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News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Voter Signatures Submitted for Ballot Measure to Protect Health Care Funding for Children, Seniors and Low-Income Californians
insurance newsnet

A broad coalition of health care providers and community groups announced today that they have collected and are submitting more than one million voter signatures statewide in order to qualify the Medi-Cal Funding and Accountability Act of 2014 for the November ballot. The measure builds upon SB 239, an important bipartisan agreement passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013, with no opposition votes cast, to provide a stable source of health care funding to serve California’s most vulnerable citizens: children, seniors, and low income residents.

The California Hospital Association, along with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, hosted an event to highlight the submission of signatures in the Bay Area.

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State to provide $75 million in mental health grants
Los Angeles Times

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer announced the approval Thursday of $75.3 million in grants that aim to stabilize residents with severe mental illness before they land in jail or suffer multiple hospitalizations. The 20 grants will go to 28 counties for new or expanded services. They will add 827 residential mental health beds and crisis “stabilization” beds, and pay for more than three dozen vehicles and five dozen staff members for mobile support teams, which often accompany local law enforcement to defuse tense situations and direct those in need to care.

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Why It’s Insanely Easy to Hack Hospital Equipment
Wired News

When Scott Erven was given free reign to roam through all of the medical equipment used at a large chain of Midwest health care facilities, he knew he would find security problems–but he wasn’t prepared for just how bad it would be.

In a study spanning two years, Erven and his team found drug infusion pumps–for delivering morphine drips, chemotherapy and antibiotics–that can be remotely manipulated to change the dosage doled out to patients.

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UCSF seeks to bridge gap between tech and health
San Francisco Business Times

UCSF wants to get a little more like Silicon Valley. Noting a recent deal with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Sam Hawgood, the interim chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, said the graduate-level, health care-centric university is increasingly reaching out to high-tech companies and entrepreneurs. UCSF researchers for the past couple years have made presentations at Salesforce Inc.’s Dreamforce conference, delving into topics like brain mapping while trying to inspire collaborations with technologists that could benefit UCSF scientists as well as patients in the UCSF Medical Center.

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Obamacare enrollment miracle or fact? Column
USA Today

Reading the news in recent days, it’s difficult to escape the impression there has been a miracle. Obamacare worked. Despite a troubled launch, disappointing early numbers and cynicism from across the political spectrum, the Affordable Care Act came through. A total of 8 million Americans have enrolled, even more than the number set by outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a benchmark for success.

As with all miracles, it has provoked its share of skeptics now rooting around behind the curtain, looking for the real Wizard of Oz. Were the books cooked, as Rush Limbaugh has suggested?

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Group shares strategies for getting young adults insured
Sacramento Bee

Many young adults are uninsured, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want health insurance. With the help of the Young Invincibles, the Merced County Health Care Consortium analyzed the Affordable Care Act from the perspective of young adults during a meeting Thursday.

Young Invincibles is a national organization that aims to expand opportunities to young Americans on issues such as health care, jobs and education.

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Campaign Seeks Health Coverage For Undocumented Californians

Health care activists are touring California in an attempt to drum up support for a bill that would offer affordable healthcare coverage for the state’s nearly 3 million residents who don’t qualify for Obamacare because of their immigration status.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach), would expand Medi-Cal eligibility to all Californians regardless of immigration status. It would also create a special health care exchange for undocumented Californians to shop for insurance.

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Snafu keeps thousands of low-income Angelenos out of Medi-Cal
Southern California Public Radio

Several thousand low-income people who were supposed to be switched on January 1st from an L.A. County health plan to Medi-Cal have fallen through the bureaucratic cracks. The county blames differences in personal information kept by the county and the state, and says it has corrected about half of the cases in question.

In the run-up to the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, L.A. County received federal funding to get low-income people covered early. Beginning in 2011, it signed more than 300,000 people up for coverage under a program called Healthy Way L.A.

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Debate heating up over hospital charity care bill
Sacramento Business Journal

Debate is already heating up over a bill that would regulate the amount of charity care nonprofit hospitals in California have to provide in exchange for tax-exempt status.

Assembly Bill 1952 by Sacramento Assemblyman Richard Pan requires nonprofit hospitals to provide annual charity care amounting to 5 percent of the hospital’s net revenue.

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Coffee lovers: Drink up to reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes
Los Angeles Times

To reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, new research from Harvard University scientists offers an eye-opening suggestion: Drink more coffee. In a large epidemiological study, the researchers found that people who increased their coffee consumption by at least one cup per day over a period of years were 11% less likely to get Type 2 diabetes compared with people whose coffee-drinking habits didn’t change.

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CMS Poised to Announce ICD-10 Implementation Date
Health Leaders Media

A federal official involved in the ICD-10 launch couldn’t give a room full of stakeholders a firm date on for the new implementation of the medical code set, but suggested on Wednesday that an announcement is imminent.

Denise Buenning, acting deputy director with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Office of e-Health Standards and Services reportedly told attendees at a two-day ICD-10 summit held in Washington, DC, that a firm date for the implementation would be forthcoming.

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Tech could improve care for medically complex, low-income patients

Focus groups concentrated on a key Medicaid population–medically and socially complex, low-income patients–revealed areas for which connected health initiatives could bring improvements, according to a blog post at Health Affairs.

The focus group participants were receiving services from case management/care coordination programs in New York state or Philadelphia.

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Largest HIX not threatened by payers
Government Health IT

In California’s health exchange, the two Blues plans have sold more than half of all individual policies, driving home the point that established payers are not posing a problem for fledgling health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. WellPoint’s Anthem Blue Cross of California sold 30 percent of individual policies in Covered California’s first open enrollment period, while the nonprofit Blue Shield of California sold 27 percent of them.

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Featured Speaker Sharon Stone Celebrates Grand Opening Of InnovAge Greater California PACE Center
PR Newswire

Academy Award® nominated actress and Hollywood icon Sharon Stone and Kish Rajan, director of business and economic development for Governor Jerry Brown, joined InnovAge today to celebrate the opening of its first Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) center in California. Former state Senator Bill Emerson, who is currently the senior vice president of the California Hospital Association, was a special guest at the opening.

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Ambulances Delayed Due to Hospital Bed Shortage
NBC Los Angeles

Hospital bed shortages delayed Los Angeles Fire Department ambulance crews nearly 37,000 hours last year, costing the city about $6 million, according to a report presented to the Fire Commission.

Ambulance crews aim to spend no more than 20 minutes dropping patients off at hospitals, but often must wait longer due to a lack of beds, fire officials said.

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ValleyCare Health System explores merger with bigger system
Sacramento Business Journal

ValleyCare Health System, one of the last significant independents in the Bay Area, is seeking an affiliation with a larger partner, officials confirmed late Thursday. “We are exploring an affiliation with a number of potential partners,” said spokeswoman Denise Bouillerce, adding that further details aren’t immediately available. The nonprofit system, which boasts 242 beds and 300 on-staff physicians, serves a fairly well-to-do area in the outer East Bay, and could be an attractive merger candidate for systems such as Walnut Creek’s John Muir Health, Sutter Health or others.