News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Doctor develops simple treatment for flesh-eating disease
San Francisco Chronicle

It was the crying and pleas for help that drew Dr. John Crew to Lori Madsen’s bedside at Seton Medical Center one day in January 2012.

Madsen, then 51, was several days into a terrifying case of necrotizing fasciitis – also known as flesh-eating disease. Her left arm had swollen to four times its normal size, and she’d had surgery to scrape out dead tissue. The pain was unbearable.

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Silent Treatment Saves Lives
HealthyCal.org

When registered nurse Imelda Corea dons a fluorescent yellow sash and starts on her rounds distributing medicine to patients, her coworkers at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in West Los Angeles won’t speak to her.

The silent treatment is just fine with Corea. In fact, she calls it “sacred.”

It’s part of a Kaiser requirement, in place since 2008, that personnel must wear colored sashes when dispensing medication.

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Will Tech Revolutionize Health Care This Time?
The Health Care Blog

After decades of bravely keeping them at bay, health care is beginning to be overwhelmed by “fast, cheap, and out of control” new technologies, from BYOD (“bring your own device”) tablets in the operating room, to apps and dongles that turn your smart phone into a Star Trek Tricorder, to 3-D printed skulls. (No, not a souvenir of the Grateful Dead, a Harley decoration or a pastry for the Mexican Dia de Los Muertos, but an actual skullcap to repair someone’s head. Take measurements from a scan, set to work in a cad-cam program, press Cmd-P and boom! There you have it: new ear-to-ear skull top, ready for implant.)

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Slideshow: The ED Fix: Triage, Coordination and Navigation
Health Leaders Media

A growing concern of hospitals across the country is the overuse of the ED by patients for conditions that would be more appropriately treated by a primary care physician. We cannot diminish the impact non-emergent patients can have—both on the quality of care we are able to deliver and how quickly we are able to give that care. Indeed, 55% of respondents indicate their ED is either “always” or “often” overcrowded, with 50% noting an average wait time of 30 minutes or more prior to a patient being seen by a healthcare professional.

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Health Care Reform Could Be Keeping Insurance Rates Steady
Live Insurance News

Consumers throughout the U.S. have been experiencing rate hikes for their health insurance coverage over the past few years. Rates have been growing at a rapid pace, placing many people under significant financial pressure. The Affordable Care Act is meant to resolve this issue by helping slow down the frequency at which insurance premiums increase, and the health care law may actually be succeeding in this endeavor. Early rate filings coming from many large insurance companies suggest that rates will be raising significantly slower than they had in the past.

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Hospitals Begin Subsidizing Exchange Premiums via Third Parties
Health Leaders Media

Months before HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave the okay this month for third-party non-profit foundations to pay premiums on behalf of exchange enrollees, a few organizations were already imagining creative ways to do just that.

One—a collaboration between Wisconsin’s United Way of Dane County in Madison and the 471-bed University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics—is not only up and running, it’s perhaps the best known.

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Obamacare: Leaving jail doesn’t mean losing health care anymore
Inside Bay Area

It’s been two months since Rodrigo Salido left the maximum security wing at the Santa Rita Jail, and two months without pills for his bipolar disorder.

The medication, Risperdal, prescribed by a jailhouse psychiatrist, had quelled Salido’s angry moods. “It helped me be more relaxed,” he said. “Not as much on the edge and feeling like everybody is out to get me.”

When got out of jail, Salido, who served two years for burglary, assault and gang involvement, had no health insurance and few options for refilling his medication.

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Many employees hit with higher health care premiums
USA Today

More employees are getting hit with higher health insurance premiums and co-payments, and many don’t have the money to cover unexpected medical expenses, a new report finds.

More than half of companies (56%) increased employees’ share of health care premiums or co-payments for doctors’ visits in 2013, and 59% of employers say they intend to do the same in 2014, according to the annual Aflac WorkForces Report.

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Top Down Versus Bottoms Up Health Reform
Forbes

For decades, I have been an advocate of “market-oriented” health reform. Conservative ideas for such reform have been around for a similar period of time. Martin Feldstein, for example, introduced the idea of Major Risk Insurance in 1971! He later updated the idea in 1995 in a paper with Jonathan Gruber (who later became an important architect of both Romneycare and Obamacare).

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Hospitals Reduce Charity Care To Encourage ACA Exchange Coverage
California Healthline

Hospital systems across the country are reducing the amount of financial assistance to low- and middle-income patients who are uninsured, in the hopes of encouraging such patients to enroll in coverage through the Affordable Care Act, the New York Times reports.

Hospitals are restricting their charity care programs primarily because of increasing costs, the Times reports. Hospitals always have had to cover at least some of the cost of such programs, which were offset partially by federal assistance.

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Insurance Commissioner Defends Health Insurance Initiative
KQED Radio

In this lull between the end of the first open enrollment for Covered California and the release of rates for next year — expected to be made public in July — San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club invited the state’s Commissioner of Insurance Dave Jones to talk about the state of the health care overhaul in California.

The commissioner closed his remarks by pitching for the rate review ballot initiative coming up in November. As moderator of the discussion following, I fielded several questions from the audience about the upcoming initiative.

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As medical tests advance, doctors’ bedside skills decline
Orange County Register

Doctors at a Northern California hospital, concerned that a 40-year-old woman with sky-high blood pressure and confusion might have a blood clot, order a CT scan of her lungs. To their surprise, the scan reveals not a clot but large cancers in both breasts that have spread throughout her body. Had they done a simple physical exam of the woman’s chest, they would have been able to feel the tumors.

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Let’s stop subsidizing economic inequality
Washington Post

Sarah Anderson, director of the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, recently asked in a speech at the New Populism Conference in Washington, “Why should our tax dollars subsidize economic inequality?” Why must you and I foot the bill, via our taxes, for the callousness of Wal-Mart or Domino’s?

The chasm between C-suite pay and minimum wage may be wider than ever before — in 2013, according to the AFL-CIO, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies made 774 times as much minimum wage workers — but, as Anderson points out, many people have grown tired of waiting for a solution to emerge from the maw of Washington and are instead taking the initiative themselves. “Just like on the minimum wage,” Anderson told the conference, “people aren’t waiting for Washington to lead on CEO pay. We’re seeing an unprecedented explosion of bold creative action outside Washington.” In Sacramento, Providence and other capitals, state-level activism and legislation are taking care of business that the House and Senate have chosen to ignore.

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Hospital Achieves Critical Milestone
Big Bear Grizzly

When Sara Russ ran for a seat on the Bear Valley Community Healthcare District board of directors, one of the key points in her campaign was the need to convert the hospital to a critical access hospital designation. Russ’ wish is about to come true.

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Palm Drive 2.0
Bohemian

Sebastopol’s Palm Drive Hospital and emergency room have been closed for about a month and after much discussion, its elected district board has put the hospital’s future in the hands of a hotly debated, doctor-led plan.

“We selected the (Palm Drive) Foundation as the one to negotiate with,” says board member James Maresca, referring to a proposal by members of the Palm Drive Foundation.

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Barton Hospital targets $18 million upgrade
Tahoe Daily Tribune

Barton Memorial Hospital plans to move forward with $18 million of debt-financed capital improvement upgrades.

About $14.4 million will pay for a new central utility plant at the community hospital in South Lake Tahoe. The existing utility plant is about 50 years old and obsolete, hospital officials said.

The hospital proposes to build the utility plant between the existing utility plant and the Freel Peak building at the back of the hospital.

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Feather River Hospital to operate clinic in Corning
Oroville Mercury-Register

The Corning Healthcare District Board of Directors heard propositions May 20 by two hospitals to open a rural clinic in the building that houses Corning Medical Associates, according to a release issued by the district.

Presentations were made on behalf of St. Elizabeth Community Hospital’s parent company, Dignity Health, and Feather River Hospital. The district’s board opted to lease the facility, at 155 Solano St., to Feather River.

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Selma Hospital obstetrics moves to Reedley
Hanford Sentinel

The obstetrics unit at Adventist Medical Center — Selma closes June 1 and moves to the Adventist hospital in Reedley. Adventist announced last November that the Selma birthing service would close because of a persistent decline in newborn deliveries at the Selma hospital and to provide expectant mothers with large, private rooms in Reedley.

“Thousands of babies and generations of families have been born at this hospital since it opened in 1962,” said Nina Plata, Selma hospital vice president.

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