News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Health Costs Inch Up As Obamacare Kicks In
National Public Radio

Doctors and hospitals treated more patients and collected more payments in the spring as millions gained insurance coverage under the health law, new figures from the government show.

But analysts called the second-quarter increases modest and said there is little evidence to suggest that wider coverage and a recovering economy are pushing health spending growth to the painful levels of a decade ago.

Thursday’s results from the Census Bureau’s survey of service industries join other recent cost indicators that “are quite a bit lower than what the folks at CMS were projecting,” said Charles Roehrig, director of the Center for Sustainable Health Spending at the Altarum Institute, a nonprofit research and consulting outfit. “And they’re lower than what we were expecting as well.”

News Headlines Article

Health Law Has Caveat on Renewal of Coverage
New York Times

Millions of consumers will soon receive notices from health insurance companies stating that their coverage is being automatically renewed for 2015, along with the financial assistance they received this year from the federal government.

But consumer advocates and insurers say they see a significant potential for confusion because some of the information will be out of date and misleading on costs and other aspects of coverage.

News Headlines Article

CEO Exchange: Preparing for Population Health
HealthLeaders Media

Achieving the triple aim of healthcare is a messy road that will likely be paved with programs that haven’t come close to improving cost, quality, or health outcomes. Population health, however, is one initiative that healthcare leaders believe is here to stay. At the annual HealthLeaders Media CEO Exchange in Colorado Springs last week, leaders of hospital and healthcare systems spoke candidly about both the difficulty and necessity of managing the health of populations as a way to reign in healthcare costs while improving patients’ health.

News Headlines Article

Proposition 45 would undermine the Affordable Care Act, which is reason to oppose it
Editorial Board, Sacramento Bee

From its inception, the Affordable Care Act has faced withering attacks from conservatives who denounce it as a government overreach, even socialist. Now, California’s version of Obamacare faces a threat from the left, personified by backers of Proposition 45, a far-reaching initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot that would regulate health insurance but also disrupt the nascent program that has provided health care coverage to millions of previously uninsured Californians.

News Headlines Article

Hurdles for Obama health law in 2nd sign-up season
San Francisco Chronicle

Potential complications await consumers as President Barack Obama’s health care law approaches its second open enrollment season, just two months away.

Don’t expect a repeat of last year’s website meltdown, but the new sign-up period could expose underlying problems with the law itself that are less easily fixed than a computer system. Getting those who signed up this year enrolled again for 2015 won’t be as easy as it might seem.

News Headlines Article

Remaining Uninsured Face Challenges in Cost and Simply Signing Up
KQED Radio

When the Affordable Care Act rolled out last fall, Californians enrolled in both Covered California and expanded Medi-Cal in high numbers. But there are still millions in the state without health insurance. Undocumented people don’t qualify for Obamacare benefits. Many others still find coverage too expensive, or face other obstacles in enrolling.

One of those people is Leaburn Alexander. I meet up with him at 6 a.m. as he is finishing his shift as the night janitor at a hotel near the San Francisco Airport. He clocks out just in time to catch the hotel’s shuttle back to SFO, where he will catch a bus.

News Headlines Article

Some bumps, but California is progressing with health care reform
San Francisco Business Times

Things are a little less scary but still confusing as the health-care industry heads toward a second year of business with Covered California, panelists said Friday at a Sacramento Business Journal forum on the Affordable Care Act. Editor and moderator Jack Robinson likened the situation to a plane that’s taken off and risen above the fields but still has a mechanic on the wing. Millions of Californians are on the insurance rolls — and that’s a good thing, Dr. Bruce Bob, president of Hill Physicians Medical Group Inc., said in opening remarks.

News Headlines Article

California broadens autism coverage for kids through Medicaid
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Maria Cruz had never heard the word autism until her daughter, Shirley, was diagnosed as a toddler.

“I felt a knot in my brain. I didn’t know where to turn,” recalled Cruz, a Mexican immigrant who speaks only Spanish. “I didn’t have any idea how to help her.” No one in her low-income South Los Angeles neighborhood seemed to know anything about autism spectrum disorder, a developmental condition that can impair language, learning and social interaction.

News Headlines Article

Poorly crafted state Proposition 46 puts doctors on defense
San Francisco Chronicle

The lawyers who put together and funded Proposition 46 might have been too clever for their own good. The main motivation for the measure is inescapably clear: to raise the ceiling on “noneconomic damages” in medical malpractice lawsuits — in plain language, “pain and suffering” — from $250,000 to $1.1 million. That cap was set in 1975, and has not been adjusted for inflation. A very credible case could be made that it’s now so low that it makes it difficult for certain victims to seek redress in court.

News Headlines Article

Poll: Weak support for Prop. 46 targeting medical malpractice
Los Angeles Times

Voter support appears to be soft for a November ballot measure that is the subject of a heated and potentially costly battle between the lawyers who back it and the doctors and insurers who oppose it, according to new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

The measure, Proposition 46, would increase California’s limits on pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice lawsuits, and it would require drug testing of physicians. Its fate could hang on the strength of the rival campaigns, the survey suggests.

News Headlines Article

Shortage of in-home dialysis solution has patients worried
Los Angeles Times

Unlike the hundreds of thousands of Americans who drive several times a week to a dialysis center, Joanna Galeas relies on an increasingly popular at-home alternative to treat her kidney failure.

Galeas, a 30-year-old Los Angeles resident, is among tens of thousands of U.S. residents who use peritoneal dialysis at home. She fills her abdomen with a sterile solution that helps remove toxins from her blood, a function ordinarily performed by healthy kidneys.

News Headlines Article

Parents Persuade Calif. Senate to Shed Light on Children’s Cancer
UCSF Today

Juliana Peña’s constant smile brightened the days of everyone she came across, even those who just caught a glance of her.

At two-and-a-half years old, she passed away from neuroblastoma, a rare pediatric cancer. “As she was taking her last breaths, I promised Juliana that we would never stop fighting for her,” recalls her father, Jesus Peña. “And I promised that every day of my life someone would say her name.”

News Headlines Article

Patients Vulnerable When Cash-Strapped Scientists Cut Corners
National Public Radio

There’s a funding crunch for biomedical research in the United States — and it’s not just causing pain for scientists and universities. It’s also creating incentives for researchers to cut corners — and that’s affecting people who are seriously ill.

Take, for example, the futile search for drugs to treat ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The progressive, degenerative disease of the brain and nerve cells has been the focus of recent publicity, thanks to the ice bucket challenge.

News Headlines Article

Considering surgery? Some healthcare providers offer warranties
Los Angeles Times

When Carolyn Rondou needed knee replacement surgery in 2012, she decided to have the procedure done at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine, even though there were several hospitals closer to her home in Fullerton.

Rondou, a 66-year-old oncology nurse, says Hoag’s reputation for quality factored heavily into her decision to have her procedure done there. But something else sweetened the pot: Her surgery came with a warranty.

News Headlines Article

Think Sacramento is all about state workers? Health care sector is surging
Sacramento Bee

Sacramento has long been known as a state worker town. These days, it’s just as accurate to call it a health worker town.

The health care sector in the four-county Sacramento region has grown steadily and significantly for more than a decade, according to the California Employment Development Department. While most other sectors shed jobs during the recession, hospitals, doctor’s offices and nursing homes held strong, adding 10,000 workers between 2008 and 2014.

News Headlines Article

Two Sacramento-area health clinics share in federal grant
Sacramento Business Journal

Two Sacramento-area nonprofit medical clinics will share more than $523,000 in federal funding provided under the Affordable Care Act to bolster primary care. CommuniCare Health Centers received $264,442 and WellSpace Health received $259,128, U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui announced late Friday. CommuniCare operates four clinics in Yolo County, including the Davis Community Clinic, Hansen Family Health Center in Woodland, Salud Clinic in West Sacramento and the Esparto Dental Clinic.

Commands