News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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State Health Insurance Exchanges Hope To Woo Urban Minorities
National Public Radio

Tomorrow it begins again – open enrollment for Obamacare. Two very successful state health insurance exchanges, Connecticut’s and California’s, are both intent on reaching people who avoided signing up last year – especially young Latinos and African-Americans.

“The big takeaway for us last year was that the uninsured were really pocketed in a couple of key, large cities,” says Jason Madrak, the chief marketing officer of Access Health CT, in Connecticut. In light of that, he says, the exchange has changed its ad strategy.

“We’ve dialed up some of the more locally-focused efforts while we’ve dialed down some of the broader efforts,” he says.

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IOM panel urges more EHR collection of social, behavioral data
Modern Healthcare

Physicians should collect more information about patients’ behavior and social environment in their electronic health records, according to an Institute of Medicine panel. The IOM subcommittee recommends in a new report that federal health information technology policymakers promote the addition of eight new social and behavioral-health domains to clinicians’ EHR workflows, which the panel says would improve clinical research as well as individual and population healthcare delivery.

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Population Health Challenges HIT, Quality Leaders
HealthLeaders Media

Chief medical officers, chief medical information officers, and chief information officers have different perspectives and different roles within hospitals and health systems. But CMOs, CMIOs, and CIOs all struggle with questions of how to use information technology to keep a population healthy and how to motivate that same population to change behaviors when providers are still paid largely for sick care.

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TJC Announces 11% Increase in Top Performers
HealthLeaders Media

Some 1,224 hospitals have earned the distinction of Top Performer on Key Quality Measures in The Joint Commission’s annual report, which was released Thursday. This number represents almost 37% of TJC-accredited hospitals, an 11% increase over last year’s numbers.

“The release of this report provides the opportunity to gauge progress in healthcare quality improvement, which we’ve been tracking over the past 12 years of this program,” said Mark Chassin, MD, president and CEO of The Joint Commission. “The collective performance of these accredited hospitals on individual accountability measures continues to steadily improve, as it has from the beginning of the program.”

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Affordable Care Act enrollment sign-up guide
Washington Post

Who can enroll?

You can sign up if you’re uninsured, buy your coverage outside the ACA marketplaces or are enrolled in a marketplace plan. People earning between 138 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,105 and $46,680, respectively, for an individual) can qualify for financial assistance to buy coverage. In the 23 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid to cover nearly all low-income adults, people with incomes above the federal poverty line ($11,670 for an individual) can also receive subsidies to buy insurance on ACA marketplaces. However, about 4 million low-income adults who don’t qualify for Medicaid in states that haven’t expanded coverage also don’t earn enough to qualify for subsidies to buy insurance.

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Administration doing lower-key outreach on health-insurance sign-ups
Washington Post

Three months before the debut of HealthCare.gov last year, Hollywood celebrities huddled with President Obama at the White House over their plans to urge Americans to buy health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The president took to late-night television himself to spread the word. And on the eve of the launch, an op-ed by the nation’s top health official appeared in major newspapers across the country, proclaiming that “better options for better health are just a click . . . away.”

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How state exchanges that suffered calamitous launches prepared for Nov. 15
Modern Healthcare

After struggling with information technology in the first year of open enrollment, some states that chose to operate their own Obamacare insurance exchanges are hoping and praying that this year is different.A few, including Nevada and Oregon, have decided to switch to using the federal HealthCare.gov website for the second year of open enrollment, which starts Saturday and runs through Feb. 15, though they will continue to operate as state-run exchanges.

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Covered California boss rolls into San Diego
San Diego Union-Tribune

Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, is spreading the word about open enrollment one selfie at a time.

During a Thursday rally at the San Diego Convention Center, Peter Lee, executive director of the exchange, led a crowd of supporters to the parking lot to snap photos of themselves in front of a tour bus emblazoned with the Covered California logo. The idea was to snap a shot and post it to Facebook with a message that Obamacare’s second open-enrollment period will start Saturday.

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Doctor targets costly overuse of emergency room
Santa Cruz Sentinel

Dr. Steve O’Brien is the kind of guy, when he sees a problem, he does something about it.

At Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, he found 70 percent of the patients coming to the emergency room for primary care lived within a mile of a community clinic that could provide those services less expensively.

So he met with staff at those clinics, which are incentivized by the federal government to provide primary care, and made changes, putting a case manager 24/7 in the emergency room, designating staff from the clinics to help people navigate their options for treatment, creating an observation unit where emergency patients with complications could be monitored and moving a physician from the back to the front of the emergency room to see patients quickly.

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More than 1,200 hospitals named Joint Commission ‘Top Performers’
Modern Healthcare

The number of hospitals that made the Joint Commission’s “Top Performer” list increased again this year, even with the addition of new measures.

A total of 1,224 U.S. hospitals made the annual list, which recognizes accredited facilities for outcomes on key quality measures reported the previous year. The list released Thursday reflects more than one-third of the hospitals accredited by the organization.

“The nationwide implementation of evidence-based quality improvement processes is working,” said Dr. Mark Chassin, president and CEO of the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based accrediting organization. “Achieving these criteria is not easy. This represents real progress.”

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Hospital quality increases, accrediting group says
Yahoo! News

More U.S. hospitals are giving patients the recommended treatments for common conditions, according to an annual report released Thursday by an independent accrediting group.

The number of hospitals deemed top performers totaled 1,224 last year, with at least one in every state, according to the Joint Commission’s report. That compares to 1,099 in 2012 and almost double the 620 hospitals in 2011.

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65 Million People Lost Weight With MyFitnessPal?
The Health Care Blog

65 million people lost weight with MyFitnessPal. Really?

Now, let’s see, according to Gallup, 18% of American adults are at their ideal weight, so we’ll assume they don’t want to lose weight.

That means 82% of American adults or about 198 million people might want lose weight. Thus, based on My Fitness Pal’s headline boast, their market penetration is nearly a third of the adults who need to lose weight, which is just boffo if you are a potential advertiser.

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Health Net wins California prisons specialty health care contract
Sacramento Business Journal

Health Net Inc. announced Thursday that one of its subsidiaries won a five-year contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide specialty health care. Health Net Federal Services LLC, the subsidiary, has had the contract since 2010. The new contract is effective Oct. 1 of this year, and has five one-year extension options at the discretion of the department of corrections. The contract covers 35 prisons all over the state and two youth correctional centers.

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Anthem Blue Cross augments ACO network, adding Hill Physicians, Sutter Health sites
Sacramento Business Journal

Anthem Blue Cross unveiled several enhancements to its statewide Accountable Care Organization network, adding Hill Physicians Medical Group and several Bay Area entities that are part of Sutter Health. Hill Physicians, a 3,800-provider independent practice association based in San Ramon, said the new agreement adds about 65,000 potential customers to the medical group, which cares for HMO and ACO patients in much of the Bay Area, Sacramento and the Central Valley. The group is led by CEO Darryl Cardoza.

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Sutter and PAMF set to open $200 million new San Carlos Center on Monday
Silicon Valley Business Journal

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation, a 1,200-physician unit of Sutter Health, is set to open its $200 million San Carlos Center on Monday, after three years of construction and earlier delays. The new 192,000-square-foot outpatient care center will house 75 doctors and 220 medical support staffers, including nurses and others, and has space for as many as 120 doctors if demand grows. It will provide primary and specialty care, including an outpatient surgery center, urgent care center, diagnostic radiology and laboratory departments.

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Scott Reiner: Adventist Health CEO is man with a mission
Sacramento Business Journal

When Scott Reiner took the helm at Adventist Health early this year, he became CEO of a $3 billion company most people don’t know is here. The faith-based health system has 19 hospitals with more than 2,700 beds in California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii — but none in the Sacramento region.

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Shriners Hospital receives $7.3 million bequest
Sacramento Business Journal

Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento has received a $7.3 million bequest from longtime area resident R. Martha Ludwig. She asked that the money be used to support the hospital’s occupational therapy program. With the exception of a Model T Ford she restored with her own hands, Ludwig bequeathed her entire estate to the hospital. She died in 2012 at age 88.

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