News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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3 ways insurers can discourage sick from enrolling
San Francisco Chronicle

Insurers can no longer reject customers with expensive medical conditions thanks to the health care overhaul. But consumer advocates warn that companies are still using wiggle room to discourage the sickest — and costliest — patients from enrolling. Some insurers are excluding well-known cancer centers from the list of providers they cover under a plan; requiring patients to make large, initial payments for HIV medications; or delaying participation in public insurance exchanges created by the overhaul.

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Urgent Care Centers Opening For People With Mental lllness
Kaiser Health News

Hoping to keep more people with mental illness out of jails and emergency rooms, county health officials opened a mental health urgent care center Wednesday in South Los Angeles. The goal of The Martin Luther King, Jr. Mental Health Urgent Care Center is to stabilize and treat people in immediate crisis while connecting them to ongoing care. Run by Exodus Recovery, it will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can serve up to 16 adults and six adolescents.

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Stem cell industry’s ‘huge development’ in Bay Area
San Francisco Chronicle

Almost three years after a Bay Area company shut down the world’s first clinical trial of a therapy using embryonic stem cells, another local company is reviving the therapy. The treatment drew international attention in 2010, when Geron in Menlo Park began testing it in patients with severe spinal cord injuries. But it scrapped the project a year later because of a lack of funds – a move seen as a major blow to the nascent field.

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Insurers socked with $72M in extra taxes under healthcare reform
FierceHealthPayer

The 10 largest publicly traded insurers paid their top executives a combined $300 million in compensation last year. But because of a little-discussed provision in the Affordable Care Act, they also had to pay $72 million more than the year before in taxes, amounting to an additional $1.3 million in taxes per executive, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies.

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Doubling Down on ACOs and Health Information Networks
The Health Care Blog

Want to achieve effective health care, reduced costs, increased quality, population health, widespread prevention and seamless health information access? It’s easy, says this article in Population Health Management: mix one part PHO with one part HRB to create a HAPPI. This correspondent was confused too, but that’s what’s proposed by three smart academics from Johns Hopkins, Arizona State University and UC Berkeley.

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Proposition 45 would allow state to regulate insurance rates
HealthyCal.org

A proposed ballot measure facing voters this fall would give the state the authority to deny health insurance rate increases, a change some consumer groups say is long overdue but that opponents warn could impede Californians’ access to insurance coverage.

Proposition 45, slated for the Nov. 4 ballot, appears simple. It would expand a law that allows the California Department of Insurance to deny excessive rate increases proposed by property, casually and auto insurers to include health insurance rate proposals.

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Medi-Cal asset seizure bill heads to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration
The Mercury News

After passing the state Senate and Assembly unanimously this week, a bill limiting California’s seizure of assets from the estates of Medi-Cal recipients is headed toward Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

Hanging in the balance are the hopes — and homes — of thousands of worried Bay Area residents and Medi-Cal enrollees like Chris Darling of Richmond, Anne-Louise Vernon of Campbell and Eliza O’Malley of El Cerrito.

Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign the bill into law or veto it.

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How Much Is My Colonoscopy Going to Cost? $600? $5,400?
The Health Care Blog

How much does a colonoscopy cost? Well, that depends. If you’re uninsured, this is a big question. We’ve learned that cash or self-pay prices can range from $600 to over $5,400, so it pays to ask. If you’re insured, you may think it doesn’t matter. Routine, preventive screening colonoscopies are to be covered free with no co-insurance or co-payment under the Affordable Care Act.

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Acute Kidney Injury Gets New Focus
Health Leaders Media

Acute kidney injury—the sudden decline of renal function—has been underdiagnosed and, in recent years, redefined and renamed. So it’s no surprise the condition often goes undetected in hospital patients, with one study estimating that AKI is diagnosed in only 13% of those affected.

The often asymptomatic condition is treatable, but linked to long-term risk for chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular problems.

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Medical regulators to investigate risky psych drug prescribing to California foster youth
The Mercury News

With pressure on California’s foster care system to curb the rampant use of powerful psych meds on children, concern is mounting about the doctors behind the questionable prescribing.

For months, the state has adamantly refused to release data that this newspaper sought to expose which physicians are most responsible. Now, in response to a request from state Sen. Ted Lieu, California’s medical board is investigating whether some doctors are “operating outside the reasonable standard of care.”

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Sharp HealthCare Leaves Pioneer ACO Program
Health Leaders Media

Sharp HealthCare ACO is leaving the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization pilot program.

The decision, announced quietly in the company’s third-quarter finance report, leaves San Diego with no Pioneer ACOs.

“Because the Pioneer model is based on national financial trend factors that are not adjusted for specific conditions that an ACO is facing in a particular region (e.g., San Diego), the model was financially detrimental to Sharp ACO despite favorable underlying utilization and quality performance,” Sharp said its financial report, adding that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation was notified in June.

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Options for Doctors Medical Center become clearer, giving renewed hope
Contra Costa Times

A new legal opinion suggests that Doctors Medical Center could be licensed to become a satellite emergency department under the county’s jurisdiction, offering a possible avenue to preserve services at the foundering hospital that is at risk of closure.

The legal position paper recently received by county officials argues that the state’s Department of Public Health has the authority to approve the conversion of the hospital to a satellite emergency department of the county, an option that could also increase reimbursement rates and free up county dollars to help close the hospital’

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Healing burns at Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California
Sacramento Bee

For someone who spends his days around severe burns, Dr. David Greenhalgh is exceptionally cool.

Greenhalgh, chief of burns at Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California, built the facility’s burn program almost singlehandedly at its start in 1997.

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Cedars-Sinai Didn’t Make the List in Year 1. What Will Year 2 of Narrow Networks Hold?
California Healthline

U.S. News & World Report ranks it the third-best hospital in California — the second-best hospital in Los Angeles.

Yet at the start of Obamacare’s first open enrollment period in 2013, Covered California customers who wanted to go to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center wouldn’t have been able to.

When the exchange announced its initial plans and rates in 2013, Anthem Blue Cross didn’t cover Cedars for Covered California participants. Neither did Blue Shield of California … or Health Net … or Kaiser Permanente … or L.A. Care … or Molina Healthcare.

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Program Helps Rally South L.A. Women To Health
Los Angeles Times

Every Wednesday evening, the women sit in a circle of folding chairs in a bungalow at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in South L.A. There’s always a box of tissues in the center; it rarely goes unused.

They come to talk about food.

They talk about how to make brown rice or cut back on salt. They talk about neighborhoods filled with fried chicken, barbecue, pizza and burger places.

Commands