News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer Writes CDC on Findings of Surveys of California Hospitals on Ebola
Sierra Sun Times

Today, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) wrote to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, urging him to review the findings of newly released surveys by the California Hospital Association (CHA) and the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH) on the steps California hospitals are taking to address the public health threat of Ebola.

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Spike in ER, Hospitalization Use Short-Lived After Medicaid Expansion
KQED Radio

While the Medicaid expansion may lead to a dramatic rise in emergency room use and hospitalizations for many of the previously uninsured, that increase is largely temporary and should not lead to a dramatic impact on state budgets, according to a new analysis from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research released Wednesday.

Researchers reviewed two years of claims data from nearly 200,000 Californians who had enrolled in public programs in advance of the expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, in January. These programs were designed to ease the expansion of Medicaid by providing insurance to low-income adults who were not eligible for Medi-Cal at that point but would be when the health law’s expansion went into effect earlier this year.

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More regulation won’t fix health exchange
San Diego Union-Tribune

In the well-known scene in “Casablanca,” Captain Renault orders Rick to shut down his gin joint. “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” he said, pausing long enough to grab his winnings. That scene always reminds me of our government.

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UCLA Study Shows Why One of the Biggest Obamacare Fears May Not Come To Pass
California Healthline

Something like 10 million Americans — give or take a few million — havegained health coveragethanks to the Affordable Care Act. And here’s one way to put that in perspective: In just six months between late 2013 and early 2014, the nation’s persistently high uninsured rate fell by a staggering 25%.

So does this mean that the nation’s already busy emergency departments are about to bust at the seams, as some Obamacare critics suggest? That states still nixing the Medicaid expansion are right to worry it would overcrowd their hospitals? Not necessarily, says UCLA’s Gerald Kominski.

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CMS Unveils New ACO Investment Model for Small, Rural Providers
California Healthline

On Wednesday, CMS announced a new model intended to help small and rural providers develop the infrastructure necessary to succeed in Medicare’s accountable care organization program, Modern Healthcare reports (Evans, Modern Healthcare, 10/15).

The ACO Investment Model is for organizations participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Through the model, CMS will invest up to $114 million in infrastructure and redesigned care processes at up to 75 MSSP participants. The goal is to increase the number of Medicare beneficiaries who can participate in Medicare ACOs (CMS release, 10/15).

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Providers Ask HHS to Address EHR Interoperability Barriers
HealthLeaders Media

Systemic snags and glitches around the interoperability of electronic health records are frustrating providers and doing little if anything to improve patient care or reduce costs, a group of provider organizations and large health systems says.

In a letter this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, several provider groups and professional associations, including the American Medical Association, reaffirmed their support for meaningful use of EHR. However, the groups complained that stubborn proprietary barriers, the complexity of the requirements, and an accelerated timetable put forward by HHS have made it difficult to realize interoperability.

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California gearing up for Ebola; risk remains low
Sacramento Business Journal

State public health officials may designate a few hospitals in California as the place to send suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola, but no decision has been made. Personal protective equipment for health-care workers and emergency personnel is another top concern, state health officer Dr. Ron Chapman said in a media call Wednesday. While there were no identified or suspected cases of Ebola in California hospitals as of mid-afternoon Wednesday, officials stressed that the state must be ready for it.

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Amid latest U.S. Ebola infection, L.A. County says it’s prepared
Los Angeles Times

On the same day the U.S. awoke to reports of a second nurse in Texas testing positive for Ebola, public health officials Wednesday sought to reassure Los Angeles County residents that they were prepared to face the deadly virus should it arrive in the region.

“We’re prepared today, were more prepared than yesterday, and we’ll be more prepared tomorrow than we are today,” said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, director of the communicable disease control and prevention division of the county’s Department of Public Health.

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Is SFO next for enhanced Ebola screening at airports?
San Francisco Chronicle

Even though Ebola cases in the United States so far are confined to distant parts of the country, California public health officials aren’t taking any chances. The state has asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security to add as-yet unidentified international airports in California to the five in other parts of the country already conducting enhanced screening of international travelers.

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Experimental lung cancer vaccine lands Berkeley company potential $817M deal
San Francisco Business Times

Tiny Aduro BioTech Inc.’s experimental cancer vaccine has come up big again, landing a potential $817 million deal with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Biotech unit around lung cancer, the companies said Thursday.

Berkeley’s Aduro and Janssen in May signed a potential $365 million deal centered on the same technology to treat prostate cancer. This latest deal gives Aduro $30 million upfront and the ability to receive more if the lung cancer treatment, called ADU-214, hits certain development, regulatory and commercial milestones.

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San Francisco To Get First Medical Helipad In Decades
ABC News

San Francisco may get its first helipad in decades.

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay flight tested its medevac helicopters with simulated drills on Wednesday.

The first clinical test flight of UCSF’s medevac helicopter went well. The chopper performed a series of takeoffs and landings, testing three different flight paths.

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Kaiser leads HMOs in providing recommended care in state
Los Angeles Times

Kaiser Permanente was the only HMO to earn a top four-star rating for providing recommended care, according to California’s latest report card on insurers and medical groups.

The scores issued Wednesday focus on California’s 10 largest HMOs, the six biggest preferred-provider organization plans and more than 200 physician groups covering 16 million consumers.

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Kaiser tops health report card in Orange County, state
Orange County Register

Kaiser Permanente got top marks among HMOs and medical groups in Orange County and across California, according to the most recent edition of a state-sponsored health care report card released Wednesday.

The 14th annual report by the Office of the Patient Advocate gave Kaiser’s Southern California HMO the highest possible rating – four stars – for adherence to widely accepted standards of care and for overall patient satisfaction.

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Sutter practices moving patients to new hospital
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Sutter Medical Center conducted a drill Wednesday in Santa Rosa to practice moving patients from its old hospital on Chanate Road to its new facility next to Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. While there were a few hurdles along the way, hospital officials said the mock move went smoothly overall.

Nursing students from Sonoma State University played the roles of six patients and were transported by ambulance to the new hospital, giving Sutter a chance to test its procedures and iron out any wrinkles before the real move takes place next week.