News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Study finds 3-D mammography more effective at detecting most lethal breast cancers
Washington Post

Adding 3-D mammography to conventional digital mammography substantially improved detection of invasive breast cancers and reduced the number of women called back for reexamination, according to the first large study of the new technology, released Tuesday.

Doctors in 13 academic and community health settings discovered 41 percent more of the most lethal cancers when women had both traditional digital mammograms and the 3-D screening known as “tomosynthesis.” The technology, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011, provides images that appear as slices of the breast, removing the effect of overlapping breast tissue that can obscure views of tumors.

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Hospital Networks Are Leaking Data, Leaving Critical Devices Vulnerable
Wired News

Two researchers examining the security of hospital networks have found many of them leak valuable information to the internet, leaving critical systems and equipment vulnerable to hacking.

The data, which in some cases enumerates every computer and device on a hospital’s internal network, would allow hackers to easily locate and map systems to conduct targeted attacks.

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Where Are The Hot Spots For Antibiotic Resistance?
The Health Care Blog

In July, CDC will roll out a new way every hospital in the country can track and control drug resistant bacteria. CDC already operates the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), with more than 12,000 health care facilities participating. Now we are implementing a breakthrough program that will take control of drug resistance to the next level – the Antibiotic Use and Resistance (AUR) reporting module. The module is fully automated, capturing antibiotic prescriptions and drug susceptibility test results electronically.

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Sick Drawn to New Coverage in Health-Law Plans
The Wall Street Journal

People enrolled in new plans under the health law are showing higher rates of serious health conditions than other insurance customers, according to an early analysis of medical claims, putting pressure on insurers around the country as they prepare to propose rates for next year.

Among those health-law marketplace enrollees who have seen a doctor or other health-care provider in the first quarter of this year, around 27% have significant health issues such as diabetes, psychiatric conditions, asthma, heart problems or cancer, the data show.

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Think-tank says ‘family glitch’ could deprive children of coverage
The Hill

A conservative think-tank warns almost 2 million children may be without health coverage if the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is cancelled because kids are now covered under ObamaCare.

The American Action Forum says that while the Affordable Care Act has extended healthcare coverage to individuals and their families, an interpretation of the law called the “family glitch” could leave many children without coverage.

“Though the ACA mandates that employers offer coverage deemed affordable for their employees, the administration has interpreted this requirement as applying only to the employee and not extending the same benefits to members of the employee’s family,” say Angela Boothe and Christopher Holt, policy analysts at AAF, in a Tuesday blog post.

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In California, Health Care is Often Lost for Lack of Translation
New America Media

When Khanh Trong Vu, 85, went to Summit Medical Center here with sharp abdominal pains three years ago, doctors and nurses there couldn’t understand what he was trying to tell them in his native Vietnamese. So in desperation he called a Vietnamese friend, Phuong Hang Phi Duong, to interpret for him.

A series of blood tests later, he was quickly wheeled into surgery to remove an inflamed appendix.

“I was luckily at home when he called,” noted Duong, whose timely arrival at the hospital Vu believed saved his life.

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In push to extend Medicaid pay bump, docs downplay ACA link
Modern Healthcare

Physician groups are lobbying hard to extend an Obamacare provision that requires state Medicaid programs to pay primary-care physicians at higher Medicare rates to improve access for Medicaid patients.

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Beware the Reimbursement Gap
Health Leaders Media

A little-known provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could leave physicians holding the bag when patients don’t pay their insurance premiums, yet doctors are obligated to provide care during a grace period.

If the patient doesn’t pay up, the insurer doesn’t have to pay the doctor for care provided in the grace period. That means that up to two months of your services are not reimbursed.

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Bill Requires Non-Profit Hospitals to Disclose Spending on Charity Care

California’s more than 200 non-profit hospitals claim billions of dollars in federal and state tax exemptions annually. In exchange for that tax relief, they’re required to offer free and discounted health care for the poor and benefits like free vaccinations or disease prevention programs for their communities.

Non-profits don’t distribute earnings to shareholders like for-profit hospitals do and instead plow them back into the organization.

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3-D Mammography Test Appears to Improve Breast Cancer Detection Rate
New York Times

Adding a newer test to digital mammograms can increase the detection rate for breast cancer and decrease nerve-racking false alarms, in which suspicious findings lead women to get extra scans that turn out normal, a study found.

Millions of women will get the newer test, tomosynthesis, this year. The procedure is nearly identical to a routine mammogram, except that in mammography the machine is stationary, while in tomosynthesis it moves around the breast. Sometimes called 3-D mammography, the test takes many X-rays at different angles to create a three-dimensional image of the breast. It was approved in the United States in 2011.

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Verizon wants to power your virtual doctor visits

Open up and say “ahhh” to your smartphone.

Verizon tonight announced the launch of a new mobile health platform, Verizon Virtual Visits, which will let you set up a quick virtual appointment with doctors using your smartphone, computer, or tablet.

With the new platform, Verizon claims its the first large company to enter the telemedicine market (at the time of this post, I haven’t found any examples to prove otherwise). It also fits right alongside Verizon’s moves towards exploring new markets — like ways to utilize its LTE network for connected devices.

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Northern California Counties Named Healthiest for Kids

The study for America’s 50 healthiest counties for kids is out, and California has several regional counties making the list.

Placer, Yolo and El Dorado counties made the top 50 list for healthiest kids.

The study published in U.S. News looks at infant mortality, teen birthrate, injury, death rate and other markers.

Placer County ranked 17th , with Yolo County placing 30th and El Dorado ranked 43rd.

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Placer, El Dorado, Yolo rank among 50 healthiest U.S. counties for kids
Sacramento Bee

Local health officers have a common recipe for keeping their counties’ children healthy: Make sure children and their parents have ready access to doctors. Provide prenatal care for young mothers. Educate families on healthy habits. Keep kids active and in school.

“One of the drivers of economic health is the physical and mental health of the community,” said Dr. Robert Oldham, Placer County health officer.

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Sutter agrees to extend dental surgery program
Sacramento Bee

Sacramento County’s latest dental-care crisis appears to have been averted for now during a meeting Monday at the Capitol.

Convened by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, the gathering brought together community health leaders, representatives from Sutter Medical Center, other care systems, dentists, anesthesiologists and advocates for oral health care policy.

The stakeholders hammered out a short-term solution to ensure that developmentally disabled adults and children have access to oral health care that often requires full anesthesia for the special-needs p

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Valley Medical Center kicks off $25M fundraising goal with three major donors
Silicon Valley Business Journal

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center launched a $25 million fundraising campaign to overhaul its women’s and children’s health services with three major sponsors on board. The hospital plans to consolidate and renovate these health services into a 300,000-square-foot wing at its San Jose main campus. Kickstarting the campaign: First 5 Santa Clara County, which contributed $4 million; John and Ann Rademakers, who donated $1 million; and the Sharks Foundation and SAP, which contributed $750,000.

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Dignity Health names new exec for Sacramento area
Sacramento Bee

Laurie Harting, with more than 30 years in the health care industry, has been appointed senior vice president of operations for the greater Sacramento region of Dignity Health.

She assumes her new duties July 14.

Dignity Health’s regional service area includes Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento, Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael, Mercy Hospital of Folsom, Woodland Memorial Hospital and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley. Collectively, more than 7,000 employees work at those facilities.