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News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Hospitals pour money into California ballot campaign
Sacramento Bee

In less than three months, healthcare networks and individual hospitals have pumped more than $51 million into a proposed ballot measure meant to lock up revenue from a Legislature-approved fee on acute-care hospitals.

The measure would limit lawmakers’ ability to change or repeal the “Medi-Cal Hospital Reimbursement Act,” which lawmakers passed last year as SB 239. With hospitals’ backing, the law continued a hospital quality-assurance fee first passed in 2009 through 2016.

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Hospital Groups Back NQF Report on Patient Sociodemographics
Health Leaders Media

Two hospital associations are providing a ringing endorsement of a National Quality Forum draft report that recommends risk adjusting quality measures for hospitals’ patient mixes to reflect socioeconomic factors such as insurance coverage, race, and income.

The American Hospital Association on Monday sent a letter to NQF and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services urging them to act quickly on the report’s recommendations.

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Obamacare will boost malpractice claims, RAND study says
Modern Healthcare

The healthcare reform law will reduce liability payouts by insurers for auto and workers’ compensation claims by nearly $1.7 billion annually while increasing medical malpractice claims by $120 million a year, according to a new study released by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.

The RAND researchers looked at the anticipated impact on insurance claims under the ACA in 2016, when the law is expected to be fully implemented. While the law’s most obvious impact will be on health insurance policies, researchers found that it will also have minor but financially significant effects on claims paid by other common types of insurance policies.

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NPP Demand Rising Under Value-Based Care Models
Health Leaders Media

The use of physician assistants, nurse practitioners and other “non-physician providers” continues to accelerate with the advent of value-based, coordinated care delivery, a Medical Group Management Association analysis shows.

The report examined growth in the use of non-physician providers at multispecialty practices and found that the number of full-time-equivalent NPPs per FTE physician has increased by 11% since 2008.

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Rebooting Primary Care From the Bottom Up
The Health Care Blog

For the better part of a decade, I practiced inpatient hospital medicine at a large academic center (the name isn’t important, but it rhymes with Afghanistan…ford). I used to play a game with the med students and housestaff: let’s estimate how many of our inpatients actually didn’t need hospitalization, had they simply received effective outpatient preventative care. Over the years, our totals were almost never less than 50%.

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CBO: Healthcare reform will cost $100B less than expected
FierceHealthPayer

Health insurance premiums will be lower than expected for the next few years. Therefore, the Congressional Budget Office revised its estimated cost of the Affordable Care Act to $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years–a decrease of about $100 billion.

In its report published Monday, the CBO said premiums will fall because so many insurers are using narrow networks and lower reimbursement rates for plans sold on health insurance exchanges.

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Obamacare doesn’t help immigrants: Column
USA Today

I can’t remember the last time I had a medical check-up; I’m 20, and it’s been at least five years. When I was a little kid in South Los Angeles, my mother would only take my older sister and me to the doctor when we were already sick; whether we had a fever or any other illness, every visit cost $100, including treatments. Then a neighbor informed my mom of a community clinic that offered free visits for low-income families — but only, again, if we were already sick.

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Health sign-ups in state draw to a close
Los Angeles Times

After website troubles sparked a two-week extension, California officials wrapped up the first open enrollment for Obamacare coverage with nearly 1.3 million consumers signed up since October for the state-run exchange. Sign-ups ahead of Tuesday’s enrollment deadline appeared to run more smoothly than they did March 31, the previous cut-off date.

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Hospital, doctor prices rise in March
Modern Healthcare

Prices for inpatient hospital care accelerated slightly more rapidly last month than prices for outpatient services, as the overall Consumer Price Index for hospitals increased 0.8%.

Last month’s uptick in hospital prices was marginally higher than the 0.6% increase in February, newly released figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show. The index, which measures the change in prices for commercial insurers, increased 0.5% in March 2013. For the year that ended last month, the price index for inpatient hospital care increased 5.1% compared with 5.6% the prior year.

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Health spending up after years of ’self-rationing,’ report finds
Modern Healthcare

Patients are returning to the healthcare system after “several years of self-rationing,” as reflected in a 3.2% increase in 2013 prescription-drug expenditures to $329.2 billion, according to a new report.

Physician office visits, hospital encounters and filled prescriptions all increased in 2013, the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, a Parsippany, N.J.-based division of data analytics consultant IMS Health, said in a new report.

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Pharmacists call for delay on new Medicaid generic reimbursement rates
Modern Healthcare

Pharmacists and drug manufacturers are pushing the CMS for a one-year transition period before states attempt to implement a new formula mandated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will significantly trim Medicaid reimbursement rates for generic drugs.

Last August, HHS‘ Office of the Inspector General compared existing state Medicaid programs’ generic prescription reimbursement limits with the new limits mandated by the ACA and found that on average, the new federal reimbursement limits are 22% below the current state amounts and could save Medicaid up to $1.2

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Palm Drive lines up emergency funding as shutdown looms
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

A U.S. bankruptcy court judge Tuesday approved a $450,000 emergency loan to Palm Drive Hospital from Sonoma County that will help the failed hospital pay for operations and payroll until the final bankruptcy hearing on May 1.

The loan is secured through a lien on the Palm Drive Health Care District’s parcel tax revenue, with the county’s claim being second only to existing certificate holders from district bond offerings in 2005 and 2010.

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