News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California nurses association plays hardball
Sacramento Bee

Sometimes the biggest problem with a piece of legislation is who is behind it.

The California Nurses Association and the California Hospital Association are battling over Assembly Bill 503, which proposes tighter regulations on not-for-profit hospitals – namely a uniform standard for charity care and a uniform methodology for reporting how that care is provided.

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MedPAC Offers 7 Ways to Adjust Medicare Payments
Health Leaders Media

How should Medicare fix Medicare?

Options for improving the federal risk adjustment formula to account for variations in patient severity and how patient medication adherence impacts federal healthcare spending are two of seven issues highlighted in the latest report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

MedPAC, an independent Congressional agency, is mandated by Congress to report on payment issues and make recommendations, and does so twice a year, with reports published in March and June.

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Disrupted: How Computerization Is Changing the Practice of Medicine In Surprising Ways
The Health Care Blog

The following is an excerpt from the preface of my new book, which is tentatively titled: “Disrupted: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s New Age” (author’s note and request to THCB readers).

If you’re a 24-year-old who does not plan on getting sick for the next couple of decades, this is probably not the book blog post for you. By the time you need our healthcare system, it will be wired in ways we can’t imagine today.

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U.S. health care system ranks lowest in international survey
CBS News

The U.S. spends more money on health care compared with other industrialized countries, but Americans still get the least bang for their buck — and many still don’t have access to care — according to a report just published by the Commonwealth Fund. The report from the private health care research foundation examined data on expenditures, delivery and access to health care services among 11 industrialized countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.

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Budget deal: Mixed bag on health care
Sacramento Business Journal

The new state budget approved Sunday by California lawmakers is a mixed bag when it comes to health care services.

The budget deal — which must be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown before it becomes law — includes $437 million to support Medi-Cal expansion under federal health reform and boosts Medi-Cal coverage for pregnant women and behavioral health treatment, but leaves in place a 10 percent cut in Medi-Cal provider fees.

The legislative budget ensures catastrophic health care coverage for agricultural workers and grants overtime to in-home supportive services workers for the first time, but fails to restore a 7 percent cut to home-care recipients’ hours.

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Friday on the Maddy Report: Affordable Care Act
Visialia Times-Delta

Friday on “The Maddy Report”: “Affordable Care Act: Diagnosing the Costs and Benefits”

Guests Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California; John Kabateck, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses/California; Duane Donner, president/CEO of the California Hospital Association; and Charlies Bacchi, executive vice president of the California Association of Health Plans, discuss the Affordable Care Act with Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

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Many Health Measures in Budget Plan Advanced by Lawmakers
California Healthline

On Sunday, California lawmakers approved a $156.4 billion state budget plan that includes several provisions that affect the state Department of Health Care Services, the Department of Public Health and other health care-related agencies, the Sacramento Bee reports.

The plan was approved by a 25-11 vote in the state Senate, with one Republican lawmaker voting in favor of the proposal, and by a 55-24 vote along party lines in the Assembly. The budget proposal now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who has until the end of June to sign it (Siders/White, Sacramento Bee, 6/15).

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AHIP: Payers Make Consumers Their Focal Point
Health Leaders Media

When it comes to selling health insurance, employers are no longer the only game in town as individuals increasingly become their own purchasing agents on health insurance exchanges.

The shift from wholesale to retail was a dominant theme at this year’s American Health Insurance Plans Institute conference in Seattle June 11–13, with at least one speaker expressing a dire warning for payers.

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Physicians Push for Extension of Medicaid Reimbursement Increase
California Healthline

A group of 21 physician associations and health care organizations has asked lawmakers to extend an increase in Medicaid reimbursements for primary care physicians under the Affordable Care Act that is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, Modern Healthcare reports (Robeznieks, Modern Healthcare, 6/16).

Under the ACA, the federal government was expected to spend $11 billion to bring Medicaid reimbursement rates for PCPs in line with rates paid by Medicare beginning Jan. 1, 2013. The provision was designed to incentivize physicians to accept more Medicaid beneficiaries ahead of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion (California Healthline, 8/20/13).

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Sweet Charity: The Truth Behind Hospitals’ Community Benefits Windfall
The Huffington Post

Every year Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center releases a glossy brochure called Report to the Community. Among the doctor profiles and research-breakthrough stories are several dry metrics dealing with the number of beds, total patient and outpatient days and, perhaps most impressively, the year’s dollar value for something called “community benefit contributions.”

Cedars, which is the state’s third highest-earning nonprofit hospital, claimed $640.3 million as its 2012 community benefit contribution.

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New study aims to rapidly test lung cancer drugs
San Francisco Chronicle

A bold new way to test cancer drugs started Monday in hundreds of hospitals around the U.S. In a medical version of speed dating, doctors will sort through multiple experimental drugs and match patients to the one most likely to succeed based on each person’s unique tumor gene profile.

It’s a first-of-a-kind experiment that brings together five drug companies, the government, private foundations and advocacy groups. The idea came from the federal Food and Drug Administration, which has agreed to consider approving new medicines based on results from the study.

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Anthem Blue Cross wins appeal over Children’s Hospital Central California bill
Fresno Bee

Anthem Blue Cross has scored a victory in a multimillion-dollar dispute between the health plan and Children’s Hospital Central California that seven years ago forced many poor Valley families to travel miles for care.

But a recent court ruling in Blue Cross’ favor doesn’t end its five-year-old legal fight with Children’s. Instead, the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno ordered a new trial between the health insurer and the hospital to settle damages.

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Hoag Hospital Receives $1M Gift
Newport Beach Independent

“Twenty-five years of teaching kindergarten tugs at my heart and makes me want to give back,” said Catherine Emmi.

This week, Catherine and her husband James gave back in a big way when they donated $1 million to Hoag Hospital Foundation.

“Jimmy and I have a deep affection for Hoag and feel it is important to support the community we call home,” said Catherine Emmi.

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How to keep our hospital healthy
Petaluma Argus Courier

With the recent shuttering of Sebastopol’s 73-year-old Palm Drive Hospital, some Petalumans might be wondering if their own hospital is destined for a similar fate.