News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Senator: Hospitals reducing treatment errors, but problems remain
Los Angeles Times

Calling hospital errors “heartbreaking,” U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Friday released a report detailing how some California hospitals are reducing medical mistakes that can cause infections, incorrect administration of drugs, falls and other complications. Many medical centers are preventing errors, she said, but others still need to demonstrate they are serious about addressing the problem.

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

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has announced the approval of $75.3 million in grants that aim to stabilize residents with severe mental illness before they land in jails or hospitals. The 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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Telemedicine’s Expanding Options
Health Leaders Media

Spurred by interest from insurance companies and employers, physicians are ramping up their ability to make an increasing number of patient encounters online or over the phone. “We need to meet consumers where they are, knowing that often consumers aren’t able to get to the doctor during the workday or on the weekends, and they end up going to the emergency room or the urgent care room for inappropriate use of care, and so we have a service that truly gets to the consumer 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days of the year, and it’s a real doctor every single time,” says Matt Marek, vice president of product and marketing at 2.6-million-member BlueCross and BlueShield of Minnesota.

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Health Reform and the Mission of Nonprofit Hospitals
The Health Care Blog

Ever since 1969, when the IRS established the “community benefit” standard for hospital tax exemption, nonprofit hospitals have been able to achieve federal tax exemption without any precise accountability for the benefits they provided. The ACA’s passage, however, ushered in significant changes to federal tax-exemption standards for hospitals.

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ACA Offers Critical Support for Foster Kids
HealthyCal.org

Behind the first wave of pain came fear.

It wasn’t just the agony of a shattered pelvis that terrified Jimmy Dion as he lay in the street that day last December.

It was having no insurance.

A driver had cut him off, and he’d swerved to miss her, but his handlebar caught in the wheel well of a truck. And then he was underneath, the truck dragging him and Dion screaming and onlookers screaming and then the truck stopping and people running toward where he lay tangled in the wreckage of his bicycle.

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ObamaCare Less Popular
The Wall Street Journal

Just two weeks after declaring victory on ObamaCare, President Obama recorded the lowest approval rating of his presidency in the ABC/Washington Post poll. And support for his signature accomplishment has fallen five percentage points in the last month. “This thing is working,” President Obama said of the Affordable Care Act on April 17. Mr. Obama made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room that day to announce that eight million people had signed up for the new insurance plans mandated by the law.

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HCA Profit Edges Up; Health-Care Reform Has Minimal Impact
The Wall Street Journal

HCA Holdings Inc. HCA -1.62% said its first-quarter earnings rose 0.9% as the hospital operator reported stronger revenue. “We are pleased with results for the first quarter,” Chief Executive R. Milton Johnson said. “As expected, health-care reform had minimal impact on the company’s first quarter results; however, we remain optimistic regarding the potential long-term benefits.”

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California Lawmakers to Hear Bill to Expand Health Law to Undocumented Immigrants
capital public radio

California lawmakers will hear a bill this week that would give unauthorized immigrants the ability to buy health insurance and enroll in Medi-Cal.

The Affordable Care Act specifically excludes undocumented immigrants from new health coverage options.

In California, undocumented immigrants can receive emergency health services and some counties offer other care to people regardless of status.

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Why a Majority of Readmission Risk Tools Fail in Practice
The Health Care Blog

Potentially preventable readmissions are a scourge on the US healthcare system. Each year millions of patients are discharged from the hospital, only to return within 30, 60, or 90 days. Not only do patients, their families, and their caregivers suffer as a result, but hospitals, insurers, and the government waste billions of dollars that could be spent on other public health priorities.

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Merck Q1 profit up 7% despite sales decline
Modern Healthcare

Major cost cuts enabled drugmaker Merck & Co. to offset continuing generic competition cutting sales of former blockbuster medicines. Merck’s first-quarter profit rose 7% and trounced Wall Street expectations.

The maker of the type 2 diabetes pill Januvia said Tuesday that net income was $1.71 billion, or 57 cents per share, up from $1.59 billion, or 52 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, net income would have been $2.6 billion, or 88 cents per share. That was 9 cents better than analysts surveyed by FactSet expected.

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Rangel Answers Healthcare Questions In Twitter Townhall
insurance newsnet

Congressman Charles B. Rangel joined members of MomsRising and The Community Service Society of New York (CSSNY) in a Twitter Townhall to answer questions about healthcare resources for New Yorkers, the Affordable Care Act, and the Basic Health Plan, which is a coverage program for low-income residents who would otherwise be eligible to purchase coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

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Patient safety at Dominican, Watsonville hospitals rate A
Santa Cruz Sentinel

Dominican Hospital and Watsonville Community Hospital are among 104 hospitals in California rated “A” by The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit that bases its safety scores on outcomes along with practices used to prevent errors, injuries and infections.

Leapfrog released scores Wednesday for more than 2,500 general hospitals in the U.S. based on 28 measures.

The goal is to focus attention on preventable medical errors, the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer.

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Merced County helps inmates get insured before release
Sacramento Bee

Merced County is making some progress in helping inmates get health coverage upon their release so they can continue to receive treatment for mental illness and other problems that often land them back behind bars.

As of last week, the Human Services Agency had received 181 applications from inmates seeking Medi-Cal coverage. Of these, 155 have been approved, five were denied and 21 applications are pending. The application process began Jan. 21.

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Hospital seeks board member applicants
The Press-Enterprise

The nonprofit board that operates San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital is seeking two new members at a time when the Banning hospital considers affiliating with another hospital. That affiliation strategy could bring an infusion of cash to help the hospital build a patient tower, a project envisioned as part of a 2006 voter-approved bond but delayed when rising costs of earlier construction phases used up much of the bond money.

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Sebastopol doctor wages fight to keep hospital open
KTVU.com

A small Sonoma County hospital is slated for closure Monday afternoon, but at least one doctor is not about to let the lights go dark without one last fight. Dr. James Gude set up an impromptu doctor’s office at the emergency entrance to Sebastopol’s Palm Drive Hospital early Monday morning. Nearby, paramedics were also stationed to assist anyone who came into the hospital for emergency treatment. Those patients would be then transferred to hospitals in Santa Rosa.

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Palm Drive Hospital shuts down amid money woes
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Palm Drive Hospital closed Monday after eleventh-hour negotiations failed to reach an agreement to keep the money-losing Sebastopol hospital open.

Dozens of hospital supporters and local residents gathered outside the entrance to the emergency department at noon as maintenance workers secured the building and posted closure notices at all entrances.

Some hospital staff carried out boxes of personal items while workers comforted each other with tearful embraces.

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