News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Newest Health Insurance Customers Are Generally Happy
New York Times

We’ve known for a few months now that lots of people signed up for health insurance this year in new marketplaces. A new survey shows that the people who did so are also pretty happy with their purchases.

The survey, from the Commonwealth Fund, a research group, came to similar conclusions as other surveys about the expansion of health insurance. It found that about 15 percent of adults younger than 65 now lack health insurance, down from 20 percent before the Affordable Care Act rolled out in January.

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CDC Expanding Quality of Care Efforts
HealthLeaders Media

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is commonly perceived as the federal germ detective agency that investigates disease outbreaks, and keeps statistics on national trends in illnesses and injuries such as STD rates and bicycle accidents. But to healthcare providers it might seem that the agency’s role has quietly morphed into one with much more influence on how care should be delivered in hospitals, surgical centers, and even physician’s practices.

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Physician Pay Increasingly Linked to Value-based Metrics
HealthLeaders Media

Part of the drive to a value-based healthcare delivery system will be gearing physician compensation to value-based metrics such as quality and customer service, according to the Medical Group Management Association.

“This is going to be a gradual shift. … It will be a trend that we will see evolve,” said Todd Evenson, VP of data solutions and consulting services at the Englewood, CO-based organization. “We’re on the cusp of this information being available.”

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Last-Resort Antibiotics In Jeopardy As Use Rises Globally
National Public Radio

The total doses of antibiotics sold in clinics and pharmacies around the world rose 36 percent from 2000 to 2010, scientists reported Wednesday.

The finding, published in The Lancet Infectious Disease, comes from the first study to look at global antibiotic consumption in the 21st century. And it seems like good news, right?

“More people in poor countries are getting livesaving drugs,” says the study’s lead author, Ramanan Laxminarayan, who directs the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy. “That’s absolutely good news.”

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Survey: 9.5 million people gained health coverage in first marketplace enrollment period
Sacramento Bee

Some 9.5 million Americans gained health coverage during the recent marketplace enrollment period as the uninsured rate for working-age adults fell from 20 percent to 15 percent, according to a new national survey by the Commonwealth Fund.

Young adults ages 19-34, whose participation in the Affordable Care Act’s coverage initiative was crucial but always uncertain, saw some of the largest coverage gains. Their uninsured rate fell from 28 percent to 18 percent.

Uninsured rates for Latinos fell from 36 percent to 23 percent, the survey found.

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Rebound for temp doctors, nurses
San Diego Union-Tribune

The Great Recession caused Americans to cut back on their health-care spending and pushed health workers to delay their retirements, temporarily staving off predicted nursing shortages.

The economic downturn meant that hospitals and other health providers needed fewer temporary workers, from nurses known as “travelers” who move from one facility to the next to “locum tenens” doctors who follow a similarly nomadic path.

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FDA has free-speech, safety issues to weigh in review of ‘off-label’ drug marketing rules
Washington Post

Should a pharmaceutical sales rep be allowed to tell a doctor that Topamax, a drug approved to treat seizures and prevent migraine headaches, might also help combat alcohol dependence? Or suggest the epilepsy drug Neurontin could also help treat bipolar disorders or insomnia? Or offer data showing that any number of other drugs could have uses beyond those listed on their labels?

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FDA to weigh risks of potentially cancer-spreading device
Washington Post

Sarah Salem-Robinson had worked for more than a decade as a gynecologist’s assistant, so she was familiar with treatments for fibroids. When she herself was diagnosed with the noncancerous uterine growths, she immediately resisted a common laparoscopic procedure recommended by her doctor.

The procedure involves a device called a power morcellator to cut fibroids into small pieces, which then are removed through minimally invasive incisions.

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Anthem sued over limited networks
Los Angeles Times

Amid growing scrutiny statewide, insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross faces another consumer lawsuit over its use of narrow networks in Obamacare coverage.

Six Anthem policyholders sued California’s largest for-profit health insurer Tuesday in state court, accusing the company of misrepresenting the size of its physician networks and the insurance benefits provided.

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San Francisco health care premiums expected to drop
San Francisco Chronicle

A year ago, dozens of angry city workers packed a City Hall hearing where San Francisco supervisors threatened to reject proposed 2014 health premiums for city employees, saying that Kaiser Permanente had failed to justify a 5.25 percent rate increase and that they were fed up with the provider’s lack of transparency.

On Wednesday, in nearly empty chambers, the same budget committee easily approved the city’s proposed rates for 2015 – a package that will slash Kaiser premiums by 2 percent, a rate the insurer has agreed to hold steady through 2016.

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Marin Community Clinic office relocating to Larkspur from Greenbrae
Marin Independent Journal

After 25 years of operating inside trailers in Greenbrae, the Marin Community Clinics’ most southern medical office is moving to a building in Larkspur.

The clinic will move from its location on the Marin General Hospital campus in Greenbrae to a nearby medical complex at 5 Bon Air Road in Larkspur. Employees will be busy making the move this weekend and the clinic will be closed Monday to complete the transition.