News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Saline Compounding a Poor Option for Hospitals
HealthLeaders Media

Hospitals are learning how to stretch their limited supplies of IV fluids and are unlikely to resort to compounding saline for routine use, pharmacists say.

Three times in the past year, the Food and Drug Administration responded to the ongoing shortage by allowing three top US suppliers—BBraun, Fresenius Kabi USA and Baxter—to distribute supplies from European plants. While there is some hope that the shortage may clear up in 2015, the once plentiful and much-in-demand product remains in short supply.

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CMS official says some providers are obstructing dual-eligible demonstration
Modern Healthcare

The CMS official in charge of coordinating care for Americans covered by both Medicare and Medicaid says some healthcare providers are illegitimately trying to dissuade dual-eligible beneficiaries from participating in a managed-care initiative designed to test ways to reduce costs and improve quality. She said her agency has increased its surveillance of these providers, though she did not identify any by name.

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UCI is waging an Ebola battle that might lead to cure
Orange County Register

Michelle Digman examines microscopic fluorescent green buds that protrude from the surface of a human cell like pins pushing their way through the inside of pincushion.

Under Digman’s microscope in the Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics at UCI, this cell has been injected with VP40, the main protein that creates the Ebola virus that has killed nearly 5,000 people in West Africa since March.

“These kinds of infections have spread before and can spread again,” warns Digman, co-principal investigator at the lab.

Under Digman’s watch, the protein replicates itself thousands of times using the cell’s own machinery. It clusters near the cell membrane, bending that ultra-thin layer and pushing it outward in buds packed with VP40. Eventually, these buds drift away to infect other cells.

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Sen. Orrin Hatch: We’re ready to repeal, replace
USA Today

Voters last week flatly rejected the Obama administration’s policies and created a new opportunity to improve American health care by electing a Republican Congress that is firmly committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare.

With a flawed website launch, failed state exchanges, burdensome mandates, mass cancellations of coverage and countless other broken promises paid for by Medicare cuts and a trillion dollar tax hike, it’s no wonder so few Democratic candidates campaigned on the merits of Obamacare.

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Obamacare in peril 4 years later: Our view
USA Today

Getting Obamacare up and running has been like trying to build a house while gangs were throwing rocks at the carpenters and inept plumbers were bungling the pipes. Between relentless attacks and self-inflicted mistakes, what would have been a tough job under good conditions has flirted with disaster.

And yet, at least for now, the law survives. Millions more people have health coverage than a year ago, including many who previously couldn’t afford it or qualify.

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Pioneer ACOs can recruit seniors under new CMS test
Modern Healthcare

Since it began three years ago, Medicare’s test of accountable care hasn’t asked beneficiaries who are not assigned to an accountable care organization whether they want to voluntarily enroll. That will change next year when some Pioneer ACOs will give beneficiaries that option.

The CMS Innovation Center is testing whether seniors will elect to enroll in an ACO, a term that means little or nothing to many patients despite an aggressive push to promote accountable care among hospitals and doctors. The Pioneer ACO demonstration also will evaluate whether patients who agree to enroll are more likely to stay within the ACO’s provider network and seek care from ACOs’ hospitals and doctors.

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End to Global Payments a ‘Nightmare,’ Surgeons Say
HealthLeaders Media

A new Medicare rule that unbundles global surgeons’ fees for thousands of procedures not only bucks a national trend toward episode-based pay, it will confuse millions of beneficiaries who will receive a dozen or more bills instead of one, each requiring a 20% co-payment.

That’s the concern of the American College of Surgeons, whose medical director, Frank Opelka, MD, says the policy, announced last month, will be “an administrative burden for surgeons…a nightmare to track,” and ultimately, “penny-wise and pound-foolish.” He emphasizes that a subset of sicker patients will end up paying more under the new rule because they require more services.

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Patient-data-access advocates remain frustrated but hopeful of benefits
Modern Healthcare

One of the building blocks of the meaningful-use program is the hope that patients can access their medical records more readily than before the digital age. But, as the healthcare system moves into the second stage of the EHR incentive program, the reality is three tiers of patient access: patients who are struggling to get access to their data; patients who have access to their records but aren’t enthusiastic about using them; and patients who both have access and are enthusiastic about using it.

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‘Pinktober’ leaves advanced breast-cancer patients with little funding, enthusiasm
Sacramento Bee

November heralds the arrival of warm, autumnal hues in Sacramento’s tree canopy, a bombardment of acorns, crisper temperatures and – thankfully, for a certain group of advanced breast-cancer patients – the end of what’s increasingly referred to as “Pinktober.”

In the decades since it’s been designated breast-cancer awareness month, October has been awash in relentless marketing of all things pink, with cheery mammogram reminders and seemingly endless feel-good celebrations of increased disease awareness.

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Student pharmacists help seniors manage healthcare
San Francisco Chronicle

The Allen Temple Baptist Church’s large auditorium was packed with community residents young and old, as student pharmacists from the University of the Pacific helped seniors grapple with updates to their Medicare plans and manage their medications.

Two or three pharmacy students in lab coats sat at each of the 15 stations. Across from them were Medicare recipients, who lined up their medications between them.

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Chronic pain a hurdle for many, especially women, seniors, obese
San Francisco Chronicle

Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults reports living with chronic pain, and the rates are even higher for women, seniors and those who are obese.

These are the findings of a new Washington State University study that examined national health survey results of almost 90,000 Americans.

The researchers defined chronic pain as constant or frequent and lasting at least three months. A little less than half of patients with arthritis, kidney failure or heart disease said they had chronic pain.

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Sonoma Valley Hospital uses robot to kill germs
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Her name is Lisa and her gaze, which pulses like a runway light or a sci-fi space beacon, is quite deadly.

Left alone in a hospital room, her elongated eye emerges from her cylindrical body and in quick flashes emits a powerful ultraviolet light that can destroy viruses, bacteria, mold, fungi and bacterial spores.

If the day ever comes when she has to, she can kill the Ebola virus, too.

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Hospital Board Considers Affiliation
Big Bear Grizzly

The Bear Valley Community Healthcare District heard presentations by two larger hospital organizations on Nov. 5. The district is considering affiliating with a larger group to expand the hospital’s resources. “There’s a give and take,” Wade Sturgeon, CFO and COO of BVCHD, said during the presentation. Sturgeon explained that the district wants to find a group that will benefit Big Bear’s hospital, but they also need to be able to offer business that would be attractive enough for a larger organization to want to take on.

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