News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Insurers vying for Obamacare business signal healthy exchange markets
Modern Healthcare

More insurers will compete for consumers’ business on the exchanges during the second year of Obamacare enrollments.

The number of insurers selling products on the state and federal exchanges will increase by at least 25% for 2015, the CMS announced Tuesday. There will be 77 additional health plans participating in the 44 states for which data is currently available. In 36 of the 44 states, there will be at least one new insurer seeking customers through the government-run marketplaces.

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Viewpoints: Prop. 45 is deceiving and damaging
Sacramento Bee

As an OB/GYN, there is nothing more important to me than the health and well-being of my patients. That’s why I’m speaking out against Proposition 45, a damaging and deceptive initiative on the November ballot. It gives one politician – the state’s insurance commissioner – sweeping new power over health care, including what benefits and treatment options are covered. I believe that these treatment decisions are best left to doctors and patients, not someone with a political agenda.

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Court nixes ObamaCare mandate delay lawsuit
The Hill

A federal appeals court threw out a lawsuit over the delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate, a sign that a similar challenge in the works by House Republicans might not fare well.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue, and only parties “seeking to advance the interests” of the mandate could mount a “plausible” case against its delay.

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Thanks to Obamacare, virtual-reality doctors are booming

Obamacare might not let you keep your old doctor, but it may pay for a virtual-reality physician—and you won’t even have to get out of bed to get diagnosed.

For years, it has been possible to “see” your doctor without ever going into the office for an appointment, thanks to online chatting and videoconferencing technology. But few patients and doctors tried it because of one very big obstacle: Insurance companies wouldn’t pay for it.

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Poll: Obamacare support sliding, Jerry Brown, water-bond up big
Sacramento Bee

The Affordable Care Act continues to divide Californians, who remain skeptical four years after its passage despite the state’s relatively smooth launch in which more than 1.2 million people enrolled in health insurance coverage.

A new survey released late Tuesday found some 42 percent of state residents generally view the law favorably, while 46 percent harbor unfavorable opinions. Support is down somewhat since May, before a wave of targeted TV ads began in a handful of competitive congressional districts.

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Voluntary benefits could hold key to health care reform excise tax
Business Insurance

Some U.S. employers are beginning to use voluntary medical benefit plans to minimize the prospects of sharp health care cost increases in the coming years as a result of health care reform.

Effective for 2015, Chicago-based cement manufacturer Lafarge North America Inc.

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HIX to Offer 25% More Plans in 2015, Says HHS
Health Leaders Media

An additional 77 health insurance issuers will offer plans on state and federal Marketplaces in 44 states next year, offsetting the 14 issuers that are “exiting” the Marketplaces, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday.

“Today, we’re able to announce that in 2015 there will be a 25% increase in the total number of issuers selling health insurance plans in the Marketplace,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said Tuesday in a speech at the Brookings Institution.

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Will Technology Replace Doctors?
The Health Care Blog

Put the question in 1880: Will technology replace farmers? Most of them. In the 19th century, some 80% of the population worked in agriculture. Today? About 2% — and they are massively more productive. Put it in 1980: Will technology replace office workers? Some classes of them, yes. Typists, switchboard operators, stenographers, file clerks, mail clerks — many job categories have diminished or disappeared in the last three decades.

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Activists call for FDA commissioner’s ouster over opioid epidemic
Washington Post

A coalition of doctors, addiction specialists and family members who have lost loved ones to overdoses of prescription drugs are calling for the replacement of Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, arguing that the agency under her leadership has exacerbated the nationwide overdose epidemic involving powerful painkillers known as opioids.

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California Pharmacists Can Soon Dispense Opioid Overdose Antidote Without Prescriptions
Pharmacy Times

A new California law will allow pharmacists throughout the state to dispense the opioid overdose reversal drug, naloxone (Narcan), without a prescription. Beginning January 1, 2015, California pharmacists can furnish naloxone to family members of patients at risk for overdose, those who might be in contact with an individual at risk for overdose, or anyone who requests the drug. Dispensing is pursuant to guidelines developed by the state’s boards of pharmacy and medicine.

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More Women Skip Prenatal Tests After Learning About Risks
National Public Radio

For decades, OB-GYNs have offered prenatal tests to expectant moms to uncover potential issues, including Down syndrome, before they give birth. However, some tests, such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, carry health risks, including miscarriage. For some women, the risks can be greater than the potential benefits from information they would gain.

Evidence now suggests that women who are well-informed about the pros and cons are more likely to decline testing, even when the tests are free, indicating that the average mother-to-be might not have all the facts.

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Study: Should Pregnant Women Get Prenatal Tests?
NBC Los Angeles

A new study shows pregnant women might not get prenatal tests if they knew more about some risks associated with them. The study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association involved 700 women. Half of the women were shown a “decision support guide” and were offered free prenatal testing afterward. The remaining women were not shown the guide or offered free testing. “Women who had the opportunity to view the program were less likely to undergo diagnostic testing than women who did not have a student intervention,” said Dr.

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Insurers Cautious As Proton Beam Cancer Therapy Gains Popularity
National Public Radio

Everyone seems to agree that proton beam therapy — a type of radiation treatment that can target cancerous tumors while generally sparing the surrounding tissue — is an exciting technology with a lot of potential.

But some insurers and medical specialists say that coverage shouldn’t be routine, until there’s better evidence that proton therapy is more effective at treating various cancers than traditional, less expensive radiation treatment.

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Tough spot for hospital construction
Tehachapi News

Construction of the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District’s new hospital on Capitol Hills Parkway has gotten back on track following a contractor snafu in March, but tough decisions will have to be made soon by the board of directors in order to complete the hospital.

According to a report by Stacey Pray, project manager for the new hospital’s construction, the removal of one general concrete contractor over alleged subpar work has caused at least a six month delay.

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Realizing Readmissions Goals
Health Leaders Media

Roughly one in five Medicare patients is readmitted to a hospital less than a month after discharge, with a total price tag reaching well into the billions.

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More Parents Consulting Rating Sites When Choosing a Doctor

An increasing number of parents are consulting ratings Web sites when choosing a physician for their children, according to a study published online September 22 in Pediatrics.

At least 1 expert thinks clinicians should be proactive in managing their online profiles.

Researchers found that three quarters (74%) of parents in the United States are aware of the sites, and more than one quarter (28%) have used them in the last year when choosing a primary care physician for their children.

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California attorney general must approve proposed Lodi Health partnership
Lodi News-Sentinel

Before a proposed partnership between Lodi Health and Adventist Health can happen, the California Attorney General’s Office must review and approve of the agreement. That review will include a public meeting, and the approval will likely call for a continuation of some services, such as emergency care.

The Attorney General has the power to block the merger, though based on past practice, that happens rarely. Still, Attorney General Kamala Harris is charged with making sure the merger is in the public interest, and can make strong recommendations in keeping with that goal.

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New skilled nursing facility proposed in Arden-Arcade
Sacramento Business Journal

The city of Sacramento has received an application to build a 31,157-square-foot skilled nursing facility on the southeast corner of Expo Parkway and Leisure Lane. Proposed by Monica Salusky, the Advanced Health Care of Sacramento site would also have a surgical and stroke recovery center in addition to a short-term nursing facility. “An affiliate of Advanced Health Care will lease the finished project for an initial term of fifteen years,” according to a project narrative included with the application.

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Annual fundraiser helps Upland hospital’s expansion efforts
Daily Bulletin

There were plenty of kicks just off Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga when San Antonio Community Hospital Foundation supporters recently got together for an end-of-summer party.

The casual gathering of friends was laid-back and festive with guests encouraged to come dressed the part, circa 1950s/1960s to match the theme – “Summertime on Route 66.” Many did and they looked perfect getting their souvenir photos taken in front of some cool-looking restored cars before entering the venue.