News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California declares whooping cough epidemic
KESQ News Channel 3

California is being hit hard with a whooping cough epidemic, according to the state’s public health department, with 800 cases reported in the past two weeks alone.

The agency says that there were 3,458 whooping cough cases reported between January 1 and June 10, well ahead of the number of cases reported for all of 2013.

This is a problem of “epidemic proportions,” the department said. And the number of actual cases may be even higher, because past studies have shown that for every case of whooping cough that is reported, there are 10 more that are not officially counted.

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How Much Market Power Do Hospitals Really Have?
The Health Care Blog

Sometimes big game hunters find frustration when their prey moves by the time they’ve lined up to blast it. That certainly appears to be the case with the health policy target de jour: whether providers, hospital systems in particular, exert too much market power. A recent cluster of papers and policy conferences this spring have targeted the question of whether hospital mergers have contributed to inflation in health costs, and what to do about them.

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UCSD plans county’s first cancer hospital
San Diego Union-Tribune

The county’s first cancer hospital is hiding behind the growing blue-green facade of UC San Diego’s Jacobs Medical Center.

When the 10-story, $839 million facility opens in 2016, the Pauline and Stanley Foster Hospital for Cancer Care will occupy floors four through six.

While it will not be a standalone structure like City of Hope in the Los Angeles area or the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the three-floor, 108-bed specialty hospital will nonetheless represent a shift in treatment options for local residents.

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Sonoma County duo makes ERs more human
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

An expenses-paid trip to northeast Florida sounds fun. Sonoma County’s Sue Wood and J. Patch Guglielmino surely will enjoy their journey later this month to historic, seaside St. Augustine and nearby Jacksonville. But it’s not a vacation. Wood, 82, and Guglielmino, 74, are seasoned Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital volunteers invited to Florida to share what they know about making hospital emergency rooms — often frantic, frightening, infuriating places — more human.

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U.S. Healthcare: Most Expensive and Worst Performing
The Atlantic

The origin of the phrase “You get what you pay for” is sometimes attributed to the fashion mogul Aldo Gucci, who said, “The bitterness of low quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded.” But when it comes to healthcare, Americans get neither quality nor affordability.

The United States healthcare system is the most expensive in the world, but when it comes to health outcomes, it performs worse than 11 other similar industrialized nations, according to a new report released today by the Commonwealth Fund.

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Once again, U.S. has most expensive, least effective health care system in survey
Washington Post

There are painful losing streaks that don’t really matter — say, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-game disaster in 1976 and 1977 — and losing streaks that really mean something. This one means something.

A report released Monday by a respected think tank ranks the United States dead last in the quality of its health-care system when compared with 10 other western, industrialized nations, the same spot it occupied in four previous studies by the same organization.

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California whooping cough cases now labeled an epidemic
The Mercury News

California is in the throes of a whooping cough epidemic, state health department officials announced Friday.

Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, said 3,458 cases of whooping cough have been reported since Jan. 1 — including 800 in the past two weeks. That total is more than all the cases reported in 2013.

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Whooping cough an ‘epidemic,’ state says; vaccinations urged
Orange County Register

Whooping cough cases in California and Orange County continue to rise, and on Friday state public health officials said the illness has again become an epidemic. As of last week, 3,458 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, have been reported to the state Department of Public Health in 2014, more than the total for last year. In the last two weeks, more than 800 cases have been reported.

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How Healthcare Reform Is Challenging Medical Malpractice
Insurance Journal

Though the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on medical malpractice insurance remains a bit of a puzzle, three insurance experts pieced together likely effects at an insurance conference for actuaries in late May.

Forecasting a coherent future from sparse data can be difficult, but it’s a skill casualty actuaries have gained through years of experience.

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Despite Need, Indigenous Farmworkers Have Little Access to Mental Health Services in California

When Irene Gomez emigrated from Mexico at 14, she immediately began working in the strawberry fields in the Oxnard Plain.

The work was exhausting, poorly paid and unreliable — but that was the least of her problems. She was also helping a friend escape from a violent relationship and was worried about living in the U.S. without legal papers.

She was overwhelmed, but felt she had nowhere to turn.

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Employers Bemoan ACA’s Costs But They Are Not Dropping Coverage

Though employers say the Affordable Care Act has certainly increased the cost of providing benefits to their workers, not even 1 percent plan to discontinue health benefits, according to a new survey.

A new analysis out this week from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans isn’t good news for workers given it is the latest evidence showing employers will continue to shift more of the share of the company paid premium onto their workers.

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Decoding premiums, co-insurance, co-pays and deductibles has some people reeling
Sacramento Bee

As soon as Deb Emerson, a former high school teacher from Oroville, bought a health plan in January through the state’s insurance exchange, she felt overwhelmed.

She couldn’t figure out what was covered and what wasn’t. Why weren’t her anti-depressant medications included? Why did she have to pay $60 to see a doctor? The insurance jargon – deductible, co-pay, premium, co-insurance – was like a foreign language. What did it mean?

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Why Health Outcomes Data Should Directly Feed Back To The Frontline
The Health Care Blog

The first time I met one of my staff physicians on Internal Medicine, he told our team he had just one rule:

“Our team must contact the patient’s family physician during the admission, inform him or her of the situation and plan for appropriate patient follow up after discharge.”

If you talk to any hospital physician or family doctor, they would almost certainly agree that this type of integration between hospital and community is essential for reducing avoidable ER visits, readmissions and improving other key health outcomes. Put more simply, it’s just good care.

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ACPE Launches School for CMOs
Health Leaders Media

The times, they are a changin’, and physicians need new skills, knowledge and strategies to fill today’s leadership jobs, especially if they strive to fill chief medical officer slots in their organizations.

That’s the belief of the American College of Physician Executives, the largest association for physician leaders in the U.S. ACPE has partnered with The Joint Commission to launch what it’s calling a first-of-its kind CMO Academy.

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Kaiser Permanente puts the final touches on its new Oakland Medical Center, set to open July 1
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente is putting the final touches on its new Oakland Medical Center, set to open for business July 1. Demolition of the medical office building on the site began in late 2009. The new tower, part of an estimated $1 billion expansion and rebuild at Kaiser’s flagship hospital campus on MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland is nearly complete. And staffers are working to move boxes and other material from the old hospital to the new, as seen in the accompanying slideshow.