News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Strategies for ED Psych Patients
Health Leaders Media

Three prominent scars on the forehead and cheeks of Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds are a recent and visible reminder that hospitals and health systems are straining to meet the mental health needs of patients across the country on a daily basis. Last November, Deeds’ 24-year-old son, Austin “Gus” Deeds, attacked his father with a knife, slashing his head and torso, then killed himself—all within 24 hours of being released from a local emergency room because there wasn’t a psychiatric bed available.

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Major Health Care Provider Vows To Only Buy Toxic-Free Furniture
capital public radio

Kaiser Permanente says its new facilities will not have upholstered furniture with flame retardant chemicals. A variety of studies have found the chemicals can be toxic… They’re linked to cancer, brain disorders and fertility problems.

Judy Levin of the Center for Environmental Health says the health provider’s decision is part of a shift to more chemical-free furniture.

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The Perfect Storm: Health Reform and America’s Hospitals
The Health Care Blog

When the Cleveland Clinic announced job and expense reductions of 6% in 2013, the healthcare sector took notice. Did the world-renowned hospital and healthcare research center, with 40,000 employees and a $6 billion budget, really believe it did not possess the heft to take on the increasingly turbulent sea changes in American healthcare? Or was this yet another stakeholder using Obamacare as cover to drive draconian change?

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Obama Keeps Foot On The Gas For Health Care Enrollment
The Huffington Post

As President Barack Obama took to the podium on April 17 to announce that eight million people had signed up for private health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, a sense of finality hit the White House briefing room.

Six and a half months had passed since the start of Obamacare’s implementation. A technological crisis had produced a political one. And the experience that followed had been both emotionally draining and professionally vexing.

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House GOP conflicted on health law alternative
San Francisco Chronicle

House Republicans are united as ever in their election-year opposition to “Obamacare,” but they’re increasingly divided over their promise to vote this year on an alternative to it.

The disagreement comes amid a shifting political calculus around President Barack Obama’s health care law. Millions are enrolled for medical insurance through the law’s exchanges, and an all-out repeal has become less practical and popular.

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Study says Affordable Care Act could trigger hospital cuts
Los Angeles Business Journal

Researchers from UCLA and Virginia Commonwealth University found that California’s 21 safety-net hospitals that care for uninsured and the poorest patients could face a$1.5 billion shortfall down the road as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the Daily Breeze reported.

The deficit would not be realized until 2019, when federal funding cuts go into effect, according to the study, which was published in Health Affairs.

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Prescription for Narrow Networks: Add Transparency
Health Leaders Media

One of the main levers insurers have to keep premiums affordable in the individual health insurance exchange market—a narrow provider network—is a double-edged sword.

On one edge, crafting a selective network of healthcare providers based on their ability to deliver high-quality services at the lowest possible cost has helped insurers offer affordable HIX policies to consumers.

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Ask Emily: Months after applying, legions are stuck waiting for Medi-Cal
Sacramento Bee

 “One stop shop.” “No wrong door.”

California state officials have used those phrases since last year to describe the new, easier, more efficient Medi-Cal application process.

But something happened between their mouths and reality: “A hole fell out of the middle of the system,” says Jen Flory, senior attorney for the Western Center on Law & Poverty. Nearly 1 million Californians are now stuck in a monumental backlog of Medi-Cal applications that shows few signs of abating.

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Medicare charges vary by hospital, report finds
The Hill

A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report released Monday shows that Medicare charges for the same procedure in the same city can vary by tens of thousands of dollars.

CMS reviewed data on how much Medicare services cost at hospitals versus doctor’s offices and the difference in costs for non-Medicare patients and is making that information public.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the data release would help increase transparency about Medicare payments as the agency looks to keep costs down and improve care.

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California hospital fee measure won’t make November ballot
Fresno Bee

A ballot measure aimed at protecting a multi-billion-dollar stream of federal revenue for California hospitals from legislative interference apparently won’t appear on the November ballot.

The California Hospital Association said Tuesday that random sampling of signatures for its ballot measure by election officials indicate that it would require a full signature count to qualify – if it does – and “based on this information, it is not likely that the ballot measure will qualify by the June 26 deadline to appear on the November 4, 2014 general election

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Doctors urge pregnant women to get vaccinated against pertussis
CBS MarketWatch

Doctors at Rady Children’s Hospital are urging expectant mothers to get vaccinated for pertussis, or whooping cough.

They say pertussis is hitting San Diego County hard, with more than 500 cases seen since the beginning of the year. That’s more than all of the cases in 2013.

Young babies are at the highest risk for pertussis, and can die from it. That’s why doctors encourage pregnant women to get vaccinated early.

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New cervical cancer screening test raises hope, concern
San Francisco Chronicle

Cervical cancer screening used to be simple: Women visited their gynecologist every year for a Pap smear.

But that ritual has become more complex as science and technology have allowed researchers to better understand and detect the disease. Now women have a newer option that combines the Pap with additional DNA testing plus the first federally approved alternative to the Pap.

“There’s definitely confusion from the patient perspective because for many, many years we, as women, were told to come in and have a Pap smear every year.

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Doctors and Nurses in a Twit about Technology Destroying Healthcare
The Health Care Blog

Every workday morning I spend 30 minutes or so reviewing my Twitter feed. By following a select group of top healthcare news observers and thought leaders, I find that Twitter works pretty well as a filter for the news events and topics that matter most to me. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been alerted to some articles about nurses and doctors who are, shall we say, quite frustrated with electronic medical records and what they perceive as a decline in the physician-patient relationship.

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How to Survive Your Hospital Stay
Yahoo! News

Most people expect to leave the hospital in better shape than they came in — and while they’re hospitalized, they take their safety for granted. But a hospital stay involves risks and could cause you harm. At times a patient’s very survival is at stake. It’s been estimated that more than 400,000 deaths occur in U.S. hospitals each year arising from medical errors.

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Labeling a health problem a disease creates trouble
San Francisco Chronicle

As any parent knows, babies spit up. It’s gastroesophageal reflux, a pediatrician will explain – milk leaking backward from the stomach. When I was a pediatrics resident, my hospital constructed foam wedges for infants to sleep on. The thinking was that infants who were sleeping at an angle would be less likely to have milk come back up.

The wedges cost about $150. They didn’t work.

Wedges aren’t the only fix that doctors have tried. We’ve tried to construct special infant seats to prevent reflux. We’ve tried thickening foods.

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Insurer UnitedHealth raises dividend by 34 pct
San Francisco Chronicle

UnitedHealth is once again hiking the quarterly dividend it gives shareholders by more than 30 percent, with the latest increase tripling the initial value of a payout the nation’s largest health insurer debuted in 2010.

The insurer said Wednesday it will pay a cash dividend of 37.5 cents per share on June 25 to stockholders of record as of June 16. That’s up nearly 10 cents from the Minnetonka, Minnesota, company’s current payout of 28 cents per share.

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Hospital CEO pledges prompt attention to vets
Inland News Today

Military veterans will have guaranteed access to basic healthcare within 24 hours at Riverside County Regional Medical Center.

The hospital’s chief pledged Tuesday that the vets will be seen within 72 hours at all specialty clinics.

Interim CEO Lowell Johnson told County Supervisors Tuesday of the ‘shameful display’ of services the VA has given to the veterans.