News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California gets a jump on health coverage expansion
The Mercury News

As the Supreme Court nears a decision on health reform, more than 360,000 Californians already are receiving medical coverage under a state-administered precursor to the landmark legislation. But they could find their coverage fleeting if the so-called Affordable Care Act has no future. The effort, dubbed “The Bridge to Reform,” is part of a sweeping Medicaid expansion unfolding in California. It exists to usher patients to health reform’s planned implementation in 2014.

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Healthcare Cost Growth Acceleration Continues
Health Leaders Media

The average per capita cost of healthcare services covered by commercial insurance and Medicare programs increased by 6.14% over the 12-months ending April 2012, Standard & Poor’s Healthcare Economic Indices show. The uptick continues an acceleration of cost growth that began in October, 2011 and includes an almost half a percentage point jump from the +5.65% rate posted for the 12-month period ending in March 2012, the S&P Indices show.

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Care Coordination Advancing Slowly
Health Leaders Media

Initiating collaborative relationships is the key to improved quality, most healthcare leaders say. Many also agree that major increases in HIT spending are necessary, but others are more cautious about spending for technology improvements. And more than two-thirds see transparency as improving quality of care, while a sizeable minority has reservations about it, according to the 2012 HealthLeaders Media Economics of Better Care Survey.

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Healthcare to create 5.6 million new jobs by 2020, report says
Los Angeles Times

The healthcare industry will spawn 5.6 million new jobs by 2020 – most of them high-paying – but most unemployed Americans won’t have the expensive schooling necessary to land them.

Demand for healthcare is soaring in the U.S., double the rate of the national economy over the next eight years, according to a new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce.

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High court could rule on health care law next week
San Francisco Chronicle

The wait is almost over for the Supreme Court’s verdict on President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The court is heading into what is looking like its final week with cases on health care, Arizona’s immigration law, lying about military medals, juvenile sentencing and real estate kickbacks still to be decided. The justices will meet next on Monday, the last scheduled day the court is in session until October.

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Sutter ordered to pay Marin hospital $21.5 million
Sacramento Bee

A court-appointed arbitrator has ordered Sacramento-based Sutter Health to pay Marin General Hospital $21.5 million in connection with a suit filed by MGH in August 2010.

The suit alleged that Sutter Health “systematically and improperly” drained MGH coffers before transferring management of the Greenbrae hospital to the Marin Healthcare District.

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Sutter to pay $21.5M back to Marin hospital for profits
Sacramento Business Journal

An arbitrator ruled Tuesday that Sacramento-based Sutter Health must pay Marin General Hospital $21.5 million to compensate it for profits Sutter took prior to returning control of the hospital to the Marin Healthcare District two years ago. Yet both Sutter and Marin General claimed victory when the decision announced. “We are gratified that the arbitrator agreed with us and has ordered Sutter Health to restore funds to Marin General Hospital,” Greenbrae hospital spokeswoman Jamie Maites said in a news release.

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Consumers To Get $1B In Health Insurance Rebates
10News.com

Health insurers will dole out a total of $1 billion in rebates to 12.8 million Americans this summer — an average of $151 per family –as a result of the 2010 health care reform law, the government said Thursday. The rebates announced by the Department of Health and Human Services come from a provision of the law that punishes insurers who spend too much of policyholders’ premiums for boosting company profits instead of paying for their medical care.

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Checks not guaranteed for all insurance rebates
San Francisco Chronicle

The check may not be in the mail. The Obama administration said in a report Thursday that 12.8 million people will benefit from health insurance rebates averaging $151 per household. But the number of families actually getting a check will be much smaller, experts say. The rebate report is the latest in a stream of positive news from the administration about President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, ahead of a Supreme Court decision on the signature legislation that aims to cover most of the uninsured and requires nearly every U.S. resident to have coverage.

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State due health rebates
The Californian - Salinas

Californians are due to receive millions of dollars in insurance rebates this summer under the health care reform law, although it is unclear whether a Supreme Court challenge could halt the payments.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes a provision that requires that insurance companies spend at least 80 percent of insurance premiums on medical care and quality improvement, for individual plans or small group plans. Insurance plans sold to large groups have to spend at least 85 percent of premiums on medical care.

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HHS cites $1.1 billion in insurance rebates
Modern Healthcare

On a morning when many were nervously awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on healthcare reform, HHS lauded the law’s $1.1 billion in rebates to consumers.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted in a news release that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s 80/20 provision—or medical-loss-ratio standard—this summer will benefit about 12.8 million insurance policy holders, returning an average of $151 per family.

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Sutter Health, HealthLinkNow get grants to improve medical care, add jobs
Sacramento Business Journal

Two Sacramento companies will receive a total of $20.7 million in federal funding to support projects to improve the quality of medical care, enhance the workforce and save money. The grants are authorized under the Affordable Care Act; the two local awards are among 81 grants announced recently. Sutter Health will receive $13 million to expand the Sacramento-based health system’s advanced illness management program across its network.

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Advocates angered by Healthy Families elimination
HealthyCal.org

Advocates for California children were outraged Thursday when Democrats in the Legislature disclosed that they had accepted Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate the Healthy Families insurance program next year. Brown included the proposal in his January budget, but until Thursday Democrats had resisted it. The agreement between legislative leaders and the governor calls for the program to be phased out during 2013.

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Providers see Medicare, insurer revenue growth quicken: S&P
Modern Healthcare

The rate of growth in Medicare and commercial insurer revenue for hospitals and healthcare professionals accelerated during the year that ended in April, according to the Standard & Poor’s Healthcare Economic Indices.

The rating agency’s healthcare composite index for the 12-month period ended in April climbed 6.14%. That’s compared with the 5.65% increase for the year that ended in March.

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Nurses travel into San Bernardino
Redlands Daily Facts

The California Nurses Healthcare Tour arrived in San Bernardino Thursday for health screenings and a town hall hosted by the First Congregational United Church. Members of the community were offered blood-pressure and blood-glucose screenings and healthcare consultations. With the imminent U.S Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of national healthcare reform looming, nurses, physicians, and healthcare activists began a three-week tour of California cities Tuesday to promote the need for a healthcare overhaul.

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Cost-saving health plan Blue Groove is off to a slow start
Sacramento Business Journal

A new health insurance plan that promises to save employers 10 percent on premiums and to control medical costs sounds like a no-brainer. Dubbed Blue Groove, the new plan by Blue Shield of California aims to limit costs with strong incentives for employees to take personal responsibility for their health. Yet only two employers have signed on since the product was quietly launched in Sacramento and Modesto early this year — and one of them is Blue Shield itself.

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HHS project seeks to use IT to fight Rx abuse
Modern Healthcare

HHS has launched a pilot program (PDF) in Indiana and Ohio that will give existing prescription drug-use data to providers and pharmacists as part of an effort to reduce prescription-drug abuse.

The goal is to measure the effects of expanding and improving prescription-drug monitoring programs, according to an HHS news release.

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State’s budget deal would move kids to Medi-Cal
Fresno Bee

Under a state budget agreement reached Thursday, about 41,000 low-income children in the central San Joaquin Valley who are covered by the state’s Healthy Families insurance plan will be moved onto Medi-Cal, the state-federal insurance program for the poor.

The move of about 900,000 children statewide onto Medi-Cal will save California about $13 million in 2012-13.

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Give people health care reform
The Appeal-Democrat

The nutty thing about the health care debate that will play a prominent role in the next election is that most Americans want pretty much the same outcome: to control costs without sacrificing quality. And that’s not what either major-party candidate is offering. Few think that Obamacare, a Romneycare descendant that contains the same kind of individual mandate the then-governor of Massachusetts signed into law, will get us to that desired goal.

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How to make U.S. healthcare even worse
Los Angeles Times

What can we expect when the Supreme Court rules on healthcare reform in coming days? The prognosis isn’t good.

I’ve spoken with various healthcare experts, and the consensus is that the conservative wing of the high court will probably strike down the so-called individual mandate that requires most people to buy insurance.

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Bureaucracy cuts could mean big savings for Medi-Cal
San Diego Union-Tribune

However the U.S. Supreme Court rules this month to decide the future of health care reform, Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) will continue to necessarily grow at a steady pace regardless of state and federal efforts to control its costs. To be sure, many efforts have been made by politicians in California to hold down rising costs in this program which provides a safety net for those who can’t afford insurance.

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Pelosi Remains Confident in Upcoming Supreme Court Health Care Ruling
ABC News

With the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act about to be handed down within the next week, the focus has turned to how each political party will react, depending on how the justices rule. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who shepherded the bill into law during her tenure as speaker of the House, had previously denied Democratic discussions of a contingency plan, but earlier this week Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer led reporters to believe that Democrats had in fact discussed the range of opinions that could be issued by the Supreme Court.

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Why Reform Will Survive Mandate’s Fall
The Health Care Blog

The Supreme Court’s imminent decision on the Affordable Care Act will trigger a political firestorm whether they accept the legislation in its entirety, throw out every page of the 906-page bill or do something in between, which is the most likely outcome. If the high court follows the polls, it probably will rule the requirement that individuals purchase insurance – the mandate – is unconstitutional but leave the rest of “Obamacare” intact.

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