News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

New Legislative Strategies May Emerge To Raise Medi-Cal Reimbursement Rates
California Healthline

Legislative strategy may shift in the coming session over the issue of low Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates, one lawmaker said.

California’s Medi-Cal provider payments are among the lowest Medicaid rates in the nation — and that was true even before the 10% payment cut passed by the Legislature in 2011. The reduction was instituted in September 2013 after almost two years of court battles, eventually won by the state.

Many lawmakers point out the original legislative agreement was made under great duress, during a severe budget crisis. As soon as state finances began to improve, legislators tried to reverse the across-the-board cuts.

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U.S. Healthcare For Seniors Ranked Poorly Compared To 10 Other Countries
Forbes

Earlier this month, Kaiser Health News reported that “more hospitals are receiving penalties than bonuses in the second year of Medicare’s quality incentive program, and the average penalty is steeper than it was last year.” Kaiser wasn’t the only troubling news that appeared recently for Americans who are 65 and older and rely on Medicare for their healthcare coverage.

In a report issued last week, The Commonwealth Fund found that the U.S. ranked poorly compared to 10 other countries on key indicators for those who are 65 and older. It’s an important and valuable comparison for 3 reasons.

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A Question for EHR Vendors: What Is a “Real” Computer?
The Health Care Blog

This might seem like a silly question with an obvious answer, but is it really? The solution to any problem grows out of the environment in which it appears and from the mindset in which it was conceived. In 1970, the answer to this question would have been a mainframe system. By 1981, after the Apple II and a few other microcomputers had been around for a few years, the answer for most people at that time would still have been mainframes (or maybe minicomputers as well) because microcomputers were still considered to be toys.

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Why The ER Doctor Asks Patients What’s Happening At Home
National Public Radio

When people hear that I’m an emergency physician, they often ask, “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen?”

TV shows frequently show ER doctors and nurses heroically saving people on the verge of death. Then there are news reports about people abusing the health care system by seeking emergency care for minor problems that could be better handled in a doctor’s office.

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U.S. hospitals wary of caring for Ebola patients because of cost and stigma
Washington Post

U.S. officials trying to set up a network of hospitals in this country to care for Ebola patients are running into reluctance from facilities worried about steep costs, unwanted attention and the possibility of scaring away other patients.

“They’re saying, ‘Look, we might be willing to do this, but we don’t want to be called an Ebola hospital. We don’t want people to be cancelling appointments left and right,’ ” said Michael Bell, director of laboratory safety at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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HealthCare.gov’s insurance marketplace for small businesses gets off to a slow start
Washington Post

A year after the Obama administration temporarily shelved an unfinished part of HealthCare.gov intended for small businesses, it has opened with reports of only modest technical flaws — but with doubts that it will soon benefit the millions of workers at little companies with inadequate health insurance or none at all.

Insurance brokers are, at times, having trouble getting into their accounts and, in scattered cases, are not showing up in the computer system’s lists of local insurance professionals available to coach small businesses. More broadly, interviews with brokers and others suggest that, in the two weeks since the marketplace’s health plans went on sale for 2015, interest within the niche they are intended to help seems scant.

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California pushes to expand immigrant health care
Yahoo! News

President Barack Obama’s executive order to spare some immigrants from deportation has galvanized Democrats, immigration groups and health care advocates in California to push for expanding health coverage to a segment of the population that remains uninsured. The president’s action excludes immigrants who came to the country illegally from qualifying for federal health benefits. But California has its own policy of providing health coverage with state money to low-income immigrants with so-called “deferred action” that allow them to avoid deportation.

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For Some Uninsured, Simply Signing Up Is A Challenge
KPBS

When the Affordable Care Act rolled out last year, Californians enrolled in both Covered California and expanded Medicaid in high numbers. But there are still millions in the state without health insurance. Undocumented people don’t qualify for Obamacare benefits. And many others still find coverage too expensive — or face other obstacles in enrolling.

One of those people is Leaburn Alexander. At 6 a.m., he’s finishing his shift as the night janitor at a hotel near the San Francisco International Airport.  He clocks out just in time to catch the hotel’s shuttle back to the airport, where he will catch a bus.

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Broken Hips: Preventing A Fall Can Save Your Life
National Public Radio

Last October, Jeanette Mariani was an independent 87-year-old, living alone in Dallas and getting around with a walker. Then one night she switched off the light and tried to make her way into bed. A chair was in the way. And she fell.

“There I was, lying on the floor,” she recalled. “I pulled down one of my pillows. I didn’t reach very high, just pulled it down, put my head down on it and thought: ‘Well, I’ll wait until morning.’ “

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The Case Against Patient Portals
The Health Care Blog

Let’s stop calling them patient portals, for crying out loud. It’s a relic of the early internet days; when you could go to this cool technology called the world wide web that let you peer into far away places which were new and candidly, otherworldly. Yahoo was a portal – waaaay back in the day. To me, it’s reminiscent of the old TV shows Land of the Lost dimensional portal and Star Trek machinations about the future. It conjures up quantum physics and a tear in the time-space continuum.

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Specialists Find Appeal in Hospitalist Roles
HealthLeaders Media

There are children alive today, beyond a doubt, who otherwise would have died during birth if it weren’t for the OB-GYN hyphenated-hospitalists at PeaceHealth St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Bellingham, Washington, says Nancy Steiger, CEO and chief mission officer for the organization’s northwest network.

These five rotating, full-time obstetrician gynecologist-hospitalists are at the 253-bed hospital, “ready to deliver the baby quickly in a crisis” for any of the 2,200 newborns delivered there each year who may develop fetal distress, she says. There’s no waiting for the community obstetrician to leave his or her practice or home, maneuver through traffic, and get to the hospital in time.

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Zenefits, a Bay Area online broker, rattles health insurance industry
Contra Costa Times

Software company Zenefits is the fastest-growing startup in recent memory, but selling computer applications isn’t how the company earned that superlative.

Instead, Zenefits has morphed from a skeletal 15 employees into an army of nearly 500 and counting — its revenue growth outpacing that of many valley software giants — by upending the health insurance industry.

That’s because this high-tech startup is also a health insurance broker, working as the middleman between businesses and health care providers such as Anthem Blue Cross.

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CVS Health Bets Big on HIT
HealthLeaders Media

With about 7,600 pharmacies nationwide equipped with nearly 1,000 walk-in MinuteClinics, Woonsocket, RI-based CVS Health is now building up the company’s health IT muscle.

Brian Tilzer, chief digital officer at CVS, says a Digital Experience Center recently opened in Woonsocket and a Digital Innovation Lab set to open this winter in Boston are developing a range of health IT capabilities.

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County hospital holds reunion for preemies
The Press-Enterprise

Something didn’t feel right to Bianca Marr, about six months pregnant with twins, as she drove from her Moreno Valley home to her job in Riverside on Sept. 26 of last year. “I didn’t know what it was, but I turned around and drove to the hospital instead,” she said. Her babies, Noah and Nevaeh, were born three months early at Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley. They were tiny – Noah three pounds, six ounces, and Nevaeh two pounds, 12 ounces.

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