News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Bill would give attorney general too much power
Sacramento Bee

Would you sign a contract if you knew the terms could be altered after you agreed to the deal? A bill on the governor’s desk would do just that in the area of nonprofit hospital mergers and acquisitions. Large hospital groups typically make these transactions to keep smaller, financially distressed nonprofit hospitals open so they can continue to serve their communities.

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Hospitals and Insurer Join Forces in California
New York Times

In a partnership that appears to be the first of its kind, Anthem Blue Cross, a large California health insurance company, is teaming up with seven fiercely competitive hospital groups to create a new health system in the Los Angeles area.

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One-Quarter Of ACOs Save Enough Money To Earn Bonuses
Kaiser Health News

About a quarter of the 243 groups of hospitals and doctors that banded together as accountable care organizations under the Affordable Care Act saved Medicare enough money to earn bonuses, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Tuesday.

Those 64 ACOs earned a combined $445 million in bonuses, the agency said. Medicare saved $372 million after accounting for the ACOs that did not show success, including four that overspent significantly and now owe the government money.

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Poll: Most Californians lack knowledge about plans’ mental health benefits
Sacramento Bee

Less than 40 percent of Californians realize that health insurance plans generally cover mental health treatment as well as other types of medical care, according to a new Field Poll that found a lack of knowledge about mental health assistance and varying levels of willingness to seek it.

Conducted on behalf of the nonprofit California HealthCare Foundation, the poll found that more than eight in 10 Californians believe that treatment can help people with mental illnesses lead productive and healthy lives.

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Data Points to Boom in Private Health Insurance Exchanges
Health Leaders Media

Growing numbers of larger employers are looking at private health insurance exchanges for their employees as a means of addressing rising regulatory requirements, providing more nuanced coverage options, and containing costs, according to PwC’s Health Research Institute.

A PwC survey this summer of 1,200 employers across 35 different industries found that 32% of them are considering moving employees to private exchanges within the next three years.

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Health advocates sue California over Medi-Cal backlog
Southern California Public Radio

Health advocates have sued California over its persistent backlog of pending Medi-Cal applications, alleging that the state has illegally forced hundreds of thousands of low-income residents to go without health insurance for months. The suit also claims that in some cases people have had to forego urgent medical treatment while they wait for their applications to be approved. By law, the state’s Department of Health Care Services is required to process applications for Medi-Cal – the state health insurance program for poor Californians – within 45 days.

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Medi-Cal patients sue over application backlog
Sacramento Bee

Medi-Cal patients and health care advocates filed a lawsuit against the state Wednesday for leaving hundreds of thousands of low-income and disabled people waiting months for care.

The suit filed in Alameda County Superior Court aims to get the California Department of Health Care Services to process applications within a required 45-day time frame.

One plaintiff, 68-year old Frances Rivera of Visalia, said she lost her adult son, Robert, who died from a pulmonary embolism while waiting to hear back about his Medi-Cal application.

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Brown signs bill to speed approval of new Medi-Cal clinics
Sacramento Business Journal

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that speeds up the process for primary-care clinics to get approval to serve Medi-Cal patients. Assembly Bill 2015 by Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez from San Diego reduces wait times to 30 days from as long as 180 days — if they are affiliated with clinics already approved. The change will help bring new clinics on line quickly at a time when the state has enrolled more than 1.9 million new Medi-Cal patients under the Affordable Care Act.

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Don’t mess with ACA in California: Vote no on Proposition 45
Monterey Herald

Under current California law, the state insurance commissioner can deem health-insurance rate increases to be excessive, but cannot veto the rates. Proposition 45 would change that, giving the commissioner the power to intervene if an increase in rates were judged to be excessive.

The argument in favor of Proposition 45 is that 35 states already have regulations on health-insurance rates and that California voters in 1987 set a precedent by approving a measure regulating auto-insurance rates.

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Endorsement: Proposition 45 would undermine the Affordable Care Act, which is reason to oppose it
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.

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FDA delays decision on Impax Parkinson’s drug
San Francisco Business Times

An FDA decision on a treatment for Parkinson’s disease symptoms — the first non-generic drug developed by Impax Laboratories Inc. — has been pushed back three months to January. The Hayward-based drug maker (NASDAQ: IPXL) blamed the delay on changes it made to its new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration after the agency inspected Impax’s Taiwan facility. The FDA’s new decision date on Rytary, an extended-release capsule of carbidopa and levodopa aimed at the jerky movements experienced by Parkinson’s patients, is Jan. 9.

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F.D.A. Panel Backs Limits on Testosterone Drugs
New York Times

An expert panel voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday for the Food and Drug Administration to impose strict new limitations on the multibillion-dollar testosterone drug industry, recommending that the agency tighten labels for the medicines so they are not prescribed to men who only have problems related to aging, such as low energy and libido. The F.D.A.

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How Catholic Insurance Companies Outsource Contraceptive Coverage
National Public Radio

Catholic and other religious hospitals and universities have been arguing in federal court for much of the past two years that they shouldn’t have to offer or facilitate birth control as part of their employee health plans because it violates their religious beliefs.

But what happens when the insurance company is itself Catholic? It turns out that Catholic health plans have for years been arranging for outside firms to provide contraceptive coverage to their enrollees.

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Anthem Blue Cross, 7 CA Health Systems Create New Challenger, Business Model
Health Leaders Media

Anthem Blue Cross and seven health systems serving Los Angeles and Orange County, CA on Wednesday announced the creation of an integrated healthcare network called Anthem Blue Cross Vivity that is expected to challenge Kaiser Permanente’s dominance in that market.

“Vivity is a very unique collaboration. This is the first time in the country than an insurer and seven competing top quality hospitals have completely aligned around maximizing health,” Pam Kehaly, west region president for Anthem Blue Cross said on a web conference.

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Anthem, hospitals join to offer new insurance plan
San Francisco Chronicle

Insurer Anthem Blue Cross is joining with several prominent Southern California hospitals to offer a new type of health coverage plan it promises will provide high-quality medical care at affordable prices.

The venture, to be called Vivity, brings together one of the nation’s largest health insurers with such providers as Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the UCLA Health System. It was being formally announced Wednesday at a news conference in Los Angeles.

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L.A. hospital closes amid falling revenue, earthquake-retrofit tab
Los Angeles Times

Temple Community Hospital of Los Angeles has closed its doors after more than 70 years in business, citing low revenue and increasing costs of maintaining its aging building.

The independently operated hospital, about three miles northwest of downtown, closed Sept. 9. It had been in business since 1937 and employed more than 300 people.

Another factor in the decision was the large pending expense of retrofitting the hospital to meet state earthquake safety requirements, Temple said in a statement. But there were other issues.

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Sutter Auburn Surgery Center completes remodel
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Auburn Surgery Center has completed a $230,000 remodel to its longtime facility. The remodel includes a revamped entry, lobby and waiting area to offer more patient privacy and more efficient business services. The center has served the Auburn community for 23 years. The specialized facility offers quick turnaround for procedures at a lower cost than in the hospital. It provides an array of services that includes cataract, knee, shoulder, gastrointestinal and pain management care. About 2,300 patients are treated annually at the center.

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Mission Hospital In Mission Viejo To Open New $185M Institute
ABC News

Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo is about to open a new neuroscience and spine institute with the latest technology.

The $185 million institute will help doctors improve the care and well-being of patients.

Dr. Farzad Massoudi is proud to show off what he calls “state-of-the-art” technology. Doctors expect to see their first patients next week.

Watch the video above for Orange County Bureau Chief Eileen Frere’s report.

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Washington Hospital Blames Affordable Care Act For 31 Layoffs
ABC News

On Wednesday, 31 employees at Washington Hospital in Fremont were laid off. The hospital has been struggling financially and blames the Affordable Care Act and significant reductions in Medicare for the layoffs.

Hospitals across the nation have been complaining about Medicare reimbursements, but for a hospital to say they’re cutting simply because of the Affordable Care Act, we simply haven’t heard that before.

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