News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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UnitedHealth plans to keep overhaul elements
San Francisco Chronicle

Insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc. sees some parts of the health care overhaul as sound medicine and plans to keep them regardless of whether the law survives an upcoming Supreme Court ruling. The nation’s largest health insurer said Monday it will still cover preventive care like immunizations without charging a co-payment, which is the fee usually paid at the doctor’s office, and it will continue other popular, initial provisions of the law.

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Undoing health law could have messy ripple effects
Yahoo! News

It sounds like a silver lining. Even if the Supreme Court overturns President Barack Obama’s health care law, employers can keep offering popular coverage for the young adult children of their workers. But here’s the catch: The parents’ taxes would go up. That’s only one of the messy potential ripple effects when the Supreme Court delivers its verdict on the Affordable Care Act this month. The law affects most major components of the U.S. health care system in its effort to extend coverage to millions of uninsured people.

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Process Improvements Vital to Cost Containment
Health Leaders Media

In our annual Industry Survey, healthcare leaders place cost control and process improvement as their third-highest priority for the next three years (behind patient experience and satisfaction, and clinical quality and safety). They also cite labor, government laws and mandates, and information technology as their top healthcare cost drivers. How difficult will it be to be to achieve significant, sustainable spending cuts, and which line items present the best opportunities?

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Best EDs Focus on Flow
Health Leaders Media

Among the greatest challenges in the emergency department is improving patient flow, and this comes with a sense of urgency amid deep concerns about patient safety due to overcrowding. In addition, the latest HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Report reveals that healthcare leaders expect worsening ED revenue margins and an increasing volume of uninsured patients.

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FDA reviews heart valve that can go in without major surgery
USA Today

U.S. health officials are asking safety questions about the first artificial heart valve designed to be implanted without major surgery, ahead of a meeting to consider broadening its use. Last summer Edwards Lifesciences won approval for the first-of-a-kind heart valve that can be threaded into place through one of the body’s major arteries. The valve is currently available for patients who aren’t healthy enough to undergo the more invasive open-heart surgery.

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Obama Was Pushed by Drug Industry, E-Mails Suggest
New York Times

After weeks of talks, drug industry lobbyists were growing nervous. To cut a deal with the White House on overhauling health care, they needed to be sure that President Obama would stop a proposal intended to bring down medicine prices. On June 3, 2009, one of the lobbyists e-mailed Nancy-Ann DeParle, the president’s health care adviser. Ms. DeParle reassured the lobbyist. Although Mr. Obama was overseas, she wrote, she and other top officials had “made decision, based on how constructive you guys have been, to oppose importation” on a different proposal.

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3 Inexpensive Healthcare Options For Young People
San Francisco Chronicle

Finding the right health insurance at the right price isn’t easy. It can be difficult for anyone at any age to find the best plan. If you’re a young adult just out of college, looking for job, or your employer doesn’t offer health benefits, it can be a stressful time in your life. If you’re a young person in one of these situations, you do have options for medical coverage.

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More 20-somethings have health insurance
Orange County Register

While Americans may differ about Obamacare, more 18- to 25-year-olds now have health insurance since the new law began allowing parents to continue their kids on their policies. Gallup reports that the number of 18- to 25-year-olds that are uninsured fell to 23% in the second quarter from a high of 28.7% in 2009. The new law, which lets parents continue coverage of their kids on their health plans up to age 26, took effect in September 2010.

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Prostate advice stirs debate
Monterey Herald

They’re at it again — trying to deny lifesaving cancer tests.

That was the reaction from many men last month after a top-level task force bucked two decades of medical practice and recommended against routine use of a common blood test to check for prostate cancer.

The PSA test does more harm than good, the group said. It pointed to two huge, expensive studies, which involved 259,000 men in the United States and Europe, that found that routine PSA testing of healthy men saved, at best, one life per thousand.

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Protesters rally against health-care mandate
Orange County Register

Several hundred people rallied in the Plaza of the Flags to express their opposition to a federal health-care mandate that they say violates their religious liberties. A crowd estimated by police at 500, and by organizers at 1,700, attended a Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally Friday and heard a series of speakers, representing a variety of religious faiths decry a mandate by the federal Health and Human Services Department that requires employers to purchase insurance that provides free contraceptives, surgical sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs through their health plans,

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Lack of sleep increases stroke risk
USA Today

The 30% of working adults who routinely sleep less than six hours a night are four times more likely to suffer a stroke, says a new study. The findings are the first to link insufficient sleep to stroke; they’re also the first to apply even to adults who keep off extra pounds and have no other risk factors for stroke, says Megan Ruiter, lead author of the report. It will be presented Monday at the 26th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston.

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‘Overland In Motion’ – Local School Fights Child Obesity
Fox News

A West LA school wins national recognition for its unique physical education program called,’Overland in Motion.’

Blue Shield of California and ChildObesity180 announced 11 winners of their nationwide innovation contest aimed at reversing the childhood obesity epidemic, including two schools from Southern California: Los Angeles-based Overland Elementary and Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County.

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As adult cancer cases drop, rates go up among children
California Watch

New cases of cancer among adults in California are declining, but rates of childhood cancers are increasing, according to a new study by a statewide health organization.

The report, by the California HealthCare Foundation, also shows that cancer survival rates are improving for kids and adults.

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Kids taste success in obesity battle
Sacramento Bee

Step One: Pull everything from your kitchen pantry and inspect the ingredient labels closely. Look for glucose, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, any kind of sugar. Now, for a reality check, consider that about 4.2 grams of sugar equals one teaspoon.

Step Two: Open the fridge and calculate the sugar load in sweetened beverages such as sodas or sports drinks. Visualize the 10 teaspoons of sugar in some 12-ounce sugary drinks.

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Petaluma hospital nurses set strike for Wednesday
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Nurses at Petaluma Valley Hospital are poised to strike Wednesday over changes to on-call scheduling and pay they say could lead to unsafe conditions for surgical nursing staff and their patients.

The California Nurses Association, which represents about 140 nurses at the hospital, said the changes include a 40 percent cut in “stand-by” pay, much longer on-call shifts and mandatory scheduling. These shifts were previously scheduled by the nurses themselves on a volunteer basis, the union said.

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Diabetes registry has data on 1.1 million
Modern Healthcare

Researchers analyzing 15.8 million electronic health records contributed by 11 integrated health plans identified nearly 1.1 million people as having diabetes, and these patients’ de-identified information is now part of a diabetes registry created by the plans.

The registry is the focus of an article in the latest issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Preventing Chronic Disease journal.

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Child CT scans could raise cancer risk slightly
Monterey Herald

Children who get several CT scans have a slightly higher chance of brain cancer and leukemia in later life, though the risk is still small and probably outweighed by the need to get the test, researchers reported.

The use of CT scans has risen rapidly since they were first introduced 30 years ago. For children, they’re used to evaluate head, neck or spine injuries or neurological disorders.

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EHRs to be key in CMS primary-care pilot
Modern Healthcare

Dozens of commercial and government payers are now working with community groups and health information exchanges as part of an effort to use health information technology to enhance primary care through care coordination and patient-centered medical homes, the CMS announced.

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Health Law Ruling Won’t Alter Plans by Insurer
New York Times

The UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, announced Sunday night that it planned to continue offering some of the popular consumer protections required by the federal health care law, even if the Supreme Court declares the entire law unconstitutional later this month. The company, whose annual revenues top $100 billion, says it will continue to cover adult children up to age 26 on their parents’ policies, offer coverage without lifetime limits and provide preventive health care services like immunizations or screening for diabetes without requiring patient

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UnitedHealth to honor some of healthcare law regardless of ruling
Los Angeles Times

Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on the federal healthcare law, the nation’s largest health insurer said it would continue to honor some of the law’s more popular provisions, including preventive screenings at no cost and the elimination of lifetime limits on medical care.

This move by UnitedHealth Group Inc., which has nearly 36 million customers nationwide, is expected to pressure rival insurers to follow suit, and it may offer some clarity to consumers worried about how the court’s ruling could affect them.

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Residency program grows local docs
HealthyCal.org

Primary care doctors have an increasingly significant role in health care reform. More and more, medical systems are focusing on creating what’s known as a “medical home” — a doctor or clinic who oversees and coordinates all of a patient’s health needs — a move intended to reduce costs and improve health by providing preventative and well-managed treatment.

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Students at Antioch medical high school ready to make mark
The Mercury News

They were Dozier-Libbey Medical High’s first students to struggle through a rigorous medical-themed curriculum, figure out how to make wearing scrubs a fashion statement and make the daily drive down a long two-lane road to the secluded campus. Now the school’s first graduating class is about to embark on their next pathway. The 127 seniors at the Antioch magnet school finished their time as student trailblazers Friday afternoon, receiving their highly sought diplomas.

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The Importance of Data and Care Coordination
The Health Care Blog

This house believes that society benefits when we share information online! This was the topic of debate before the Economist magazine’s Ideas Economy: Information 2012 conference here in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon. Tom Standage, digital editor for the Economist, moderated this lively battle of wits. Defending the motion was John Perry Barlow, former Grateful Dead lyricist and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This is a little like defending sex!” he started off by saying.

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