News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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MSSP Program May Add New Quality Measures
HealthLeaders Media

With the Medicare Shared Savings Program preparing to enter its fourth year in 2015, federal officials are recasting the list of quality metrics and providing “bonus payments” to incentivize year-to-year performance gains.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposed rules for 2015 payments through Medicare B, which covers outpatient care, include several changes to the Medicare Shared Savings Program. With more than 300 healthcare organizations participating, MSSP is the largest of two accountable care programs CMS administers, in part because it is a risk-bearing contract with no downside. In the other one, CMS’s Pioneer ACO program, participants benefit from gain-sharing but also face the risk of cost-sharing.

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Week ahead: Ruling looms in O-Care subsidy challenge
The Hill

This week promises a slew of healthcare news between the courts and Capitol Hill.

An ObamaCare court ruling could dominate the week if plaintiffs succeed in convincing a judge that the Affordable Care Act does not allow federally run insurance exchanges to distribute premium subsidies.

The case, Halbig v. Burwell, has the potential to blow a hole in the healthcare law’s coverage scheme and deal a serious loss to the Obama administration, though few legal experts believe it will succeed.

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Here’s How Google Glass Could Transform Visits To The Doctor Office
San Francisco Chronicle

Doctors and nurses scribbling notes by hand or manually entering patient information into a computer may soon be a thing of the past.

Nashville-based startup Octovis, Inc. is working with doctors to bring Google Glass technology — the $1,500 wearable computing device — into examining rooms and operating rooms to make it easier for doctors to take notes and access patient information, like MRIs or other images during surgery.

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Here’s All The Free Stuff You Can Get With Obamacare
San Francisco Chronicle

If you want to buy a plan from that will get you covered in 2014, the deadline is March 31 (with some exceptions). But what exactly will the insurance bought on the exchanges get you?

Included within the essential benefits — preventative care, mental health services, etc. — the plans cover some surprising things. Here are 11 covered benefits that might surprise you.

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Electronic health records ripe for theft

America’s medical records systems are flirting with disaster, say the experts who monitor crime in cyberspace. A hack that exposes the medical and financial records of hundreds of thousands of patients is coming, they say — it’s only a matter of when.

As health data become increasingly digital and the use of electronic health records booms, thieves see patient records in a vulnerable health care system as attractive bait, according to experts interviewed by POLITICO. On the black market, a full identity profile contained in a single record can bring as much as $500.

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Drug makers push back in court on Alameda take-back law
San Francisco Business Times

Alameda County’s trailblazing drug take-back law is an unnecessary burden that may increase the risk of unused medicines ending up in the environment or unintended hands, the drug industry said in arguing for an appeals court to help strike down the law.

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‘No quick answer’ to union-Sutter fight in Modesto
Sacramento Business Journal

It’s going to be a while before an election fight between the California Nurses Association and management at Sutter Health’s Memorial Medical Center in Modesto is resolved.

The union filed formal objections with the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday, alleging the union election last month was “fatally compromised” and results should be tossed.

Preliminary results show registered nurses voted against the union by a margin of 57 to 43 percent — but the union alleges hospital managers harassed nurses to pressure them to vote against unionization.

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PacifiCare sues state insurance commissioner over $173 million fine
San Francisco Business Times

PacifiCare Life and Health Insurance Co. sued California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones on Thursday over his decision to impose a $173.6 million fine on the company for alleged mishandled claims and underpayments to doctors following its merger with UnitedHealthcare in 2006. Most of the problems were self-identified and administrative in nature, according to PacifiCare. All have been resolved. The commissioner’s June 9 decision to impose the fine ignores an administrative law judge’s finding in August 2013 that the penalty should be $11.5 million, PacifiCare notes in the lawsuit.

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Stanford researchers spin drop of blood into quick answers for type 1 diabetes
San Francisco Business Times

The diabetes epidemic is complicated by the fact that both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are increasing beyond their traditional populations, but a team of Stanford University researchers believe a microchip may hold the key to quickly, inexpensively and accurately diagnosing patients (and potential patients) with type 1 diabetes. In a paper published Sunday in the journal Nature Medicine, a team led by Dr.

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Sonoma County small businesses win extra year to comply with health reform
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

In January, Gerard Giudice and his business partner, Bill Pettibone, were faced with a difficult choice: Pay an additional $750 each month to add mandatory new benefits to their company’s health insurance plan, or drop their small group policy and send employees to purchase insurance on the individual market.

The owners of Sally Tomatoes, a restaurant and catering company on the outskirts of Rohnert Park, confronted a situation that thousands of small businesses throughout Sonoma County were forced to navigate — how to adopt health insurance policies that provide minimum levels of c

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Community grants to help address Merced’s health needs
Modesto Bee

Mercy Medical Center is working on awarding $115,000 in community grants to projects that try to improve the health of Merced residents.

Every three years, Dignity Health, the hospital’s parent company, conducts a health needs assessment in which it prioritizes a community’s needs.

The grant program awards funding to nonprofit organizations that partner together and develop proposals to respond to the priorities identified in the health assessment.

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Community Hospital Corp. Subsidiary Readies 5 LTACHs
Health Leaders Media

A Community Hospital Corporation subsidiary is finalizing its plans to open or expand seven long-term acute-care hospitals in four states in 2015.

The expansions directed by CHC ContinueCARE come in the midst of a three-year federal moratorium on new LTACH hospitals that was slipped into the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 at the last moment.

Leslie Boney, CHC’s senior vice president of Post-Acute Services, says the Plano, TX-based hospital and healthcare services company secured the seven exemptions before the moratorium went into effect and that all seven projects will be launched in 2015.