News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Medicare Fines Record Number Of Hospitals For Excessive Readmissions
National Public Radio

Hospitals lately have been getting better at ensuring their patients don’t relapse shortly after they walk out the door. Nonetheless, Medicare this week began docking a record number of hospitals for having too many readmissions.

Over the next year, 2,610 hospitals will lose some of their payments for each Medicare patient they admit, Medicare records show. This is the third year the industry faces these penalties, which were created by the Affordable Care Act.

News Headlines Article

California hospitals save millions under ACA, yet financial challenges still loom
USC Annenberg

California hospitals could save millions in cost reductions thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s insurance expansion, though those figures don’t tell the full financial story, according to the California Hospital Association.

Last week, the Obama administration projected that hospitals nationwide will save $5.7 billion in uncompensated care costs. That expected savings comes from fewer uninsured individuals unable to pay their bills, and more patients covered under the Medicaid expansion.

News Headlines Article

Hospital: EHR Flaw Obscured Ebola Patient’s Travel Note
HealthLeaders Media

A critical flaw in the electronic health record system at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital prevented emergency room physicians from knowing that Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan had been in Africa prior to becoming ill, the hospital revealed Thursday night. Although a nurse’s note in the EHR noted that Duncan had recently travelled from Africa, he was sent home after seeking medical help on Sept. 25, the hospital said in a media statement.

News Headlines Article

Innovation, Primary Care Style
The Health Care Blog

On a recent evening at Harvard Medical School, the Primary Care Innovation Challenge and Pitch-Off ,sponsored by WellPoint’s American Resident Project, brought together six finalists, primary care luminaries and trainees, and a host of hangers-on and camp followers for a couple of hours of demos and discussions. The tenor of the evening, which was in many ways a pep rally for primary care – not that there’s anything wrong with that — was best captured by the rhetorical question posed by Asaf Bitton to the primary care practitioners and trainees in the hall, “Are you going to be a playwright or a critic?”

News Headlines Article

Obama Just Took A Big Victory Lap On Obamacare
San Francisco Chronicle

President Barack Obama touted the successes of the Affordable Care Act and improvements in the economy overall, during in a major speech on the economy Thursday at Northwestern University in Illinois.

“If we hadn’t taken this on, and premiums had kept growing at the rate they did in the last decade, the average premium for family coverage today would be $1,800 higher than they are,” Obama said in his speech, referring to the law with pride as “Obamacare.”

News Headlines Article

Expanded Covered California Dental Coverage Could Pose Access Problems
HealthyCal.org

Beginning Jan. 1, all individual Covered California health plans will include dental coverage for children in the family 18 and younger, a move that state officials hope will result in tens of thousands of kids getting oral health care.

While children’s advocates applaud expanding the coverage, they caution that there already aren’t enough pediatric dentists in the state. They say certain dentists may decide not to accept the Covered California insurance, leaving some of the newly insured without access.

News Headlines Article

Covered California enrollments are on the rise, but challenges remain
San Francisco Chronicle

Before the debut of the Covered California healthcare marketplace last year, Alameda County had about 150,000 uninsured adults. Excluding those deemed ineligible due to immigration status, there were still 110,000 adults who were qualified but uncovered. Today 60,000 of them – or nearly 55 percent – are newly insured, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan said.

Statewide enrollments have soared too, with the uninsured rate cut in half to 11 percent from 22 percent, the Commonwealth Fund and the Kaiser Family Foundation reported in separate studies.

News Headlines Article

Governor signs bill to boost oversight of narrow provider networks
Los Angeles Business Journal

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation to boost oversight of so-called “narrow networks” and other business practices that affect timely access to care.

Senate Bill 964 by state Sen. Ed Hernandez requires the California Department of Managed Health Care to review Medi-Cal managed-care plans and plans sold through Covered California annually for compliance with standards related to timely access, network adequacy, continuity of care and quality management.

News Headlines Article

ER docs provide front-line defense: Opposing view
USA Today

Emergency physicians are critical to America’s ability to respond to outbreaks of disease and disasters. This was demonstrated this week when an Ebola patient in Dallas first sought medical care in an emergency department.

It is reminiscent of 2001, when a patient infected with anthrax first came to an emergency department in Virginia complaining of flu-like symptoms: Vigilant emergency staff quickly alerted other hospitals, thus saving lives.

News Headlines Article

More U.S. hospitals to receive 30-day readmission penalties
Modern Healthcare

A total of 2,610 hospitals in the U.S. will see their Medicare payments docked in fiscal 2015 for having excessive numbers of patients return to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.

The CMS posted its third round of readmission penalties, which will affect Medicare reimbursements from Oct. 1, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2015.

The tally of hospitals subject to fines next year is about 400 more than in the first two years of the program (2,225 in fiscal 2014 and 2,217 in fiscal 2013), according to data obtained from Kaiser Health News.

News Headlines Article

Texas Ebola case exposes readiness gaps: Our view
USA Today

When Thomas Eric Duncan walked into a Dallas emergency room last week, he might as well have been wearing a sign shouting: “Ebola.” He had flown in from virus-ravaged Liberia. He told a nurse where he was from. He was suffering from flu-like symptoms. Everything hospitals have been warned to watch for.

Yet, he was examined, given some antibiotics and sent home — only to return by ambulance three days later, deathly ill with the nation’s first reported case of Ebola.

News Headlines Article

3 Bay Area youths diagnosed with enterovirus
San Francisco Chronicle

Two Alameda County youths and one Solano County child tested positive for a virus that can cause severe respiratory illness, authorities said Thursday.

Both of the Alameda County patients diagnosed with enterovirus D-68 are under the age of 18 and are recovering, said Dr. Erica Pan, a deputy county health officer in charge of communicable disease control and prevention.

News Headlines Article

Debt Collection Becoming More Necessary for Physicians
HealthLeaders Media

Medical debt collection is becoming more important for physician practices as large deductibles and managed care plans shift more costs to the patient. Practices should review their policies on payment and collection to ensure they are up to date with the current demands for cash flow. At the same time, experts say physician practices need to ensure their procedure for appealing denied reimbursement claims is top notch. As healthcare dollars get squeezed, managed care companies will look for ways to deny more claims.

News Headlines Article

10 Best Practices to Improve Medical Debt Collection
HealthLeaders Media

A set of best practices is available to guide both physician practices and any company they contract with to collect medical debts. The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals developed the best practices in conjunction with an industry task force of healthcare providers, account resolution groups, and others.

News Headlines Article

A Mini-Stroke Called A TIA Can Spark Post-Traumatic Stress
National Public Radio

People who have had a very mild form of stroke called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, are at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, with almost one-third of people later diagnosed with PTSD, a study finds.

Earlier studies have shown that PTSD is more common in people who have had a full-blown stroke. Stroke patients also are more likely to be depressed and have lower quality of life. This appears to be the first study to look exclusively at PTSD in people with TIAs, which typically last just a few minutes and don’t have lasting symptoms.

News Headlines Article

Videos show Mom coaxing, Jahi McMath moving
San Francisco Chronicle

To bolster his claim that Jahi McMath should be declared “alive again,” the attorney for the Oakland teenager’s family displayed video clips Thursday that he says show the girl responding to her mother’s requests to move her feet and hands.

“Jahi suffered a serious brain injury — no doubt about it,’’ attorney Chris Dolan said. “But we question how accurate the brain-dead assessment is.”

News Headlines Article

Wait, Maybe Technology Won’t Replace Doctors After All!
The Health Care Blog

Such a good question from my friend David Shaywitz, MD, PhD, (and co-author with me of the book Tech Tonics). David has spoken and written about this this theme frequently, and most recently at the Health 2.0 conference held last week in Santa Clara, CA. He and I and 2000 of our closest friends were there to talk healthcare technology. Isn’t it ironic that it takes that level of human interaction to talk about the ways healthcare can disintermediate humans from healthcare?

News Headlines Article

Cancer risk from air pollution drops in Southern California
Los Angeles Times

Southern Californians’ cancer risk from air pollution has dropped 65% since 2005 but is still too high in many areas, regional air quality regulators said in a report released Thursday.

They attribute much of the improvement to tough state and local regulations, incentive programs and cleaner fuels that have slashed diesel emissions from trucks, ships and other vehicles on freeways and in freight corridors and ports.

News Headlines Article

New hospital CEO named
The Press-Enterprise

A former chief administrative officer at Loma Linda University Medical Center has been named the permanent CEO of Riverside County’s hospital. Zareh Sarrafian, 50, will take over at Riverside County Regional Medical Center on Monday. He replaces interim CEO Lowell Johnson, a specialist brought in to help stabilize the Moreno Valley facility’s finances. “We are excited to have Zareh on board as we shift from a center largely for indigent patients to one that serves the entire community,” County Executive Officer Jay Orr said in a news release.

News Headlines Article

Pomona Valley hospital celebrates winning nationwide video contest
Daily Bulletin

Pomona Valley Community Hospital Medical Center is in the pink.

After two weeks of intense online voting in the annual Medline Pink Glove Dance video competition, America has spoken and declared Pomona’s hospital to be the winner.

More than 430,000 votes were cast and Pomona Valley received 81,445, enough to not only win its division but to take home the overall prize.

News Headlines Article

Sutter offering free mammograms for uninsured women in October
Sacramento Bee

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and Sutter Imaging is offering free mammograms for uninsured women at 10 of its locations.

During every Saturday of the month, physicians at one or several imaging centers will perform free digital screenings for uninsured women who call and make appointments in advance. When abnormalities are found, women will be directed to follow-up resources in their communities, according to a Sutter news release.

News Headlines Article

Children’s Hospital Cuts Ties With Sante Community Physicians
ABC News

Action News has learned Children’s Hospital Central California has cut ties with a local physicians group, forcing thousands of families into costly out-of-network health care plans.

Children’s Hospital sent a letter home to parents this week, warning of the impending switch in coverage.

Right now the hospital and that physician’s group, Sante Community Physicians both say children will still be seen by specialists regardless of the changes.

The big questions looming are how quickly they can get in and how much it will cost.

Commands