News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Medicaid Expansion Creates Stark Contrasts Among Hospitals
HealthLeaders Media

Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has been in place less than one year, but it’s already creating a gaping financial chasm between hospitals in states that accepted the expansion money and those that have rejected it, a PwC Health Research Institute analysis suggests.

The PWC study examined recent earnings data from the nation’s five largest for-profit hospital companies that have a combined 538 hospitals in expansion and non-expansion states and found a stark contrast.

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Each Day a Patient Is in the Hospital Raises the Risk of a Drug-Resistant Infection
Healthline

When it comes to drug-resistant “superbugs,” there’s some good news — and some not-so-good news. On the positive side, scientists have created a new test that can quickly and cost-effectively detect the superbug carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). But other new research shows that each day a patient is in the hospital, their risk of getting a multidrug-resistant infection goes up.

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Replacing An Ambulance With A Station Wagon
National Public Radio

When a fire department gets a call for medical help, most of them scramble both an ambulance and a fully staffed fire truck. But that’s way more than most people need, according to Rick Lewis, chief of emergency medical services at South Metro Fire Rescue Authority in the Denver suburbs. “It’s not the prairie and the Old West anymore, where you have to be missing a limb to go to the hospital,” Lewis says, “Now it’s a sore throat or one day of cold or flu season sometimes, and that can be frustrating for people, I know it is.”

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Thousands of Covered California enrollees must verify legal status
Sacramento Business Journal

About 98,000 families who signed up for health insurance with Covered California need to prove they are lawful residents of the state by Sept. 30, exchange officials announced Thursday. Anyone who applies for coverage through the health benefits exchange must show they are citizens or legal residents, and most have done so; the program has enrolled more than 1 million. Families affected by this week’s announcement include those for which Covered California has been working to clear inconsistencies

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Covered California plans offer benefits that often get overlooked
Los Angeles Times

Looking for some relief from high out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy or your doctor’s office?

People who help run the Insure the Uninsured Project in Santa Monica say you may not have to look much further than your own health plan.

The benefit packages of lower-cost bronze and silver-level health plans — sold through the state’s health insurance exchange — aren’t as expensive as they might seem at first, they say.

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What can be done about Covered California’s doctor gap?
Los Angeles Times

The insurance reforms in the 2010 federal healthcare law went into full effect this year, dramatically reducing the number of Californians who don’t have health coverage. At the same time, however, some low- and moderate-income residents have struggled to find doctors who’ll take their insurance. Their complaints are forcing state officials to investigate the accuracy and adequacy of insurers’ networks of medical providers. Though the attention is welcome and overdue, what’s really needed is a better approach to consumer protection.

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Feds Hope Hitting Nursing Homes In The Wallet Will Cut Overmedication
National Public Radio

A federal lawsuit against two Watsonville, Calif., nursing homes may offer a new approach to dealing with the persistent problem of such facilities overmedicating their residents.

The lawsuit details multiple cases when the government says these drugs were inappropriately administered to patients. For instance when an 86-year-old man identified in the lawsuit as Patient 1 was admitted to Country Villa Watsonville West, he could speak clearly and walked in under his own power.

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Two Women on a Mission to Reform Assisted Living in California
KQED Radio

Many of us dream of starting a revolution. Few of us make it happen. One of the most dramatic stories of the last year belongs to a loose collection of activists, working to reform assisted living oversight in California. Together with lawmakers, these activists launched 17 bills in Sacramento, 12 of which passed, 2 of which have become law, so far.

It’s a big story, but let’s break off one piece, involving a couple women in San Diego with a passion for raw data, strong coffee and home-baked muffins.

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What’s behind health regulators’ bickering over Prop. 45?
Los Angeles Times

Tolstoy’s line about all unhappy families being unhappy in their own way hardly needs validation from us in the 21st century. But still it would be interesting to see what he’d make of the increasingly bitter division between two state agencies that should be working hand in hand to improve health insurance coverage for Californians: the state’s individual health insurance exchange, Covered California; and the Department of Insurance.

They’ve been at odds for months over various aspects of the Affordable Care Act, on which Covered California plays a central role as the state’s individual insurance exchange. Lately a new flash point has emerged. It’s Proposition 45, the November ballot measure that would grant the state insurance commissioner authority to regulate health insurance rates.

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Opiate overdoses: Painkillers’ toll steadily rising in Bay Area
The Mercury News

Randy Davis, a 53-year-old laborer, was taking various painkillers for a shoulder injury that didn’t get better after surgery. As the pain worsened, the Castro Valley resident began crushing the pills, then snorting them to get instant relief.

In May 2013, his sister found him slumped over on his bed after he overdosed on the pills. By the time the ambulance arrived, Davis was dead.

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Fighting HIV stigma
San Diego Union-Tribune

At a time of ever-increasing treatment options, and the promise of a cure on the horizon, HIV infection rates for gay men age 24 and younger have increased 132 percent from 2002 to 2011.

The numbers, which recently appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, highlight an important challenge: Beating HIV is not just about better drugs. It’s also about altering cultural practices that are allowing it to spread.

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Yes, Doctors Are Sick of Their Profession. And You’re Making Things Worse!
The Health Care Blog

Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, a cardiologist, believes with good reason that many physicians have become “like everybody else: insecure, discontented and anxious about the future.” In a recent, widely-circulated column in the Wall Street Journal, “Why Doctors Are Sick of Their Profession,” he explains how medicine has become simply a job, not a calling, for many physicians; how their pay has declined, how the majority now say they wouldn’t advise their children to enter the medical profession, and how this malaise can’t be good for patients.

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Free Health Clinics Draws Big Crowds in Los Angeles
NBC News

A four-day healthcare clinic was drawing big crowds to the LA Sports Arena for a chance at free services in Exposition Park beginning Thursday. Wristbands granting access to health, dental and vision services were being handed to the first 4,000 people in line. Only one wristband was to be distributed beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday. The clinic dates begin Thursday, Sept. 11 and run through Sunday, Sept. 14. from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Free clinic set for L.A. Sports Arena
Los Angeles Times

Wristbands are to be handed out Sunday for Southern California residents who want to attend a free health clinic that’s to be held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena later this week, offering medical, dental and vision services.

The wristbands are scheduled to be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 9 a.m. at the Sports Arena in Exposition Park at 3939 S. Figueroa St., officials said.

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Gilead to sell pricey hepatitis C drug in poor countries for fraction of U.S. cost
San Francisco Business Times

Gilead Sciences Inc. will make its pricey hepatitis C drug Sovaldi available in about 80 poorer countries for less than the cost of a single pill in the United States, according to Bloomberg.

Gilead executive vice president Gregg Alton told the news agency that a broad licensing deal with a handful of generic drug makers could be completed by mid-September. After winning regulatory approvals in those countries, Sovaldi then could be sold in India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the other countries for $900 for 12 weeks of therapy.

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Behind the CVS Health Rebranding Strategy
HealthLeaders Media

The rebranding of one of the nation’s largest pharmacy retailers last week is sending “new entrant” ripples through the healthcare industry. “We’ve changed our company name to CVS Health to reflect our purpose of helping people on their path to better health,” officials at the company formerly known as CVS Caremark Corp. stated last week. CVS Health officials say the rebranding effort helps align the company for an expanded role in providing healthcare services beyond the traditional retail pharmacy business model.

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Health insurance spat surfaces between Stanford Health Care and Anthem
The Mercury News

Stanford Hospital and its clinics have terminated their contract with Anthem Blue Cross of California, and if the two sides can’t reach an agreement by midnight Sunday, 10,000 of the health insurance giant’s customers may wake-up Monday without in-network coverage in the health system.

But James Larkin, spokesman for Stanford Health Care, which runs the hospital and clinics, said it would continue to honor any in-network co-payments for all patient services and care.

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Anthem contract at Stanford Hospital ends, putting 10,000 enrollees in limbo
San Francisco Business Times

A contract between Stanford Hospital & Clinics and giant health plan Anthem Blue Cross expired on midnight Sunday, affecting about 10,000 enrollees.

Mark Morgan, Anthem’s president, sent a Sept. 5 letter to Amir Dan Rubin, president and CEO at what’s now known as Stanford Health Care, calling it “unfortunate that (Stanford) has decided to terminate” the contract.

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Kaiser Permanente set to open new Redwood City medical center with seismic-safety upgrades, patient
San Francisco Examiner

Kaiser Permanente is putting the finishing touches on a new high-tech medical center adjacent to its existing facility on Veterans Boulevard in Redwood City that incorporates updated state seismic-safety requirements. Originally scheduled to open Dec. 17, the new hospital is expected to begin operations a day early, according to Kaiser Permanente Senior Vice President and San Mateo Service Area Manager Frank Beirne.

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Do or Die for Doctors Medical Center But It’s Not for Lack of Trying
KQED Radio

Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo has been struggling for more than a decade — hemorrhaging millions of dollars in the face of extraordinary efforts to keep it afloat.

Despite emerging from bankruptcy and 10 years of million-dollar grants, loans and parcel taxes, the center recently downsized, cutting the number of inpatient beds from 140 to 50, closing the unit treating heart attack patients and diverting ambulance traffic to nearby hospitals.

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Rideout Health chooses former UC Davis chief as interim CEO
Sacramento Business Journal

Former UC Davis Medical Center CEO Bob Chason is back at the helm again — only this time, it’s as interim CEO at Rideout Health. The board at the nonprofit community-based health system headquartered in Yuba City announced the appointment Wednesday. UC Davis trauma surgeon David Wisner was appointed chief medical officer at Rideout the same day.

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