News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Called by Republicans, Health Insurers Deliver Unexpected Testimony
New York Times

House Republicans summoned a half-dozen health insurance executives to a hearing Wednesday envisioned as another forum for criticism of the Affordable Care Act. But insurers refused to go along with the plan, and surprised Republican critics of the law by undercutting some of their arguments against it.

Insurers, appearing before a panel of the Energy and Commerce Committee, testified that the law had not led to a government takeover of their industry, as some Republicans had predicted.

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Remote Monitoring Exploring New Territories
Health Leaders Media

When providers began testing the concept of remote patient monitoring as a way to track patients outside a clinical setting, nobody was sure how well it would work. Now, the practice is booming, with some of the largest insurers and high-tech companies in the world participating in pilot programs.

Hospitals and technology companies are involved in multiple pilot programs that track patients from their homes after they are discharged from the hospital or monitor patients with chronic illnesses “passively” to track their everyday movements in an attempt to identify problems before they become serious.

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California boosted Obamacare sign-up
Chico News and Review

The 1.4 million California residents who enrolled in health coverage during Covered California’s first open enrollment period account for about 17.5 percent of all Affordable Care Act enrollees nationwide.

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates that Californians also make up more than half of the 2.6 million people who enrolled in Obamacare through state-run exchanges, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Obamacare signups far exceed projections
Orange County Register

Obamacare health exchange signups across Southern California far outstripped original estimates for the six-month enrollment period that ended March 31 – most strikingly in Orange County – according to new data released Wednesday by Covered California.

The latest numbers also showed that the vast majority of people who chose health plans through the state-run insurance exchange will get federal help with their premiums.

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120k sign up for Obamacare policies in county
San Diego Union-Tribune

More than 120,000 San Diego County residents signed up for coverage on the state’s health insurance exchange through the end of March, according to new data released by Covered California on Wednesday.

That’s a rate significantly higher than predicted by UCLA researchers who estimated that between 72,000 and 95,000 local residents would be enrolled in exchange plans in 2014.

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26% of ACA enrollees were uninsured; 87% paying premiums, McKinsey finds
Modern Healthcare

Roughly a quarter of individuals who purchased health plans through the state and federal exchanges were previously uninsured, according to the latest survey results from the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform.

That figure is essentially unchanged from the research firm’s last nationwide poll conducted in February of individuals who are eligible to purchase plans through the exchanges.

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Nearly 39K Valley residents enrolled in Obamacare
The Business Journal

Just shy of 39,000 Central Valley residents are now insured through health plans as part of the Obamacare rollout.

A total of 38,991 residents of Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties enrolled in plans from Oct. 1, 2013 through the March 31 open enrollment deadline, according to the state’s Affordable Care Act marketplace, Covered California.

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Valley enrollment in Covered California tops 100,000
Fresno Bee

More than 100,000 people in nine San Joaquin Valley counties have enrolled in health plans through Covered California, the state’s marketplace for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

During the open enrollment period from Oct. 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014, an estimated 108,752 people in nine Valley counties enrolled in subsidized and nonsubsidized plans, Covered California said Wednesday.

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The insurers speak: Yes, people are paying their Obamacare premiums
Los Angeles Times

Things continue to get tough for the Obamacare dead-enders, those increasingly lonely opponents whose only comeback against the flow of good news about the Affordable Care Act is to conjure up absurd arguments against it (I mean you, Cato’s Michael Cannon) or, if all else fails, make stuff up.

That latter effort was put in the grave Wednesday by a panel of health insurance spokespersons summoned to Washington by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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Hospital earns ‘A’ safety rating
The Acorn

A recent survey on how well hospitals protect patients from accidents, errors, injuries and infections gave Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks an “A” rating.

The Hospital Safety Score, a patient safety survey, was compiled and administered by The Leapfrog Group, an independent industry watchdog. The score is the only hospital safety rating to be peer-reviewed in the Journal of Patient Safety.

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How Making Hospital Quality Data Public Affects Providers
Health Leaders Media

The public should get to read what patients think about the quality of care they receive from their doctors, leaders of the University of Utah Health Care in Salt Lake City believe. It’s important for the organization’s transparency, and serves as a tool that pushes doctors to improve their care.

That’s why the four-hospital, 597-bed system not only solicits reviews from their patients with comments about doctors’ performance, it also has posted nearly 20,000 patient comments on those physicians’ Web pages.

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Nonprofit hospital charity care bill still alive
Sacramento Business Journal

Service Employees International Union dropped two proposed ballot measures this week that target CEO pay and pricing at hospitals, but a union-sponsored bill on hospital charity care remains in the works.

Assembly Bill 1952 by Democratic Assemblyman Richard Pan from Sacramento has passed out of the Assembly Health Committee and is pending in Assembly Appropriations.

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West Contra Costa hospital faces likely closure following failure of tax measure
Inside Bay Area

One day after a parcel tax proposal to save Doctors Medical Center was rejected by voters, Contra Costa public health leaders and politicians started the grim process of planning for the hospital’s likely closure this summer and the resulting impact on public health in West County.

“I’m not anticipating any miracles,” Dr. William Walker, Contra Costa County’s top health official, said Wednesday morning.

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El Centro Regional Medical Center, Pioneers Memorial Hospital will not survive without a merger
Imperial Valley News

El Centro Regional Medical Center and Pioneers Memorial Hospital will need to come together under one management team if they are to financially survive the next five years. This is the bottom line according to health care and hospital strategy consultant Nathan Kauffman.

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Alameda Hospital officially joins Alameda Health System
Inside Bay Area

People can learn more about the affiliation between Alameda Hospital and Alameda Health System, which took effect May 1, during an upcoming forum and panel discussion hosted by the League of Women Voters.

The event will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. May 22 in the Dal Cielo Conference Room at the hospital, 2070 Clinton Ave.

Alameda Health System, which took ownership of San Leandro Hospital on Oct. 31, also includes Fairmont Hospital and Oakland’s Highland Hospital and the John George Psychiatric Hospital.

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Tustin hospital has new owner
Orange County Register

Tustin’s Newport Specialty Hospital, whose on-again, off-again plan to shut down a long-term pediatric care unit kept the families of more than two dozen severely disabled children on edge for the better part of a year, finally has a new owner.

Failed hospital operator Pacific Health Corp. has sold Newport and one more hospital, Bellflower Medical Center, to Prospect Medical Holdings for an undisclosed price.

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UC Davis opens clinic for kids with drug-resistant infections
Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Children’s Hospital opened a clinic Tuesday for pediatric patients with antibiotic-resistant staph infections.

Located on the hospital campus at 2315 Stockton Blvd. in Sacramento, the clinic accepts referrals from primary care physicians.

Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious disease at UC Davis, has been caring for patients with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus — better known as MRSA — for more than a decade and has developed ways to treat it and prevent future outbreaks.

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Doctors Med Center faces closure after parcel tax fails
San Francisco Business Times

District voters in the East Bay failed to pass a parcel tax to save Doctors Medical Center from likely closure, so the San Pablo safety net hospital’s prognosis looks grim.

Officials had said the hospital would be forced to close by this summer if the parcel tax vote failed. Nearly 52 percent of voters backed the parcel tax measure in a vote-by-mail election that ended Tuesday. But it required a two-thirds “yes” vote to pass.

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Medicare Advantage: Moving toward a Better Model for American Health Care
The Health Care Blog

Despite the political angst, the doomsday predictions and a very rocky launch, the Affordable Care Act has enabled more than 8 million Americans to acquire insurance coverage through the public exchanges.

Health insurance increases the probability that patients will access the medical care they need. And my colleagues at Kaiser Permanente are already seeing some positive stories emerging as a result.