News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Official: Enterovirus no ’cause for concern’ in California for now
Los Angeles Times

A respiratory virus that has sickened children in the Midwest — and is being investigated in other states too — should not worry Californians at the moment, according to a state public health official.

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that clusters of infections with the virus known as enterovirus D68 had erupted in Illinois and in Missouri — posing a particular threat to kids with preexisting respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

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Infection Control Practices Inconsistently Measured in the ED
HealthLeaders Media

When it comes to monitoring infection control compliance in the emergency department, the research literature says providers around the country are inconsistent. They measure different things at different times and in different ways, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to say whether adherence is improving. That’s the conclusion of Columbia University researchers whose literature search found that, especially for hand hygiene and urinary catheter insertion practices, it’s unclear which protocols providers are using to measure compliance.

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Covered California will offer auto-renewals for 2015
Sacramento Business Journal

If most consumers who bought health insurance through Covered California this year sit back and do nothing, they’ll be automatically enrolled in the same plan next year. However, program officials and insurance brokers urge people to go to and use the “Shop and Compare” tool to look at options to make sure their current plan is still the best fit. The state health benefit exchange will release more details on the re-enrollment process in coming weeks, spokesman James Scullary said.

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Study finds little evidence that ACA is cutting worker hours, so far
San Francisco Business Times

Despite concerns that the Affordable Care Act has pushed companies to cut worker hours, a new study by the Urban Institute finds little evidence of a rise in part-time employment.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the report finds a small increase in part-time work that likely stems from a sluggish recovery of full-time jobs following the recession.

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Income checks throw Californians off health plans
San Diego Union-Tribune

Some Californians who purchased individual health coverage through the state’s insurance exchange are suddenly being dropped or transferred to Medi-Cal, the state Medicaid program for the poor that fewer doctors and providers accept.

Covered California, which is responsible for determining and directing Californians to an appropriate health plan, has no estimate of how many people are affected, saying only that the changes are occurring as incomes are checked to verify the policyholders can purchase insurance through the exchange.

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Can I Buy Insurance After Being Injured In An Accident?
National Public Radio

Now that the federal health law forbids denial of insurance for pre-existing condition, some people have wondered if they can wait until they get sick to buy health coverage.

Let’s say an uninsured person is in a car accident, has emergency surgery and is hospitalized, and after awaking from surgery asks to purchase insurance right away. Under the health law, would his medical costs be covered since he can’t be denied insurance because of a pre-existing medical condition?

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Mobile Health Screenings Come Under Scrutiny
Health Leaders Media

The debate over screening for heart disease and other conditions is playing out in a consumer group’s campaign to get hospitals to cut ties with the mobile screening company HealthFair Health Screening.

A handful of hospitals have discontinued their relationships with Florida-based HealthFair after Public Citizen’s Health Research Group (HRG) accused the company of “fear-mongering.” In June, Public Citizen contacted HealthFair’s hospital clients and The Joint Commission to complain that company overstates the health benefits of its screening programs.

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Envision completes acquisition of pharmacy-benefit management company
Sacramento Business Journal

The parent company of Envision Pharmaceutical Services has completed its acquisition of MedTrak Services LLC, an independent, privately held pharmacy benefit manager in Overland Park, Kansas. Terms of the deal, announced July 30, were not disclosed. Founded in 1999, MedTrak is among the top 30 privately-held pharmacy-benefit managers in the nation, managing benefits for small to mid-sized employers and handling more than 3.5 million prescription claims annually. Like Envision, MedTrak will continue to be managed and operated as an independent company.

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Long-term use of pills for insomnia and anxiety linked to Alzheimer’s risk
Washington Post

New research bolsters the belief that long-term use of a prescription drug commonly used to alleviate anxiety, panic attacks and sleep problems is linked in aging patients to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers in France and Canada, using data from Quebec’s health insurance program, found that Alzheimer’s risk was up to 51 percent higher in elderly people who used benzodiazepines for three months or more.

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Doctors worry that a satellite emergency department is the wrong choice
Contra Costa Times

As health care officials continue to explore options for preserving services at Doctors Medical Center, physicians at the hospital are arguing that closing the hospital completely would be a better choice than creating a satellite emergency department, one of the leading scenarios under consideration.

That opposition, in part, has prompted the stakeholders group studying the fate of the hospital to advance yet another possibility — an advanced urgent care facility that would not require any special licensing but would provide most, if not all, of the services of a satellite emergen

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Sign-ups for big L.A. health clinic for uninsured fall short
Los Angeles Times

A giant, routinely oversubscribed health clinic for the uninsured and needy at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena failed to fill all of its available appointments during a sign-up event over the weekend, according to organizers.

The annual Care Harbor free clinic, which will take place Thursday through Sunday, had 4,000 available appointments, but only 2,600 were requested — leaving more than a third unclaimed — during sign-ups Sunday.

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Hospital’s budget balanced after years of shortfalls
The Press-Enterprise

After several years of deficits and financial struggles, Riverside County Regional Medical Center should have a balanced budget this fiscal year, the county-run hospital’s interim CEO said Tuesday. The announcement by Lowell Johnson is a milestone in the costly effort to turn around the Moreno Valley hospital. The facility’s financial woes have threatened to drag down the county budget, which is still recovering from the Great Recession and facing major new spending commitments.

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Supervisors approve high-dollar hospital CFO contract
Bakersfield Californian

The Board of Supervisors approved a $520,000 contract for chief financial officer services at Kern Medical Center Tuesday, saying the caliber of the company’s work is worth the high cost.

Under the contract with HSF Consultants, Arebi Garsa, a fiscal executive officials say has decades of top-level hospital experience, will serve as interim CFO.