News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Judge to mull senator’s suit over health exchanges
San Francisco Chronicle

A federal judge will hear arguments this week on whether to toss a U.S. senator’s lawsuit challenging rules that force congressional members and their staffs to obtain government-subsidized health insurance through small business exchanges. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin contends that senators, representatives and their employees aren’t eligible for the exchanges under the federal health care law because they work for a government that employs millions. He also argues that premium subsidies that congressional members and staffers receive will foster resentment among his constituents.

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San Francisco is likely to approve Laura’s Law mental health program
Los Angeles Times

Family members of those who have suffered multiple mental health crises and refuse help or fail to stick with it are begging for a Laura’s Law program — which could court-order the intractably ill into outpatient treatment. Police officers and firefighters who see the same people cycle through hospitalizations and jail want it too.

Then there are the mental health consumers who are well enough to speak of the trauma inflicted by coercive care. It doesn’t work, they say. It drives people from treatment.

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No practicing on patients: New docs get boot camp
Sacramento Bee

First-day jitters come with any new job but when the work involves pushing needles into strangers’ bellies, stitching up gaping wounds or even delivering babies, that debut can be especially nerve-wracking — for everyone involved.

Brand-new doctors often launch right into patient care within weeks of graduating from medical school. To make sure their skills are up to snuff, many medical schools and hospitals run crash courses in the basics for these new interns.

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Should Medical Ethics Be Modernized?
The Health Care Blog

Last month the American Medical Association wrapped up its annual meeting in Chicago, where it has reached the final stages of modernizing its 167-year-old Code of Medical Ethics, last updated more than 50 years ago. The central role of ethics in medicine is reflected in the fact that, at the AMA’s first meeting in 1847, it treated the establishment of a code of ethics as one of its two principal orders of business. Much in medicine has changed since 1847, but this founding document, which most physicians and patients have never seen, still offers important insights that deserve to be reaffirmed.

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Senate Democrats: Obamacare? What’s that?
San Francisco Chronicle

North Carolina Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan has her Republican opponent right where she wants him geographically — and, therefore, politically.

Thom Tillis is stuck at the state capitol trying to resolve a budget quarrel as speaker of the North Carolina House. It’s a spot that helps Hagan emphasize Tillis’ role leading a Republican-controlled state government that Democrats contend has gone overboard with conservative zeal by restricting access to abortion and the voting booth while cutting corporate taxes and slashing spending on schools.

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New federal health-care rules allow foster youth to get coverage until age 26
Whittier Daily News

Recently, Marcy Valenzuela of Whittier went to see a doctor at PIH Health for rheumatoid arthritis that has been causing her pain.

It was her first doctor’s visit since she was diagnosed three years ago with the disease that typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet.

The only reason she could afford to go is that Valenzuela, 25, who grew up in the foster-care system, is now eligible for Medi-Cal under rules put forth by the federal Affordable Care Act that took effect this year.

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Health-care coverage should not punish federal employees, or anyone
Washington Post

I was thrilled to work for the federal government for six years. I believe passionately in the importance of public service, and I had both job security in a field I care deeply about and amazing co-workers. It never occurred to me that my employment placed me at any disadvantage — until I came face to face with special laws that restricted my reproductive choices. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, given increasing attempts across the United States to limit women’s access to reproductive health care, in some cases with the backing of the Supreme Court.

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Mandate a digital divide among doctors
Orange County Register

Dr. Martin Fee, an infectious disease specialist, doesn’t miss the days of chasing medical records through the corridors of Orange County hospitals. “I spent half my time finding clipboards to find out if my patient had a fever overnight,” said Fee, chief of staff at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach. To learn the results of a patient’s CT scan, he said, he would tromp downstairs to radiology to review the films in person.

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Construction nearly complete, Sutter hospital prepares for opening
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Utility systems are fully operational, the floors, ceilings and walls are freshly painted and multi-million dollar medical equipment is wrapped in clear plastic like holiday or birthday presents.

With major construction of the new Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital complete, Monday marks the beginning of weeks of orientation and training — more than 50,000 hours worth — for nearly 1,020 clinical and nonclinical staff and hundreds of local physicians and specialists.

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New target: UCSF researchers eye common cold drug to beat back multiple sclerosis
San Francisco Business Times

A common cold treatment and seven other drugs already approved for other conditions could help restore a protective coating eroded around neurons in multiple sclerosis patients, according to researchers led by a team at the University of California, San Francisco. UCSF is spearheading a 50-patient clinical trial of the most promising drug — an over-the-counter antihistamine branded by Novartis as Tavist — that is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Patients still can enroll in the trial.