News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Medical-loss ratio rebates fall to $332M
Modern Healthcare

A federal rule requiring health insurers to spend a minimum percentage of premium dollars on medical care led to more than $332 million in rebates last year, according to HHS. The figure is much lower than in the previous two years, which the Obama administration said reflects that insurers charged lower rates so they would clear the threshold.

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Slideshow: Healthcare Leaders Name IT Spending Priorities
HealthLeaders Media

Healthcare information technology is a major focus of hospital and health system leaders who must make crucial determinations about HIT spending. Four senior healthcare leaders discuss their IT operating budgets, and how they prioritize their IT budgets.

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Study tests whether dog visits can ease stress of young cancer patients
Sacramento Bee

A group of young patients at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is part of a nationwide study that examines the effects of animal-assisted therapy on patients, their families and therapy dogs.

UC Davis is one of the five children’s hospitals participating in the 12-month clinical trial and the only one in California, said Dr. Anjali Pawar, a UC Davis oncologist. The center started participating in the Canines and Childhood Cancer study in February. The study is funded by the American Humane Association.

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For Better Treatment, Doctors And Patients Share The Decisions
National Public Radio

Many of us get confused by claims of how much the risk of a heart attack, for example, might be reduced by taking medicine for it. And doctors can get confused, too.

Just ask Karen Sepucha. She runs the Health Decisions Sciences Center at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital. A few years ago she surveyed primary care physicians, and asked how confident they were in their ability to talk about numbers and probabilities with patients.

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House plan to sue Obama over employer-mandate delay moves forward
Modern Healthcare

A resolution authorizing the U.S. House of Representatives to sue President Barack Obama for exceeding his constitutional authority by delaying the employer mandate in the federal healthcare law, cleared the House Rules Committee Thursday.

The legislation passed on a party-line 7-4 vote. The full House is expected to take up the measure next week prior to its August recess.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chair of the Rules Committee, argued that the lawsuit is necessary to curtail widespread abuses of power by the executive branch.

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Varying health premium subsidies worry consumers
San Francisco Chronicle

Linda Close was grateful to learn she qualified for a sizable subsidy to help pay for her health insurance under the new federal law. But in the process of signing up for a plan, Close said her HealthCare.gov account showed several different subsidy amounts, varying as much as $180 per month.

Close, a South Florida retail worker in her 60’s, said she got different amounts even though the personal information she entered remained the same. The Associated Press has reviewed Close’s various subsidy amounts and dates to verify the information, but she asked that her financial information and medical history not be published for privacy reasons.

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Feds cap fines for not buying health insurance
Sacramento Bee

Federal officials have capped the amount of money scofflaws will be forced to pay if they don’t buy insurance this year at $2,448 per person and $12,240 for a family of five.

The amount is equal to the national average annual premium for a bronze level health plan. But only those with an income above about a quarter of a million dollars would benefit from the cap. Those making less would still have to pay as much as 1 percent of their annual income.

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Californians to receive health insurance rebates, but some call it chump change
Los Angeles Daily News

Nearly 500,000 consumers across California will receive a piece of a $12 million refund from health insurance companies this summer as part of a provision under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday.

Called the 80/20 rule or Medical Loss Ratio Rule the provision requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on patient care and quality improvement. But if insurers spend too much on profits and red tape, consumers are owed a refund. That includes individuals and those covered under group markets.

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Sen. Franken’s Health Reform Measure Sent $330 Million in Insurance Refunds To Millions of Consumers in Minnesota, Across the Country
insurance newsnet

A health care reform measure authored by U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) required insurers to rebate $330 million dollars to consumers in Minnesota and across the country this year, and has cut billions of dollars in Americans’ insurance premium costs since it went into effect in 2011, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released today.

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Are Patient Privacy Laws Being Abused to Protect Medical Centers?
The Health Care Blog

In the name of patient privacy, a security guard at a hospital in Springfield, Missouri, threatened a mother with jail for trying to take a photograph of her own son. In the name of patient privacy , a Daytona Beach, Florida, nursing home said it couldn’t cooperate with police investigating allegations of a possible rape against one of its residents.

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When Federal Privacy Laws Protect Hospitals Instead Of Patients
National Public Radio

In the name of patient privacy, a security guard at a hospital in Springfield, Mo., threatened a mother with jail for trying to take a photograph of her own son.

In the name of patient privacy, a Daytona Beach, Fla., nursing home said it couldn’t cooperate with police investigating allegations of a possible rape against one of its residents.

In the name of patient privacy, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs allegedly threatened or retaliated against employees who were trying to blow the whistle on agency wrongdoing.

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U.S. Teens Still Lag In Getting Vaccinated Against HPV
National Public Radio

Though the vaccine against human papilloma virus is highly effective in preventing certain forms of cancer, the number of preteens getting the vaccine is still dismally low, doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday. “One of the top five reasons parents listed is that it hadn’t been recommended to them by a doctor or nurse,” the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters at a press briefing.

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Neighboring hospital improves access with remote services
Calaveras Enterprise

Lodi Memorial Hospital has teamed up with Satellite Healthcare to provide dialysis care for patients with acute kidney injuries and chronic kidney disease. “The ability to offer these services to our patients is tremendous for our hospital, Satellite and the patients we will now both care for,” said Sarah Taylor, Lodi Memorial Hospital’s manager of the intensive care unit and dialysis. “Our patients now have the benefits of an acute-care facility, and Satellite Healthcare’s experience and reputation offers both quality care and peace of mind.”

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Redding hospital ranked among best for cardiac bypass
Red Bluff Daily News

Mercy Medical Center Redding has been named as one of the top scoring hospitals in the country for cardiac bypass surgery by Consumer Reports. Mercy is one of only five hospitals in California to have received the honor. More than 400 hospitals in 45 states were reviewed.

The report allows consumers to compare cardiac surgery groups that perform heart bypass surgery and to make more informed choices when it comes to their health care. The ratings are based on the gold standard in tracking hospital performance: data from patients’ medical records showing whether patients survived the procedure and how they fared on other important measures, including complications.

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Lifepoint Hospitals Profit Boosted From Health-Care Reform
The Wall Street Journal

Lifepoint Hospitals Inc. said its second-quarter earnings jumped, leading the rural hospital operator to boost its outlook for the year amid benefits from the health-care reform law.

“Our results reflect improving margins, enhancements to patient safety and quality of care, the strength of our recent acquisitions and our successful efforts to capture the benefits of expanded coverage under health care reform,” Chief Executive William F. Carpenter III said.

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