News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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State Agency Running Medi-Cal Didn’t Know How Many Docs Took its Insurance

The California agency that oversees the state’s low-income health plan vastly overstated the number of doctors who accepted patients through the state program last year, even as the number of people enrolled in the program was set to skyrocket under the federal Affordable Care Act, the California Health Report has found.

The state’s Medi-Cal provider list had more physicians than were even licensed to practice in California last year.

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Three ways ACA is affecting Business
Chicago Sun Times

More often than not, when healthcare reform is brought up, the impact and the interests of businesses are lumped together, as if each faces the same challenges as the next. The reality is that as healthcare-related requirements for businesses have evolved since the passing of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), the interests and priorities of different sized businesses are changing as well.

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Operating, net income up for California hospitals
Fierce HealthFinance

California’s hospitals, like most others in the U.S., were hit hard by the Great Recession, but data from the state agency that monitors acute care facilities suggest most have recovered nicely.

Both aggregate hospital operating and net income rose dramatically after 2008-09, when the Great Recession hit the hardest, according to the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (COSHPD).

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Medical Errors Third Leading Cause of Death, Senators Told
HealthLeaders Media

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s role in quality of care should be greatly expanded to reduce many more types of patient harm, several leading healthcare quality leaders told members of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging Thursday.

“There’s no reason to think what [the CDC] has been able to do around [healthcare-associated infections] they can’t do in other areas like venous thromboembolism and medication errors, and they can partner with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” said Ashish Jha, MD, founder of the Initiative on Global Health quality at the Harvard School of Public Health.

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With healthcare, if we waste less, we pay less: Column
USA Today

Study after study tells us that we pay too much for health care in the United States, and we’re no healthier than the people in nations that spend much less.

A 2012 Institute of Medicine report on health care spending in 2009 estimated that of the $2.7 trillion national spend on health care that year, 30% — or $810 billion — was wasted on unnecessary services, inefficient service delivery, fraud and abuse, predatory pricing and excessive administrative costs.

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Attorneys appeal hospital billing case to state Supreme Court
Sacramento Business Journal

A lengthy court case over the value of hospital services provided to health plan members could be headed to the state Supreme Court. Attorneys for Children’s Hospital Center California filed a petition Thursday for high court review of a June 10 appeals court ruling that said hospitals can no longer expect to get reimbursement from health plans in amounts well in excess of the actual value of services provided.

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Largest US insurer’s move signals industry shift
San Francisco Chronicle

The nation’s largest health insurer expects to play a much bigger role in the health care overhaul next year, as the federal law shifts from raising giant questions for the sector to offering growth opportunities.

UnitedHealth Group said Thursday that it will participate in as many as 24 of the law’s individual health insurance exchanges in 2015, up from only four this year.

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States’ Medicaid Spending Varies Widely per Beneficiary, GAO Says
California Healthline

In fiscal year 2008, states recorded significantly varied amounts in Medicaid spending, according to a new Government Accountability Office analysis, Modern Healthcare reports.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) requested the analysis. According to the report, the spending differences among some states amounted to thousands of dollars. For example, in New York and seven other states, Medicaid spent about $10,500 on each beneficiary (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 7/16). The seven other states are:

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Diabetes stem cell therapy readied
San Diego Union-Tribune

In an historic announcement for the stem cell field, San Diego’s ViaCyte said Thursday it has applied to start human clinical trials of its treatment for Type 1 diabetes.

ViaCyte grows replacement insulin-producing cells from human embryonic stem cells. The cells are packaged while maturing in a semi-permeable device and implanted. In animal trials, the cells produce insulin, relieving diabetes.

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Hospitals Seeking to Understand PPACA Impact Turn to Data
Health Leaders Media

About 1,700 hospitals have embarked on a quest for elusive healthcare reform truths that could determine the fate of their financial futures.

In a collaborative effort with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 24 state hospital associations and their members are collecting data on inpatient admissions and emergency department utilization. The Hospital ACA Monitoring Project is designed to gauge the net financial impact on hospitals from the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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Would California spend $6.7 billion for hepatitis C drug?
San Francisco Chronicle

California could spend $6.7 billion if it provided Gilead Sciences’ $1,000-a-day hepatitis C drug to all Medi-Cal enrollees and prisoners with the disease, according to an analysis released Thursday by one of Gilead’s loudest critics.

And if all the states provided their stricken patients with Sovaldi and its accompanying medication, ribavirin, the cost to the nation’s taxpayers would total $55 billion.

Those estimates were released by the Express-Scripts Holding Co., the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits manager.

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Discovery may help lung cancer therapy
San Diego Union-Tribune

An important genetic clue to fighting one of cancer’s deadliest attributes, the ability of some malignant cells to spread around the body, has been discovered by scientists at the Salk Institute.

The scientists found that an obscure gene actually plays an important role in preventing the spread of cancer, called metastasis. Most importantly, certain experimental drugs might be especially helpful in fighting lung and cervical cancers in which this fail-safe mechanism is inactivated, as well as melanoma.

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Sonoma hospital to run Palm Drive rehab center
North Bay Business Journal

Sonoma Valley Hospital on Thursday said Palm Drive Healthcare District, which owns the recently shuttered Palm Drive Hospital, accepted its proposal to run West County Hand and Physical Therapy Center.

The rehabilitation therapy service for Palm Drive Hospital was closed when the institution stopped operations April 28. The district also has put out a request for proposals to reopen Palm Drive’s acute care and emergency departments.