News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Top Provider Billing Mistakes Are Changing
HealthLeaders Media

Billing accuracy and efficiency are as important as ever, and some of the top mistakes that hold up reimbursement will sound familiar even though you still need to address them. But healthcare reform and evolving managed care policies are introducing a few new pitfalls to avoid.

The cost of having anything but a clean claim continues to increase for physician practices, says Doug Moeller, MD, general internist and medical director with McKesson Health Solutions, a San Francisco health services provider that works with 20% of all American physicians.

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Researchers: Link between repeated antibiotic use in early childhood and obesity
Washington Post

When a parent carrying a screaming toddler with a middle-ear infection or other common ailment shows up, many pediatricians instinctively reach for their prescription pads. Despite warnings about the risk of resistance, antibiotics remain one of the most frequently used weapons in routine care. But now doctors have another reason to be cautious: the risk of obesity.

In a study published online Monday by JAMA Pediatrics, researchers reviewed records from about 65,000 children from 2001 to 2013 and found that almost 70 percent received antibiotics before age two. On average, each child received 2.3 courses.

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Veteran health care reform task force launched
USA Today

A national advocacy group wants to reform the way veterans receive medical treatment, launching a task force whose goal is to propose sweeping changes to veterans’ health care for the first time in more than two decades.

The task force, formed by Concerned Veterans for America, will evaluate challenges to delivering veteran health care, and what role the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs should play in the wake of changes in the health care industry and evolving veteran needs.

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Report on Latinos shows Obamacare is working
Sacramento Bee

Health insurance is like health: If things generally are working, we take it for granted. Maybe that’s why real-world critiques of the Affordable Care Act have come to be less about its general success than about the execution of its details.

Despite ongoing concern about potentially higher premiums and narrower networks – and right-wing hyperbole about the program’s supposed “disasters” – health care reform, in general, has been working.

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Deadline To Prove Residency For Covered California Arrives
ABC News

Nearly 100,000 Californians could soon lose their health insurance through Covered California. Tuesday is the deadline for them to prove they are in the country legally.

Jim Crowell is 63. He was born in Clovis and has spent his entire life in Fresno County. Now, his citizenship is being questioned and he doesn’t like it.

“I’m offended. I’m offended,” he said.

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Immigrants Scramble to Prove Eligibility for Covered California
KQED Radio

When Fabrizio Mancinelli applied for health insurance through California’s online marketplace nine months ago, he ran into a frustrating snag. An Italian composer and self-described computer geek, Mancinelli said he was surprised to find there wasn’t a clear way to upload a copy of his O-1 visa. The document, which grants temporary residency status to people with extraordinary talents in the sciences and arts, was part of his proof to the government that he was eligible for coverage.

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Governor signs legislation to protect seniors in assisted living facilities
Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed ten of 14 bills designed to address what some say is a crisis of care in assisted living facilities across the state. Legislation signed in the last few days runs the gamut from increased training requirements for owners, administrators and staff to new statutory rights for residents and the ability of state regulators to suspend new admissions to a facility with violations that constitute a risk to the health and safety of residents.

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Governor Agrees To Take $6M California Endowment Grant, Signs Many Health Bills
California Healthline

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a flurry of health-related bills at the end of last week including a bill to reverse the state’s position on accepting a grant to help with Medi-Cal enrollment renewals. More than eight million Californians are up for renewal in the Medi-Cal program (California’s version of Medicaid). New eligibility rules and new forms have slowed the response rate so far. The California Endowment offered the Department of Health Care Services a $6 million grant to help with the renewal effort that would be doubled by matching federal funding.

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FDA: Combating opioid abuse
USA Today

Today, more Americans tragically die from drug overdoses than from any other form of death by injury. A staggering 40% of those deaths involve prescription opioids. Identifying solutions to prevent prescription opioid abuse while ensuring that patients with debilitating pain have access to effective treatment is a top priority for FDA.

As a public health agency, FDA reviews drugs using a scientific approach within our legal framework and not only considers those who abuse opioids, but also those who use them responsibly.

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FDA undermines painkillers fight: Our view
USA Today

The most prescribed drugs in America — painkillers containing addictive opioids — are also driving the deadliest drug problem in America. On average, 46 people a day die from painkiller overdoses, and 1,150 more land in emergency rooms. Deaths from illegal drugs don’t even come close.

Last year alone, doctors wrote about 180 million prescriptions for hydrocodone and oxycodone, nearly one for every adult in the United States.

With millions of Americans suffering chronic pain, drug companies profiting and too many doctors blithely churning out painkiller prescriptions, federal regulators are the last hope to slow the rising epidemic.

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4 Years Of Lessons Learned About Drugmakers’ Payments To Doctors
National Public Radio

On Tuesday, the federal government is expected to release details of payments to doctors by every pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturer in the country.

The information is being made public under a provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The law mandates disclosure of payments to doctors, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists and optometrists for things like promotional speaking, consulting, meals, educational items and research.

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Study: Prenatal Exposure to Some Chemicals May Increase Risk of Asthma in Children
HealthyCal.org

Researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University recently published a study that found a strong link between prenatal exposure to two phthalates, chemicals used in many household products, and development of childhood asthma. Environmental Health Perspectives

The study found that kids born to mothers exposed during pregnancy to high levels of two phthalates, butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP) and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) had a 72 percent and 78 percent increase in risk of developing asthma between age 5 and 11, compared to kids born to mothers who were exposed to lower levels of the chemicals.

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Can transfusions of young blood help cure Alzheimer’s in older people?
Washington Post

It sounds like the dark plot of a vampire movie. Next month, people with Alzheimer’s disease will be given the blood of young people in the hope that it will reverse some of the damage caused by the condition.

The scientists behind the experiment have evidence on their side. Work in animals has shown that a transfusion of young mouse blood can improve cognition and the health of several organs in older mice.

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Pediatrics group recommends IUDs, implants as best birth control for teen girls
Washington Post

The majority of teenagers use condoms as their primary method of birth control, but long-acting contraceptives such as intrauterine devices should be the “first-line” of contraceptives in preventing teen pregnancy, according to new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For the first time, the organization recommends that pediatricians discuss long-acting reversible contraceptives before other birth control methods for teens, citing the “efficacy, safety and ease of use” of long-acting reversible contraception, such as IUDs and progestin implants. In the guidelines published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, the AAP also recommends that pediatricians encourage condom use, which reduces the risk of sexually-transmitted diseases, for every sexual act.

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Vaccine Controversies Are As Social As They Are Medical
National Public Radio

When essayist Eula Biss was pregnant with her son, she decided she wanted to do just a bit of research into vaccination. “I thought I would do a small amount of research to answer some questions that had come up for me,” she tells NPR’s Audie Cornish. “And the questions just got bigger the more I learned and the more I read.”

In the U.S., vaccination rates are high; for measles, mumps and rubella, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 90 percent of infants receive vaccinations.

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What We Don’t Know About Heart Disease Can Kill Us
National Public Radio

Heart disease is the number one killer of people worldwide, so you’d think that we’d be up to speed on the risks. Evidently not, based on a poll of people in the United Kingdom. 

Here’s how the 2,000 people polled by the British Heart Foundation fared:

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The doctor is always in: On your cellphone, tablet or computer
Washington Post

Some patients looking for convenient medical appointments can now see UCLA Health System doctors via cellphone, computer or tablet.

It’s part of an effort by the health system and other organizations to extend alternatives to the in-person doctor visit to people who might not be able to get to a doctor’s office.

The doctors are available through LiveHealth Online, a service designed for business travelers and parents who don’t have time for an office visit.

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Hospitals Seeking Physician Alignment
HealthLeaders Media

More and more, alignment decisions are pivotal strategy decisions. Although many dynamics are at work, the core concept is that emerging changes to the financial underpinnings of the healthcare industry will reward organizations that provide care more efficiently and deliver value. The changes required go well beyond optimizing the cost components of the efficiency equation.

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Hospital receives cancer research grant
The Press-Enterprise

Dr. Kimberley Payne, associate professor at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and director of translational research at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, accepted a $250,000 pediatric cancer research grant from Hyundai Motor America’s “Hope on Wheels” last week. The grant will support Payne’s work as a Scholar of Hope, focusing on leukemia in children. Her work on behalf of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia is not just professionally important to her, but personally, she said.

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Sutter Davis CEO moves to Sutter affilate in Bay Area
Sacramento Business Journal

Janet Wagner, longtime CEO at Sutter Davis Hospital, started a new job Monday as CEO at Mills-Peninsula Health Services in Burlingame, a larger Sutter Health affiliate. She was replaced by Jennifer Maher, who has been an oncology executive for Sutter’s Sacramento Sierra region since August 2011. A registered nurse, Wagner began her career at Sutter in 1990; she became CEO at Sutter Davis in 1998.

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Kaiser is tearing down old hospital
Orange County Register

Kaiser Permanente is getting ready to demolish its shuttered Lakeview Avenue hospital, removing one of the few tall buildings from a part of the city that gets most of its height from the natural landscape. Though progress is not yet noticeable to the surrounding community, demolition started Sept. 15. Work on the outer buildings and hospital tower is scheduled to start Oct. 15, spokesman Scott Kelly said.

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Gilead plans big Southern California plant
Los Angeles Times

Gilead Sciences Inc. will move manufacturing about 15 minutes down the road to a 23-acre site in the southern California city of La Verne that will employ 500 people.

Gilead’s facility of up to 400,000 square feet apparently would replace a drug manufacturing plant in nearby San Dimas, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Officials with Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD) weren’t immediately available to provide more information about the company’s plans.

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SF General Hospital launches hotline for clinicians who prescribe HIV drug
San Francisco Examiner

In 1993, San Francisco General Hospital established a first-of-its-kind hotline for clinicians nationwide seeking advice in managing HIV and AIDS treatments.

More than two decades later, the hospital on Monday launched the first phone-based consultation service in the U.S. for health care workers who prescribe PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a medication that can prevent HIV, said Dr. Ron Goldschmidt, a UC San Francisco professor of family and community medicine at General Hospital.

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