News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Fixing HealthCare.gov would be top priority, HHS nominee Sylvia Mathews Burwell says
Washington Post

Sylvia Mathews Burwell emerged mostly unscathed Thursday from the first of two hearings on her nomination to head the Health and Human Services Department, even though her chief role will be to continue implementing the president’s controversial health-care law.

Burwell, whose confirmation is likely, did not get much of a grilling and even received strong vows of support from two influential Republicans: Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who introduced her warmly to the committee, and Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), who promised to vote to confirm her at her next hearing before the Senate Finance Committee.

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Judges seem skeptical over latest challenge to health care law
Sacramento Bee

The seemingly endless legal war over health care found an esoteric new front Thursday, as appellate judges considered where certain bills should originate.

Amid references to various 18th-century Founding Fathers, some of them obscure, skeptical-sounding judges weighed claims that the Affordable Care Act’s so-called individual mandate is invalid because it violates an under-appreciated part of the Constitution called the Origination Clause.

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Regulating state’s health premiums could hurt exchange, report says
Los Angeles Times

Obamacare in California could suffer setbacks, delays and legal challenges if voters this year approve a statewide ballot initiative to regulate insurance rates, a new industry-backed report warns.

Those predictions drew immediate fire from Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. He said the concerns are nonsense and passage of the ballot measure is essential for consumers to reap the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

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Antibiotic-resistant genes are widespread in nature, study finds
Washington Post

From Antarctic lakes to forest soil in Puerto Rico to the guts of mice, scientists are finding antibiotic-resistant genes almost everywhere they look, according to a new study that examined environmental samples from around the globe.

The findings, published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, revealed how widespread antibiotic-resistant genes are in nature. They also raised questions about how the prevalence of resistant genes might relate to a major health problem: bacterial infections in humans that increasingly don’t respond to antibiotics.

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Senate Committee Warms to HHS Nominee Burwell
Health Leaders Media

Thursday’s U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Sylvia Mathews Burwell had all the makings for a donnybrook.

Instead, it was more like a love fest as several Republicans joined every Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in voicing support for President Obama’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Report: Rate-regulation measure would shake up Covered California
Sacramento Bee

A California ballot initiative allowing the state insurance commissioner to reject health insurance rate increases would disrupt the new health care overhaul, destabilizing negotiations between the exchange and insurance companies and inviting costly legal challenges by outside organizations, according to an analysis released Thursday.

The report, commissioned by Californians Against Higher Healthcare Costs – a group of doctors, hospitals and health plans opposing the measure – concludes it would undercut new authority afforded to Covered California.

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Healthcare Providers’ Trust in Payers ‘Abominably Low’
Health Leaders Media

It may come as a shock, but new research confirms it: Healthcare providers do not trust payers.

Payers scored poorly on all three of the new trust questions in the annual National Payor Survey conducted by ReviveHealth, a Nashville, TN-based strategic communications firm and Catalyst Healthcare Research. The results from the final question, which asked providers whether a particular payer “balances its interests with ours and doesn’t routinely take advantage of us,” were particularly dire.

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Health insurers just say no to medical marijuana coverage
Los Angeles Daily News

Patients who use medical marijuana for pain and other chronic symptoms can take an unwanted hit: Insurers don’t cover the treatment, which costs as much as $1,000 a month.

Once the drug of choice for hippies and rebellious teens, marijuana in recent years has gained more mainstream acceptance for its ability to boost appetite, dull pain and reduce seizures in everyone from epilepsy to cancer patients.

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Hospital excels in safety record
Moorpark 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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Tri-City Medical Center names new chief exec
San Diego Union-Tribune

Tri-City Medical Center has hired a new chief executive officer. Tim Moran will start his new job at the Oceanside hospital on June 23, Tri-City officials said in a statement.

Moran has more than 35 years of health care experience and recently served as CEO of Valley Hospital, a Community Health Systems hospital in Spokane, Wash. Before that, he was interim CEO at CHS’ Mountain West Medical Center in Tooele, Utah.

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County recognizes Desert Valley Hospital
Victorville Daily Press

The San Bernardino County Department of Child Support Services has recognized a local hospital for its exceptional work with parents and their children.

The county presented Desert Valley Hospital’s Birthplace Director Talitha Marquez with a Certificate of Appreciation, recognizing the DVH Birthplace staff for maintaining “an impressive 98-percent accuracy rate” for all paternity declarations completed at the facility during its federal fiscal year of 2014.

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Tax failure bodes ill for San Pablo’s Doctors Medical Center
San Francisco Chronicle

Fear, sadness and anxiety were among the emotions experienced by West Contra Costa residents Wednesday as they faced the imminent closure of the only public hospital between Berkeley and Vallejo.

“We have kids. We need a hospital here,” said Timothy Taylor, 47, a maintenance worker who lives in Richmond. “In all honesty, I don’t know how this is going to work. Yeah, it’s worrying.”

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Barstow Community Hospital tops survey
Desert Dispatch

John Rader says “quality and safety is our culture” at Barstow Community Hospital.

That is why the hospital’s business development director was not surprised that Consumer Reports gave the medical facility the highest safety rating among hospitals in San Bernardino County.

“We live and breathe (safety). It’s our primary focus and everything else falls under that,” Rader said.

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West LA VA hospital awaits word on audit
Southern California Public Radio

Officials with the Veterans Administration’s West Los Angeles Medical Center say they have not yet been contacted by the federal VA about conducting an audit on wait times and record keeping. The VA said it will audit all of its medical facilities around the country over the next several weeks, following allegations that 40 veterans died at its hospital in Phoenix while waiting to get appointments for health care, and that officials there destroyed records.

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Senate bill fights silent killer hepatitis C
San Francisco Chronicle

Hepatitis C is a silent killer.

If you have had a blood transfusion or have shared needles for any reason at any point in your life, the hep C virus can find you. It might have already, decades ago, and you might not know it. And it might kill you.

Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are the most susceptible. You are five to six times more likely to have this infection than other adults. But a bill in the state Senate might save your life.

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Valley Medical Center combines children’s, women’s health
Silicon Valley Business Journal

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center has plans to consolidate its women’s and children’s health services under one roof. The hospital wants to move these services into 300,000 square feet in the main hospital, said Connie Martinez, CEO of Silicon Valley Creates at a Business Journal event this morning. Martinez’s nonprofit arts organization is working with the hospital to create children’s arts for the space.

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New Health Program for Poor Residents With Disabilities and the Elderly Could Hurt Access, Advocates Say
California Health Report

Michael Williams, who has cerebral palsy, has seen the same network of doctors for decades under two government health plans. But on May 1, California began an initiative that will change the way he and 460,000 other low-income patients get care.

Advocates, doctors and patients, including Williams, have concerns about the continuation of health care under the plan, which affects the elderly and those who have disabilities.

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Higher Workloads and Fewer Nurses? Not a Recipe for Patient Protection and Affordable Care.
The Health Care Blog

In further celebration of Nurses Week, it’s worth discussing this TIME article about the “Killer Burden on Nurses” under the Affordable Care Act.

The point I’m raising and highlighting here is not meant to be political or partisan, but really one about nursing workloads, management decisions, and what’s right for patients. We’ve seen recently that American healthcare spending is UP about 10%(the biggest increase in spending since 1980) – mainly due to newly insured patients getting care.

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Marin Voice: My Obamacare experience
Marin Independent Journal

Just over four years ago — after leaving a former company — I applied for individual health insurance for our family, only to find that my one-year-old daughter was denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition.

Pre-existing condition?

She had two — possibly three — ear infections in her first year of life and was therefore deemed too much of a risk for Blue Shield of California.

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Would a Single Payer System Be Good for America?
The Health Care Blog

On Vox, the vivacious new topical news site, staffed in part by former writers at the Washington Post Wonk Blog, Sarah Kliff writes how Donald Berwick, MD, the recent former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Founder of the prestigious Institute for Healthcare Improvement, has concluded that a single payer health system would answer many of the US’ health care woes.

Dr. Berwick is running for Governor of Massachusetts and this is an important plank of his platform.

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