News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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What Tuesday’s elections mean for healthcare
Modern Healthcare

The outcome of Tuesday’s elections could have profound implications for healthcare policy. Most significantly, the outcome of the fight for control of the Senate will shape the tenor and content of the healthcare debate in Washington in the coming months and whether Republicans can damage Obamacare.

Republicans need to pick up six seats to swing control of the Senate, and most political prognosticators believe their chances of succeeding have increased in the closing days of the election cycle. But the final partisan tally might not be known for weeks as runoff elections are a strong possibility in Louisiana and Georgia, where candidates must get at least 50% of the vote to avoid another contest.

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Hospital Readmission Rates Can be Curbed by Longer LOS, Study Finds
HealthLeaders Media

A group of business school researchers looked at readmissions through an economist’s lens and found that keeping heart failure patients in the hospital for an extra day lowered their chances of being readmitted.

The retrospective analysis of Medicare data, conducted by researchers at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, also found that the extended length of stay lowers 30-day mortality rates for pneumonia and heart attack patients. The finding suggests another approach for hospitals trying to find ways to avoid readmissions and the Medicare penalties that can come with them.

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How HIEs Contribute to Clinical Analytics, Population Health
Health IT Analytics

With the tight focus on EHR interoperability and data sharing among partners along the healthcare continuum, both public and private health information exchanges (HIEs) are enjoying a moment in the limelight. Private HIEs are growing in popularity among former competitors in local communities, and many statewide organizations have achieved financial sustainability, and are now beginning to expand their services to include clinical analytics and population health management features.  HIEs may now be a fact of life, but are they necessary for truly effective analytics?  How should analytics-minded providers choose to invest their time, money and infrastructure when it comes to data exchange?

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Computer Glitch at Covered California Sending Multiple, Conflicting Messages
California Healthline

A “small subset” of applicants to Covered California has been deluged with multiple notices, as many as 20 different letters — some of them with conflicting eligibility information, exchange officials said. Some Covered California applicants also have received eligibility determination letters that make no sense, said Elizabeth Landsberg, director of legislative advocacy for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

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Covered California says small business health premiums will rise 5.2 percent statewide
Southern California Public Radio

Mom and pop businesses with 50 or fewer employees that buy health insurance plans through California’s state-run marketplace can expect an average premium increase of 5.2 percent in 2015, Covered California officials announced Monday.

The Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, allows small business owners to compare and buy employee insurance plans similar to those offered to large companies. And it offers tax credits to qualifying businesses that do provide health insurance to workers.

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New Covered California Program Leaves Poor, High-Risk, Pregnant Women In The Lurch
Medical Daily

In June this year, California passed legislation that allows the Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program (CPSP)—part of the Medi-Cal program—to be accessed by low-income group women who are currently enrolled in Covered California health plans. While the new legislation still needs to be implemented by the state’s lawmakers, a new study published by Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University raises concerns about the type of care pregnant women who are enrolled in Covered California and who are also eligible for Medi-Cal, will receive.

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Health Insurance Recruiting Project Showing Results at California Colleges
California Healthline

Young, invincible, not particularly wealthy college students are prime candidates for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Many qualify for government subsidies or Medicaid, and most are healthy, representing a vitally important portion of the insurance pool. Without them, the clientele covered by state and federal exchanges would be older, less healthy and more expensive.

A recruiting project at the California State University system — billed as the nation’s largest and possibly most diverse college system — has shown promising results and could be used as a model for other university systems, according to organizers.

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OPPS 2015 Final Rule Detailed
HealthLeaders Media

The 2015 OPPS final rule, released October 31, continues CMS’s trend toward expanding packaging, while also finalizing comprehensive APCs (C-APCs) and introducing the concept of complexity adjustments to the OPPS.

“It’s not surprising CMS moved forward with more packaging and the introduction of C-APCs, which are like mini-DRGs,” says Jugna Shah, MPH, president and founder of Nimitt Consulting, based in Washington, D.C., and Spicer, Minnesota.  ”The agency has been telling us for years that it’s wanted to make the OPPS less of a fee schedule and more of a prospective payment system, like the IPPS.

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CMS Releases Final Rules for FY 2015 Medicare Physician Payments
California Healthline

On Friday, CMS released close to 3,000 pages of regulations that finalized payment rules for different Medicare providers and services for 2015, The Hill reports.

Among other rules, CMS created new payments for chronic care management programs, launched efforts to streamline payments for individuals’ hospital care and expanded the agency’s Physician Compare website. CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said the “rules are a part of a broader strategy driving greater value in health care.”

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The Impact of the ICD-10 Delays
HealthLeaders Media

Although Congressional action has postponed the ICD-10 coding mandate until at least October 1, 2015, preparations to adopt it continue at a slower pace, even though physician opposition to the mandate remains steadfast.

“We were prepared to be ready October 1 of 2014,” says Randy McCleese, vice president of information systems and CIO at St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, Kentucky, which has 110 staffed beds and 2013 revenue of about $126 million.

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High-Profile Case Brings New Attention To Oregon’s Assisted Suicide Law
National Public Radio

Over the weekend, Brittany Maynard used Oregon’s Death with Dignity law to end her own life. Since Oregon’s law first passed in 1994, hundreds have used it to prevent suffering at the ends of life. Over the weekend, a 29-year-old woman used Oregon’s Death with Dignity law to end her life. Brittany Maynard had been diagnosed with inoperable, brain cancer. Doctors told her she had only a few months to live.

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Doctor: Helping A Patient Die Will Never Become Routine
National Public Radio

Robert Siegel talks to Dr. Katherine Morris about assisted suicide. Morris assisted in the deaths of patients in Oregon and has been party to a lawsuit in New Mexico for the right to assist another. When Dr. Katherine Morris lived in Oregon, she assisted two cancer patients with their decision to end their lives. She now lives in New Mexico where she’s party to a lawsuit to get the same right for one of her patients there. Dr. Morris is an Assistant Professor in Surgical Oncology at the University of New Mexico.

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Home care company Nurse Next Door launches second franchise in the region
Sacramento Business Journal

A Canadian home-care franchise company called Nurse Next Door has launched a franchise that serves patients from Rancho Cordova to Placerville. The company offers a range of services, from three hours a week of companionship and housekeeping to around-the-clock care. Most caregivers are certified nurse assistants who help with feeding, dressing and other activities of daily living.

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Binge eaters struggle to get covered despite shift on diagnosis
San Francisco Chronicle

Binge eating may be the most common eating disorder in America, but health experts say it’s more stigmatized and misunderstood than anorexia and bulimia, and it’s harder to find treatment.

Recognized only last year as an official diagnosis, binge eating disorder was added to the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the so-called bible of psychiatry — in a long-fought move that gave hope to clinicians and patients alike.

“It’s a newer disorder not in terms of its existence, but from the medical community’s standpoint. There’s a real lack of understanding about what it is,” said Claire Mysko, director of programs for the National Eating Disorders Association.

An estimated 1 to 5 percent of Americans are believed to have binge eating disorder. It is characterized by eating large amounts of food at least once a week, accompanied by feelings of shame and disgust. Random overeating or digging into an entire package of Oreo cookies isn’t enough for a binge eating diagnosis.

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The world’s most effective HIV prevention drug hasn’t lived up to its potential
Washington Post

Nick Gourdine headed to his doctor’s office from his apartment in Southeast Washington one day in 2011 with HIV on his mind. He’d hooked up with a friend, someone he thought he knew but who turned out to have withheld a crucial bit of information: He was HIV-positive. Now Gourdine worried that he was, too.

His HIV test came back negative. To keep it that way, Gourdine, a 35-year-old youth program manager, became an early user of a combination drug to ward off HIV infection that has generated excitement and discussion among scientists and activists.

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U.S. hospital chains see health reform boost to third quarter earnings
Reuters

U.S. hospital operators Tenet Healthcare Corp and Community Health Systems Inc on Monday said their third quarter results were helped by the effects of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

Patient admissions improved, and Tenet, the third-largest U.S. for-profit hospital chain, treated fewer patients for which it was uncompensated and more patients covered by the Medicaid program for the poor than it did in the preceding quarter.

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New proposal to save West Contra Costa hospital to be unveiled Tuesday
Contra Costa Times

The head of the board that governs Doctors Medical Center is expected to unveil a proposal to keep the struggling hospital afloat for five more years as a full-service facility at Tuesday’s West Contra Costa Healthcare District meeting.

The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. at the hospital auditorium, 2000 Vale Road. “At the meeting, I will outline the shared sacrifice and contribution that will be required from the private sector, DMC employees, government, other area hospitals and WCCHD property taxpayers,” board President Eric Zell Zell wrote in a statement in advance of the meeting.

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