News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Insurers will propose changes to Obama health law
San Francisco Chronicle

Insurers want to change President Barack Obama’s health care law to provide financial assistance for people buying bare-bones coverage. That would entice the healthy and the young, the industry says, holding down premiums.

So-called catastrophic plans are currently not eligible for the law’s subsidies, and only 2 percent of the 8 million consumers who signed up this year picked one. Subsidies bring down the cost of monthly premiums.

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Concierge Medicine Expected to Grow Under Health Reform

Paying extra for better access to a doctor, often called concierge medicine, is drawing new attention, at least in part in response to the Affordable Care Act.

Although adherents are still few in number, concierge medicine is growing in popularity, particularly in California, according to surveys.

Proponents of concierge medicine attribute recent growth both to longstanding dissatisfaction with traditional managed care and to fears of doctor shortages and crowded waiting rooms under health reform.

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Giving school nurses access to medical records improves care
Southern California Public Radio

School nurses today do a lot more than bandage skinned knees. They administer vaccines and medications, help diabetic students monitor their blood sugar, and prepare teachers to handle a student’s seizure or asthma attack, among many other things.

“Chronic disease management is what school nurses spend most of their time doing,” says Carolyn Duff, president of the National Association of School Nurses. “We do care for students in emergencies, but we spend more time planning to avoid emergencies.”

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Google is helping build a giant database for understanding autism
The Verge

Autism Speaks is teaming up with Google to create what it says will become the largest database of sequenced genomes from people with autism and members of their family. Autism Speaks, the research and advocacy group, plans for the database to include genomes from 10,000 people, 1,000 of which it’s already completed sequencing of. The group’s hope is that the database, which it says will be an “open resource,” will facilitate research into the causes of autism spectrum disorder, as well as subtypes of it, treatments, and diagnosis.

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Group: Covered California Should Better Track Enrollee Demographics
California Healthline

The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network last month sent a letter to the Covered California Board saying that the state’s health insurance exchange did not effectively collect and release data on those who enrolled in coverage, HealthyCal reports.

CPEHN Director of Policy Analysis Caroline Sanders wrote that the exchange failed to ask enrollees about gender identity and sexual orientation and that questions about race, ethnicity and primary language were buried at the end of the enrollment application in a section called “Optional Data.”

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California Hispanics worry about long-term care
Sacramento Bee

When it comes to planning for old age, Hispanics in California worry much more than whites about their ability to pay for care they may need and the prospect that they will be left alone without family and friends.

Yet, Hispanics are also more reticent to discuss plans for long-term care with their families, a new poll indicated. Fewer than one in five California Hispanics have discussed with a loved one the type of living assistance they would want, compared with nearly half of whites, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.

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Employers Vague On Health Care Reform Costs
insurance newsnet

Although health care reform is a top concern for U.S. employers, most organizations have not measured its cost impact, according to a survey released today by the Willis Human Capital Practice, a unit of Willis Group Holdings plc (NYSE:WSH), the global risk advisor, insurance and reinsurance broker.

Only 37% of respondents have identified the cost impact of health care reform on their health plans in 2014. While this is an increase over the 28% of respondents that had identified these costs in last year’s survey, “it demonstrates that for many organizations, determining an accurate assessment of these figures is still a challenge,” the survey said.

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Insurers Expand Health Exchange Plans’ Provider Networks
California Healthline

Insurers in several states are expanding their hospital and physician networks for plans sold through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges amid complaints from consumers and state officials about limited provider options, the Wall Street Journal reports.

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An Impatient reader’s saga: Figuring out where to turn when things ‘get funky’ with your insurer
Southern California Public Radio

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Impatient reader Will Allen: “I’m writing to you because I’m extremely frustrated and I’m not sure where to turn for help.” The situation is not a two-sentence story, he said, it’s a saga. Here goes: Three years ago, Will’s 42-year-old sister Betsy fell 15 feet through a hatch on a boat, fracturing her hip and traumatizing three vertebrae in her lower back.

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ECH Foundation raises nearly $600K for cancer survivor program
Los Altos Town Crier

The El Camino Hospital Foundation’s fourth annual “Sapphire Soirée” fundraiser drew 470 guests to the Menlo Circus Club in Atherton May 31.

The benefit included a performance by the Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies, a live auction and a chance to win a pair of pink sapphire earrings donated by Darren McClung Estate & Precious Jewelry. The event raised nearly $600,000 to establish a cancer survivorship program at El Camino Hospital’s Cancer Center.

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Children’s Hospital L.A. Ranks in Top 5 Again

For the third straight year, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is ranked among the top five children’s hospitals in the country, a distinction that recognizes the hospital’s clinical expertise and the quality and breadth of its patient care. CHLA also was named to the elite Honor Roll of the nation’s “best” children’s hospitals in the U.S. News & World Report rankings released online today.

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Natividad surgeon named Physician of the Year
The Californian - Salinas

Citing his extraordinary commitment to the community and his personal leadership in helping to bring Monterey County’s prospective trauma center to Natividad Medical Center, Dr. Alex Di Stante was named Physician of the Year at a dinner of the Monterey County Medical Society on June 5 at Nicklaus Golf Monterey, formerly the Pasadera Country Club.

“I’m not the type of person who likes to be the center of attention,” Di Stante said. “I’m very low key. I just like to get things done.”

Dr. Di Stante joined the medical staff at Natividad Medical Center in 2006.

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Hill Physicians Medical Group breaks $500 million annual revenue milestone
San Francisco Business Times

San Ramon-based Hill Physicians Medical Group blasted through the half-a-billion dollar revenue milestone last year for the first time. The 3,800-doctor group, led by CEO Darryl Cardoza, posted $505.2 million in revenue in 2013, up from $491.7 million a year earlier. It paid most of that to its member doctors, $394.3 million, compared to $388.8 million in 2012. Most of the rest, nearly $90 million in 2013 vs.

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Apollo Medical Signs Blue Shield Deal
San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Apollo Medical Holdings Inc. has reached an agreement with Blue Shield of California to provide doctors for the insurer’s policy holders at hospitals the company already services, Apollo announced Tuesday.

The Glendale manager of hospital-based practices has contracts to provide doctors for inpatients at 28 hospitals and long-term care facilities in Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley. The agreement covers Blue Shield policy holders in its PPO, or preferred provider organization, insurance plans.