News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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U.S. looking past Ebola to prepare for next outbreak
Modern Healthcare

The next Ebola or the next SARS. Maybe even the next HIV. Even before the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is brought under control, public health officials are girding for the next health disaster.

“It’s really urgent that we address the weak links and blind spots around the world,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Associated Press.

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Brain-stimulating device may aid recovery of stroke victims
Washington Post

Using non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, researchers at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center may have found a way to help prep a stroke victim’s brain prior to physical therapy to aid a more complete recovery.

When one side of the brain is damaged by a stroke, the corresponding healthy part goes into overdrive in order to compensate, said Dr. Marcie Bockbrader, principle investigator of the study.

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Anesthesia Miracle: No Power, No Oxygen Tanks, No Problem
National Public Radio

Waking up during a surgery would be a nightmare, yet that’s a regular problem for patients in low-income countries. Sketchy power grids mean the lights often go out, and with them, the anesthesia machine. In other cases, there are too few oxygen tanks for a surgery, so it’s canceled.

Two decades ago, Dr. Paul Fenton faced those hurdles almost daily while working as an anesthesiologist at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi.

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Upfront Costs Of Going Digital Overwhelm Some Doctors
National Public Radio

Dr. Oliver Korshin practices ophthalmology three days a week in the same small office in east Anchorage he’s had for three decades. Many of his patients have aged into their Medicare years right along with him.

For his tiny practice, which employs just one part-time nurse, putting all his patients’ medical records in an online database just doesn’t make sense, Korshin says.

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White House wants to boost multistate insurance plans sold on exchanges
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration is proposing regulatory changes that it hopes will attract insurers that have been hesitant to offer multistate plans on the health insurance exchanges. The Multi-State Plan Program was conceived as a way to increase competition among health plans offered through the exchanges set up under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The U.S.

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Immigration overhaul could boost Latino enrollment in Obamacare
Los Angeles Times

President Obama’s new immigration overhaul could increase Latino enrollment under his signature health law by reducing the threat of deportation and making more Californians comfortable signing up for coverage they already qualify to get.

Over time, the initiative may also pave the way for more Californians to become eligible for state-funded Medi-Cal coverage. Friday, state officials were noncommittal about that idea, and said they would have to assess the effect of the president’s immigration proposal.

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House Sues Obama Over Health Care Law
TIME Online Edition

House Republicans sued the Obama Administration on Friday over how it has implemented the health care reform law, taking legal action after threatening to do so for months. The House sued the cabinet secretaries for the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of the Treasury, and filed the case in the U.S. District Court for Washington D.C., House Speaker John Boehner’s office said. At issue are administrative tweaks the Administration has made during the course of implementing the law.

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Republicans file their suit against the Affordable Care Act
Modern Healthcare

House Republicans filed their long-awaited lawsuit Friday challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.The lawsuit, filed against the secretaries of HHS and the U.S. Treasury, contests President Barack Obama’s decision to waive the healthcare law’s employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it without first receiving Congressional approval for the change. That mandate will ultimately require companies with 50 employees or more to provide healthcare coverage to employees.

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The Piecemeal Assault on Health Care
New York Times

Now that they will dominate both houses of Congress, Republicans are planning to dismantle the Affordable Care Act piece by piece instead of trying to repeal it entirely.

They are expected to hold at least one symbolic vote for repeal in the next session so that newly elected Republicans who campaigned against the law can honor their pledges to repeal it.

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State report highlights doc directory inaccuracies
San Diego Union-Tribune

Doctor directories for Blue Shield and Anthem Blue Cross plans sold in San Diego County through the state’s health insurance exchange were quite inaccurate, according to a report published this week by the state Department of Managed Health Care.

A random survey conducted in June and July found that statewide, only slightly more than half of the physicians listed by Anthem and Blue Shield actually accepted the insurance policies in question.

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Covered California says open enrollment is off to a strong start
Sacramento Business Journal

A total of 69,245 consumers submitted applications in the first four days of the second annual open enrollment at Covered California, program officials reported Thursday. Slightly over half — 35,877 people — were eligible for coverage through the individual marketplace at the exchange, and 11,357 picked a plan. “This is a dramatic increase from last year, when it took two weeks to get these numbers,” Covered California executive director Peter Lee told board members at their regular monthly meeting in Sacramento.

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Health care M&A leads global deal surge
Santa Cruz Sentinel

In a big year for deal making, the health care industry is a standout.

Large drugmakers are buying and selling businesses to control costs and deploy surplus cash. A rising stock market, tax strategies and low interest rates are also fueling the mergers and acquisitions.

It’s all combining to make 2014 the most active year for health care deals in at least two decades. The industry has announced about $438 billion worth of mergers and acquisitions worldwide so far, about 14 percent of the $3.2 trillion total for all industries, according to data provider Dealogic.

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CMS Mulls Income-Adjusting MA Stars
HealthLeaders Media

Under pressure from healthcare industry stakeholders and Congress, federal officials are considering making adjustments to the Medicare Advantage star rating program for quality and bonus payments to reflect the impact of socioeconomic status.

In early September, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requested comments on whether the MA star rating program should be risked-adjusted for SES. The focus of the federal agency is on dual-eligible beneficiaries: low-income individuals who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid services. “CMS seeks analyses and research that demonstrate that dual status causes lower MA … quality measure scores,” agency officials said in the “request for information” document.

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CMS may scrap re-enrollment policy for exchange plans
Modern Healthcare

The Obama administration wants to modify policies for automatic health insurance re-enrollments and strengthen rules for provider directories for the 2016 open enrollment period.

The CMS released proposed marketplace rules on Friday for the next exchange sign-up period, which is scheduled to run from Oct. 1 to Dec. 15, 2015.

One of the most substantial proposed changes involves re-enrollment. Under current regulations, consumers who don’t switch to a new health plan are automatically re-enrolled in their same plan, much like the employer-sponsored enrollment process. However, HHS wants to place consumers who take no action into plans that have lower monthly premiums.

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Smokers hold out for habit despite public pressure, taxes
Sacramento Bee

Perhaps the reason Mark Twain is so often quoted on quitting smoking is that his wry words ring all too true for so many smokers, former and current.

“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world,” Twain said. “I know, because I’ve done it thousands of times.”

Dana Applegate has been there. Standing outside the Senator Hotel office building across from the Capitol on Tuesday, Applegate, 51, said she would not be joining Thursday’s Great American Smokeout, a national event in which smokers are urged to refrain for a day each November.

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Aligning Executive Compensation with Provider Mission
HealthLeaders Media

Because the healthcare industry is embarking on reform-prompted structural and financial overhauls, classic and comfortable production-based executive incentives are under scrutiny. Modifying executive compensation parameters is not easy, partly because moving in new strategic directions implies adopting new performance metrics. Compensation committees with a strong desire for stability may find that if they resist change, their strategic direction and their compensation packages will become misaligned at the top levels of the organization.

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Another challenge: disposing of waste
San Francisco Chronicle

A single Ebola patient treated in a U.S. hospital will generate eight 55-gallon barrels of medical waste each day. Protective gloves, gowns, masks and booties are donned and doffed by all who approach the patient’s bedside and then discarded. Disposable medical instruments, packaging, bed linens, cups, plates, tissues, towels, pillowcases and anything that is used to clean up after the patient must be thrown away.

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UC Davis gets $100M to predict, prevent global health threats
Sacramento Business Journal

University of California Davis will get up to $100 million in grant funds over five years to continue its work to detect and respond to emerging infectious disease threats such as Ebola, university officials announced Friday. The new grant from the United States Agency for International Development is one of the largest in UC Davis history. It follows a five-year, $75 million grant from the agency in 2009 to begin work on the issue.

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Kaiser-Target Partnership Another Step in ‘Retailization’ of Health Care
California Healthline

Marking a significant step in what might be called the “retailization” of health care delivery, Kaiser Permanente is partnering with Target to open medical clinics in the retail stores in Southern California. Three Kaiser clinics opened last week in Target stores in Fontana, San Diego and Vista. Another is scheduled to open next week in West Fullerton. Chain retailers — CVS, Walmart, Target and others — have operated clinics in their stores for years, but the Kaiser-Target partnership is a notable new chapter:

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Redlands Community Hospital honored for stroke treatment
Redlands Daily Facts

Redlands Community Hospital has received the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Silver-Plus Quality Achievement Award for implementing specific quality improvement measures outlined by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for the treatment of stroke patients.

Get With The Guidelines Stroke helps hospital teams provide the most up-to-date, research-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients.

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