News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Ballot measure seeks stable source of Medi-Cal funding through fee
Sacramento Business Journal

Health care providers and community groups submitted 1.3 million signatures to the state Monday to qualify an initiative for the November ballot that seeks to provide a stable source of funding for the Medi-Cal program and nail down how it is spent. More than 615,000 people in the greater Sacramento region — defined as Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado and San Joaquin counties — are enrolled in Medi-Cal, including about 329,000 children.

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Health insurance rate regulation foes flex fundraising muscle
Sacramento Bee

Good Friday was a good day for opponents of a ballot initiative to regulate health insurance prices.

The coalition of doctors, hospitals and insurance companies last week reported collecting nearly $24 million from Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. Half of the money was listed as loans to the campaign.

The contributions follow more than $13 million in donations from WellPoint and Anthem Blue Cross last year.

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Health Insurance Complaints Skyrocket in CA
NBC Bay Area

Even if you aren’t one of the 1.2 million people signing up for Covered California, chances are you’re feeling the pinch when calling your insurance company. The Investigative Unit has learned complaints to state regulators have skyrocketed as people find themselves unable to reach anyone at several major health insurance companies.

For some health insurance companies, the influx of calls is so bad, they’re hanging up on customers after a pre-recorded message, while others put callers on hold indefinitely.

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Looking at Costs and Risks, Many Skip Health Insurance
New York Times

Steve Huber, an affable salesman who is still paying off an unexpected medical bill, was not among the millions of Americans who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act during the enrollment period that ended March 31.

After seeing television ads for Kentucky’s new online insurance marketplace, Mr. Huber, 57, made several attempts to explore the website but found it too complicated.

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Uncertainties surround Affordable Care Act for businesses
San Diego Daily Transcript

It has been called confusing, aggravating and unworkable by many, and a godsend by others. It is the Affordable Care Act, and private companies and even insurance carriers are still trying to figure out what it all means. Also known as Obamacare, the ACA and its implications for businesses large and small and how companies can save money in the new health care universe were topics of a roundtable discussion Thursday at The Daily Transcript offices sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross and Health Savings Associates.

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O-Care enrollment still growing in several states
The Hill

Enrollment in ObamaCare’s new health insurance exchanges is likely to grow past eight million, as some states are still letting people sign up for insurance beyond this year’s official enrollment deadline.

At least eight states and the District of Columbia are still allowing people to register for health plans, according to news reports and an April 14 analysis by consulting firm Avalere Health.

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Covered California approves $89M in additional spending
Sacramento Business Journal

With projected total operating costs 16 percent higher than expected for the current fiscal year, the board at Covered California approved $89 million in additional spending at its Sacramento board meeting on Thursday. This action brings projected total expenditures to $489 million for fiscal year 2013-14. After paying total costs, an estimated $363 million will be left in federal grant funds. Bolstered by federal grants to get going, the state health benefit exchange is expected to be self sustaining by 2015.

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Anthem Blue Cross signs up the most Californians under health law
Los Angeles Times

With open enrollment for Obamacare wrapped up, insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross stayed ahead of the pack in California sign-ups and widened its lead over rival Blue Shield of California. Anthem signed up 425,058 people through April 15, or 30.5% of Covered California’s exchange market under the Affordable Care Act, new data show. Anthem is a unit of Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc., the nation’s second-largest health insurer….

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Nurses urge beefed-up security following attacks
Orange County Register

After two weekend attacks at Los Angeles-area hospitals left one nurse seriously injured, the California Nurses Association on Monday called for improved safety to better protect workers and patients.

The nurses association said the attacks are part of a growing number of incidents against health care workers. The group called on state lawmakers to approve a bill to ensure hospitals have violence prevention plans in place that protect workers against aggressive and violent behavior.

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Hospital safety under scrutiny after two nurses wounded in stabbings
Daily Breeze - Los Angeles

Two nurses wounded in two separate attacks at two different Los Angeles County medical centers continued to recover Monday, but their injuries further illustrate the need to improve hospital workplace safety, an association said.

“We can not stand by while nurses, other hospital staff, patients, families, and visitors are put in harms way in hospitals that fail to provide the measures that will protect their staff and the community,” said Malinda Markowitz, co-president of the California Nurses Association. “It is time for the Legislature to act.”

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CMS to Speak with ICD-10 Backers Tuesday
Health Leaders Media

Stakeholders and other supporters of ICD-10 are scheduled to meet in Washington, DC Tuesday with a senior official at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services with the hope of learning when the federal government is going to act on the oft-delayed medical coding set.

The Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, signed into law earlier this month by President Obama, delayed implementation of the ICD-10 code set until at least Oct. 1, 2015.

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Small Business Owners: How Many Missed Taking the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit?
The Huffington Post

A Kentucky professional who owns his own business found that he missed getting the Health Care Tax Credit.

For the past four years!

Since the credit is worth 35 percent of what he is paying in health insurance, his business lost out on about $40,000.

It gets worse: this year he could get a 50 percent tax credit. Since his firm is paying about $50,000 in health care benefits, it would have been a savings of about $25,000.

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Glaxo, Novartis, Eli Lilly in ‘major 3-part’ deal
USA Today

British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline announced Tuesday that it will sell its cancer-products business to pharmaceutical giant Novartis, in a deal that will see the firm’s Swiss rival pay $14.5 billion for its oncology unit.

Basel-headquartered Novartis said separately that it will sell its animal health division to U.S. firm Eli Lilly for $5.4 billion.

Shares in Glaxo advanced close to 5% in the wake of the announcement while Novartis’ shares added 1.2%. Eli Lilly shares moved up 1.5%.

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Point Health offers direct access to doctor for flat fee
Sacramento Business Journal

Point Health has opened a hybrid primary-care practice in Roseville that offers traditional services paid by insurance, but also sells direct access to the doctor for a flat monthly fee. Located at 1478 Stone Point Drive, Suite 290, Point Health opened April 1. The office will hold an open house for the community May 8. The practice is owned by Dr. Shahzad Anwar, a board-certified primary care doctor.

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Free health care this week in S.F., Oakland
San Francisco Chronicle

More than 600 volunteer doctors, dentists and other medical professionals will operate free health clinics in San Francisco and Oakland on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for people who can’t afford care.

The event is called Bridges to Health, and organizers expect to help as many as 3,000 people who either have no health insurance or can’t afford the co-payments for procedures. Dentists plan to do everything from root canals to fillings, and services by the rest of the crews will include eyeglass fittings, pediatric care and X-rays.

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County wants public’s feedback on plan to improve health
Orange County Register

Members of the public are invited to offer comments on a plan to improve health in Orange County by focusing on infants and children, older adults, obesity and diabetes, and behavioral/mental health. The report was prepared by the county’s Health Care Agency with help from 21 community groups ranging from health nonprofits to hospitals. The public can comment on the plan through April 30 by visiting

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El Camino Hospital buys more Los Gatos real estate
Silicon Valley Business Journal

El Camino Hospital is banking more land for future growth, buying up a number of medical office buildings near its Los Gatos facility in recent weeks with an eye on the long term.

The deals are the latest in a long string of real estate moves by health care providers in the West Valley that have turned the area into a health care hot spot. In the last year or so, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Stanford Hospitals & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have all moved into the Los Gatos-area market or expanded their presence there. Nearby, on the Los Gatos/San Jose border, Samaritan Medical Center is moving forward with development plans for a 64,650-square-foot medical office building.

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Cedars-Sinai now screening all hospital patients for depression
Southern California Public Radio

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles is now screening all hospital patients for clinical depression, noting that the condition can delay physical healing and make recovery far more difficult.

Under the new program, a registered nurse will ask newly-admitted patients two questions about their mood and energy level. The query, which happens within 24 hours of admission, is intended to identify possible clinical depression in patients.

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Merced hospital service offers rehab for hearts, lungs
Merced Sun-Star

Ray Mink suffered his first heart attack in 1983. He was 60, and like many people knew little about heart disease.

The heart attack came as a surprise to Mink. He had felt fine up to that point and believed his health to be good.

In 1985, doctors referred Mink to the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center, then located on Olive Avenue and M Street. It was there that Mink learned the importance of physical activity, nutrition and stress management in reducing risk factors for heart and blood vessel disease.