an Elk Grove building to be shared with the medical school.

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Redwood Medical Group MDs align with St. Joseph Health
San Francisco Business Times

Nineteen doctors from Santa Rosa’s Redwood Regional Medical Group are joining a physician group affiliated with the St. Joseph Health system, while 12 radiology specialists are leaving 31-doctor Redwood Regional to form their own Redwood Radiology Group. The mini-merger is the latest sign that Obamacare and other forces are creating incentives for doctors and hospitals to join forces.

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