News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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CA Safety-Net Hospitals Stand to be Hard Hit by Federal Cuts
Health Leaders Media

California safety-net hospitals could be hit hard by a program that will reduce federal subsidies to hospitals based on the assumption that uncompensated care costs will decline with the arrival of federal healthcare reform.

The study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research published in the journal Health Affairs looked at the impact of pending reductions to disproportionate-share hospital payments.

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Uninsured students drop by 60% at Cal State campuses
Los Angeles Times

New data show the number of students without health insurance on California State University campuses dropped by 60% after health insurance enrollment, defying concerns that not enough young people would sign up for health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act, the national health care law, requires that nearly everyone have insurance in 2014.

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Viewpoints: To ensure Medi-Cal patient care, restore doctor reimbursements
Sacramento Bee

As budget negotiations come to a close this week, the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown are faced with a decision to fund California’s Medicaid program – or let millions of people become insured without actually having access to care.

As health care providers who see some of the poorest and neediest patients, our hope is that they choose the high road and allocate the $250 million needed to restore a 10 percent cut in reimbursements to doctors. Legislators have long expressed their desire for health reform to succeed in California and have wholeheartedly supported the concept of expanding care to the state’s poorest and neediest patients.

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Immunized People Getting Whooping Cough
KPBS

Most of the people who got whooping cough in San Diego County so far this year were up to date with their immunizations, according to county data.

Of the 621 people who contracted the illness, 85 percent had all their preventative shots — calling into question the efficacy of the vaccine.

“Pertussis vaccines offer high levels of protection within the first year of completing vaccinations,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, a San Diego county public health officer.

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California court makes insurer cover residential anorexia care
LifeHealthPRO

Courts and insurance regulators in two big states — California and New York — are moving toward requiring health insurers to pay for more residential mental health care.

In California, a three-judge panel at an appeals court in Los Angeles earlier this week ruled in favor of Marissa Rea and other people with anorexia nervosa who have been trying to persuade Blue Shield of California to pay for residential care.

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Anthem’s Obamacare rates to increase less than 10% in California
Los Angeles Times

In the strongest indication yet where Obamacare rates are headed, industry giant Anthem Blue Cross said its California premiums for individual coverage will increase less than 10% on average next year.

Health insurance rates in California during the initial rollout of the Affordable Care Act were better than expected, helping boost enrollment to 1.4 million people in the Covered California exchange.

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Washington health insurance rates to go up in 2015
San Francisco Chronicle

People who buy their own health insurance in Washington state can expect rates to go up in 2015, but probably not as fast as insurance costs increased in the years before federal health care reform took effect.

The process of approving insurance rates in Washington has just begun, but the proposed average increase for the more than 320,000 people who buy their own health insurance is 8.25 percent, according to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

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Massachusetts repeals play-or-pay health care rules
Business Insurance

A Massachusetts health reform law board Thursday formally repealed regulations to a landmark state statute that required employers to either offer health care coverage to their employees or pay a fine.

The unanimous vote by the board of directors of the Massachusetts Health Connector, which regulates key provisions of the state’s 2006 health reform law, brings to a final end a provision in that law that required employers with at least 11 full-time employees to either offer coverage or pay an annual $295-per-employee fine.

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S.F. lacks medics, ambulances to meet 911 needs
San Francisco Chronicle

The San Francisco Fire Department doesn’t have enough paramedics or working ambulances to respond to the city’s increasing number of 911 calls – yet the agency has failed to purchase ambulances it has had money to buy since 2012.

The findings from the Board of Supervisors’ budget and legislative analyst, released this week, raise questions about the city’s ability to respond to emergencies, Supervisor London Breed said.

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New hepatitis C wonder drug shakes up the health care industry
Sacramento Bee

When the harsh side effects of his hepatitis C medication forced Joel Roth to stop treatments last year, the only hope for his ailing liver was Sovaldi, a new wonder drug by Gilead Sciences Inc. that would hit the market later that year.

In December 2013, Sovaldi won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Roth, of San Rafael, Calif., was placed on a 24-week treatment regimen. The cost: $168,000, or an eye-popping $1,000 per pill.

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Local Kaiser facilities earn environmental awards
Sacramento Business Journal

Seven Kaiser Permanente facilities in the Sacramento area — and more statewide — have received environmental awards from Practice Greenhealth, a national organization devoted to environmentally responsible operations and care.

No other local hospitals or clinics were honored, although several Dignity Health facilities in other parts of the state got awards and two in Arizona.

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Revenue at Hill Physicians passes $500 million
Sacramento Business Journal

Hill Physicians Medical Group Inc., a pioneer in accountable care and the use of technology to support it, has boosted revenue above the half-billion mark for the first time.

The independent practice association generated total revenue of $505.2 million in 2013, up 2.7 percent from $491.7 million in 2012. Net income rose 14.8 percent, to $13.6 million from $11.9 million, according to its 2013 annual report released Tuesday.

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KMC plans to lay off 51 in latest cost-cutting
Bakersfield Californian

Kern Medical Center will propose staff cuts Tuesday, that would lay off 51 workers to save a projected $5.7 million annually, it was announced Thursday.

Nine of the layoffs would come from closure of the home health care and outpatient physical therapy departments that was announced last week.

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Work on Sierra View District Hospital Wound Care Center started
Porterville Recorder

Sierra View District Hospital has begun construction of its new Wound Care Center at its Cobblestone complex property at the corner of Villa Street and Morton Avenue. The work is expected to be completed by November.

However, one thing must be replaced before the work is completed — the parking lot. “Liquid oxygen is needed to perform procedures on patients,” said hospital spokesperson Ramona Chiapa. “Liquid oxygen and asphalt is not a good mixture.”

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Sutter Health invests $11.5M in patient lifts
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Health will invest $11.5 million to install overhead patient lifts at 19 intensive care units and acute rehabilitation centers across its network, including four hospitals in the Sacramento region.

The investment, announced Thursday, follows a similar amount spent three years to install overhead lifts at 21 sites. Overhead patient lifts make repositioning and moving patients easier, safer and less strenuous for caregivers.

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Credit union donates $26,000 to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital pediatrics unit
KERO

A check in the amount of $26,423 was presented to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital’s pediatric unit by the president of Kern Schools Federal Credit Unions Thursday.

$710,000 was raised during the California and Nevada Credit Unions For Kids wine auction, held this past March.

This money was distributed among eleven Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in California and Nevada, including the Lauren Small Children’s Medical Center at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.

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Slideshow: The Clinical Strategy for Financial Health—Care Redesign and Standardization
Health Leaders Media

The new normal” is an apt phrase to describe the seemingly contradictory imperatives faced by hospital executives in the United States to reduce costs while simultaneously improving the quality of care. We are all too familiar with decreasing reimbursements, ever-rising costs, requirements to improve patient outcomes, and financial penalties for not achieving standards in those areas.

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Hospital health fair kicks off summer
Calaveras Enterprise

On the first day of the summertime season, Mark Twain Medical Center will host its fourth annual Summer Health Fair from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 21, at Terrace Plaza outside Valley Springs.

More than 20 community health-related service groups will provide information on topics such as senior health services, nutrition, fitness and diabetes. There will also be a variety of free health screenings – body mass index, physical fitness levels, stress levels and metabolic screenings.

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How Business Can Save America From Health Care
The Health Care Blog

One of America’s most enduring mysteries is why the organizations that pay for most health care don’t work together to force better value from the health care industry.

We pay double for health care what our competitors in other developed nations do, but studies show that more than half of our annual health care spend – equal to 9% of GDP or our 2012 budget deficit – provides zero value. Every health care sector has devised mechanisms that allow it to extract much more money than it is legitimately entitled to.

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