News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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On The Alert For Ebola, Texas Hospital Still Missed First Case
National Public Radio

Hospitals have been on the lookout for the Ebola virus in the United States, and Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas was no exception. A nurse there did ask about the travel history of the patient who later turned out to be infected with the virus. But some members of the medical team didn’t hear that the man had recently been in West Africa. So he was initially sent home — even though he was experiencing symptoms of Ebola, and that meant he was contagious.

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Enterovirus D-68 infection confirmed in L.A. County
Los Angeles Times

It was an announcement local doctors figured they might hear before long: that kids in Los Angeles County had been diagnosed with a mysterious virus known to have sickened hundreds of children in the U.S. this year.

On Wednesday, officials at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported that a young patient who had been hospitalized at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with partial paralysis had tested positive for enterovirus D-68.

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8 in 10 Doctors ‘Overextended’ or at ‘Full Capacity’
HealthLeaders Media

As the nation adjusts to Medicaid expansion, a graying demographic, and extended health insurance coverage for millions of Americans through the public exchanges, 81% of physicians say they’re either overextended or at full capacity, The Physicians Foundation survey shows.

While 19% of the 20,088 physicians surveyed said they would take on more patients, 44% said they would reduce the number of patients they see, either by reducing their workload, working part-time, retiring, or transitioning to non-clinical jobs.

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Integrating Mental Health and Primary Care
HealthLeaders Media

Ten years ago, Cambridge Health Alliance, an integrated safety-net health system and teaching hospital for Harvard and Tufts medical schools, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, believed the best way it could help its primary care providers with their patients’ mental health issues was by colocating a mental health provider inside CHA’s primary care practices.

The mental health providers, either psychologists or licensed clinical social workers, spent 10%–20% of their time among CHA’s 15 primary care offices. With this shared resource across the practices, CHA’s primary doctors had someone who could take care of their patients’ mental health needs.

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A Year Later, HealthCare.Gov Has Found Its Footing But Problems Remain
National Public Radio

Robert Siegel talks to Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, about the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace rollout.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Joining us now is Marilyn Tavenner, as administrator of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, she runs healthcare.gov. Marilyn Tavenner, thank you very much for joining us.

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Obamacare’s First Year: How’d It Go?
National Public Radio

Exactly one year ago, the Obamacare insurance exchanges stumbled into existence. Consumers struggled to sign up for its online marketplace — and the Obama administration was pummeled. Eventually, HealthCare.gov’s problems were mostly fixed, and two weeks ago, the administration announced 7.3 million people have bought insurance through it so far this year.

So, was the health exchanges’ first year a success — or something less?

Ask President Obama, and he says you measure the Affordable Care Act’s success this way:

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Governor vetoes VSP-backed plan to work with Covered California
Los Angeles Business Journal

Once again, VSP Global got the door slammed on hopes to get access to new business through Covered California.

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Thursday that would have established a separate vision care marketplace with links to the exchange website — even though VSP and other vision plans agreed to front the money to get it going until operating costs could keep it afloat.

Assembly Bill 1877 by Democratic Assemblyman Ken Cooley from Rancho Cordova would have created a vision care access council in state government, modeled after the state health benefit exchange.

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Jahi McMath’s family wants her declared ‘alive again’
San Francisco Chronicle

Nearly 10 months after doctors found that Oakland teenager Jahi McMath was brain dead, an attorney for her family has petitioned an Alameda County judge to have her declared “alive again.”

“I have medical experts, including world-class experts on brain death, who will testify she is not brain dead,” attorney Chris Dolan said Wednesday, calling a judge’s refusal last year to compel a hospital to care for her “a grave injustice.”

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California Catholics challenge abortion order
San Francisco Chronicle

California’s Catholic leadership has filed a federal civil rights complaint over a state requirement that health insurance cover abortions.

The California Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s bishops and archbishops, sent a letter Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It contends that California’s Department of Managed Health Care discriminated against those morally opposed to abortion and requests an investigation.

The complaint is under review, said Rachel Seeger, spokeswoman for the federal agency’s Office for Civil Rights.

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Government’s New Doctor Payments Website Worthy of a Recall
The Health Care Blog

If the federal government’s new Open Payments website were a consumer product, it would be returned to the manufacturer for a full refund.

Open Payments is the government’s site for publishing payments made to doctors and teaching hospitals by drug and medical device manufacturers. It includes 4.4 million payments, worth $3.5 billion, to more than half a million doctors and almost 1,360 teaching hospitals.

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Gov’t website for doc payments not up to snuff
San Francisco Chronicle

Although it’s called “Open Payments,” the government’s new website doesn’t make it easy to find out whether your doctor is getting freebies, travel or other financial benefits from drug companies and medical device manufacturers.

This should be a clue: The website lacks a “Find Your Doctor” button.

The Obama administration says consumers will start seeing some improvements later this month, particularly when it comes to navigation.

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5 Things We Learned From New Database Of Payments To Doctors
National Public Radio

The federal government unveiled data Tuesday detailing 4.4 million payments made to doctors and teaching hospitals by pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

The launch of the so-called Open Payments website, mandated under a provision of the Affordable Care Act, was far from glitch-free: Some users encountered long delays and sometimes error messages trying to access its seven data tables. Also, the site didn’t provide consumers with an easy-to-use look-up tool, a single place to search for a doctor’s name and see all results across data files.

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Capitated payments more acceptable to providers, survey finds
Modern Healthcare

A survey of 39 health plans released this week adds to mounting evidence that hospitals and medical groups are getting comfortable with incentive-based payment structures that reward quality and lower costs. This new snapshot includes surprising evidence that a significant percentage are willing to expose themselves to financial losses under a new generation of capitation models, which went out of vogue 20 years ago.

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Report Finds Lack of Care Coordination for Calif.’s Vulnerable Groups
California Healthline

Despite the expansion of Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act, many of the state’s most vulnerable individuals do not receive adequate health services because of a lack of care coordination among providers, according to a report by San Francisco-based John Snow Inc., Payers & Providers reports.

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Free Medical School?
The Health Care Blog

One of the most compelling medical stories in the country is unfolding within the sprawling landscape of inland Southern California. The story centers on the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine where G. Richard Olds, MD, the school’s dean, is taking on one of the uber challenges in health care today: How to get doctors into areas significantly underserved by health care professionals.

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Long-Term Birth Control Works Best For Teens, Pediatricians Say
National Public Radio

“Always remember to use protection” is a fairly straightforward message for sexually active teens. But young women have a lot of options when it comes to the types of protection they can choose to use.

This week, the American Academy of Pediatricians recommended long-acting reversible contraceptives such as IUDs and contraceptive implants as the best line of defense against teen pregnancies. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has backed long-acting contraceptives for teens since 2012, as have various women’s health groups, saying that these methods are safe and more effective than other forms of contraception.

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Ways to prepare for possible long-term care costs
San Francisco Chronicle

Many of us hold on to an idyllic vision of our golden years, imagining we’ll be in good health and living self-sufficiently in our own home.

But that scenario is likely to get dashed. On average, nearly 70 percent of 65 year-olds will eventually need some form of long-term care, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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Humana makes accountable care deal with Dignity Health, Hill Physicians
Sacramento Business Journal

“Others are coming,” Stephen Foerster from Dignity Health said Wednesday morning when he announced a new partnership with Hill Physicians Medical Group Inc. and Aetna to provide accountable care in Sacramento, Yolo and San Joaquin counties.

Hours later, Dignity Health and Hill Physicians announced another venture. That one is with Humana Inc. The three partners are teaming up to provide coordinated care to Humana’s Medicare Advantage members in Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties.

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Aetna, Humana ink new NorCal deals with Hill Physicians, Dignity Health
San Francisco Business Times

Aetna and Humana Inc., two of the nation’s largest health insurers, separately announced Northern California agreements with partners Hill Physicians Medical Group and Dignity Health that appear to be the latest signs of how health reform is shaking up the region’s health landscape. Hill represents roughly 3,800 medical providers in Northern California; Dignity is one of the region’s largest hospital systems. Closer ties between insurers and health care providers, in theory, could improve the quality and cost of care — or at least that’s how the Affordable Ca

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Dignity Health, Hill Physicians team with Aetna on accountable care
Sacramento Business Journal

A new group of partners has come together to offer health-care coverage to employers in Sacramento, Yolo and San Joaquin counties. Hill Physicians Medical Group Inc. and Dignity Health have teamed up with Aetna in an “accountable care organization” in which the partners accept joint responsibility for the quality and cost of care for a group of patients, officials from the three companies announced Wednesday.

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Anthem’s New Partnership With Seven Hospitals Builds on an Old Idea in California
California Healthline

A new payer-provider partnership in Southern California called Vivity has been billed as a first-of-its-kind in the nation.

Media headlines and stories touted the uniqueness of the partnership. To some experts, however, this is not all that new an idea, particularly not in California, where managed care and integrated networks have been operating for years.

The new partnership, announced by Anthem Blue Cross two weeks ago, will operate in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Vivity members there will be able to access some 6,000 physicians, 14 hospitals and clinics, laboratories and surgery centers affiliated with seven health systems:

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The Kaiser Permanente Model and Health Reform’s Unfinished Business
The Health Care Blog

For decades, health policymakers considered Kaiser Permanente the lode star of delivery system reform. Yet by the end of 1999, the nation’s oldest and largest group model HMO had experienced almost three years of significant operating losses, the first in the plan’s history. It was struggling to implement a functional electronic health record, and had a reputation for inconsistent customer service.

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Cedars-Sinai says number of patient files in data breach much higher
Los Angeles Times

A data breach this summer involving Cedars-Sinai Medical Center patient records was much worse than previously disclosed.

The Los Angeles hospital has notified state and federal officials that medical records of more than 33,000 patients were on a laptop stolen from an employee’s home during a June burglary.

It was among the latest in a string of hospital data breaches across the nation that have prompted calls for better security for medical records.

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UC Davis launches $7.5M behavioral health research center
Sacramento Business Journal

The UC Davis Health System launched a $7.5 million behavioral health center today on its Sacramento campus. The project is part of a $15 million research effort funded by Proposition 63. Approved by voters in 2004, the measure raised taxes on incomes over $1 million to support mental health services. A similar $7.5 million grant went to UCLA. The idea is to create a hub that will foster — and bring together — research, education and clinical care related to mental health at the university and within the community.

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New UC Davis mental health research center will pursue mysteries of the brain
Sacramento Bee

With much fanfare and a blue ribbon-cutting ceremony, UC Davis officials unveiled plans Wednesday for a new pair of ambitious academic mental-health research centers – one in Sacramento at the UC Davis medical campus and the other in Southern California, run by UCLA.

Researchers at the universities will work together, sharing findings ranging from new discoveries in neuroscience to advances in basic clinical science.

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Sutter Memorial gets short seismic safety reprieve
Sacramento Business Journal

A bill signed Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown allows Sutter Memorial Hospital to operate until Sept. 1, 2015 without meeting state earthquake safety rules. The local hospital is one of five granted the reprieve under Assembly Bill 2557 by Democratic Assemblyman Richard Pan from Sacramento. It’s the only one in this area. These hospitals were supposed to close or retrofit to meet earthquake safety standards by Jan. 1, 2015 but had urgent needs for a little more time. The reason for the need at Sutter Memorial: a big water leak Feb.

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Simi Valley Hospital Drug Detox Program Meets Critical Community Need
Sacramento Business Journal

An alarming spike in heroin addiction in eastern Ventura County that led to an innovative partnership between Simi Valley Hospital-Adventist Health and area high schools is the subject of a new video produced by the California Hospital Association (CHA).

The community benefit program is centered around an acute detox program, which also performs random drug testing on students whose parents give their consent. In first seven months of the program, more than 50 patients had been admitted to the detox program.

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