News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Obamacare Round 2: States gear up for start of next enrollment period in November
Washington Post

As states gear up for Round 2 of Affordable Care Act enrollment next month, they have their sights set on people like Miles Alva. Alva, 28, works part time at a video store and is about to graduate from California State University at Northridge. Getting insured is about the last thing on his mind. “It’s not a priority,” the television and cinema arts student said. “I am not interested in paying for health insurance right now.”

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Survey: Many U.S. adults support equal healthcare coverage for undocumented immigrant children

Access to health insurance is very limited for immigrants living in the U.S. – both undocumented immigrants and permanent residents. But a new survey has found that many U.S. adults who work on behalf of children think undocumented immigrant children should have access to healthcare equal to that of U.S.-born children.

Almost half (42 percent) of survey respondents said they agree or strongly agree that undocumented children and U.S.-born children should have equal access to healthcare, while 33 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed and 25 percent were unsure.

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Medicare to improve nursing home ratings
San Francisco Chronicle

The Obama administration says it’s launching a makeover for Nursing Home Compare, the government website consumers can turn to when a loved one needs long-term care.

Officials said Monday a key improvement will involve a new electronic reporting system to gather details on nurse and aide staffing directly from payroll records.

Staff-to-patient ratios are one of the most important predictors of quality, and currently the government relies on data reported by the facilities themselves.

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Walmart Cuts Health Care Coverage For Most Part-Timers In Wake Of Obamacare
The Huffington Post

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to eliminate health insurance coverage for most of its part-time U.S. employees in a move aimed at controlling rising health care costs of the nation’s largest private employer.

Starting Jan. 1, Wal-Mart told The Associated Press that it will no longer offer health insurance to employees who work less than an average of 30 hours a week. The move, which would affect 30,000 employees, follows similar decisions by Target, Home Depot and others to eliminate health insurance benefits for part-time employees.

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Wal-Mart plans 1-stop health coverage shopping
San Francisco Chronicle

Wal-Mart is taking one-stop shopping to another area: health insurance.

The world’s largest retailer plans to work with, an online health insurance comparison site and agency, to allow shoppers to compare coverage options and enroll in Medicare plans or the public exchange plans created under the Affordable Care Act.

The strategy is another step into insurance marketing as the retailer tries to use its mammoth size to expand beyond food and other basics at a time of sluggish traffic and sales.

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VSP offers week of free eye exams, glasses for needy Sacramento residents
Sacramento Bee

VSP Vision Care is offering free eye exams and new glasses this week to Sacramento residents who qualify, with a special focus on veterans and their families on Thursday, World Sight Day.

Services are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Friday at VSP’s Rancho Cordova campus, 3333 Quality Drive. The three VSP Mobile Eyes clinics will be at the site to serve adults and children.

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Insurance debate snares prostate study
Philadelphia Inquirer

More than a decade after prostate cancer became the economic driver behind proton beam therapy in the U.S., it still isn’t clear that men treated with the technology do better than those who get less costly radiation treatments.

That’s why expert groups have recently advised against insurance coverage of proton therapy for prostate cancer – and why some private plans are refusing to pay for it.

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PPACA Still Faces Hurdles, Academics Say
HealthLeaders Media

A panel of distinguished academics gathered at Harvard University last week gave federally driven healthcare reform cautioned that several daunting hurdles remain.

Theda Skocpol, PhD, a Harvard professor and director of the Scholars Strategy Network, which co-sponsored the “Taking Stock of Health Reform” forum, delivered a stirring defense of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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L.A. County offers $61-million health plan for those still uninsured
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County will provide access to a primary care doctor for nearly 150,000 uninsured Los Angeles County residents, including many who are ineligible for Obamacare coverage because they lack legal immigration status.

My Health L.A., as the $61-million program for the uninsured is called, will assign uninsured patients to a “medical home” at one of around 150 community clinics, said Dr. Mitchell Katz, director of the county’s Department of Health Services.

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L.A.-area restaurants adding healthcare surcharge to cover workers
Los Angeles Times

Diners are discovering an unfamiliar new item when the bill comes for the truffled lobster Bolognese at Melisse and for the crunchy Spanish fried chicken and waffles at AOC — a 3% surcharge for employees’ medical insurance.

The charge first appeared at one Los Angeles-area restaurant late last year; by early September, more than a dozen mainly high-end eateries followed suit. The added cost has given some diners heartburn and thrust the restaurants’ owners unwillingly into the debate over the Affordable Care Act.

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Online appointments ease ER waiting time at Mercy hospitals
Sacramento Business Journal

Tari Gunn’s cat scratched her wrist last month — and the claw got stuck. She extricated herself, but by the weekend, the wound was infected. Gunn thought about going to urgent care, but didn’t know where one was open. Then Gunn remembered a billboard about a program at Dignity Health that lets patients book an ER time online and wait at home in the meantime. An Orangevale resident, Gunn got an appointment at Mercy Hospital of Folsom about 45 minutes later.

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Bargain Hunter: Valley Presbyterian Hospital hosts a free ‘Health and Wellness Community Fair’
Los Angeles Daily News

Benefit from free health screenings, flu shots and cooking demonstrations with Gloria Huerta of the Food for Life program at Valley Presbyterian Hospital’s annual Health and Wellness Community Fair, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

This year’s theme is “A Trip to the Farmers’ Market” to emphasize the importance of maintaining a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

In addition, there will be face painting, balloon art, puppets and an arts-and-crafts station.

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Mission Hospital to open $185 million Neuroscience and Spine Institute
Orange County Register

Mission Hospital soon will offer a wide range of complex brain and spine treatments inside a brand-new $185 million neurological wing that opens next month at its Mission Viejo campus. The five-floor, 90,000-square-foot Neuroscience and Spine Institute, which will begin admitting patients Oct. 13, has three operating rooms, eight private recovery rooms and two levels of intensive care.

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Tri-City hospital board: Bring back incumbents
San Diego Union-Tribune

The Tri-City Healthcare District, which serves a half-million residents in Oceanside, Carlsbad and Vista, is one of the most important health-care institutions in San Diego County. Its staff includes more than 500 doctors and 2,000-plus total employees, serving 92,000 patients a year. Tri-City’s health is very much related to the health of North County residents.

That is why the chaos seen in the final years of Tri-City CEO Larry Anderson before his October 2013 ouster was so troubling.

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Twin Cities Community Hospital adds second full-time social worker
Paso Robles Daily News

After identifying a need for enhanced mental and behavioral health support services for patients in the emergency department, Twin Cities Community Hospital recently hired a second full-time licensed clinical social worker, Amelia Abernathy.

Joan Fusco, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked at Twin Cities Community Hospital for the last two years, says that the staff addition responds to the increasing demand among patients for substance abuse, homelessness, mental or behavioral health resources–especially in the Emergency Department.