News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Autism Symptoms Disappeared With Behavioral Therapy In Babies
TIME Online Edition

For the first time, researchers report that treating early signs of autism in infants as young as 6 months can essentially help them to avoid developmental delays typical of the disorder. And the intervention doesn’t involve pills or invasive surgery but an intensive behavioral therapy provided by the babies’ parents, according to the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Kristin Hinson was one of those parents. She knew what autism looked like. With two of her three children showing developmental delays, she was on the lookout for similar signals when her son Noah was born. And at 6 months, they came. Noah began avoiding eye contact with her and other family members, his muscle tone was low, and he started lagging in the early infant milestones like rolling over and responding to sounds and people. “He was doing everything, but everything was a little sloppy,” says Hinson.

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HHS Announces $60 Million To Help Consumers Navigate Their Health Care Coverage Options In The Health Insurance Marketplace
insurance newsnet

The Affordable Care Act is working for millions of Americans who are able to access quality health coverage at a price they can afford, in large part because of the efforts of in-person assisters in local communities across the nation. People shopping for and enrolling in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace can get local help in a number of ways, including through Navigators.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell today announced $60 million in Navigator grant awards to 90 organizations in states with federally-facilitated and state partnership Marketplaces. These awards support preparation and outreach activities in year two of Marketplace enrollment and build on lessons learned from last year.

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Affordable Care Act: insurance coverage has improved for young adults
Medical News Today

Researchers analyzing the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have found that it has led to increased health insurance coverage among young adults aged 19-25. This increase has not been linked, however, with any significant changes in health care affordability or health status.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, evaluated individuals’ health, access to care and use of health care both before and after the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

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Fear that immigrants will lose ACA coverage persists as deadline passes
Modern Healthcare

More than 300,000 immigrants who signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov faced a Friday deadline to submit documentation establishing that they were eligible to sign up for coverage. But groups that work with immigrants say that there are still widespread problems with submitting documents and that many individuals have been unable to do so through no fault of their own.

Those who failed to submit the necessary documentation face the prospect of losing their insurance at the end of the month and possibly having to pay back federal subsidies.

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Providers Skeptical of Medicare Appeals Deal
Health Leaders Media

Healthcare providers are raising concerns about a Medicare claims appeals settlement offer from federal officials.

From a hospital or health system’s perspective, the 68-cents-on-the-dollar deal is neither a fair resolution nor an adequate step toward addressing providers’ concerns over Recovery Audit Contractor reviews of healthcare service claims to Medicare, a New York-based healthcare CFO says.

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Medicare covers less when a hospital stay is an observation, not an admission
Washington Post

An increasing number of seniors who spend time in the hospital are surprised to learn that they were not “admitted” patients — even though they may have stayed overnight in a hospital bed and received treatment, diagnostic tests and drugs.

Because they were not considered sick enough to require admission but also were not healthy enough to go home, they were kept for observation care, a type of outpatient service. The distinction between inpatient status and outpatient status matters: Seniors must have three consecutive days as admitted patients to qualify for Medicare coverage for follow-up nursing home care, and no amount of observation time counts for that three-day tally. That leaves some observation patients with a tough choice: Pay the nursing home bill themselves — often tens of thousands of dollars — or go home without the care their doctor prescribed and recover as best they can.

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Study: Rise in ER visits after Medicaid expansion
San Francisco Chronicle

Many people newly insured by Medicaid under the federal health care law are seeking treatment in hospital emergency rooms, one of the most expensive medical settings, a study released Monday concludes.

The analysis by the Colorado Hospital Association provides a real-time glimpse at how the nation’s newest social program is working.

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Researcher Urges Wider Genetic Screening For Breast Cancer
National Public Radio

A prominent scientist has started a big new debate about breast cancer. Geneticist Mary-Claire King of the University of Washington, who identified the first breast cancer gene, is recommending that all women get tested for genetic mutations that can cause breast cancer.

“My colleagues and I are are taking a really bold step,” King said. “We’re recommending that all adult women in America, regardless of their personal history and regardless of their family history, be offered genetic testing for the breast cancer genes.”

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California could change how nursing home residents receive antipsychotics
USC Annenberg

There’s a debate stirring over the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes.

The California Culture Change Coalition is considering a recommendation that doctors be able to sign a consent form ostensibly on behalf of nursing home residents, allowing the doctors to give those patients antipsychotic drugs. This could happen over the objections of the residents and their families.

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Time To Send A Message To Pregnant Women Who Use Tobacco
National Public Radio

Until now, no one knew exactly how many pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries used tobacco products. A report in The Lancet Global Health looks at 54 countries and finds some cause for relief. The rate of tobacco use among pregnant women in those countries averages about 3 to 6 percent, though some outliers, like Turkey, have smoking rates of up to 15 percent.

The report provides the most comprehensive look at tobacco use among pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries to date. In 21 countries, the use of smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco, was higher than the use of cigarettes among pregnant women.

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A Revival: California Rural Health Association Reorganizes
Associations Now

After closing its doors early last year, the California State Rural Health Association has recently been making a comeback.

CSRHA, which laid off staff and closed its office in Sacramento as a result of insufficient funding and increasing debt, is regrouping with a 13-member volunteer board and a newly launched website, according to California Healthline.

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UC Davis study breaks ground on early intervention for infants showing signs of autism
Sacramento Bee

On a Monday afternoon, the Hinsons are going full throttle.

Kristin Hinson, mother of five, is helping 10-year-old Justin plod through problems from his math textbook, while husband Neal walks Simon, age 7, through a homework packet. Amelia, the oldest of the bunch at 13, is buzzing around the kitchen for an after-school snack while 6-month-old Lucy sleeps quietly on the second floor of their finely furnished Lincoln home.

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Can Self-Made Hospital Apps Reduce Healthcare Costs?
The Health Care Blog

Today’s healthcare industry bears a startling resemblance to a Charles Dickens novel. It is the best of times, and the worst of times. In an age where advancements in technology have extended patient lifespans, many healthcare systems are struggling to pay their bills. Deloitte pegs healthcare spending at over $3.8 Trillion in 2014, and providers are desperately searching for any cost-cutting solutions. Many found a means to treat their own symptoms, with a prescription of mobile apps.

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S.F. Fire Department hires private ambulances amid major shortage
San Francisco Chronicle

A critical shortage of city ambulances forced the San Francisco Fire Department to make a 911 call to private ambulances to help cover the city one recent Saturday night.

The call went out when 12 fire engine companies that had been dispatched to emergencies throughout the city Aug. 30 were left without any way to get the people they were treating to hospitals.

At the time, there were 15 city ambulances on the streets – and there were so many calls coming in, their runs were taking anywhere from 21 minutes to an hour and a half.

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Stanford Terminates Anthem’s Contract; Anthem Uses KQED Data to Cite Stanford’s Cost
KQED Radio

Effective Monday at 12:01a.m., Stanford Health Care terminated its contract with Anthem Blue Cross. Anthem says that roughly 10,000 of its policyholders have used Stanford services in the last year. In a statement, Anthem said it had requested that “Stanford agree to a two-week extension of the terminated contract at existing rates.” Both parties say negotiations are ongoing.

Stanford had notified the insurer on Feb. 28, Anthem says, that it intended to terminate the contract.

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Hyperion stops diabetes drug trial after study results manipulated
San Francisco Business Times

Hyperion Therapeutics stopped development of a type 1 diabetes drug after employees at an Israeli company it bought three months ago allegedly manipulated data to give a clinical trial a favorable result. The Brisbane company (NASDAQ: HPTX) said Monday that it found that employees of wholly owned subsidiary Andromeda Biotech Ltd. allowed a third-party biostatistics company in Israel to receive unblinded study data and manipulate trial analyses. Hyperion also said the practice continued with another study of the drug.

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Aetna Blazes ACO Trail in Arizona, Texas
Health Leaders Media

Aetna has taken a pair of ACO strides. The Hartford, CT-based commercial payer has sealed an accountable care collaboration deal with Baylor, Scott and White Quality Alliance in North Texas. Last month, Aetna and Banner Health Network reported a $5 million gain-sharing bounty last year from their ACO collaboration in Arizona.

Both of the collaborations feature the Aetna Whole Health accountable care health insurance plan.

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