News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Justices’ health care queries no ruling predictor
San Francisco Chronicle

When Supreme Court justices picked apart the government’s arguments in defense of President Obama’s health care overhaul, they buoyed hopes of the law’s opponents that it would be ruled unconstitutional. A 2009 challenge to the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act offers a cautionary note. In both cases, the justices repeatedly interrupted as the administration made its case. They injected comments and posed questions that pointed toward a court-ordered upheaval.

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Administration Ready to Respond on Healthcare Reform Ruling
Insurance Journal

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Thursday the administration will be ready to respond if the Supreme Court strikes down all or part of the healthcare reform law in a landmark ruling expected this month. Speaking at a White House forum on the law and women’s health issues, Sebelius said the administration remains “confident and optimistic” that the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be upheld as constitutional.

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Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital would face financial challenges without affiliation
Monterey Herald

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital’s top finance official on Thursday laid out a sobering scenario for the hospital if it chooses to remain an independent public district hospital.

Interim Chief Financial Officer Bob Dvorak, at a town hall meeting at the hospital, said it would need to increase its patient volume and raise prices enough to start earning a healthy profit after losing $10 million over the past two fiscal years and seeing its revenue streams crater.

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UC Davis to lead effort to unite state medical records
Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Health System is poised to take over the state’s troubled health information program in a move that could bring jobs and $26 million in federal funding to the region. State health officials announced last month they had asked Dr. Ken Kizer of the university’s Institute for Population Improvement in Sacramento to lead an effort to electronically link hospitals, doctors and emergency rooms statewide by 2014.

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House Acts to Repeal Medical-Device Tax
New York Times

In another assault on President Obama’s health care law, the House passed a bill on Thursday to repeal a new tax on medical devices. The vote was 270 to 146, as 37 Democrats joined 233 Republicans in supporting the repeal. The bill appears to have little chance of approval in the Senate, where Democrats are in control, and Mr. Obama threatened to veto the measure if it reached his desk.

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Pharmacists-sponsored law a free-speech issue
San Francisco Chronicle

A federal appeals court wants California’s highest court to clear up the free-speech implications of a 1984 state law, sponsored by pharmacists, that was intended to pressure insurance companies to increase their rates for filling prescriptions. The law requires drug-claims processors, the intermediaries between pharmacies and insurance companies, to collect data on the prescription fees pharmacists charge to uninsured patients – considerably higher than the fees covered by insurance – and to submit the information to insurers every two years.

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6.6 million young adults on parents’ health plans, survey says
Los Angeles Times

President Obama’s healthcare law helped as many as 6.6 million young adults stay on or get on their parents’ health plans in the first year and a half after the law was signed, a new survey indicates.

That number, found in the survey by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, is far higher than earlier estimates. And at a time when public wariness about the Affordable Care Act remains high, it underscores the popularity of a provision that requires insurers to allow parents to enroll their children up to age 26 on their own plans.

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Oakdale hospital’s fund-raising arm criticized in report
Modesto Bee

The Oak Valley Hospital Foundation is perceived as a special event planning committee, takes in more financial support from the hospital than it gives back and its board should be replaced. Those are among the conclusions reached by a consultant hired to review the foundation, which has been the fund-raising arm of the hospital for more than 30 years. Oak Valley Hospital Chief Executive Officer John McCormick said he commissioned the study by Gary Curto Consulting Inc. after talking with the hospital’s governing board and the foundation board.

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iPad Solves Healthcare Providers’ Clipboard Conundrum
Health Leaders Media

Clipboards are used by healthcare organizations to collect patient information; however, the push to abandon paper processes has made them an obvious target in need of a high-tech solution. Some healthcare professionals are opting to replace their clipboards with mobile computing devices like the Apple iPad® in an effort to increase efficiency and reduce the headaches associated with paper and pencil–based data collection methods.

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4 Keys to a Better Emergency Department
Health Leaders Media

Aside from a patient, perhaps no element of a hospital system is as in need of emergency care as the emergency department itself.

Health systems know this and are working to overcome ED bottlenecks by initiating improved throughput systems. They are imposing fast-track, split-care programs to improve patient flow and decrease wait times by caring for patients with lower acuity in one area, freeing up beds for those with more severe illnesses.

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Dignity tries mini-hospital model in Arizona
San Francisco Business Times

Dignity Health, formerly Catholic Healthcare West, is experimenting with a new hospital model in Glendale, Ariz. That’s where Dignity, which operates 40 hospitals in California, Arizona and Nevada, plans to develop a tiny 24-bed inpatient hospital “with two operating rooms and space for diagnostic services,” according to a May 30 report in the Phoenix Business Journal, an affiliated publication. The hospital, which could grow to 200 beds in time, is slated to open in early 2014.

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Health Care Reform Insures 6.6 Million Young Adults Who Still Struggle To Pay Medical Bills, Debt
AlterNet

U.S. healthcare reform likely enabled about 6.6 million young adults to join their parents’ health insurance plans last year, a report found on Friday, though problems with medical bills and debt remained an issue.

President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform law allowed young adults – who previously had the nation’s highest uninsured rate – to stay on their parents’ private insurance plans through age 26.

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Health center eyes cutting Merced, Stanislaus teen birth rate
Modesto Bee

Despite California’s teen birth rate dropping to a record low, teen pregnancy continues to rank as a serious problem in Merced and Stanislaus counties. Merced County ranked No. 9 and Stanislaus County ranked No. 18 in the number of teen pregnancies per 1,000 teenagers, according to a recent report from the California Department of Public Health. “Both of (the counties) have been above the California average for the past three years,” said Angelica Carranza, manager for the Golden Valley Health Center’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

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Nancy Pelosi concedes health care law unpopular
San Francisco Chronicle

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that people are not aware of the many benefits they are receiving from health care law they stand to lose if the Supreme Court rejects the law in a decision expected this month. The San Francisco Democrat was a chief architect of the 2010 law known as Obamacare, and as House Speaker at the time, perhaps more instrumental than anyone, even President Obama, in its enactment.

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Patient Power
The Health Care Blog

What happens when consumers are able to compare the performance of primary care physicians in their state using Consumer Reports, the magazine that’s so highly regarded for its ratings of thousands of products and services we all use every day? Well, for the first time ever, we’re about to find out. A special Massachusetts version of July’s Consumer Reports magazine will feature a report entitled “How Does Your Doctor Compare?”

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