News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Ensure the promise of health care for California’s poor
San Francisco Chronicle

California has wisely expanded its program to provide health care coverage for the poor under the guidelines of the federal Affordable Care Act. Health insurance, however, is not necessarily health care.

California, which has one of the lowest Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for health care providers in the 50 states, has offered the promise of health care for the poor but fallen short on keeping that promise. An insurance card means nothing if the holder can’t find a doctor who will accept Medi-Cal payments.

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Value-Based Investments Pay Off for NFP Hospitals
Health Leaders Media

Not-for-profit hospitals that are investing in ways to deliver value to their patients are shoring up revenues and staving off competitors, according to a Moody Investors Service report released last week.

Value-oriented investments such as in outpatient facilities and fully integrated electronic health record systems are helping not-for-profit providers overcome recent revenue setbacks, including payment rate cuts, reduced inpatient service volume and competition from new entrants in the healthcare market, an author of the Moody’s report says.

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Tending to the Health Care Workers of America
The Health Care Blog

Given the attention now paid to implementing national health reform, the bulk of which is now upon us as 7 million new individuals now have health insurance, one important issue remains largely ignored by policy makers and industry leaders — health care workers are very unhappy.

A 2012 national survey of 24,000 physicians across all specialties found that if given the choice, just over half of these doctors — only 54 percent — would choose medicine as a career again. Fifty-nine percent of physicians in a 2013 survey could not recommend their profession to a younger person, and forty-two percent were dissatisfied in their jobs.  Forty percent of physicians in another 2013 national survey self-identified as burned out.

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Passing hepatitis B from mother to child halted with vaccine
San Francisco Chronicle

The passing of the hepatitis B virus, a primary cause of liver cancer, from mother to child can be virtually eliminated by immunizing high-risk newborns within hours of birth and following up with vaccinations over the baby’s first six months of life, according to a large Northern California Kaiser study published Monday.

The study is considered the first, large-scale research into how effective the decades-old recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in preventing infected mothers from spreading the liver disease to their babies.

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Insurance plan for farmworkers falls short of Obamacare rules
Los Angeles Times

Two landmark liberal healthcare achievements are on a collision course in California, and the result could be higher costs for taxpayers.

Years ago, legendary activist Cesar Chavez helped create the first health insurance plan for farmworkers who toiled for meager wages in California’s fields. The plan, funded by the workers and their employers, is named after Democratic icon Robert F. Kennedy, who allied himself with Chavez.

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Increases in health insurance rates may be less frequent
San Francisco Chronicle

The wild increases in health insurance rates that blindsided many Americans in recent years may become less frequent because of the health care overhaul.

Final rates for 2015 won’t be out for months, but early filings from insurers suggest price increases of 10 percent or more. That may sound like a lot, but rates have risen as much as 20 or 30 percent in recent years.

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States face new cost concerns with Medicaid surge
San Francisco Chronicle

From California to Rhode Island, states are confronting new concerns that their Medicaid costs will rise as a result of the federal health care law.

That’s likely to revive the debate about how federal decisions can saddle states with unanticipated expenses.

Before President Barack Obama’s law expanded Medicaid eligibility, millions of people who already were entitled to its safety-net coverage were not enrolled.

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Patients advise doctors on ways to reform medical practice
San Francisco Chronicle

The patients have spoken, and they want better and easier communication with their doctors.

At CapitalCare Medical Group, patients have told managers they want to talk to a person, not navigate a machine’s menu, when they call the office. But they also want to leave a detailed message about symptoms or request a prescription refill at odd times of night. And they could use a brochure with a list of services, as well as the direct phone numbers of the people who can answer questions.

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Health insurers just say no to marijuana coverage
Los Angeles Times

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.

Marijuana in recent years has gained increased mainstream acceptance for its ability to boost appetite, dull pain and reduce seizures in people with a wide range of disorders and diseases, including epilepsy and cancer.

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Healthcare M&A Deal Value Up 152% in Q1 2014
Health Leaders Media

The volume of deals in health services mergers and acquisitions for everything from physician practices to health plans in the first quarter of 2014 held pace with the same period in 2013, even as the total deal value rose 152% to $12.3 billion, according to PwC’s Q1 2014 US health services deals insights report.

Brett Hickman, partner and PwC’s U.S. healthcare deals leader, says he expects healthcare services M&A’s to continue at a strong clip in the near term as the sector adjusts to value-based reimbursements, lower inpatient volumes, and federal mandates.

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Pfizer withdraws spurned offer for AstraZeneca
Modern Healthcare

Pfizer said Monday that it does not intend to make a takeover offer for British drugmaker AstraZeneca, pulling the plug for now on what would have been the largest deal in the industry’s history.

The announcement came a week after AstraZeneca’s board rejected a $119 billion buyout proposal from Pfizer, the world’s second-biggest drugmaker by revenue.

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UCSF team wins $26 million grant to build brain implant
San Francisco Chronicle

A team led by UCSF neuroscientists has won federal funding to build an implantable brain device that would record and analyze live electrical signals, then alter them to retrain the brain to recover from mental illnesses like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The funding, announced Monday night, comes from a U.S. Department of Defense agency that is focused on improving understanding of brain disorders, including illnesses that often affect service members and veterans, and developing new engineering-based treatments.

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Stanford researchers develop tiny wireless implant
San Francisco Chronicle

The chip Ada Poon has invented is as tiny as a grain of rice, but someday, the engineer believes, it could do big things – like transform the way illnesses are treated.

Poon and a team of Stanford University researchers have invented a system that wirelessly beams power to tiny implants located deep inside the body, using as much energy as a cell phone.

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Pioneers Memorial Hospital board may vote on memorandum of understanding with ECRMC
Imperial Valley Press Online

The board of directors of the Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District will consider and may take action on a memorandum of understanding between the local hospital and El Centro Regional Medical Center during its regular meeting here later today. Prior to the vote, there will be an opportunity for public comments. Time limit for each speaker is five minutes and a total of 15 minutes shall be allocated for each item.

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