News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation


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Safety Net Hospitals Already Seeing More Paying Patients — And Revenue
Kaiser Health News

At Seattle’s largest safety-net hospital, the proportion of uninsured patients fell from 12 percent last year to an unprecedented low of 2 percent this spring—a drop expected to boost Harborview Medical Center’s revenue by $20 million this year.

And the share of uninsured patients was cut roughly in half this year at two other major safety net hospitals—Denver Health in Colorado and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Hospital (UAMS) in Little Rock, Ark.

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Mental Health Integration in Primary Care
Health Leaders Media

Long before patient-centered medical homes or accountable care organizations were buzzwords, Salt Lake City–based Intermountain Healthcare was looking at all of the points of care that could improve the health of patients in its system. It did not take long to identify mental health as a problem.

All too often a patient would come to one of Intermountain’s 185 primary care clinics with multiple comorbidities that were exacerbated by mental health issues such as depression or dementia.

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Data: The secret ingredient in hospital cooperation

If you’ve got to go to the hospital – one that’s near your home or very far from it – you’d want your prescriptions, past procedures, and all the rest at your doctor’s finger tips.

And while sharing that kind of data could reassure consumers and save perhaps as much as $80 billion a year, it remains a fantasy for most patients.

“Everybody in the medical field knows there are economies to be gained there if we would just work together and share the information,” says former Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CEO Paul Levy.  “And yet the industry, for the most part, is dead set against doing that.”

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Payers Drive Value-Based Healthcare Reform
Health Leaders Media

For millennia, divinity was the guiding force in medicine, through the healing hands of the local priest and shaman.

Then 2,500 years ago, the Greek physician Hippocrates helped launch the Scientific Revolution, which transformed Western medicine. A pledge “to do no harm” became the first patient-centered medical maxim and scientific diagnosis was elevated over the divine.

Now, at least in the United States, medical advances based on the laws of science appear to be butting up against the laws of economics.

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Study questions need for ACA’s employer health care requirement
Southern California Public Radio

When the Affordable Care Act was unveiled, business groups railed against the provision that requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance for their full-time workers.

The Obama administration responded by pushing back the deadline for the coverage, so it hasn’t yet taken effect. Now support for this so-called employer mandate is eroding in some surprising quarters.

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Is health reform working in Massachusetts?
Market Watch

For three years, I have been asking my colleagues to write a brief summarizing what we know and don’t know about the impact of the 2006 Massachusetts health reform legislation. It is important information given the similarity between the Massachusetts reform and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

This week we published a review of the numerous studies evaluating the effects of the Massachusetts reform with an eye on: 1) insurance coverage; 2) the provision of health services; 3) health outcomes; and 4) labor market effects.

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Dental Program for the Poor Partially Restored, But They May Still Have to Wait

The phones at Dientes Community Dental Care have been ringing almost constantly since California restored its dental program for low-income adults this month.

“We can’t keep up with the phones, in fact,” said Yari Alvarado, front-office supervisor. The Santa Cruz clinic has been so overwhelmed since the benefits were restored on May 1 that half way through this month the clinic placed a temporary hold on new patients until more appointment times opened up on the calendar, she said. The clinic is booked solid for the next three months.

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California senior health sees improvement
Merced Sun-Star

Seniors are taking more steps to improve their health, according to a new report.

The United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report ranked California as No. 18 in the nation for senior health. In last year’s report, the state was ranked 24th.

The report, which drew data from 12 government agencies and research organizations to measure and compare the health of seniors 65 or older, revealed that there have been improvements in the quality of nursing home care and end-of-life care.

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Youth cardiac screenings could save lives
San Diego Union-Tribune

Not a day goes by that Henry and Kim Van Der Vliet don’t deeply miss their daughter, Ciara.

“Ciara was very, very funny,” Kim Van Der Vliet said. “When she would walk into a room, she had a smile that would make everybody else smile. Her personality lit up a room. Ciara was so full of life and was the jokester of the family. She was also a very hardworking student. She wanted to be a teacher; she had just a love for children. She put everybody else before herself.”

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Podiatry Gets Vote as Medi-Cal Benefit
California Healthline

In a floor vote yesterday, the Assembly unanimously agreed to make podiatric services a Medi-Cal benefit. Podiatry had been an optional Medi-Cal benefit until 2009 when it was cut because of budget constraints along with a number of other services, including optometry and adult dental services. Some of those services, including podiatry, were reinstated at rural clinics and rural federally qualified health centers after a court challenge, but most areas of California are not allowed to provide podiatry as a Medi-Cal benefit.

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Amsurg to buy Sheridan Healthcare for $2.35 billion
San Francisco Business Times

Amsurg Corp. has agreed to buy Sheridan Healthcare Inc., a 2,500-doctor physicians services company, from private equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC for about $2.35 billion in cash. The companies said Thursday that the combined entity would have more than 4,600 physician relationships in 38 states. San Francisco-based Hellman & Friedman bought Sheridan Healthcare in 2007.

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New Stanford hospital preps for the ‘big one’
Palo Alto Online

When a large earthquake hits the Bay Area, the new seven-story Stanford Hospital, currently under construction, is expected to literally skate right through it, according to hospital officials.

The 824,000-square-foot facility is expected to be completed by 2017 and to open its doors in early 2018. Of all the new features being lauded by officials — a new trauma center, 17 operating rooms and five gardens with walking trails — there are 206 that visitors will never see. And they could turn out to be the most critical to patient care.

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First Look At Kaiser’s New High-tech East Bay Hospital
ABC News

There is a one in three chance that you get your health care through Kaiser Permanente here in the Bay Area. This year Kaiser is opening three new hospitals. The first of them, off Interstate 880 in San Leandro, will replace Kaiser’s aging facility in Hayward. ABC7 News got an early look at the new high-tech hospital just days before it opens.

From the moment you walk in, it’s clear this isn’t your grandparents’ hospital.

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Interim CEO appointed at Loma Linda University Medical Center
Highland Community News

Loma Linda University Health (LLUH) has appointed Kerry Heinrich, JD, as interim chief executive officer of Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC) and interim administrator of Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, effective July 1, 2014. Heinrich will provide strategic leadership for and oversee the day-to-day operations of the six hospitals that form LLUMC.

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Oakland: Highland Hospital verified as Level II Trauma Center
The Mercury News

Highland Hospital has been verified a Level II Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons.

“Highland Hospital’s trauma center earned this designation following the most rigorous verification process in the country. This is a major milestone for the hospital and for Alameda Health System,” said Dr. Gregory Victorino, head of trauma for Alameda Health System, in a release. Alameda Health System runs the hospital.