News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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CMS Opens Physician Registration for Sunshine Act
Health Leaders Media

The first part of a two-stage federal registration process for physicians and teaching hospitals that want to review or dispute payments and gifts they received from drug and medical device makers opened on June 1.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced earlier this year that on Sept. 30 it will make public “transfers of value” reported by vendors under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. Providers will have the opportunity to dispute the vendors’ claims before the reports go public, but only if they register this summer.

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New drugs may make a dent in lung, ovarian cancer
Modern Healthcare

New drugs are making a dent against some hard-to-treat cancers, but some results raise fresh questions about whether the benefit is worth the cost.

For the first time in a decade, an experimental drug has extended the lives of patients with advanced lung cancer who relapsed after standard chemotherapy. But the drug used in the study gave patients just six extra weeks of life on average, and costs $6,000 per infusion as currently sold to treat a different form of cancer.

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UCSF, Nebraska win $10 million “innovation” grant to personalize dementia care
San Francisco Business Times

UC San Francisco and the University of Nebraska Medical Center have nabbed a nearly $10 million federal grant to help personalize and better coordinate dementia care. The $9.99 million grant, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was part of a $110 million Health Innovation Awards distribution to 12 recipients announced May 22 that included UCSF and UNMC.

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US law prods states to revisit health care rules
San Francisco Chronicle

Prompted by the health care overhaul law, several states are updating their rules for insurance networks to better reflect who is covered and how people shop for and use their benefits.

Laws governing health insurance vary, but states generally try to ensure that health plans give residents reasonable access to a sufficient number of primary care and specialty physicians, said Tyler Brannen, a health policy analyst for the state of New Hampshire. Yet that aim hasn’t kept up with changes in how and where people access health care, he added.

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Health Insurance In California To Be Affected By Insurance Commissioner Race
Live Insurance News

California is currently searching for a new Insurance Commissioner and the state’s incumbent, Dave Jones, is facing some serious opposition. Jones has become a regulatory powerhouse over the past few years, using his authority to hold the state’s insurance companies to a higher standard. Jones has won support for being an enthusiastic consumer advocate, but he has also made enemies within the insurance industry due to his aggressive stance on regulation.

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Thrown a curve by health networks
Los Angeles Times

In December, Chuck Richmond switched to a new health plan that complies with the Affordable Care Act.

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GOP’s Obamacare fears come true
POLITICO

Liberals wanted a national enrollment system under Obamacare. They might just get it. Right now, 36 states rely on HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange, to enroll people in health coverage. At least two more states are opting in next year, with a few others likely to follow. Only two states are trying to get out. That’s precisely the opposite of the Affordable Care Act’s original intent: 50 exchanges run by 50 states.

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California whooping cough cases so far this year have surpassed total number in 2013
The Mercury News

Whooping cough is on the rise in California again, with more cases being reported in the first five months of the year than in all of 2013.

The latest figures concern state health department officials who say they expect cases of the persistent and sometimes deadly cough to continue to rise.

The California Department of Public Health said it has received reports of 2,649 cases of pertussis from Jan. 1 to May 27.

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At $1,000 per pill, Gilead’s hepatitis C drug has insurers, others scratching their heads
San Francisco Business Times

A new “miracle drug” is raising eyebrows across the health universe not because of its ability to cure hepatitis C, but because of its price tag. At $1,000 per pill, Sovaldi has Oregon insurers, both in the public and private spheres, scrambling to figure out if and when to cover the treatment. “Like so many people all across this country, we’re in the middle of evaluating both the efficacy of current screening options for hepatitis C and the most appropriate protocols for Sovaldi,” said Jonathan Nicholas, spokesman for Moda Health insurance.

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CT scan a new life-saving tool to detect lung cancer
San Francisco Chronicle

Current and former heavy smokers have new local options for detecting lung cancer with a low-dose CT scan that can catch small tumors early and has been shown to save lives.

Some local doctors believe these scans will become as common as mammograms or colonoscopies as tools to identify tumors early among those most at risk for getting lung cancers, the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the country. The idea is to catch malignant lumps when they are small and easy to remove, avoiding years of chemotherapy and other treatments that offer less chance of success.

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Viewpoints: Nurse practitioners will not solve the physician shortage
Sacramento Bee

One of the most widely discussed challenges in the wake of health care reform has been the physician shortage, and more specifically, a shortage of primary care physicians. With millions of newly insured patients under the Affordable Care Act and an aging population, analysts fear that a strained health care infrastructure will soon crack under these new burdens. Policymakers have scrambled to find ways to increase the availability of health care providers. A popular proposal has been to increase the autonomy of midlevel providers, like nurse practitioners.

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Medical Malpractice Market Moving Away from Traditional Coverage Offerings
Insurance Journal

The risk profile of healthcare organizations is evolving, thanks in large part to the Affordable Care Act. To manage new healthcare needs medical professional liability experts say they have had to evolve as well.

Part of that evolution for carriers has been the realization and acceptance that it isn’t just about the coverage anymore. “The market is moving from very conventional, silo products, to more of an integrated risk profile and it’s important that we have not just products but solutions that respond to that,” says Matt Dolan, president of IronHealth in Simsbury, Conn.

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Partnering for Better Population Health Management
Health Leaders Media

As the healthcare industry moves toward value-based payment models, many provider organizations are realizing that they need a population health management strategy and that going it alone may not be the best path forward. Forming a partnership with other providers allows institutions to share best practices, combine resources, coordinate IT efforts, strengthen supply chain purchasing power, and reduce the overall cost of providing care to their patient population. Here, we look at the approaches of three organizations.

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Make mail Rx delivery optional
San Francisco Chronicle

If you live in a city, chances are you know how frustrating it can be to receive a package in the mail. The redelivery notice asks you to be home when you’re supposed to be at work. A birthday gift finally delivered to your apartment door gets stolen. Most chalk it up to city living. But what if that package is the prescription your mother needs to fight breast cancer, or the antiretrovirals that keep HIV at bay? Missing that package transforms an inconvenience into something dangerous to your health.

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Kaiser set to open high-tech $600 million San Leandro hospital on Tuesday
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Pernamente’s newest Northern California hospital, an estimated $600 million complex off I-880 in San Leandro, is set to open June 3. The hospital and medical office building are part of Kaiser’s greater southern Alameda area, which is led by Tom Hanenburg, senior vice president and area manager, and Dr. Robert Greenberg, the hospital’s physician in chief/chief of the medical staff. Greenberg led a tour of the new campus this week, as part of Kaiser’s orchestrated PR push to introduce the San Leandro Medical Center.

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Sacramento heroin addiction on the rise, Affordable Care Act opens doors for recovery
HealthyCal.org

Kurt Wagner was 12-years clean when his life began to unravel. He lost his job, his wife left and the money ran out. Homeless and alone, the uninsured Wagner had to pay $300 a month for methadone treatment. When he could no longer afford it, it was only a matter of time before he fell off the wagon.

“I couldn’t keep up with the payments, so they feetoxed me,” said the 58-year-old Wagner. He explains while seated outside CRC Health Group in south Sacramento this past Thursday that “feetox” refers to the process methadone clinics undertake for patients who run out of money.

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Doctors: Tenet Healthcare may end some local medical service contracts
San Luis Obispo Tribune

Physicians at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center have been notified that Tenet Healthcare Corp., the hospital’s owner, may contract with a national company to provide some medical services.

The plan would affect Sierra Vista in San Luis Obispo, Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton and an unknown number of other Tenet-owned hospitals in California.

According to several sources, Tenet is considering ending contracts with local medical groups providing anesthesiology, emergency department and hospitalist care.

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