News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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As Medicare Advantage Cuts Loom, Disagreement Over Program’s Stability
HealthLeaders Media

A decade-long, $300 billion hit to Medicare to help fund the PPACA is coming home to roost. The question that loomed large Thursday over a hearing before the House Ways and Means health subcommittee centered on gauging the impact of deep cuts to payments for Medicare Advantage—privately operated health insurance policies for seniors that feature value-based healthcare delivery.

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Health-Law Patients Boost Hospital Profits
The Wall Street Journal

 A wave of newly insured patients helped boost hospitals’ earnings in recent months, two hospital operators said Friday, a sign the law’s coverage expansion is leading more patients to seek treatment. Universal Health Services Inc. UHS +3.24% ’s revenue rose 10% for the second quarter compared with a year earlier. LifePoint Hospitals Inc. LPNT +1.24% ’s profit rose to $39.1 million for the quarter, a 44% increase compared with last year’s quarter. Those results arrive on the heels of HCA Holdings Inc. HCA +0.27% ’s announcement of strong earnings last week ahead of its July 29 earnings call.

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Why We Think Ignorance Is Bliss, Even When It Hurts Our Health
National Public Radio

Medical tests are rarely a pleasant experience, especially if you’re worried that something could be seriously wrong. That’s true even though we know that regular screenings and tests often help doctors catch issues early.

But of course, humans don’t always behave rationally. Sometimes people will go to great lengths to avoid hearing bad news. Social scientists call this sort of behavior information aversion, or the ostrich effect (based on the old myth that ostriches bury their heads in the sand when they’re scared). And it can have important implications for our health, researchers say.

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Obama’s Last Clear Chance: True Universal Health Coverage, Libertarian Style

President Obama famously wished to be a transformational president.

Recent court rulings have placed Obamacare into jeopardy. It may be compromised beyond salvation.

There may be but one last clear chance for him to salvage his signature domestic policy legacy. Will he take it?

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Obamacare court defense crumbles: Column
USA Today

When a three-judge DC Circuit Court panel earlier this week agreed with the plaintiffs in Halbig v Sebelius, the most potent legal challenge to Obamacare, the law’s supporters went ballistic. The lawsuit challenged the legality of the subsidies that the administration was handing out through federal exchanges in 34 states. It argued that these subsidies were illegal because Obamacare had explicitly limited them to state-run exchanges.

The New Republic’s Brian Beutler wrote that the judges had validated a claim that even the “people advancing it realize is false.” University of Chicago health care expert Harold Pollack denounced the ruling as “judicial activism” that ignored the plain intent of Congress.

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Obamacare: ‘Health care sharing ministries’ increase membership in wake of new law
The Mercury News

Go to church, be faithful to your spouse and shun tobacco, booze and drugs.

Promising to adhere to that “biblical lifestyle,” more than 300,000 Americans are taking advantage of a little-known provision in the nation’s health care law that allows them to avoid the new penalties for not having health insurance.

Long before Christian groups and Obamacare opponents cheered last month’s Supreme Court ruling that allows many private businesses to stop offering certain types of birth control they find immoral, the 4-year-old law gave its blessing to Americans to opt out of the insurance

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Limitations Of New Health Plans Rankle Some Enrollees
Kaiser Health News

Nancy Pippenger and Marcia Perez live 2,000 miles apart but have the same complaint: Doctors who treated them last year won’t take their insurance now, even though they haven’t changed insurers.

“They said, ‘We take the old plan, but not the new one,’” says Perez, an attorney in Palo Alto, Calif. In Plymouth, Ind., Pippenger got similar news from her longtime orthopedic surgeon, so she shelled out $300 from her own pocket to see him.

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Plan to simplify 2015 health renewals may backfire
San Francisco Chronicle

If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.

Insurance exchange customers who opt for convenience by automatically renewing their coverage for 2015 are likely to receive dated and inaccurate financial aid amounts from the government, say industry officials, advocates and other experts.

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Medicare: It’s 49 years old
Chico Enterprise Record

Tom Reed is founder and president of the Butte County Health Care Coalition. As an organization, it appreciates Medicare, he said.

“We’re friends of Medicare, and we’d like to strengthen it, recognize what it has been for so many older people, like myself: the difference between life and death, bankruptcy and financial solvency.”

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5 reasons your teenager should get the whooping cough vaccine
Southern California Public Radio

Believe it or not, LA Unified students go back to school in just two weeks. That means it’s time to finish up any summer reading, to pull out the backpacks and other school gear and… to get vaccinated.

Below are five reasons teenagers should get vaccinated against whooping cough:

It’s the law! In California, all students entering 7th grade need proof of the whooping cough booster shot known as Tdap (which also protects against tetanus and diphtheria). Without it, they’ll be barred from attending class.

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SF faces shortage of skilled nursing care beds as demand rises
San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco is running out of hospital beds for inpatients requiring skilled nursing care, a shortage exacerbated by one of The City’s major healthcare provider’s hospital upgrades.

Patients exiting surgery or other intensive care who need more support than an in-home health care worker can provide typically stay in “skilled nursing facility,” or SNF, beds.

Beginning next year, hospital officials say there’s scheduled to be more patients requiring these beds than are available in San Francisco. And demand is projected to rise even further, at the same time as California Pacific Medical Center, whose hospitals are undergoing seismic retrofits, are doing away with these beds.