News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Unexpected Drop in Health Care Spending Causes 2.9% Decline in GDP
California Healthline

An unexpected drop in health care spending — combined with other factors — caused the overall gross domestic product to decline by 2.9% in the first quarter of 2014, according to the Department of Commerce’s final quarterly GDP estimate, New York Times’ “The Upshot” reports (Irwin, “The Upshot,” New York Times, 6/25).

The overall drop in GDP was almost three times steeper than the DOC’s May estimate for the first quarter, and well below an April forecast of a 0.1% increase in GDP, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

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Study: Feds Should Align ACA Open Enrollment Period, Tax Season
California Healthline

More low-income U.S. residents would be likely to sign up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges if the annual open enrollment period is aligned with the period when most people file their tax returns and receive their refunds, according to a new study published in Health Affairs, Modern Healthcare’s “Vital Signs” reports (Demko, “Vital Signs,” Modern Healthcare, 6/25).

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Los Angeles County sees sharp increase in whooping cough, health official says
Los Angeles Daily News

Whooping cough cases continue to increase across Los Angeles County, health officials warned Thursday, reinforcing what has already been deemed an epidemic statewide.

A total of 345 confirmed and probable cases, with no deaths, have been logged in 2014 so far in the county, but the county health department is investigating at least 10 more reports. The number of cases this year has grown 17 percent from last year, when Los Angeles saw 296 cases.

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What’s the best way to monitor psychiatric inpatients? Mobile health company offers an answer
MedCity News

Inadequate monitoring frequently plays a role in suicides or suicide attempts among psychiatric inpatients. Falls and other injuries are also a big patient safety concern. Both of these issues highlight the need for more sophisticated tools to help monitor psychiatric inpatients. A healthcare startup has developed a mobile health “clipboard” designed to help medical staff keep a closer eye on their patients and do a better job of making observation checks every 15 minutes.

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HHS announces auto-enrollment for current ACA consumers
Modern Healthcare

Individuals who signed up for coverage through the state and federal exchanges will be automatically re-enrolled in coverage for 2015, under a proposed rule issued by HHS on Thursday. The proposal reduces the likelihood that there will be a steep drop-off among the roughly 8 million individuals who signed up for private health plans during the 2014 open enrollment period.

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Plan to streamline health law re-enrollment
San Francisco Chronicle

The Obama administration said Thursday it wants most of the 8 million Americans already signed up for coverage under the health care law to be able to renew their coverage easily.

New Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell outlined a two-step approach:

— People who want to keep their current insurance will be automatically re-enrolled, if the plan is available.

— For most, the government will re-estimate the amount of subsidies that work to reduce their premiums.

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Covered California Needs Better Outreach to Limited-English Speakers, Advocates Say
KQED Radio

Covered California may have had strong overall enrollment, but people who do not speak English as a first language are underrepresented in the state’s health insurance marketplace, according to an analysis from Berkeley’s Greenlining Institute.

The report relied on Covered California data, which showed that 20 percent of enrollees do not speak English as a primary language. That’s compared with 44 percent of Californians overall.

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Los Angeles County logs 345 whooping cough cases in 2014 — so far
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County has already logged 345 confirmed and probable cases of pertussis this year, health officials said Thursday.

The county’s Department of Public Health is also investigating 356 “suspect cases” of the contagious and potentially deadly illness, also known as whooping cough, the department reported in a statement.

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Medicaid Expansion Hits Resistance from States
Health Leaders Media

The low-hanging fruit of Medicaid expansion has been harvested.

There are 27 states that have accepted the federal government’s offer to help pay for Medicaid expansion. The other 23 states, mostly politically “red” states across the South, Plains, and Rocky Mountains, are locked in partisan struggles over expanding the program. The expansion of Medicaid to more poor adult Americans is a key component of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Checkered progress on disabled care despite ruling
San Francisco Chronicle

Brent Kaderli has a wheelchair-accessible van waiting in the driveway, a hospital bed in a spare bedroom and an electric lift that’s left unused. If the 30-year-old quadriplegic had his way, he’d be living here, in his father’s house, with help from aides. Instead, he is in an institution, hoping each day for a place that feels more like a home.

Fifteen years after a landmark Supreme Court ruling that the disabled should be given the choice to live outside nursing homes, mental hospitals and other institutions, its legacies are dueling.

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Hospital performs emergency scenario

Feather River Hospital in Paradise held a drill Thursday to prepare for multiple casualty incidents. The hospital staff said this is crucial because they need to be ready to treat their patients and know where else they could send them.

The drill assumed a multiple-car accident happened and a school bus crashed into a gas station nearby. Butte County first responders and paramedics teamed up with the Feather River Hospital staff to act out the scenario.

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A matter of life and death
San Francisco Business Times

Bob Flood lived to tell the tale of his nightmare. Tens of thousands each year do not.

It began four years ago when the San Francisco resident grew weary of living with chronic back pain. He and his wife Val, a retired nurse, carefully researched surgical options, visiting Stanford Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston before deciding on UCSF Medical Center. The July 2, 2010 operation seemed to go well, but a day or two later the Floods saw signs of an infection.

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Intel-GE Care Innovations launches validation institute for remote care services
Sacramento Business Journal

Intel-GE Care Innovations plans to launch an institute that will set standards for remote care management services and validate programs that do it right.

The institute will be based in Roseville at the current Care Innovations office on Douglas Avenue. The initiative, announced Wednesday, is a collaboration between Care Innovations and disease management and research expert Al Lewis. He’s currently leading the effort but others will be hired as the institute grows, company spokeswoman Rachel Radcliff said.

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Lifting spirits at Merced’s Mercy Medical Center with music
Sacramento Bee

A stay in the hospital can be a monotonous experience, but the harmonious sound of a guitar or violin can help raise a patient’s spirit and maybe even put a smile on their face.

Mercy Medical Center’s Volunteer Music Program strives to do just that. The program is currently made up of seven musicians who dedicate a few hours every month to play for patients at the hospital. The musicians do bedside visits and play in selected common areas of the hospital or cancer center where patients, caregivers and staff can enjoy the music.