News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Administration Begins Search for New Contractors to Run Health Care Site
New York Times

The Obama administration has begun a wide-ranging search for companies to run the online federal health insurance exchange, seeking new talent to prevent a repeat of problems that immobilized the website last fall.

In laying out specifications for the project, the administration also provided insight into the next phase of development of the insurance marketplace, which is expected to handle a significant increase in enrollment over the next several years.

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California Bill Would Require Fair Health Insurance Pricing
capital public radio

As The Affordable Care Act provides health insurance to millions more Californians, Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano says his bill would make sure that the coverage remains affordable.

“By insuring that patients in these circumstances can go out of network and pay the same price as they would if the service were provided by a network provider,” says Ammiano.

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California measles outbreak linked to decrease in vaccinations
ABC News

Every time there’s a measles outbreak, California tends to outpace other states. Experts say a lot of it has to do with travel and exposure, but there’s another reason cases are on the rise.

Out of 129 nationwide cases so far this year, 58 are in California. Ten of those are in Los Angeles County, and 22 are in Orange County.

Doctors say measles can be much more serious than just a bumpy red rash.

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HFMA: Healthcare Pricing Transparency a Shared Responsibility
Health Leaders Media

Price transparency is a critical element to reforming the US healthcare system, says a report released this month by the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

“Patients are being asked to take on an increasingly significant share of the payment for healthcare services. They are looking for higher value providers: those that offer quality services at a fair price,” Richard Gundling, VP of healthcare financial practices at HFMA, said in an email exchange. “It is impossible for them to make decisions about the value of a provider without having price as a component.”

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Polls: Enrollment Surges Do Little To Sway Public Opinion of ACA
California Healthline

The Obama administration’s announcement earlier this month that eight million people had enrolled in health coverage through the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges appears to have had little effect on the public’s opinion about the law, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, Modern Healthcare reports.

According to the monthly survey, which polled 1,504 U.S. adults between April 15 and April 21, 38% of U.S. residents have a favorable view of the ACA and 46% have an unfavorable view of the law (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 4/29).

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The ObamaCare 8%
The Wall Street Journal

A new survey from the Journal and NBC News shows that the President’s signature health care law remains deeply unpopular.

Yesterday we noted the ABC/Washington Post poll showing Mr. Obama with the lowest marks of his presidency, just two weeks after he claimed success in rolling out insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act. “This thing is working,” President Obama said of the law on April 17.

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Affordable Care Act contraception still tied up in court
San Francisco Chronicle

The nation is awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling on whether the Affordable Care Act can require most employers to provide comprehensive insurance coverage for birth control, but the court of public opinion has already spoken, according to one poll. Nearly 7 out of 10 Americans favor mandating the coverage.

The findings are part of a report the University of Michigan published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week.

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ICD-10 delay causing pain for docs
Modern Healthcare

A delay in requiring all providers of medical care to use a new health-records and billing system to describe treatments is giving small medical offices major headaches.

Billing is a big task for small medical practices. It takes time away from patient care and requires extra staff. A federal mandate requiring doctors to adopt a new set of billing codes by Oct. 1, 2014, was about to make everything more complicated.

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Kaiser, other Sacramento-area hospitals get top safety ratings
Sacramento Bee

Nineteen Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California – including Kaiser hospitals in Sacramento, South Sacramento and Roseville – have received the top safety score of “A” from the Leapfrog Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits. The latest edition of the group’s annual safety report examined and graded more than 2,500 hospitals throughout the United States.

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All 14 Kaiser Permanente Southern California Hospitals Again Named Patient Safety A-List
Pasadena Now

All 14 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Southern California have received an “A” on the Hospital Safety Score from The Leapfrog Group, an independent industry watchdog. This marks the second year all Kaiser Permanente Southern California hospitals were awarded the highest grade.

“Patient safety is our focus and commitment at Kaiser Permanente. This latest recognition is the result of placing systems and technology in the hands of people who care,” said Edward M. Ellison, MD, executive medical director for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group.

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Email intervention drives down superbug rates

Weekly emails from the medical director of infection control to hospital leaders helped a 1,500-bed Florida hospital halt the spread of a superbug, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Before the email intervention, the hospital reported endemic rates of Acinetobacter baumannii for nearly two decades. Once the director started sending weekly emails, however, transmission rates fell 63 percent, according to L. Silvia Munoz-Price, M.D., of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues.

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Should Medical Schools Teach to the Boards?
The Health Care Blog

In the 2012 National Residency Match Program Survey, which is sent out to residency program directors around the country by the NRMP, the factor that was ranked highest with regards to criteria considered for receiving an interview—higher than honors in clinical clerkships, higher than extracurricular experiences or AOA election, and even higher than evidence of professionalism, interpersonal skills, and humanistic qualities—was the USMLE Step 1 score.

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Health Scare: Nurses Claimed Staffing Shortage Well Prior to Hospital Calamities

Every day at San Francisco General Hospital you will see something that cannot be unseen. The unthinkable is quotidian here; San Francisco General is Dante’s Inferno meets Fellini Satyricon, only with bloody scrubs instead of robes.

And yet, in the past few months, two events transcended the hospital’s daily madness and shocked the general public. On Valentine’s Day, a 93-year-old named Mary Perez was attacked and beaten by a mentally unstable fellow patient.

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Layoffs near at KMC; losses reach $3.4 million monthly
Bakersfield Californian

Kern Medical Center is preparing to lay off an undisclosed number of employees as it struggles to stanch a monthly $3 million wound in its budget.

Kern County Supervisors were told Tuesday at their weekly meeting that KMC lost $3.4 million in February and is on its way to a staggering $30 million loss for the current fiscal year that ends in June.

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Financially troubled Sonoma County hospital closes

A financially strapped Sonoma County hospital has closed after eleventh-hour negotiations failed to reach a deal to keep the doors open. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports dozens of supporters and local residents gathered outside Palm Drive Hospital Monday as maintenance workers secured the building and posted closure notices at all entrances.

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Queen of the Valley considering layoffs, program cuts
Napa Valley Register

Queen of the Valley Medical Center, Napa’s largest health care facility and one of the largest employers, will conduct a comprehensive “improvement plan” that will include staff layoffs and program cuts, according to an April 21 letter sent to all 1,365 employees.

“Supporting our many services is becoming more and more costly,” said the letter signed by President and CEO Walt Mickens. “We must transform the way we provide health care and we must act now.”

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ValleyCare chairman John Sensiba shares details of affiliation talks
San Francisco Business Times

John Sensiba, chairman of the board at ValleyCare Health System, said Tuesday that the Tri-Valley hospital system has been engaged in affiliation talks with multiple partners in recent weeks, starting about two months ago. ValleyCare said late last week, as reported in the Business Times, that it’s seeking an affiliation with a larger partner. Sensiba said April 29 that his system has had discussions with seven potential partners.

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Kaiser names new San Diego execs
San Diego Union-Tribune

Two important leadership positions at Kaiser Permanente San Diego have been filled.

Kaiser announced late Monday that it has appointed executive Jane Finley, who currently serves as executive director of the health system’s Downey Medical Center in southeast Los Angeles, as its new senior vice president and executive director of its San Diego County operations.

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Temecula Valley Hospital Receives Stroke Center Designation
The Valley Business Journal

The Riverside Emergency Medical Services Agency (REMSA) has granted Temecula Valley Hospital a stroke center designation. The designation recognizes the hospital as stroke capable by Emergency Medical Services thus enabling potential stroke patients to be brought via ambulance to Temecula Valley Hospital. The designation identifies TVH as a hospital that is equipped with all the necessary resources to manage a stroke patient.