News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Boehner warns ‘no spiking of the ball’ on healthcare ruling
Los Angeles Times

As Congress awaits the Supreme Court ruling on President Obama’s healthcare legislation, House Speaker John A. Boehner had a stern warning for rank-and-file Republicans he has struggled to keep on message.

“There will be no spiking of the ball,” Boehner wrote in a memo to GOP lawmakers. Even though Republicans have opposed the law, and tried to repeal it, there will be no celebrations if the court strikes down the law or parts of it.

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Health care: Firms brace for Supreme Court’s ruling
San Francisco Chronicle

As president of See Jane Run, a small chain of running stores for women, Lori Shannon has seen health insurance costs soar the past several years.

At one point her entire company got kicked out of a health plan for “overutilization,” even though the uses were a broken rib, allergy medicine and pregnancy tests.

But she is hopeful that insurance will be more affordable for small companies like her San Francisco firm if the Supreme Court upholds President Obama’s sweeping health care overhaul in a decision expected Thursday.

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AHA criticizes Leapfrog scorecard
Modern Healthcare

Just weeks after the Leapfrog Group released a controversial scorecard assigning a letter grade for overall patient safety to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals, the American Hospital Association is criticizing the group’s data, calling it biased, inaccurate and unfair.

The Leapfrog Group, a Washington-based healthcare quality-improvement group formed by large employers, released its Hospital Safety Score on June 6.

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GAO to study redundant Medicare audits
Modern Healthcare

The Government Accountability Office will study the extent to which Medicare providers are subject to redundant reviews by a range of contract auditors. The review of Medicare’s contractor programs aimed at rooting out fraud, waste and improper payments was ordered Tuesday by the congressional leaders of both parties who oversee the program.

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Coding formula still flawed, groups say
Modern Healthcare

In lengthy letters to the CMS, the nation’s largest hospital associations again expressed concern about what they see as structural weakness in how the agency determines the effect of documentation and coding at hospitals. The comments from the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals are a response to the CMS’ hospital inpatient prospective payment system proposed rule for fiscal 2013 that was released this spring.

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Obama: We don’t need to re-fight healthcare battle
Los Angeles Times

President Obama has no interest in re-fighting a battle over healthcare reform. The Supreme Court, of course, may force his hand.

Days before the high court is set to rule on his signature first-term accomplishment, the president sidestepped what the justices might decide and instead underlined the consequences if Republicans followed through on a pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

He fit his argument into the one-word slogan of his reelection campaign, forward.

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Supreme Court health care ruling watched by investors
USA Today

Investors are almost as interested in what the Supreme Court does with health care reform Thursday as patients and doctors. Depending on what the high court decides regarding the legality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the fate of the nation’s health care system is in balance, potentially upending again how the key players are paid.

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Doctors: We Could Go Out Of Business
KERO

As the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling on health care reform, America’s doctors are debating a serious issue of their own — the possibility of going out of business. Doctors, especially those operating private practices, said their financial hardship is increasing, making it “harder for them to earn a decent living,” according to a new survey of 673 physicians across 29 specialties by MDLinx, a medical reference website for physicians.

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Obese adults should get counseling, federal task force says
Los Angeles Times

In a move that could significantly expand insurance coverage of weight-loss treatments, a federal health advisory panel on Monday recommended that all obese adults receive intensive counseling in an effort to rein in a growing health crisis in America.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force urged doctors to identify patients with a body mass index of 30 or more — currently 1 in 3 Americans — and either provide counseling themselves or refer the patient to a program designed to promote weight loss and improve health prospects.

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HHS needs to step up patient privacy protection: GAO
Modern Healthcare

HHS needs to strengthen its oversight of Medicare beneficiaries’ protected prescription drug data, according to a newly released report from the Government Accountability Office.

In the 40-page report (PDF), the GAO acknowledged that HHS has taken some steps, such as issuing legislation and ramping up educational efforts, aimed at protecting the privacy and security of vulnerable patient data. But those actions have not gone far enough, the GAO argued.

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New health care satellite clinic in Scotia
Redwood Times

Southern Trinity Health Services is pleased to announce the upcoming opening of its newest satellite clinic, Scotia Bluffs Community Health Center located at 500 B Street, Scotia. With the recent announcement of the closure of Dr. Rigney’s Family Practice Clinic in Scotia, the opening of Scotia Bluffs Community Health Center is an important event for the residents of Scotia and the Eel River Valley.

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Salinas Valley Memorial suitor HCA drops out
Monterey Herald

A giant for-profit health care organization has dropped a bid to affiliate with Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, leaving Natividad Medical Center as the only potential suitor.

In a memo to Salinas Valley Memorial staff on Tuesday, interim CEO Lowell Johnson announced that Nashville-based HCA Healthcare had notified affiliation consultant Cain Brothers that it would not submit a letter of intent, or an affiliation proposal.

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Physicians Need New Approach to Managed Care Contracts
Health Leaders Media

With all the changes in the healthcare industry, physician practices may need to reassess how they evaluate managed care contracts and reimbursement strategies, say some experts. What worked in past years may not be your best approach for the future.

The changing face of healthcare is resulting in more creative interaction between payers and providers, says C. Frederick Geilfuss II, JD, a partner with the law firm of Foley & Lardner, LLP, in Milwaukee. There is more talk about narrow networks, risk sharing, and ­information sharing, he says.

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FDA to study growing failure of metal hip devices
USA Today

The Food and Drug Administration is meeting with orthopedic experts today and Thursday to look into a growing body of worldwide evidence showing metal-on-metal hip devices have a higher failure rate than those made of plastic or ceramic. “The FDA has been aware of some of these problems for three years and has made recommendations in the past, but I think what you’ll see coming out of these meetings are more specific recommendations for follow-up care,” says William Maisel, the FDA’s chief scientist for medical devices.

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Medicare pay woes are medical practices’ top challenge: survey
Modern Healthcare

The sustainable growth-rate formula calls for slashing physician Medicare payments by more than 30% on Jan. 1, 2013, and uncertainty over whether that cut will take effect is the No. 1 concern of medical practice managers, according to the MGMA-ACMPE’s fifth annual survey on the challenges of running a group practice.

The MGMA-ACMPE, formerly the Medical Group Management Association, invited its members via e-mail to participate in an online survey ranking 54 daily challenges on a five-point scale.

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Medical imaging safety legislation introduced
Modern Healthcare

Bipartisan legislation that aims to improve patient safety by setting minimum federal standards for operators of medical imaging equipment was introduced in the Senate this week.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) on Monday introduced the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Act of 2012 (PDF), which would require imaging-device operators to meet education, certification and licensure requirements set by organizations designated to do by so HHS.

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Is California Pacific Medical Center’s Cathedral Hill deal looking shaky? Or just facing another political hiccup?
San Francisco Business Times

Talk about a disconnect. Mayor Ed Lee’s office says the city of San Francisco needs to renegotiate a crucial aspect of its development agreement with California Pacific Medical Center to ensure that St. Luke’s Hospital’s future is assured, given some recent less-optimistic financial projections by the hospital. But CPMC is saying, in effect, “nothing is wrong here, move along, folks.” At stake is the future of CPMC’s planned nearly $2 billion, 555-bed Cathedral Hill hospital and medical office campus at Geary and Van Ness.

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ACOs and Antitrust: A Few Words of Caution
The Health Care Blog

I am coauthoring (with Cory Capps) a chapter on healthcare antitrust for the forthcoming International Handbook of Antitrust Economics. As we finish our first draft, we were searching for a good way to tie everything together. We both thought of concluding by discussing antitrust and ACOs. Cory and I believe that the underappreciated (and often excruciatingly boring) topic of antitrust is fully interwoven with the story of ACOs.

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