News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Court to hear case on nurse’s pay deductions
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider a healthcare employment case that an appeals court refused to dismiss, despite the lone plaintiff accepting a settlement.

The case was brought in 2009 by a registered nurse, Laura Symczyk, who alleged that her employer, Pennypack Center, a Philadelphia subsidiary of Genesis HealthCare Corp., had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 by automatically deducting meal breaks from her pay regardless of whether she ever took the break.

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Last ditch effort to block plan to dissolve Healthy Families
The Mercury News

Advocates on Monday made a last ditch effort to persuade Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders to back down from a plan to eliminate Healthy Families, the medical insurance program that serves children from low-income working families. Axing the program to save tens of millions of dollars is a key provision in the budget that Brown and Democrats worked out last week as part of an agreement that spared more painful cuts to safety net programs for the poor.

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Fewer malpractice claims when docs use EHRs: study
Modern Healthcare

A group of Massachusetts physicians saw a dramatic drop in malpractice claims after implementing electronic health-record systems, according to a research letter published by the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from Harvard-affiliated organizations—including the Harvard Pilgrim health plan and Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates—merged closed claims data from a Massachusetts malpractice insurer for the years 1995 to 2007 with data from a random sample of physicians surveyed in 2005 and 2007.

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HHS outlines health IT innovation projects
Modern Healthcare

HHS is looking for five to 10 technology innovators to work in the first round of a program seeking to bring some private-sector entrepreneurial spirit to bear on national healthcare challenges.

Private-sector participants—so-called external innovation fellows—in HHS’ Innovation Fellows Program will be paired with HHS employees who have already applied for the program to address four projects, three of which have health information technology components.

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Healthcare reform decision expected Thursday
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Supreme Court did not issue a ruling in the healthcare reform challenges on Monday, but the court announced that the rest of its decisions will be released Thursday.

The court did, however, grant the Federal Trade Commission permission in an unrelated case to argue a closely watched hospital-merger antitrust challenge, known as FTC v. Phoebe Putney Health Care. Arguments on that case will be heard at a future date.

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Supreme Court To Rule Thursday On Health Care
10News.com

The U.S. Supreme Court will rule Thursday on the constitutionality of the sweeping health care law championed by President Barack Obama. The high court announced a series of other decisions on Monday, but not the most anticipated one. It announced that all remaining rulings for the year will come in three days. The stakes cannot be overstated — what the justices decide will have an immediate and long-term impact on all Americans, both in how they get medicine and health care, and also in vast, yet unknown areas of “commerce.”

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Doctors urged to be ‘gateway’ for obesity tests, treatments
USA Today

Some diets work, and doctors need to tell patients that. Physicians should screen all adult patients for obesity during office visits and either refer obese patients to comprehensive weight-management programs or offer them one, says the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in new recommendations announced Monday.

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CDC trying out free rapid AIDS test at drugstores
San Francisco Chronicle

Would you go to a drugstore to get tested for AIDS?

Health officials want to know, and they’re setting up a pilot program to find out.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced plans Tuesday to offer rapid HIV tests at drugstores in 24 cities and rural communities. The government is spending $1.2 million on the project.

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FDA user-fee legislation moves toward final vote
Modern Healthcare

Legislation to reauthorize the Food and Drug Administration’s drug and device user-fee system for another five years cleared a final procedural hurdle Monday night and faces its final congressional vote Tuesday.

The Senate voted 89-3 to advance the bill, which is a negotiated compromise between similar measures that separately passed the House and Senate last month. The House of Representatives passed the compromise measure—one of the few major pieces of legislation to advance in both chambers this year—on June 20.

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U.S. Overpaying for Veterans’ Healthcare
Health Leaders Media

The federal government is wasting more than $3.2 billion a year because it is paying twice to provide the same care for veterans, once through capitated rates to Medicare Advantage plans, and again to finance the VA healthcare system, which actually provides the care.

That’s according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that the Veterans Healthcare System spent $13 billion—from 1.3 billion in 2004 to $3.2 billion in 2009—providing care for 1.25 million “dual-eligible” vets covered by Medicare Advantage plans.

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Healthcare law credited for big drug savings by California seniors
Los Angeles Times

Nearly 70,000 Medicare patients in California saved $41 million on their prescription drugs during the first five months of this year under the federal healthcare law, new data show.

Touting the early benefits of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare officials said these patients have saved $585, on average, through a provision that is gradually phasing out the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole on Part D drug plans.

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Brain Banks for Autism Face Dearth
New York Times

Clare True had autism and periodic seizures, but nothing prepared her family for Christmas Eve in 2006, when the 26-year-old went to bed after watching a movie and stopped breathing. “I got home from a party, went to check on her just after midnight, and she was — she was gone,” said her mother, Jane True.

Paramedics tried to revive the young woman, then rushed her to the hospital, and somewhere in that firestorm of activity and grief, the Trues, Jane and her husband, Jim, considered donation.

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FDA probes safety issues with metal hip implants
San Francisco Chronicle

Metal hip replacements implanted in a half-million Americans may be failing earlier than expected, but it could be years before U.S. health regulators have a clear picture of the problem.

The Food and Drug Administration holds a two-day meeting starting Wednesday to scrutinize the safety of metal-on-metal hip implants, following years of patient reports of pain and swelling that sometimes requires removal of the devices.

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Bill to improve dental services for Sacramento County’s poor children on governor’s desk
Sacramento Bee

Some low-income children in Sacramento County who have tried but failed to get dental care would have an escape route under a bill awaiting action by the governor.

Currently, dental managed care is mandatory for the roughly 100,000 Sacramento County children on Medi-Cal. But the program has one of the state’s worst access records and has left many children waiting months for treatment for painful, rotted or broken teeth.

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Head start on Affordable Care Act
San Francisco Chronicle

As the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates the fate of the Affordable Care Act, let us remember why our current health care system is broken and how the act is already expanding access for thousands of hardworking Americans.

Walk into any public hospital in the United States today and you see a very different population than depicted on television shows like “E.R.”

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Innovation is Key to Controlling Health Care Costs
The Health Care Blog

In the battle over health care that lies ahead, how strongly will the public rally around the need for innovation in confronting health care costs? Does the public view innovation as relevant to the challenge in the first place? These aren’t idle questions. The news that growth in overall national health care spending has been moderating has raised speculation that innovations in payment and health care delivery are already paying off, notwithstanding the unquestioned impact of the Great Recession.

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CPMC hospital deal hits snag; Mayor Ed Lee tries to renegotiate
San Francisco Chronicle

Mayor Ed Lee’s staff acknowledged Monday the mayor needs to renegotiate a key provision of his deal with California Pacific Medical Center to overhaul its medical facilities after it was revealed that the complex deal does not guarantee the long-term operation of a new St. Luke’s hospital in the Mission District. A viable, rebuilt St. Luke’s operating for at least the next 20 years had been touted by Lee as a selling point in the deal.

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