News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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1.3 million adverse events prevented in U.S. hospitals since 2010, feds say
Modern Healthcare

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that 1.3 million fewer patients were harmed in U.S. hospitals from 2010 to 2013 amid focused and widespread efforts to reduce surgical-site infections, adverse drug events and other preventable incidents. The decline represents a cumulative 17% reduction and an estimated 50,000 deaths prevented over the three years after the launch of the Partnership for Patients, a public-private collaborative created with funding from HHS.

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Financing Integration: Tapping New Sources of Liquidity
HealthLeaders Media

Health systems are positioning themselves for new reimbursement models amid shaky financial, regulatory, and political environments. The uncertainty leaves providers more focused on liquidity. Many have found medium-term capital an attractive alternative in their strategic capital formation to fill the gap between short- and long-term investments.  Matching credit term length with the useful life of assets such as electronic medical records systems, clinical integration with outpatient care settings, and infrastructure enhancements (e.g., renovations, energy projects) presents many economic, accounting, and compliance benefits.

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Underinsurance Remains Big Problem Under Obama Health Law
New York Times

The Affordable Care Act, like most health care reform efforts, focuses on people without insurance. That’s fine, because those people do face significant problems obtaining health care in the United States.

But underinsurance is a real concern, too, and it’s often ignored.

Before the A.C.A. was passed, underinsurance was prevalent. Of adults age 19-64 in 2010, 16 percent, or 29 million, met the Commonwealth Fund’s definition of being underinsured: one’s out-of-pocket health care costs exceeding 10 percent of income (5 percent when income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line), or one’s insurance deductible being more than 5 percent of income. The number of underinsured Americans had grown by 80 percent from 2003 to 2010.

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Obamacare ‘Glitch’ Puts Subsidies Out Of Reach For Many Families
National Public Radio

Don Benfield of Taylorsville, N.C., makes $11 an hour working for a mobile-home parts business, selling things like replacement doors and windows.

Benfield, 51, doesn’t have health insurance.

“I haven’t had health care insurance in years, simply because I haven’t been able to afford it, especially with food prices, how they went up,” he explains.

Benfield’s employer does offer health insurance coverage, even though, with fewer than 50 employees, the business is not required to.

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Exclusive: U.S. CEOs threaten to pull tacit Obamacare support over ‘wellness’ spat
Reuters

Leading U.S. CEOs, angered by the Obama administration’s challenge to certain “workplace wellness” programs, are threatening to side with anti-Obamacare forces unless the government backs off, according to people familiar with the matter.

Major U.S. corporations have broadly supported President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform despite concerns over several of its elements, largely because it included provisions encouraging the wellness programs.

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Healthcare.gov? Go to the Back of the Line!!!
The Health Care Blog

On the Healthcare.gov web site I was filling the application – an arduous process that – even when pre-filled from last year, takes 30 – 45 minutes. At the review and sign, I found ONE date that was wrong: the day and month were inadvertently transposed. from 09/08 to 08/09. Since the information will be checked against tax records I thought it best to correct this prior to signing. I clicked on the “edit” button which brought a box “Do you really want to edit your application”, Yes! That’s why I clicked the button – BOOM! back to “GO”,

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How Do Alternative Payment Models Fit In With State And National Reform Efforts?
HealthAffairs

The Affordable Care Act has affected health care at almost every level. Extensive experimentation within states continues to create changes. Given all these shifts, it is helpful to step back and consider how alternative payment models (APMs) fit in with these reforms, and why they are critically important. Many describe the Affordable Care Act as a means to expand coverage, with relatively little emphasis on controlling costs. This is an oversimplification — accountable care organizations are designed to address costs.

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Draft Medicare ACO rules would allow more time with less risk
Modern Healthcare

The CMS is planning major changes to the financial incentives for Medicare accountable care organizations in a revamp aimed at preventing hospitals and medical groups from dropping out of the initiative.

A proposed rule issued late Monday would alter the structure of the Medicare Shared Savings Program, an attempt launched in 2012 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to reduce U.S. health spending with new incentives that seek to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare.

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California’s top court to address med-mal cap issue
Modern Healthcare

California voters who went to the polls on the matter in November might not have the final say on whether that state’s cap on medical malpractice damages should remain at $250,000.

The California Supreme Court announced last Wednesday that it will hear Hughes v. Pham, a case that challenges the constitutionality of the state’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975, known as MICRA, which caps pain and suffering, or noneconomic damages, at $250,000.

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Physician Fee Schedule Winners and Losers
HealthLeaders Media

To pay code wonks who track provider pay by specialty group, “Table 93″ is the first place they look every November when Medicare releases its Physician Fee schedule code changes that will take effect Jan. 1.

Practically speaking, Table 93 is a list of winners and losers in the annual tug and pull for a fixed pot of federal money. It shows, in a hypothetical sense, how various changes for codes designating thousands of healthcare services will affect reimbursement for each of 57 healthcare providers, from the allergist/immunologist to the nurse practitioner, to the vascular surgeon.

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U.S. hospitals make fewer serious errors; 50,000 lives saved
Yahoo! News

About 50,000 people are alive today because U.S. hospitals committed 17 percent fewer medical errors in 2013 than in 2010, government health officials said on Tuesday.

The lower rate of fatalities from poor care and mistakes was one of several “historic improvements” in hospital quality and safety measured by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They included a 9 percent decline in the rate of hospital-acquired conditions such as infections, bedsores and pneumonia from 2012 to 2013.

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Report: 17 percent drop in hospital patient harm
Fresno Bee

A federal review of hospital medical records and other data has found a 17 percent decline in infections, drug mistakes, bed sores and other preventable errors from 2010 to 2013, according to a report released Tuesday.

Using methods developed by health care quality experts, the report estimated that 50,000 fewer patients died in the hospital and about $12 billion in health care costs was saved as a result of the decline.

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Your Odds Of Surviving Cancer Depend Very Much On Where You Live
National Public Radio

In the United States, 9 out of 10 kids diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia will live. In Jordan, the survival rate is 16 percent.

And while cervical cancer patients have a five-year survival rate of over 70 percent in countries like Mauritius and Norway, the rate in Libya is under 40 percent.

That’s the sobering news from the largest cancer study ever published. It surveyed more than 27 million patients and reveals a huge gulf in cancer survival worldwide.

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Health Data Outside the Doctor’s Office Responses
The Health Care Blog

Health primarily happens outside the doctor’s office—playing out in the arenas where we live, learn, work and play. In fact, a minority of our overall health is the result of the health care we receive. If we’re to have an accurate picture of health, we need more than what is currently captured in the electronic health record.

That’s why the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the distinguished JASON group to bring its considerable analytical power to bear on this problem: how to create a health information system that focuses on the health of individuals, not just the care they receive. JASON is an independent group of scientists and academics that has been advising the Federal government on matters of science and technology for over 50 years.

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Judge hands Dignity Health a temporary reprieve on pension plan
Sacramento Business Journal

A federal district court judge in San Francisco put his own Dignity health pension plan rulings on hold last week until an appeals court decides whether to take the case.

Judge Thelton Henderson has ruled twice that the health system’s pension plan is not exempt from federal pension rules as a “church plan” that falls under looser guidelines.

Yet last Wednesday, Henderson agreed with Dignity Health arguments that if the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reverses his rulings, “the litigation would take a decidedly different path.”

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