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News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Four Years Into A Commercial ACO For CalPERS: Substantial Savings And Lessons Learned
HealthAffairs Blog

In a very short period of time, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) have become an important and widespread part of the US health care landscape. A recent Health Affairs Blog post estimates the total number of public (Medicare) and private ACOs at more than 600 nationally, covering more than 18 million insured population. Despite their rapid and widespread adoption, relatively little is known about how ACOs actually work and how successful they have been.  This is due in part to their relative “newness,” as many reported ACOs are just getting up and running. Others have been operational for short periods of time and have yet to produce meaningful or long-term sustainable results.

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Many needed help to sign up for Covered California
Sacramento Business Journal

Turns out, signing up for health benefits through Covered California was not as easy as buying a book on Amazon, as it was once billed.

Almost 60 percent of folks who signed up got some kind of help, according to new data from the state health benefit exchange. “While some people can enroll on their own, everyone needs multiple touches,” executive director Peter Lee said in a media call Thursday. “Going forward, in-person assistance will be vital.”

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Cost of Treatment May Influence Doctors
New York Times

Saying they can no longer ignore the rising prices of health care, some of the most influential medical groups in the nation are recommending that doctors weigh the costs, not just the effectiveness of treatments, as they make decisions about patient care.

The shift, little noticed outside the medical establishment but already controversial inside it, suggests that doctors are starting to redefine their roles, from being concerned exclusively about individual patients to exerting influence on how health care dollars are spent.

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How Should Doctors Get Paid? Hourly Wage, Piecework or Quality?
The Health Care Blog

A long time ago, when I worked in Sweden’s Socialized health care system, there were no incentives to see more patients. In the hospital and in the outpatient offices there were scheduled coffee breaks at 10 and at 3 o’clock, lunch was an hour, and everyone left on the dot at five. On-call work was reimbursed as time off. Any extra income would have been taxed at the prevailing marginal income tax rate of somewhere around 80%.

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Defend Obama’s health plan unabashedly, some Democrats say
San Francisco Chronicle

With enrollments higher than expected, and costs lower, some Democrats say it’s time to stop hiding from the president’s health care overhaul, even in this year’s toughest Senate elections.

Republicans practically dare Democrats to embrace the overhaul, the GOP’s favorite target in most congressional campaigns. Yet pro-Democratic activists in Alaska are doing just that, and several strategists elsewhere hope it will spread.

President Obama said Thursday that first-year sign-ups for subsidized private health insurance topped 8 million, exceeding expectations.

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Enrollments Exceed Obama’s Target for Health Care Act
New York Times

President Obama announced Thursday that eight million people have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, including what the White House said were a sufficient number of young, healthy adults, a critical milestone that might counter election-year attacks by Republicans on the law’s success and viability.

The total number of enrollees exceeds by a million the target set by the administration for people to buy insurance through government-run health care exchanges.

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Obama hails 8 million enrollees for insurance under federal health-care law
Washington Post

President Obama announced Thursday that 8 million people have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, calling the feat a success story that Democrats should “forcefully defend and be proud of” in the face of Republican election-year attacks on the law.

Speaking at an impromptu news conference, the president described how the law has helped make a difference for ordinary citizens such as a young woman in Pennsylvania with a self-employed husband and two young children who managed to get insurance despite being diagnosed with breast cancer.

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Obamacare enrollments hit 8 million
Los Angeles Times

Driven by a last-minute flood of enrollments, particularly in California, sign-ups for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplaces hit 8 million, President Obama announced Thursday. The total exceeded the initial forecast by 1 million people and capped a notable comeback after a disastrous debut last fall gave rise to predictions the law would collapse in its maiden year….

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Implementing Health Reform: The Latest Affordable Care Act Coverage Numbers
HealthAffairs Blog

On February 17, 2014, the White House announced that 8 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance coverage through the health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges. This significantly exceeds the White House’s original goal of 7 million enrollees. It is far more than the Congressional Budget Office’s recent projections of 6 million. The number of actual enrollees will be smaller than this number.

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Late sign-ups improve outlook for Obama health law
San Francisco Chronicle

A surge of eleventh-hour enrollments has improved the outlook for President Barack Obama’s health care law, with more people signing up overall and a much-needed spark of interest among young adults.

Nonetheless, Obama’s announcement Thursday that 8 million have signed up for subsidized private insurance, and that 35 percent of them are younger than 35, is just a peek at what might be going on with the nation’s newest social program.

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California health care sign-ups exceed projections
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A late surge of sign-ups pushed California’s health insurance exchange nearly 100,000 enrollees beyond the original projections of the Obama administration, the agency that runs the marketplace announced Thursday.

Nearly 1.4 million Californians selected a policy through the state’s exchange by Tuesday’s end of open enrollment, and 88 percent of those were eligible for government subsidies to help reduce their monthly premiums.

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Covered California enrollment is more than 3 million, exceeding projections
Southern California Public Radio

Signups for health insurance plans through California’s state-run marketplace, Covered California, hit an all-time record on the final day of open enrollment with more than 50,000 people completing enrollment on April 15, state officials said on Thursday.

Overall, more than 3 million Californians signed up for health coverage during its first-ever open enrollment period, which began on Oct. 1.

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Obamacare enrollment nears 1.4 million in California exchange
Los Angeles Times

Covered California signed up more than 200,000 consumers for Obamacare coverage after extending its enrollment deadline by two weeks, bringing the statewide total to nearly 1.4 million people.

The health insurance exchange gave people until Tuesday to finish enrolling after the state website faltered at the end of March from a crush of last-minute applicants. By Tuesday, the latest deadline, 50,000 people picked a health plan.

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Covered CA: final enrollment nearly 1.4M
San Diego Union-Tribune

Nearly 1.4 million residents picked health plans through the state’s insurance exchange by the final open-enrollment deadline, officials said Thursday.

The Covered California exchange also registered 1.9 million new enrollees in Medi-Cal, the health insurance program for the poor. Altogether, sign-ups for the first year of open enrollment exceeded 3 million — by far the most successful enrollment campaign for any state in the rollout of the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

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Nearly 1.4 million Californians enroll in health insurance exchange
Sacramento Bee

Citing a large influx of customers in the final weeks, California officials announced Thursday that nearly 1.4 million people have enrolled in health coverage through its insurance exchange, capping an opening period that saw the state emerge as an example for the rest of the nation.

Nationally, according to the White House, 8 million people signed up for coverage, and the proportion of younger applicants has increased.

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Covered California’s final sign-up total: Almost 1.4 million
Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California’s final sign-up total for its initial open enrollment period totaled nearly 1.4 million, including nearly 206,000 who took advantage of extra time to complete applications between April 1 and the April 15 extended deadline. Nationally, the total was about 8 million, President Barack Obama said Thursday, which would put California’s tally at 17.5 percent of the national figure.

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Obamacare sign-ups beat projections in U.S., California
Inside Bay Area

Good news on two fronts for President Barack Obama’s health care law surfaced Thursday after health plan enrollment numbers reported by California and the White House wildly exceeded expectations.

Obama announced that 8 million Americans had signed up for plans, 1 million more than projected.

Meanwhile, a concerted, late-stage effort by California’s health insurance exchange to expand outreach efforts, particularly in Latino communities, helped boost private health insurance sign-ups in the Golden State to almost 1.4 million.

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Missed the Obamacare deadline? Short-term health plan may be better than nothing
The Mercury News

With the deadline now past to sign up for coverage under the nation’s new health care law, there’s one last resort for the millions of uninsured: short-term health insurance.

Insurance providers are now shifting their sales pitches to such Band-Aid policies, which health care experts agree are better than nothing but come with a litany of caveats.

These policies provide bare-bones coverage, usually don’t insure people who have pre-existing conditions and may be impossible to renew after an illness.

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Health Care Rights, Health Care Reform A Symposium on the Affordable Care Act
Santa Barbara Independent

Paul Starr, a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University, will provide a keynote address “America’s Peculiar Struggle over Healthcare Reform Then and Now”. Susan Klein-Rothschild, Deputy Director of the Public Health Department will be among the panelists who report on the local implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Paul Starr is a former senior advisor to President Bill Clinton on health care policy.

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Details emerge on Marin General’s $643 million rebuild project
San Francisco Business Times

Details are beginning to trickle out about Marin General Hospital’s plans for a $643 million rebuild of its aging Greenbrae facility, although equipment costs and other add-ons could bring the total to “north of $700 million.” That’s the word from Jon Friedenberg, Marin General’s chief fund and business development officer, who often serves as the hospital’s chief spokesman.

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Palm Drive Hospital committee to review new proposals
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

A Palm Drive Hospital board committee will meet Friday to begin reviewing proposals to continue operation of the Sebastopol facility, scheduled to close on April 28.

Proposals are due at noon Friday, and at least one is expected from a group led by Dr. Jim Gude and former hospital board member Dan Smith, who said last week the plan would be accompanied by a contribution of $700,000.

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