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News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Nearly 60% of ACA enrollees had been uninsured, Kaiser survey finds
Modern Healthcare

Among Americans who purchased health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges, the percentage of those who were previously uninsured may be twice as high as earlier estimates indicated, according to survey results released today by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Nearly six in 10 people who obtained insurance in the new marketplaces were uninsured just prior to buying coverage, Kaiser reported, with the majority having been uninsured for at least two years. And nearly half of that group had gone without insurance coverage for at least five years.

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Ballot measure not the right prescription for substance abuse by doctors
Sacramento Bee

Larry was a doctor trainee at a hospital where I taught in Burbank. I recommended that he not pass, due to very poor preparation and work habits. But he did, and set up practice nearby.

He had trouble with general practice, and drifted into addiction medicine over time. He moved outside the immediate area, but word was that he was one of the local “go-to” guys for getting prescription narcotics, and people who encountered him thought he might be high.

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California health exchange wants to analyze rate initiative
Fresno Bee

California’s health insurance exchange pressed for answers Thursday to how an initiative slated for the November ballot would affect its operations.

Covered California board members said they want an expedited analysis of the measure, including its influence on the exchange and its consumers. The as-yet-unnumbered initiative, advanced by Consumer Watchdog and Democratic Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, would allow the insurance commissioner to reject excessive health insurance rate hikes.

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Would you want to know if you’re likely to get Alzheimer’s disease?
Washington Post

A large and potentially groundbreaking drug trial holds the promise of a new way to treat Alzheimer’s disease, but the test will require thousands of healthy volunteers who may be especially difficult to recruit, in part because of a simple fact about the widely feared illness: Those who have, or are likely to get, Alzheimer’s disease may not want to know it.

The Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s, or A4 Study, is the first to try to prevent memory loss by identifying and treating people whose brains show the earliest changes related to the disease, years before they begin to lose cognitive function.

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Ballot measure won’t disrupt Obamacare in California, backers say
Los Angeles Times

In response to concerns raised by California’s health exchange, backers of a statewide ballot measure on health insurance rate regulation insisted Thursday that the measure would not disrupt how Obamacare works in the state.

Consumer groups and California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones are pushing for more authority over health premiums for consumers and small businesses. In November, voters will decide whether to give the insurance commissioner veto power over rate increases.

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Number of uninsured in Los Angeles could drop 57% by 2016, study finds
Los Angeles Times

The number of uninsured residents in Los Angeles could drop 57% by 2016 as a result of the federal health law’s expansion of coverage, according to a new report.

The study released Thursday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation predicts that the number of city residents without health coverage could decline from 1.2 million people to 524,000 in 2016.

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Initial filings show 8% rise in premiums for 2015, Avalere says
Modern Healthcare

Insurers want to raise premiums by an average of 8% for individual plans that will be sold through state and federal exchanges in nine states, according to an analysis by Avalere Health.

The average premium for a silver plan, designed to cover 70% of medical costs, would increase from $324 to $350 a month.

The Washington-based research firm scrutinized rate filings in Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

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Are Doctors Paid Too Much? Behind Medicine’s Nasty Little PR Problem
The Health Care Blog

On the front page of last Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal was this headline: “Taxpayers Foot Big Bills from Handful of Doctors.” It is a two-page story about a clinician whose practice drew attention from the WSJ research team that combed through the recently released Medicare Utilization and Payment database released in April. They wrote:

“Ronald S. Weaver isn’t a cardiologist. Yet 98% of the $2.3 million that the Los Angeles doctor’s practice received from Medicare in 2012 was for a cardiac procedure, according to recently released government data…

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Black, Hispanic dialysis patients admitted more often for infections
Modern Healthcare

Black and Hispanic patients on dialysis for end-stage renal disease had markedly higher rates of infection-related hospitalizations and were less likely to have visited a specialist for pre-treatment care, a new study finds.

Infection-related hospitalizations were about 20% higher for blacks of all ages, and about 30% higher for older Hispanics, compared with white patients, said study co-author Dr. Keith Norris of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

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Flawed management led to improper inspections of L.A. County nursing homes, audit says
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Los Angeles County public health staff repeatedly failed to follow state policies on nursing home inspections, leading to improper closure of cases and incomplete and delayed investigations, according to a report issued by the California Department of Public Health.

After reviewing a sampling of 136 cases received since 2009, the state health department found that LA. County officials did not properly prioritize or track investigations. The county faces a backlog of hundreds of nursing home safety complaints.

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Sacramento region scrambles to confront new ‘dental care crisis’
Sacramento Bee

The last in a long line of Northern California hospitals abruptly announced last week it will discontinue dental surgery programs, igniting a scramble by community health leaders to solve what they termed yet another “dental care crisis” in Sacramento County.

Sutter Medical Center is just the latest health system to shut down its dental surgery program over concern for the bottom line.  Sutter’s decision leaves the region with no hospital willing to brave financial losses in order to serve such vulnerable patients as severely autistic adults who must undergo costly anesthesia to endure dental work.

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Contra Costa Health Plan must withdraw from state health insurance exchange
Contra Costa Times

An East Bay health insurance plan offered under Covered California will be forced to withdraw from the exchange in 2015 because it could not meet a federal regulation.

The Contra Costa Health Plan, which says its 1,100 new enrollees will remain covered through the end of the year, ran afoul of a recently clarified rule that insurers must offer the same plan inside or outside the exchange.

“We are deeply disappointed that we are going to have to exit for the next year under the exchange,”Patricia Tanquary, CEO of the health plan, told the Covered California

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Bakersfield Heart Hospital earns 2014 Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award
KERO

Bakersfield Heart Hospital has been recognized with a Patient Safety Excellence Award™ for 2014 from Healthgrades, a nationwide online resource center for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals.

A spokesperson for the hospital says this distinction places BHH within the top 10 percent of all hospitals evaluated for their excellent performance in safeguarding patients from serious, potentially preventable complications during their hospital stays.

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Kaiser Permanente names new boss for East Bay operations
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente named a new boss for its sprawling East Bay operations, including medical centers in Oakland and Richmond, 314,000 enrollees and operating revenue of more than $2 billion — in other words, a bigger kingdom than many entire state systems. Kaiser’s new East Bay area manager and senior vice president is Odette Bolano, set to start her new job July 21. She hails from the St. Joseph Health System in Bryan, in Texas’s Brazos Valley, which boasts about $1 billion in revenue.

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