News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Salvaged Blood Safer, Cheaper than Transfusions, Study Says
Health Leaders Media

Hospitals should more frequently use cell savers or autologous blood recovery systems to recirculate patients’ own blood instead of transfusing units from a blood bank, a Johns Hopkins researcher suggests. Greater use of cell savers could also save hospitals money, he says.

News Headlines Article

Stem cell treatments reaching patients
San Diego Union-Tribune

After many years of waiting, a flood of new regenerative-cell therapies is finally reaching patients. Hundreds of clinical trials for these experimental treatments are under way across the world.

In the United States, 774 trials with stem or other regenerative cells are open to patients or soon will be, according to clinicaltrials.gov, which lists government-approved clinical testing in this country and abroad. Of that total, 147 are taking place in California.

News Headlines Article

Hospital Mergers and Acquisitions Declined in 2013
Health Leaders Media

Hospital mergers and acquisitions in the United States declined in 2013, but the number of hospitals and hospital beds involved in those transactions hit a five-year high, according to the 2014 Health Care Services Acquisition Report.

M&A activity in 2013 was paced by the acquisition of Health Management Associates by Community Health Systems for $7.6 billion and the sale of Vanguard Health Systems to Tenet Healthcare for $4.3 billion, the year’s two largest hospital sector deals.

News Headlines Article

Insurance agents played key role in California’s Obamacare enrollment
Los Angeles Times

As enrollment neared under the Affordable Care Act, both President Obama and California officials boasted that signing up for health insurance would be as easy as ordering a book from Amazon.com or buying a plane ticket online.

With that in mind, Covered California’s executive director, Peter Lee, predicted a bleak future for insurance agents selling individual policies, saying they could easily go the way of travel agents.

News Headlines Article

Eradication of hepatitis C on the horizon
Washington Post

It’s an easy and reliable applause line for budget cutters to find some basic medical research and complain that it’s a complete waste of money, especially if those dollars are put up by taxpayers, as they often are. And let’s face it, those who feel otherwise don’t always do the best job of arguing the opposite position.

One exception I recently read is an article by two physicians, Raymond T. Chung and Thomas F. Baumert, with the lofty title: “Curing Chronic Hepatitis C — The Arc of a Medical Triumph.”

News Headlines Article

Few of state’s small businesses signing up for Obamacare
Orange County Register

California’s insurance marketplace for small businesses has attracted just a fraction of eligible companies, with many deterred by technology glitches, paperwork delays and customer service problems.

The program, designed to make insurance more affordable and easier to purchase for small businesses, also is little understood among some business owners and faces significant skepticism, interviews with business groups and owners show.

News Headlines Article

Affordable Care Act lets foster youths stay on Medi-Cal longer
San Francisco Chronicle

Marilyn Bretherick had been worrying about turning 21 this month because she feared losing the health coverage she had been guaranteed by the state during a decade as a foster care child.

Then a case manager told her about a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act that will allow her to keep her coverage for five more years. The provision allows young adults in California coming out of foster care to stay on Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, until they turn 26.

News Headlines Article

Obamacare costs not always clear-cut
San Bernardino Sun

Obamacare’s inaugural open-enrollment period is over, and all you enrollees can breathe easy now. Someday I’d like to write that sentence and mean it — but not today. Instead, it’s time to take a look at an unwelcome surprise that is turning up in some of your new policies, whether you bought them through Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, or on the private market.

News Headlines Article

In Polling Obamacare, A Label Makes A Big Difference
NBC News

When it comes to views of the new health care law, sometimes it’s all in a name.

In Kentucky, a new Marist poll conducted for NBC News finds that 57 percent of registered voters have an unfavorable view of “Obamacare,” the shorthand commonly used to label the 2010 Affordable Care Act. That’s compared with only 33 percent who give it a thumbs up – hardly surprising in a state where the president’s approval rating hovers just above 30 percent.

News Headlines Article

ACA ushers in changes in mental health and substance abuse coverage
USC Annenberg

Of the many projections made about the Affordable Care Act, one number stands out among the rest: 62 million. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS), that’s the number of individuals who will gain mental health and substance abuse coverage under the ACA, or who will benefit from federal protections for their existing coverage.

The changes can be confusing, however, so here’s a quick overview of how the ACA is impacting access, affordability, and quality of coverage in this often overlooked area of health care.

News Headlines Article

Rate regulation could hurt Covered California, report says
Sacramento Business Journal

A proposed health care rate regulation initiative on the November ballot in California could have a negative impact on Covered California, an opposition-backed study concludes.

The report by Jon Kingsdale, former director of the Massachusetts health exchange, says the initiative would conflict with Covered California’s efforts to manage competition within a particular market authorized by the Affordable Care Act. It could also delay rate filings, disrupt open enrollment and make it difficult to calculate federal subsidies.

News Headlines Article

Insurers following ‘the playbook’ in opposing California ballot initiative
The Center for Public Integrity

As I wrote in my book, Deadly Spin, the health insurance industry and other special interest groups use a tried-and-true set of tactics to push back against threats to their profitability. I referred to those tactics collectively as “The Playbook on How to Influence Lawmakers and Regulators Through the Manipulation of Public Opinion.” Seeing what is playing out in California this year, I should have included voters, along with lawmakers and regulators, as among those subject to influence.

News Headlines Article

California Considers Bill Requiring Hospital Violence Prevention Plans
capital public radio

A bill that would require California hospitals to develop workplace violence prevention plans will be heard in a state Senate Committee Monday. The bill is in response to increasing numbers of violent incidents at hospitals and mental health facilities.

Last month, a man fired a gun in a Bay Area hospital and two nurses were stabbed in separate incidents in Los Angeles hospitals. Bonnie Castillo with the California Nurses Association says SB 1299 would make hospitals improve security staffing levels and weapons screening programs.

News Headlines Article

Kaiser Permanente’s Q1 profits soar 44 percent, to $1.1 billion
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente is sitting on a pile of first-quarter profits, up nearly 44 percent from a year ago at $1.1 billion. Its Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and subsidiaries reported big positives on all fronts May 9 for the year’s first quarter, ending March 31.

Like other big health care systems locally and nationally, Kaiser is chanting the mantra of affordability and cost-reduction, as it moves to take advantage of and adjust to the opportunities and demands of health reform under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

News Headlines Article

Health law gives pregnant women new options
San Francisco Chronicle

The health care law has opened up an unusual opportunity for some mothers-to-be to save on medical bills for childbirth.

Lower-income women who signed up for a private policy in the new insurance exchanges will have access to additional coverage from their state’s Medicaid program if they get pregnant. Some women could save hundreds of dollars on their share of hospital and doctor bills.

News Headlines Article

Medical costs vary widely at central San Joaquin Valley hospitals
Fresno Bee

With higher deductibles and larger co-payments becoming the norm in insurance plans, more patients are having to shop for health care to keep out-of-pocket costs down. Within a region or even a city, hospital charges for a medical procedure can be thousands of dollars apart.

Need a joint replacement? In the central San Joaquin Valley, the highest average hospital charge for a joint replacement was $122,651 at Sierra View District Hospital in Porterville; the lowest was $40,812, at Madera Community Hospital, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services database of 100 common procedures in 2011.

News Headlines Article

‘Fed Up’ documentary lays blame for American obesity on food industry
Los Angeles Times

In the three decades since the first U.S. dietary guidelines were issued, Americans have become heavier and more saddled with diabetes and other diet-related diseases. The documentary “Fed Up” takes a look at what happened and offers a most poignant profile of what life is like for overweight children.

“Fed Up,” which opened this week, lays a large share of the blame at the door of the food industry. It looks at the idea that we don’t seem to get healthier despite a proliferation of products, surgeries, exercise programs and diets.

News Headlines Article

Recycled blood is better than donated blood for transfusions, Hopkins study finds
Washington Post

We recycle a lot of things — paper, plastic, metal, blood.

Yes, blood. During some surgeries, operating room personnel try to capture as much blood as possible and return the red blood cells to your system, instead of, or in addition to, donated blood from a blood bank. They find that patients have better outcomes when transfused with their own blood. A Johns Hopkins University study, published in the June issue of the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia, explains one reason for that.

News Headlines Article

As memories fade: UC Davis researchers grapple for Alzheimer’s cure
Sacramento Bee

Gasps were audible as the images flashed before a gathering of scientists at a recent UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center pathology conference. On the screen before them were photos of a brain severely wasted with age, with what looked like silver rivers of atrophy cutting deeply through the tissue. Even for the experts, it can be shocking to see the damage that Alzheimer’s disease inflicts on the aging brain.

What can stop the devastation of Alzheimer’s?

News Headlines Article

How wealth drives health — and what we can do about it
California Health Report

California is a land of health extremes, and to see what that means, you need only travel a few miles from the state Capitol.

Placer and Yuba counties border each other about a half hour’s drive north of downtown Sacramento. Both places are largely rural. But the similarities end there. Placer’s residents are, on average, much healthier than their neighbors across the county line.

News Headlines Article

A Closer Look at Physician-Hospital Alignment
The Health Care Blog

A study by Stanford researchers in the current issue of Health Affairs is likely to intensify growing tension between health insurers and hospitals.

At issue: the impact of physician-hospital consolidation, or vertical integration as some academics prefer to call the trend. The researchers analyzed 2 million claims submitted to insurers by hospitals from 2001 to 2007, evaluating the impact on hospital prices, volumes (admissions), and spending for privately insured, non-elderly patients.

Commands