News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Alzheimer’s findings seen as a possible new window to understanding the disease
Washington Post

Scientists at the Mayo Clinic have discovered a possible new link between an abnormal protein in the brain and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, a breakthrough that could open new avenues to understanding the disease and finding effective treatments.

Abnormal forms of the protein, which assists DNA in coding and building new proteins inside the cell, appear to increase the atrophy of regions of the brain important to memory. And it could be a trigger of some kind, perhaps independently initiating the onset of Alzheimer’s-related dementia when combined with two other proteins whose abnormalities have long been implicated in the disease.

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Stroke Rate May Be Declining In Older Adults
National Public Radio

Stroke is the fourth highest cause of death among adults in the U.S. But among people older than 65, stroke rates may be going down, a study published Tuesday suggests. And compared with 10 or 20 years ago, more of those hit with a stroke are surviving.

In 1987, researchers from several universities recruited a group of 14,300 healthy adults who were above the age of 45, then kept track of their medical progress for 24 years. To see whether stroke rates were increasing or decreasing, the scientists compared people within the same age groups. For example, they compared adults who were between the ages of 65 and 69 in 1993 to men and women in that age range in 2003.

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Google partners with Novartis to create smart contact lens
Los Angeles Times

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis International AG and technology giant Google have teamed up to create a smart contact lens capable of measuring diabetics’ glucose levels and correcting farsightedness.

As part of the deal, Novartis is licensing technology behind Google’s smart contact lens. Still in development, the smart lens was first announced in January. The new partnership is intended to speed up development and commercialization. Google will be working with Alcon, Novartis’ eye-care division.

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Viewpoints: Nurse visits at home can pay big dividends
Sacramento Bee

It is well known that in the United States, women and children in low-income families have significantly higher death rates than women and children of affluent families. However, new research shows that we have a well-established and evidenced-based program that can reduce those higher death rates. A recent study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics by David Olds, found that the nurse-family partnership – a voluntary nurse home-visiting program for young first-time moms and their babies – reduces preventable death among that group.

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Affordable Care Act: Applying for Special Enrollment Period
The Huffington Post

These are all terms Americans will need to familiarize themselves with before filing this year’s taxes. For the first time, most Americans are required to have health insurance coverage or be assessed a tax penalty when filing their 2014 tax returns in 2015. Under the Affordable Care Act, if you were uninsured, the deadline for enrollment through the online Health Insurance Marketplace was March 31, 2014 — however, if you missed the deadline, there are still a few life events that may qualify you for a special 60 day enrollment period to obtain health insurance coverage.

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Obamacare: California details plan to cut Medi-Cal backlog to 350,000
Los Angeles Times

California will reduce the number of Medi-Cal applications it has pending under Obamacare by nearly half within six weeks, state officials pledged Monday. In a letter to the federal government’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the director of California’s Department of Health Care Services, Toby Douglas, noted that the number of pending applications for the healthcare program for the poor had declined from 900,000 in March to 600,000 by the end of June — and said that the state’s continued efforts to push through the backlog would reduce the number to “approximately

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Covered Calfornia fills key job, naming plan management director
Los Angeles Business Journal

Covered California has hired a permanent director of plan management, filling a key position as the state health benefit exchange heads toward its second open enrollment period in the fall. Anne Price recently joined the program from Blue Shield of California, where she was director of finance and strategic partnerships with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. Covered California also announced Tuesday appointment of James Lombard as chief financial officer.

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Most Employers See A Benefit In Covering Contraceptives
National Public Radio

Despite questions raised by the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, women in most health plans will still be able to get their birth control covered with no out-of-pocket expenses.

The court ruling did not change the health law’s requirement that preventive care services, including all Food and Drug Administration-approved forms of contraception for women, be provided by most health plans to customers without cost. The 5-4 decision said that only certain “closely held” firms that assert a religious objection to the birth control mandate can’t be required to provide contraceptive coverage if they offer insurance to their workers.

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Can running help autistic children?
Washington Post

At a time when people more often reach for the remote than for their running shoes, finishing a five-mile race is a commendable achievement for anyone.

What if we told you that among the runners crossing these finish lines are children with autism? And that running is actually helping with the symptoms of autism?

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OPPS Proposal Calls for Colonoscopy Complication Reporting
Health Leaders Media

For the first time, hospital outpatient centers would be evaluated on the safety of their practitioners’ skill in performing colonoscopies if language in a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services becomes final.

Specifically, the new quality measure would count the number of times Medicare beneficiaries had to seek hospital care to treat a complication, such as perforation of the colon, gastrointestinal bleeding, or a cardiopulmonary event, within seven days of an outpatient colonoscopy.

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Genentech aims to extend Avastin to cervical cancer
San Francisco Business Times

Regulators will clear a path for review of Genentech Inc.’s Avastin — one of the world’s best-selling cancer drugs — as the company tries to extend the drug’s use to certain types of cervical cancer. South San Francisco-based Genentech, the U.S. biotech unit of Swiss drug maker Roche, said the Food and Drug Administration granted priority review to Avastin plus chemotherapy to treat women with persistent, recurring or metastatic cervical cancer.

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Rady Children’s gets $75K award for cancer research
CBS News

Rady Children’s Hospital received a special donation to help further research on pediatric cancer.

Hyundai Hope on Wheels presented a $75,000 Young Investigators Clinical Award at a ceremony Tuesday. The money will support doctors’ efforts in developing treatments for certain types of brain cancer.

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Ronald McDonald House at Stanford one step closer to becoming world’s largest
The Mercury News

A groundbreaking ceremony Monday took the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford one step closer to becoming the world’s largest haven of its kind for families of hospitalized children.

The event kicked off construction of a 52,000-square-foot addition next to the existing 41,000-square-foot building at 520 Sand Hill Road. Nearly 150 guests attended, including Palo Alto Mayor Nancy Shepherd and Steven Ramirez, incoming chairman of the board of trustees for the global chapter of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

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Loma Linda hospital announces grand expansion plans
The Desert Sun

Loma Linda University Medical Center unveiled a sweeping new strategy for the hospital Tuesday, announcing plans to grow its existing space into new children’s and adult medical wings and create a Wholeness Institute and Center for Discovery focused on holistic health and medical research.

Hospital leaders called the $1.2 billion campaign, known as Vision 2020, historic and said it would expand the hospital’s reach and focus on treating the whole person.

“Now’s the time to be bold, look toward what can be and be daring,” said Dr.

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Loma Linda University Health receives $100M donation for new hospital
San Bernardino Sun

More than 2,000 gathered underneath a large tent Tuesday as Loma Linda University Health System officials announced a $100 million donation for construction of a new adult hospital, and an addition of a wing for the children’s hospital.

The new Loma Linda University Medical Center will meet California seismic standards and provide needed technological and design upgrades to a 47-year-old facility, said Dr. Richard Hart, president of Loma Linda University Health, the parent organization of the medical center, Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital and Loma Linda University.

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Medical center announces major expansion plans
The Press-Enterprise

Helped by a $100 million donation from a Riverside couple, Loma Linda University Health officials say they are on their way toward expanding the medical center on their main campus, constructing two new facilities and broadening the scope of their educational reach in the surrounding community.

On Tuesday, president and CEO Richard Hart announced that Dennis and Carol Troesh had contributed a record $100 million to a philanthropic campaign designed to raise $350 million.

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Kaiser awards $1.4 million to local nonprofits
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente has awarded 55 grants totaling $1.4 million to local organizations in the Sacramento region that seek to improve access to medical care, support mental health services, reduce violence and promote healthy eating and active living. The community benefit grants range in amount from $7,590 to an asthma education program to $99,000 to support a WellSpace Health program in Placer County to intervene on behalf of so-called emergency room “frequent fliers.”

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San Diego Hospital Using New Bed Designed to Help Premature Babies

A premature baby was resuscitated in San Diego last week using a new, specialized bed designed just for preemies. Averi Snyder was born four weeks early and not breathing. Her umbilical cord was tied in a knot. Mom Kim Snyder said the doctor didn’t immediately alert her to the dangers but dad Shane Snyder said he saw the whole thing. Seconds after she was delivered, Averi was placed into a special bed so that the team of doctors at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital could pump oxygen into her lungs while she was still attached to her mother’s umbilical cord.