News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Hospital Association: Kaiser Nurses Using Ebola As Rouse For Its Own Causes
CBS News

Thousands of Kaiser Permanente nurses plan to walk off the job in Northern California during a two-day strike as contract negotiations continue, a union official said Monday. As many as 3,500 nurses in the Sacramento area will be on strike, including some who will be protesting outside Kaiser’s South Sacramento branch. “Kaiser is earning $12 million a day in profits, and we want them to put that money back into patient care,” said nurse Diane McClure.

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Price Transparency Embraced in Massachusetts
HealthLeaders Media

A recently adopted state law has moved Massachusetts to the front of the national class on price transparency.

The price transparency provision of the 2012 law, Chapter 224, went into force last month making Massachusetts one of the first states to require healthcare providers and payers to make medical service prices accessible to the public.

In March, The Bay State and Maine earned the highest national grades for price transparency from Berkeley, CA-based Catalyst for Payment Reform. Forty-five states received failing grades.

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UCSF develops site to make sense out of sugar science
San Francisco Chronicle

UCSF on Monday unveiled a repository of sugar science, designed to collect the evidence against sweetened foods and disseminate that information to the public — and persuade people to boot fructose and most other refined sugars out of their diets to protect their health — and not just their waistlines.

The SugarScience Initiative, found at, is the result of 11 researchers, mostly from UCSF, spending a year poring over thousands of published scientific articles on sugar and its health effects. The group removed articles that didn’t hold up to certain scientific standards, including industry-funded papers.

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A quarter of Latinos lack health insurance, a year after Obamacare launched
Washington Post

In the waiting room at La Clinica del Pueblo, a community health center in Northwest Washington, signs in Spanish encourage patients to “Empower yourself!” and sign up for insurance coverage.

Adults slump in chairs, scribbling on application forms, texting friends, waiting. In a tiny office a few feet away, William Joachin, the center’s patient-access manager, confronts the frustrations of trying to navigate the federal health-care law for the thousands of immigrants who flood the clinic each year.

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Pay Attention To The Health Insurance Calendar To Avoid Surprises
National Public Radio

Mind the gap. When the 2015 open enrollment period begins on Nov. 15 for plans sold on the individual market, consumers would be wise to act promptly to avoid a gap in coverage.

Failing to do so could leave you exposed to unexpected medical bills. (Uh-oh, appendicitis!) And you could also be hit with a penalty for not having health insurance that kicks in if you go without coverage for three months or more during the year.

The coverage requirement applies to most people in group and individual plans, unless they qualify for a hardship or other type of exemption.

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Open enrollment in health-care plans begins Nov. 15
Washington Post

Haven’t thought about the health-care law for a while? Now’s the time.

Passed in 2010, the law requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine. While many Americans get health coverage through their employers, those consumers who instead have insurance through the law’s federal or state online marketplaces, or exchanges, can re-enroll starting Nov. 15. Subsidies are available to help many people afford coverage, and some states have expanded their Medicaid programs to provide coverage for low-income people.

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Federal officials drastically downsize 2015 Obamacare enrollment predictions
San Francisco Business Times

Just three days after Covered California predicted it would add 500,000 new Obamacare enrollees this enrollment period, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department has drastically downsized estimates for national growth on state and federal Affordable Care Act exchanges.

The new federal estimate is that between 9 million and 9.9 million Americans will sign up on Obamacare exchanges in the second open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 15. That’s a sharp drop from the 13 million individuals projected earlier by the Congressional Budget Office.

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Confused by the ACA’s “Narrow Networks?” Physicians Are Too.

The use of so-called narrow networks in health plans sold through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces has proved to be a controversial way of reducing premiums, especially since many of the new consumers were unaware they would have to pay more for medical services if they went “out of network,” or the services wouldn’t be covered at all. It turns out many physicians have been just as confused as consumers.

In a session on ACA networks at the Nov. 7 annual conference of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, which accredits health plans, Blue Shield of California Vice President Marcus Thygeson said there “was a tremendous amount of provision confusion” among doctors about whether they were in the company’s network plans offered on Covered California, the state-run ACA marketplace.

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Sign-ups for Covered California start Saturday
Napa Valley Register

Open enrollment for the second year of Covered California begins Saturday.

The Napa County Health and Human Services Agency, Children’s Health Initiative and Community Health Clinic Ole have partnered together to provide enrollment assistance for county residents who are interested in applying for Covered California or Medi-Cal health care coverage.

The open enrollment period for Covered California health plans, such as Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente, Western Health Advantage and HealthNet, runs through Feb.

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Increased exchange competition points to generally tame 2015 rate increases
Modern Healthcare

People who have or are about to shop for health plans on Obamacare’s insurance marketplaces this week are understandably concerned about how much money they’ll have to pay for that coverage.

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California Nurses Say They’ll Strike, Without Talking Wages
National Public Radio

As many as 18,000 nurses in Northern California are preparing for a two-day strike that will start Tuesday. Nurses plan to leave their posts at 7 a.m. and picket outside 21 Kaiser Permanente medical centers and clinics.

The placards nurses carry and the chants they repeat will say little about salaries or pensions. No economic proposals have even been put on the bargaining table yet.

“This seems awfully quick to go to a strike,” says Joanne Spetz, an economics professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing.

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Rehab hospital proposed for medical corridor
The Press-Enterprise

A Birmingham, Ala.-based company has announced plans to build a 50-bed rehabilitation hospital in Murrieta, not far from Loma Linda University Medical Center-Murrieta and a proposed Kaiser Permanente campus. HealthSouth plans to launch construction in the third quarter of 2016 on a 54,000-square-foot, two-story hospital that would temporarily house and rehabilitate patients recovering from major illnesses, injuries and surgeries, company officials said in a news release.