News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation


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CMS Pitches Medicare Appeals Deal to Hospitals
Health Leaders Media

In a conference call Monday with hospital executives from across the country, officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services highlighted a claims appeals settlement deal that offers 68 cents on the dollar.

Gerald Walters, senior adviser to the CFO at CMS’s Office of Financial Management, said the settlement offer is both necessary and worthy of consideration. “There’s been an unprecedented growth of claims appeals,” he told hospital executives, adding that the federal agency’s appellate apparatus faces an overwhelming caseload.

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Study: Many hospitals use too many antibiotics
San Francisco Chronicle

Doctors in many U.S. hospitals are unnecessarily prescribing multiple antibiotics for several days when just one would do the job, a new study released Wednesday suggests.

Health officials have sounded alarms that overuse of antibiotics is helping to breed dangerous bacteria that are increasingly resistant to treatment. Much of the attention has been on doctor offices that wrongly prescribe bacteria-targeting antibiotics for illnesses caused by viruses.

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How the ACA has affected employer-based coverage

We’ve heard for years about how the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — could make it near impossible for businesses to keep offering health coverage to their workers.

Well, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s annual employer health benefits survey — which is widely considered a benchmark in the health care industry — came out Wednesday. Like everybody else, Kaiser Family Foundation Vice President Gary Claxton wanted to know: Did the new health care law upend employer-based health insurance, the market where 150 million Americans get their coverage?

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For Now, Blue Cross Brand Dominates Obamacare Exchanges

Health plans operating with the Blue Cross brand “captured the greatest percentage of covered lives” in 12 of 15 states in the first year private coverage was offered on exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, according to a study of market share data.

Avalere Health, a research and advisory services firm on health policy issues tracking the health law, looked at what it called the most complete data on market share of those who purchased policies on government-run exchanges.

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Job-based health premiums increasing slowly, deductibles faster
Sacramento Bee

Average premiums for job-based family health coverage are up just 3 percent this year, while the cost of single coverage rose only 2 percent, continuing a sustained trend of moderate growth in insurance costs, according to a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 businesses.

The slowdown in premium growth is good news for the estimated 150 million Americans with employer-sponsored health coverage.

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Health care and the six-state split
Capitol Weekly

“We want a smaller state that is more responsive to the people in it. It is trying to govern a state that is ungovernable,” Janet Chandler, who favors creating a new state of Jefferson from territory in from far noerthern California.

If Draper’s “Six Californias” initiative, aimed at the 2016 ballot, ultimately is approved, California’s current social services will only exist if each of the new states individually decide to keep them. One of those affected services would be health care.

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Washington, Wall Street Gauge HIX Performance as Open Enrollment Nears
Health Leaders Media

Implementation of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is back in the spotlight this week in Washington, DC, and on Wall Street.

In Washington, a pair of top federal officials endured a PPACA grilling Wednesday during a hearing before the health panel of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Republican lawmakers sought assurances that flaws in the rollout of the PPACA insurance exchanges for this year would not be repeated in 2015.

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Support plummets for California health initiatives
Sacramento Bee

Support for a pair of health-related ballot initiatives is eroding, though a large portion of voters remain undecided eight weeks before the Nov. 4 election, according to the latest Field Poll.

Forty-one percent of likely voters say they would support Proposition 45, while 26 percent would vote against the initiative requiring health insurance rate changes to be approved by the state’s elected insurance commissioner. A growing proportion, 33 percent, are undecided.

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Mental Health Parity Act: A Litigation Update
The National Law Review

The Federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (the “Federal Parity Act”), like many similar state parity laws, mandates that financial requirements (e.g., copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles) and treatment limitations (e.g., limitations on the frequency of treatment, number of out-patient visits, or amount of days covered for in-patient stays) applicable to mental health benefits generally can be no more restrictive than the requirements and limitations applied to medical benefits.

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Most hospitals overuse antibiotics, Premier finds
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals continue to overuse antibiotics despite warnings that pervasive use can lead to drug resistance and cause billions of dollars in excess healthcare costs, according to a retrospective analysis of 505 hospital members of the Premier health alliance.

Inappropriate and redundant use of antibiotic combinations was prevalent in nearly 80% of the facilities analyzed, and overuse of the most common therapies led to an excess spending of nearly $13 million, according Premier, a healthcare purchasing and performance-services company.

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More U.S. hospitals adopting ‘baby-friendly’ policies
Washington Post

At the growing number of hospitals in the United States that are certified as “baby-friendly,” the naked, often unbathed infant is put on the mother’s bare chest within the first hour of birth. Mothers are to nurse “on demand” whenever babies are hungry. No pacifiers are available. Formula may be provided, but only on request, and only after, in some instances, mothers sign a waiver acknowledging that using a bottle could impede breast-feeding. Lactation consultants roam the floor.

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Medivation snags $90M from Astellas as FDA expands use of prostate cancer drug
San Francisco Business Times

An expanded label on Medivation Inc.’s signature prostate cancer drug will net the San Francisco company an additional $90 million from partner Astellas Pharma Inc. The Food and Drug Administration said Xtandi, which the agency approved in August 2012 to treat men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer who previously received the chemotherapy drug docetaxel, now can be used before chemotherapy, the companies said Wednesday.

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Silicon Valley struggles to speak FDA’s language
San Francisco Chronicle

From Apple’s new smartwatch that tracks heartbeats to contact lenses that measure blood sugar — Silicon Valley is pouring billions into gadgets and apps designed to transform health care. But the tech giants that have famously disrupted so many industries are now facing their own unexpected disruption: regulation.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin recently expressed his frustration with the complex web of rules that govern the field.

“Health is just so heavily regulated,” Brin told industry executives in July. “It’s just a painful business to be in.”

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Pico Rivera students get help securing healthcare coverage
Whittier Daily News

The El Rancho Unified School District has formed a partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund and The School Superintendent Association to identify and enroll uninsured children into health coverage.

“We are always looking to form partnerships to benefit our students and their families,” ERUSD Superintendent Martin Galindo said.

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Doctors Hospital opens wound center
Manteca Bulletin

Manteca’s new Wound Center was the focal point of the Chamber of Commerce weekly coffee Wednesday morning and a dream come true for Kathy McKenzie, a longtime employee of Doctors Hospital of Manteca.

There were more than 100 medical and business professionals that attended the coffee and toured the new facility for the 8 a.m. event.