News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California Extends Deadline for Reporting Breaches to the CDPH from 5 to 15 Business Days
JDSUPRA

On September 18, 2014, California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed Assembly Bill 1755 (“AB1755”) into law, amending breach notification provisions in the California Health and Safety Code applicable to licensed clinics, health facilities, home health agencies, and hospices. Under existing law, certain health care entities licensed by the California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”), including hospitals and clinics, are required to report any unlawful or unauthorized access to or use or disclosure of a patient’s medical information to the affected patient or their representative at their last known address and to the CDPH no later than five (5) business days after the unlawful or unauthorized access, use, or disclosure has been detected.

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Study: Hospitals Give Patients Antibiotics for No Reason at All
Mother Jones

 Some hospital patients are on antibiotics for good reason: They have an infection, or they’re at high risk for getting one. But according to a new study, other patients are given antibiotics for no reason whatsoever. Researchers could find “no documented rationale” for 7 percent of surveyed participants who had been given prescriptions.

Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed patients in 183 hospitals across 10 states over the course of five months to capture a clearer picture of how often antibiotics are prescribed, how much is prescribed, and for how long. Of the roughly 11,000 patients surveyed close to half confirmed they had been given antibiotics. Most of this group also reported they were taking more than one form—some up to four different kinds at once.

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Ebola drug manufacturing ramping up
San Diego Union-Tribune

Ebola drug maker Mapp Biopharmaceutical is working on several fronts to increase supplies of the potentially life-saving medicine as fast as possible, Mapp’s chief executive, Kevin Whaley, said Thursday.

Mapp has teamed up with a pharmaceutical partner to make more of the drug, ZMapp, Whaley said in a rare interview. Additionally, Mapp is exploring whether the manufacturing process can be made more efficient, and whether ZMapp can be given in smaller doses and still be effective.

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For-profit hospital chains benefit financially from ACA
Modern Healthcare

Insurance expansion provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are having a positive effect on for-profit hospital chains, Fitch Ratings said in a report Thursday. For-profit hospital chain payer mix has improved, bad debt has declined and operating margins are edging up, it noted in examining results for the first six months of this year.

As a result, Fitch has upgraded the credit ratings for HCA to BB- with a stable outlook, and to BBB- for Universal Health Services with a stable outlook. It affirmed BB ratings with a stable outlook for Tenet HealthCare Corp. and LifePoint Hospitals.

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California Hospitals Preparing For Potential Ebola
KVPR

There have not been any diagnosed cases of Ebola in California. But hospitals are preparing, just in case. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Emergency rooms in California are now asking for travel histories from patients. The change follows the case of a man in Dallas who contracted the Ebola virus in Africa and then flew to the United States.

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Is the Bay Area ready for Ebola?
San Francisco Business Times

The question is obvious, but the answer is not, despite assurances from public health officials and hospital leaders. With a Spanish nurse this week becoming the first confirmed patient to be infected outside Ebola-ravaged West Africa, there’s clearly reason to believe that modern Western hospitals aren’t as prepared as they might think.

There’s a sense of apprehension and tension as Bay Area hospitals, public health officials, employers and the general population watch events in West Africa, Spain, Dallas — where Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan died Oct. 8, after receiving an experimental anti-Ebola drug.

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Darrell Steinberg, Termed Out, Leaves Health Care Legacy in California
KQED Radio

It only seems like Darrell Steinberg (D) has been in the California Legislature forever. Really, forever has just been 14 years. For health care advocates, Steinberg’s presence has cast the longest shadow in the 21st century, helping advance health causes on multiple fronts — including autism care, mental health services, foster care and homeless services.

Steinberg was elected to the Assembly in 1998, the Senate in 2006 and became Senate President Pro Tempore in 2008.

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No on 45: Affordable Care Act needs time
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

In California, auto and home insurers must secure approval from the state insurance commissioner before raising rates. Health insurers face no such requirement.

Three years ago, after Blue Shield of California announced a 59 percent rate hike for individual policyholders, we editorialized in favor of Assembly Bill 52, legislation co-authored by then-Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, to extend the commissioner’s regulatory authority to health insurance premiums.

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Non-Profit Health Plans Want Tax-Status Disclosure on HIX
HealthLeaders Media

Nonprofit health insurance plans continue to dominate customer satisfaction and quality lists, and they want consumers to know about it.

Bruce McPherson, president and CEO of the Alliance for Advancing Nonprofit Health Care, says federal and state health insurance exchanges should do more to make the tax status of health plans readily available to consumers.

“The research has shown that consumers do think there is a difference and it is important,” McPherson says. “Right now both in the federal exchange and the state exchanges under the federal rules for every plan that is offered they have to provide consumers with a summary of benefits and coverage form. All of the key information is there for the consumer in a user-friendly format. The one item that we had urged (the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) to include would indicate if it’s a non-profit or a for-profit health plan.”

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Let’s Make Sure “Health” Encompasses “Care”
The Health Care Blog

For the past several months the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has been promoting a particular vision– of a Culture of Health in America, where everyone has the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible, no matter their income, or where they live, or work, or play.

With that vision in mind, geriatrician Dr. Leslie Kernisan asks an important question in her Oct 7 Health Care Blog post, “Why #CultureofHealth Doesn’t Work For Me.” She writes: “Is promoting a Culture of Health the same as promoting a Culture of Care? As a front-line clinician, they feel very different to me.”

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Generic drugs’ high prices spur fears of failed drug adherence
Modern Healthcare

Faced with the rising costs of generic prescription drugs, health insurers increasingly are turning to tiers and preferred lists on their formularies to keep costs down. Those strategies previously were used only for brand-name and specialty drugs. Experts say those approaches will increase out-of-pocket costs for patients and could make them less likely to adhere to drug regimens.

For years, insurers have encouraged patients to choose generic drugs because they were less expensive than their brand-name counterparts, and most prescription drugs currently used are generics.

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Hill Physicians inks its first non-HMO deal
Sacramento Business Journal

Hill Physicians Medical Group is making its first foray outside managed care. The San Ramon-based group is known for the way its doctors serve as gatekeepers to care in the HMO world, but a deal with Aetna — announced this week — extends care coordination services to Aetna members in less-restrictive plans who live in Sacramento and San Joaquin counties.

This agreement is different from an earlier announcement that Hill Physicians and Dignity Health have teamed up with Aetna in an “accountable care organization” plan that hopes to offer coverage to business owners, labor unions and others beginning in April 2015.

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UCSF opens $100 million+ global health complex, also houses chancellor’s office
San Francisco Business Times

UC San Francisco, which boasts of its emergence as a global health powerhouse, has opened a new 264,000-square-foot complex at Mission Bay to house its decade-old Global Health program as well as the biomedical university’s office of the chancellor. The new seven-story Mission Hall complex, which cost $99.5 million to build, is also known as the Global Health and Clinical Sciences Building. It’s located at 500 16th Street, across the street from the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, slated to open in February.

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Largest health fair on the coast at Mendocino District Hospital on Oct. 11
Fort Bragg Advocate News

Save the date for the largest health fair on the Mendocino Coast. Mendocino Coast District Hospital’s annual Wellness Festival and Noyo River Run will be held Saturday, Oct. 11 on the hospital campus at 700 River Dr., Fort Bragg.

The Noyo River Run, with options for a 5K walk and 5K or 10K runs, has a start time of 9 a.m. The festival, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., is the hospital’s signature event and showcases MCDH departments and services, provides free screening tests, offers tours of the hospital, and hosts an exhibitor hall with local wellness providers representing their services.

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Sutter Lakeside Hospital plans inaugural Heroes of Health & Safety Fair Oct. 18
Lake County News

Sutter Lakeside Hospital will host its inaugural Heroes of Health & Safety Fair Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Lake County Fairgrounds.

This family-friendly event is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the fairgrounds, 401 Martin St.

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Future of hospital district
Fort Bragg Advocate News

The League of Women Voters hosted another candidate forum on Monday night, this time for the Mendocino Coast Healthcare District Board of Directors. The forum was held at Cotton Auditorium and produced a good turnout. Candidates were allowed three minutes’ worth of opening statements, two minutes to respond to questions from the audience and a final three minutes for closing statements.

Five candidates are running for three open seats; one incumbent running for reelection and two vacant seats.

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Fallbrook Hospital to go outpatient only
San Diego Union-Tribune

After more than 50 years serving the community, Fallbrook Hospital is set to close its emergency room and stop admitting patients in November.

With emotion written clearly on their faces, five Fallbrook Healthcare District directors unanimously chose to pursue an alliance with two neighboring North County districts that will focus only on outpatient services rather than sign a deal with a private for-profit operator that was designed to keep the hospital’s core inpatient services operational.

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