News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Providers Blast CMS on Two-Midnight Rule
Health Leaders Media

For the past year, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have been at odds with healthcare providers over a proposed standard for drawing the line between outpatient and inpatient status.

Under the proposed “two-midnight rule,” most hospital stays lasting less than two midnights in duration would be reimbursed at outpatient rates through Medicare B. Longer stays requiring hospital admission would be reimbursed at the more lucrative Medicare A inpatient rate.

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CMS to expand bundled-payment initiative
Modern Healthcare

More hospitals, nursing homes and healthcare providers are poised to join Medicare’s ambitious test of bundled payments, and the expansion underscores federal policymakers’ eagerness to accelerate reforms in healthcare financing — even ahead of evidence that new models will succeed. In recent weeks Medicare began to notify new entrants to its bundled payment initiative, in which hospitals, doctors and nursing homes gamble on their ability to deliver all of the services patients need during an episode of care for a set price.

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Hobby Lobby win expected to have little impact in California
Sacramento Business Journal

Hobby Lobby’s win at the U.S. Supreme Court will have limited effect in California because state law requires health insurance plans to cover a full range of contraceptive options.

There is a narrow exemption in state law for nonprofit religious employers and companies that self insure do not fall under the mandate, but state law dampens the effect of Monday’s 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that closely held corporations can’t be compelled to provide forms of contraceptive coverage that violate the religious beliefs of their owners.

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Infection Prevention Effort Targets Hospital Handshakes
Health Leaders Media

It may be time for hospitals, doctors and nurses — and all healthcare settings where infections spread—to ban the handshake, starting with high risk areas. So suggests evidence from pediatrician Mark Sklansky, MD, and colleagues at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA.

“Shaking peoples’ hands in hospital settings where we know there’s a lot of vulnerable patients and a concentrated amount of pathogenic organisms just doesn’t make sense,” he says. “We know that hand-related transmission of disease is a big part of hospital-acquired infections, and we know the handshake is part of that.”

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Healthy women do not need routine pelvic exams, influential physicians group says
Washington Post

The nation’s second-largest physicians’ organization said Monday that healthy women who are not pregnant do not need routine pelvic exams, a controversial recommendation based on its analysis that, on balance, the manual screening does more harm than good.

The American College of Physicians, which represents 137,000 internal medicine physicians and related specialists, said the diagnostic procedure causes some women discomfort, anxiety, pain and additional medical costs, and may keep some from seeing their doctors. Yet it does little to detect ovarian cancer or other disorders.

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Supreme Court sides with employers over birth control mandate
Washington Post

The Supreme Court struck down a key part of President Obama’s health-care law Monday, ruling that family-owned businesses do not have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the owners’ religious beliefs.

The decision deeply split the court, not only on its holding that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) protects some businesses from offering contraceptive coverage but also on how broadly the ruling will apply to other challenges in which businesses say laws impose on their religious beliefs.

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Justices act in other health law mandate cases
San Francisco Chronicle

The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that its decision a day earlier extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the handful of methods the justices considered in their ruling.

The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings in favor of businesses that object to covering all 20 methods of government-approved contraception.

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Skip The Stirrups: Doctors Rethink Yearly Pelvic Exams
National Public Radio

The American College of Physicians said Monday that it strongly recommends against annual pelvic exams for healthy, low-risk women.

In fact, the intrusive exams may do more harm than good for women who aren’t pregnant or don’t have signs of problems, a group of doctors wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

When we heard that news here at Shots, we were happily surprised. No more stirrups? No more stripping down below the waist or hearing those dreaded words: “Now, you’re going to feel a little pressure”?

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Home healthcare ruling may inhibit growth of powerful union
Los Angeles Times

The Service Employees International Union has been one of the fastest-growing unions in the country, a success story during a challenging time for labor.

But the SEIU may have trouble maintaining its growth after Monday’s Supreme Court decision allowing home healthcare workers to opt out of paying union fees even if the union bargains on their behalf. If history is any guide, once workers can opt out of paying fees, they also opt out of belonging to the union.

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Nurses at Sutter’s Modesto hospital vote “no” to unionization
Sacramento Business Journal

Registered nurses at a Modesto hospital affiliated with Sutter Health want to remain non-union, according to preliminary results from a vote last week. With a 92 percent turnout, 352 nurses voted for representation by the California Nurses Association, but 462 voted to remain union-free, the hospital reported late Friday. That’s a ‘No’ vote of 57 percent to 43 percent in favor of the union. Voting took place June 26 and 27. The National Labor Relations Board usually certifies election results in a week, unless a party files objections.

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Report: Health law sign-ups dogged by data flaws
San Francisco Chronicle

Many of the 8 million Americans signed up under the new health care law now have to clear up questions about their personal information that could affect their coverage.

A government watchdog said Tuesday the Obama administration faces a huge task resolving these “inconsistencies” and in some cases didn’t follow its own procedures for verifying eligibility.

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Rite Aid fined $498K for neglecting consultations
San Diego Union-Tribune

Rite Aid is paying nearly a half-million dollars to settle a lawsuit brought against it for failing to provide pharmacy customers in California with required consultations.

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced the $498,000 settlement on Monday, saying the chain cooperated quickly to resolve the matter and come up with new compliance measures.

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SF hospital reflects on Asiana crash while looking ahead to new facilities
San Francisco Examiner

It’s not every day that 25 ambulances stream into San Francisco General Hospital back-to-back. But that’s what happened July 6 after the crash-landing of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport.

Of the more than 300 passengers and flight crew onboard, 181 were injured — 12 critically — and three killed.

As the one-year anniversary of the crash approaches, the hospital that treated 67 of the victims within six hours of the incident is reflecting on what became an emotional and life-altering day for doctors, nurses and other staff.

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Monterey County not immune to California’s whooping cough epidemic
Monterey Herald

A week after California health officials declared a whooping cough epidemic, Monterey County’s health officer is urging people get vaccinated.

Three babies have died in California this year of the illness, also known as pertussis. As of June 24, over 4,500 cases had been reported throughout the state, and 72 in Monterey County.

Last year, Monterey County saw 10 cases in the same time period.

“We usually see increases in pertussis every three or four years,” said Ed Moreno, Monterey County’s health officer and director of public health.

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Monterey County supervisors to consider ‘Minority Mental Health Month’ resolution
Monterey Herald

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors will be asked on Tuesday to consider a resolution to declare July as “Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month” in Monterey County. The resolution is named in honor of the renowned African-American author and founder of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

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San Joaquin Hospital offers to do study for Taft health care
Taft Midway Driller

There have been some significant developments in the effort to build a new medical infrastructure in Taft, giving the West Side Health care District a lot to consider

  • A major Bakersfield hospital and has offered to fund and conduct a feasibility study for a possible new medical plaza,
  • The district is taking steps towards possibly hiring an administrator
  • District staff starting to discuss opening the Westside Urgent Care earlier.
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Scripps Encinitas to open new ER
San Diego Union-Tribune

When Dr. Scott Eisman started working nights in the Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas emergency room during the 1980s, patients were few and far between. With two or three nightly visitors, there was even enough down time to play catch at a baseball field across the street.

Not any more.

“Now it is full almost 24 hours a day,” said Eisman, currently the hospital’s chief of staff. “There has been a tremendous growth in the community.”

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Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas Unveils New Emergency Department
KPBS

As population grows in the Encinitas area, emergency room visits are on the rise.

Scripps Encinitas officials say since 2000, population in the surrounding area has increased by 20 percent. Annual visits to the emergency department have more than doubled.

To alleviate this increase, Scripps CEO Chris Van Gorder said the ER needed more space.

“We’re often on kind of diversion or standby, or trying to squeeze in patients because the need for more beds was there. And so, to be honest with you, expanding to a 26-bed emergency room is long overdue,” Van Gorder explained.

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