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News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Payers Expect 3 Percent Medicare Advantage Payment Cut
Health Leaders Media

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Monday that Medicare Advantage health plan payment rates in 2015 would increase an average of 0.4 percent. But insurers are forecasting a three percent cut in 2015 MA payments.

“While Cigna continues to review and assess the full impact of CMS’s 2015 rate changes, it’s clear that the full 2015 impact will include a reduction in payments, ” a Cigna spokeswoman said in an email Thursday.

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As Hospitalist Patient Loads Rise, So Do Hospital Costs
Health Leaders Media

The maximum number of patients a hospitalist can efficiently manage is approximately15, research suggests.

In an efficiency and safety study conducted at a Delaware healthcare system, patients assigned to hospitalists who were responsible for more than 15 inpatients per day were linked to longer patient stays and higher costs than patients of hospitals with lighter patient loads.

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Hospital auxiliary embodies volunteerism
San Diego Union-Tribune

Sure, volunteers at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center get some perks — pharmacy discounts, leadership-building and scholarship opportunities for college students and career exploration for high school students.

But that’s not what keeps bringing them back, or for that matter, what brought them in the first place. It’s the simple desire to give back, and that the gratitude of patients far outweighs any benefit. National Volunteer Week, which is this week, promotes ways to improve the community.

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ACA Signups hit 7.5 million. Sebelius Steps Down. Burwell to lead HHS.
The Health Care Blog

In a development that Washington insiders had been quietly predicting for months, Kathleen Sebelius announced Thursday that she is resigning as HHS Secretary. Critics were quick to point to the disastrous launch of Healthcare.gov and the glitch-filled rollout of the administration’s signature health law.

President Obama is expected to nominate OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace Sebelius Friday morning. The Washington Post notes that Burwwell is well regarded for her “strong management skills”  and cites her experience in global health after ten years with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Budget Chief Is Obama’s Choice as New Health Secretary
New York Times

Even when Sylvia Mathews Burwell was in her early 30s, friends speculated that she might return to her native Hinton, W.Va., and run for governor someday. After all, she had been a Rhodes scholar, and her mother — who later became mayor of Hinton, population 2,600 — had driven her daughter’s interest in politics.

So far that has not happened, but plenty of other things under two presidents have. On Friday, President Obama is to nominate Ms. Burwell, currently director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, to take over one of the largest and most unwieldy parts of the federal bureaucracy as secretary of health and human services.

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Sebelius Resigns After Troubles Over Health Site
New York Times

Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, is resigning, ending a stormy five-year tenure marred by the disastrous rollout of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Obama accepted Ms. Sebelius’s resignation this week, and on Friday morning, he will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her, officials said.

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Sebelius Resigning from HHS
Health Leaders Media

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will announce her resignation Friday after a five-year tenure bookended by passage of the landmark Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the checkered rollout of the Healthcare.gov website.

President Obama accepted Sebelius’s resignation earlier this week. She is one of the president’s longest-serving cabinet members. On Friday morning he will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her, White House and HHS officials said.

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Sebelius and Accountability
The Wall Street Journal

It would be nice to think that Kathleen Sebelius’s resignation, leaked late Thursday, is a case of accountability in government. But that isn’t the way this government now works, if it ever did. The departure of the secretary of Health and Human Services who presided over ObamaCare’s rollout debacle is best understood as one more attempt to dodge political responsibility. The White House kept her around through the Healthcare.gov fiasco last fall because letting her go then would have been admitting that not all was well.

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ACA 101: An Employer’s Search for Objective Advice
The Health Care Blog

In ancient Athens, the philosopher Diogenes wandered the daylight markets holding a lantern, looking for what he termed, “an honest man.”

It seems since the dawn of the consumer economy that customers and buyers have traded most heavily on a single currency – trust.

Three millennia later, our financial system still hinges on the basic premise that the game is not rigged and any trusted intermediary is defined by a practitioner who puts his client’s interests ahead of his own.

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California lawmakers propose alternative to Obamacare
San Diego Union-Tribune

With the White House’s recent announcement that it is delaying the Obamacare employer health insurance mandate for yet another year and effectively delaying the individual mandate for two more years, the administration continues to demonstrate its intention to selectively decide which laws it wants to enforce and execute, and those it does not. It’s not just a faulty and embarrassing website; Obamacare is even more problematic from a policy standpoint, causing premiums to soar, coverage to be dropped, and countless hours to be lost in bureaucratic jungles for the millions of Americans scrambling to replace the insurance plans that they liked, but can no longer keep.

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Deadline looms for the uninsured to sign up for Covered California
The Mercury News

Authorities are reminding Californians without health insurance they have less than a week to sign up for it and avoid a tax penalty.

Originally, the deadline for getting coverage through the state’s first open enrollment period was March 31. However, a flood of interest in low-cost insurance through Covered California caused the system’s website and phone lines to jam.

To compensate for the technical issues, Covered California is allowing consumers until April 15 to apply for health coverage starting May 1.

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Palm Drive Hospital board sets special meeting
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The Palm Drive Hospital board has scheduled a special meeting Friday to establish criteria for evaluating proposals being put forth by local doctors and hospital supporters to keep the financially troubled Sebastopol facility open.

The board will also consider a resolution to authorize the acceptance of a loan of up to $1.8 million from Sonoma County to plan for post-closure operations. The district’s parcel tax revenue would serve as collateral, hospital officials said.

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Children’s Hospital gets grant for adaptive sports program
Fresno Bee

Children’s Hospital Central California was awarded a $1,500 Quality of Life grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation for the hospital’s Adapative Sports Program.

The money will be used to buy tennis racquets, tennis balls and basketballs.

The Adaptive Sports program offers recreational and athletic experiences for children with physical and health impairments and conditions ranging from cerebral palsy to spinal cord injuries.

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Orchard Hospital begins search for new CEO
ABC News

Orchard Hospital in Gridley is under new and temporary leadership. According to the hospital, CEO Wade Sturgeon resigned last week after three years with the hospital.

According to the hospital’s attorney, Daniel Street out of Sacramento, Orchard Hospital’s board has begun a search for a new CEO.

In the interim Chief Financial Officer Jenny Pipoly and Chief Operations and Nursing Officer Tracy Atkins will lead the hospital’s operations. Street said it’s possible that the new CEO will come from in-house.

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