News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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CDC Warns That The Flu Season May Be A Bad One
National Public Radio

We may be in for a nasty flu season. That’s the warning out today from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC is worried because the most common strain of flu virus circulating in the United States is one called H3N2. In previous years, H3N2 strains have tended to send more people to the hospital than other strains — and cause more deaths, especially among the elderly, children and people with other health problems.

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Unhappy Toy Story: Foot-Powered Scooters Drive ER Visits
National Public Radio

Vroom! Vroom! Ow!!!!

When it comes to toys that cause serious injuries, those little scooters kids push along with one foot are unique.

A look at trends in injuries that sent kids to the emergency room over more than 20 years shows an Everest-like mountain of problems with ride-on toys, including scooters, that reached its zenith in 2001 — an estimated 109,000 injuries.

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EHR vendors, tech-savvy providers unite around Internet-like interoperability
Modern Healthcare

Five major electronic health-record system developers and four information-technology pioneer provider organizations have formed an alliance to promote a new, Internet-based approach to interoperability and clinical information exchange. “It brings Facebook-, Google- and Amazon-like thinking to healthcare IT,” said physician informaticist Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a participant in the alliance.

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Average Affordable Care premiums going up in 2015
San Francisco Chronicle

Many people covered under President Barack Obama’s health care law will face higher premiums next year, the administration acknowledged Thursday. While the average increases are modest, it’s more fodder for the nation’s political battles over health care. Officials stressed that millions of current HealthCare.gov customers can mitigate the financial hit if they’re willing to shop around for another plan in a more competitive online marketplace. Subsidies will also help cushion the impact.

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Latest Obamacare challenge focuses on payment advisory board
Modern Healthcare

More than two dozen Republican congressmen are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a lawsuit gunning for the healthcare reform law’s Independent Payment Advisory Board. The lawmakers filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on Thursday in the case of Coons v. Lew, which questions, among other parts of the law, the constitutionality of the review panel charged with proposing Medicare cuts if spending growth exceeds projections.

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Most exchange shoppers see modest premium increases and more options
Modern Healthcare

Consumers shopping on the federal and state insurance exchanges can generally expect more plan options and only modest premium increases, according to new data from HHS. However, for some living in the most conservative red states, that isn’t the case.In 35 states relying on the federal exchange, there has been an overall 25% increase in the number of issuers participating during the second enrollment period.

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Healthcare groups gave generously ahead of midterms
Modern Healthcare

Candidates in the midterm elections who supported such measures as repealing the medical-device tax, changing the Medicare physician-pay formula and reforming the medical malpractice system were rewarded with large contributions from medical societies and other healthcare organizations.A Sunlight Foundation analysis of independent expenditures of $50,000 or more to candidates in the most recent election found that 14 of those healthcare groups gave donations totaling $6.9 million.Sen.

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Medicare is doing more to police Advantage and Part D lapses, but does it matter?
Modern Healthcare

Last month, the CMS quietly fined a small health insurer in Arizona $146,600 for violating several Medicare rules. In somewhat fiery language for a government agency, the CMS called the company’s lapses “systemic.”The insurer, Phoenix Health Plans, offers a few different Medicare Advantage HMOs for seniors and the disabled. Its membership is nominal, covering about 10,600 people.But insurance companies of all sizes are increasingly finding themselves in similar situations with the government.

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Proposed MSSP Changes Don’t Go Far Enough, Providers Say
HealthLeaders Media

Three years after launching the Medicare Shared Savings Program, federal officials are trying to fine-tune their most popular accountable care model.

MSSP has grown from 27 inaugural participants in April 2012 to more than 330 participants this year. According to MSSP Year 1 performance data released last month, Medicare reaped about $383 million in shared savings.

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Doctors Seek Another ICD-10 Delay
HealthLeaders Media

Physician associations in Texas and New York are urging their members to press the lame duck Congress to delay ICD-10 implementation until October 2017.

“It’s imperative that you contact your representative today and explain how you cannot afford the cost and disruption of ICD-10 implementation to your business, especially now, when you are buried in myriad other bureaucratic burdens,” Texas Medical Association President Austin I. King, MD, said in a letter to members.

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Caring For AIDS Patients, ‘When No One Else Would’
National Public Radio

Ruth Coker Burks was a young mother in her 20s when the AIDS epidemic hit her home state of Arkansas in the early 1980s. She took it upon herself to care for AIDS patients who were abandoned by their families, and even by medical professionals, who feared the disease.

Coker Burks, now 55, has no medical training, but she estimates that she has cared for nearly 1,000 people over the past three decades, including her friend Paul Wineland’s partner.

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Humana aims for Medicare Advantage and exchange gains in 2015
Modern Healthcare

Profits have lagged for Humana so far in 2014, but the health insurer is confident 2015 will spark a return to growth, executives said at an investor conference Thursday.Humana expects shareholder profit will climb by 17% next year compared with this year, setting an earnings-per-share target of $8.50 to $9. The road to achieving that growth was a major theme at the conference, which Humana hosts every two years.

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Kaiser Takes New Plunge Into Retail With Target, Opens Services to Other Insurers
AIS Health

The trend of health insurers evolving into retail-facing companies took a twist on Nov. 17 when Kaiser Permanente said it would open in-store clinics in four Southern California Target Corp. locations. Officials with Kaiser and market consultants say what is new with this latest development is how the Kaiser-Target arrangement may affect not just the two parties and their members-customers, but also the wider health plan marketplace.

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Community Hospital offering 10 free CT lung screens
The Californian - Salinas

Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula is offering free chest CT scans for the first 10 qualifying patients who are at high risk for lung cancer due to smoking.

New research shows that lung cancer deaths can be reduced by 20 percent using CT screening, which finds cancers earlier than X-rays. The free screenings are made possible by an anonymous donor to Community Hospital Foundation.

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City throws support behind ER
Orange County Register

San Clemente’s local government took a stand Tuesday night against potential closure of the community’s hospital and emergency room. The City Council adopted a resolution in response to a proposal by MemorialCare Health System to replace San Clemente’s 73-bed acute-care hospital with a comprehensive outpatient care facility with advanced urgent care.

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Rady to build medical offices in Murrieta
San Diego Union-Tribune

Rady Children’s Hospital officials on Thursday announced plans to build a pediatric care facility in the Riverside County community of Murrieta.

The facility, dubbed Rady Children’s Health Services, will offer outpatient services, including specialty care for babies, children and teens. The move marks an expansion of the hospital’s services in the growing bedroom community just north of San Diego County.

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Palo Verde Hospital opens community clinic
Palo Verde Valley Times

Palo Verde Hospital announced the opening of its community clinic as of Monday. Open to everyone, the clinic, located at 205 N. First St. (across from the hospital), accepts walk-ins and appointments Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Under the direction of Nurse Practitioner Silvia Herrera, the clinic provides healthcare services to the community.

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