News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Medicare Patients Often See Nurses Instead Of Doctors For Skin Problems
National Public Radio

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are taking on more and more responsibility for primary care these days. And an analysis of Medicare data finds many of these health care providers are performing procedures you might not have expected.

More than half of the 4 million procedures that office-based nurse practitioners and physician assistants independently billed Medicare for in 2012 were dermatological surgeries.

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Medicare to Start Paying Doctors Who Coordinate Needs of Chronically Ill Patients
New York Times

In a policy change, the Obama administration is planning to pay doctors to coordinate the care of Medicare beneficiaries, amid growing evidence that patients with chronic illnesses suffer from disjointed, fragmented care.

Although doctors have often performed such work between office visits by patients, they have historically not been paid for it.

Starting in January, Medicare will pay monthly fees to doctors who manage care for patients with two or more chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and depression.

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When Patients Read What Their Doctors Write
National Public Radio

The woman was sitting on a gurney in the emergency room, and I was facing her, typing. I had just written about her abdominal pain when she posed a question I’d never been asked before: “May I take a look at what you’re writing?”

At the time, I was a fourth-year medical resident in Boston. In our ER, doctors routinely typed visit notes, placed orders and checked past records while we were in patients’ rooms.

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Analysis: O-Care ‘Copper plan’ could save billions
The Hill

Allowing a cheaper health plan on the ObamaCare exchanges could help bring down federal healthcare spending by $5.8 billion over the next 10 years, according to a new analysis.

Avalere, a healthcare consulting firm, released a report Tuesday that found creating a lower-tiered “Copper plan” on the health exchanges could significantly reduce federal healthcare spending.

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California support for Affordable Care Act continues to grow
Sacramento Bee

After what most consider a successful implementation of the law in California, support for the Affordable Care Act among Golden State voters is the highest it’s ever been, according to a new Field Poll.

Fifty-six percent of respondents expressed support for the federal health law, up three percentage points from last year, compared to 35 percent who oppose it.

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California voters’ support for health care law inches up
Sacramento Bee

The federal health care overhaul is garnering more support from California voters than at any time since its passage in 2010, but they believe the state could still do more to limit the amount insurance companies can charge customers for coverage, according to a new Field Poll.

Some 56 percent of registered voters support the law and 35 percent are opposed, contrasting sharply with the national average showing 54 percent oppose and 41 percent approve. Growing approval for the law in California could undercut what many considered a potent issue for Republicans heading into the Nov.

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Voter approval of health care law climbing, poll shows
San Francisco Chronicle

Most California voters gave the state’s rollout of the federal health law high marks and overall support of the Affordable Care Act is on the rise, according to a Field Poll released Tuesday.

The survey of more than 1,500 registered voters between June 26 and July 19 found that by a 2-to-1 margin – 60 percent to 30 percent – respondents thought the state was successful in implementing the law, results that contrasted with the federal effort. Less than half described the federal rollout, which was plagued with high-profile technical glitches, as successful.

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Lawmakers to plow through health care bills
Sacramento Business Journal

It’s going to be a wild run to the finish over the next two weeks as lawmakers slog through scores of health care bills before the 2013-14 session ends Aug. 31. Many that would have cost the state money died in appropriations committees last week, including the most high-profile health care legislation of the year — a bill to regulate community benefits and charity care at nonprofit hospitals.

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US won’t reveal records on health website security
San Francisco Chronicle

After promising not to withhold government information over “speculative or abstract fears,” the Obama administration has concluded it will not publicly disclose federal records that could shed light on the security of the government’s health care website because doing so could “potentially” allow hackers to break in.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services denied a request by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act for documents about the kinds of security software and computer systems behind the federally funded HealthCare.gov.

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Hackers stole 4.5 million patients’ data in hospital breach
Los Angeles Times

A cyberattack suspected to have originated in China stole Social Security numbers and other personal data for 4.5 million patients whose records were in Community Health Services Inc.’s system, the company said Monday.

The data breach included the names, addresses, birth dates, telephone numbers and Social Security numbers of patients who were referred for or received services from doctors affiliated with the hospital group in the last five years. It did not include patient credit card, medical or clinical information, the company said in regulatory filings.

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CHS Hacked, 4.5M Patient Records Compromised
Health Leaders Media

Community Health Systems Inc. said Monday that its computer network was “the target of an external criminal cyberattack” between April and June that may have compromised the personal data of 4.5 million patients.

“The Company and its forensic expert, Mandiant (a FireEye Company), believe the attacker was an “advanced persistent threat” group originating from China who used highly sophisticated malware and technology to attack the Company’s systems,” Franklin, TN-based CHS said in a Form 8-K filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Consumerism Drives Healthcare Branding, Rebranding Efforts
Health Leaders Media

Wellpoint’s decision last week to revert to its Anthem brand reflects the growing importance of consumers in the healthcare marketplace, according to the Indianapolis-based insurance carrier and other healthcare industry executives.

“This is really the perfect time for us to rebrand,” Doug W. Bennett Jr., public relations manager at Anthem, said in an interview last week. “Our research and experience show that consumers consider brand as they make their healthcare purchasing decisions, just like they do in other purchasing decisions.”

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The Assisted Living Reform Bills That Died
KQED Radio

Last Thursday, August 14, was the day that bills still in the state Senate Appropriations Committee sank or swam. The Senate Appropriations Committee is where bills costing $150,000 or more go for consideration. If bills make it out of this committee, then bills are still in play and could make it to the governor’s desk, albeit with potential amendments along the way. If not, they die.

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HPV vaccine protects against infection 8 years out
CBS News

A new long-term study shows that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine appears to protect against the sexually transmitted virus for at least eight years.

HPV is thought to cause the majority of cervical cancers. Certain strains, such as HPV 16 and 18, are most strongly tied to these tumors. The virus is also believed to cause genital warts in both men and women and certain head and neck cancers.

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Lake County Tribal Health Consortium tackles worst health outcomes in the state
HealthyCal.org

In a 2013 study conducted by the University of Wisconsin, Lake County in California was ranked the lowest in the state for “health outcomes.” This means that length of life and quality of life are lowest, at least according to a person’s physical health. The Lake County Tribal Health Consortium, a federally funded and tribally sanctioned organization that serves six Native American tribes and the community as a whole, wants to change this ranking.

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