News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Doc database may soon include CME-related payments
Modern Healthcare

The Open Payments database may soon include information about some payments made by medical-device and drug companies to physicians for accredited continuing medical education activities.

The CMS on Monday updated the Open Payments website to clarify when manufacturers are required to report information about payments made for CME activities.

The Open Payments database provides detailed information about payments and other types of transfers of value made by industry to physicians and teaching hospitals.

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Top Execs of 2014: Peter Lee, Covered California
Sacramento Business Journal

Under Peter Lee, Covered California boomed out of the starting blocks for the first year of the new state health-benefit exchanges. The state had almost one in five of all new health exchange sign-ups in the nation, with more than 1.4 million enrolled. That’s more than twice initial projections of 580,000. Almost 70,000 consumers in the Sacramento region signed up and picked a plan, also double the number projected. Final numbers dropped a bit because some people failed to pay premiums, but Covered California’s 1.2 million is still the best in the nation.

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New Obamacare Tax This Filing Season: Your Shared Responsibility
Forbes

Count yourself lucky if you have employer-sponsored health insurance.

All you have to do to comply with the Obamacare health insurance reporting provision that kicks in for tax year 2014 is check off the “Full-year coverage” box on line 61 of your Form 1040 in the “Other Taxes” section where you report your health care individual responsibility.

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HealthCare.gov sees minor glitches as key deadline arrives
Modern Healthcare

HealthCare.gov on Monday seemed to be handling the last-minute rush of enrollees signing up for insurance that will be effective Jan. 1 with only minor glitches rather than the major problems it saw last year, site watchers said.“The navigators in Montana are saying that their folks have been seeing a lot of online messages to come back later,” said Ferris Taylor, the chief strategy officer of Utah co-op Arches Health Plan.

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Health care customers will have more time to pay premiums
Fox News

Trying to head off a new round of consumer headaches with President Obama’s health care law, the insurance industry says it will give customers more time to pay their premiums for January.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group, says the voluntary steps include a commitment to promptly refund any overpayments by consumers who switched plans and may have gotten double-billed by mistake.

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Federal, state health insurance sites brace for 2015 sign-up deadline
Fox News

President Obama’s healthcare reform push faces the biggest test of its second year in existence Monday, the deadline for customers to choose an insurance plan for 2015.

Midnight Pacific time is also the deadline for current enrollees to make changes that could reduce premium increases ahead of the new year.

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Insurers ease ‘Obamacare’ deadline
San Francisco Chronicle

Trying to head off a new round of consumer headaches with President Barack Obama’s health care law, the insurance industry said Tuesday it will give customers more time to pay their premiums for January. America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group, says the voluntary steps include a commitment to promptly refund any overpayments by consumers who switched plans and may have gotten double-billed by mistake.

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Covered California extends deadline to sign up for Obamacare
Los Angeles Times

California’s health insurance exchange extended its deadline for consumers who want Obamacare coverage in effect beginning Jan. 1. Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said people who start the application process or made some “good faith effort” by Monday will have until Dec. 21 to finish signing up. Monday at midnight was the original deadline.

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Record Numbers Apply for Covered California Health Coverage
Sierra Sun Times

More than 290,000 new consumers submitted applications and were determined eligible for private health insurance or Medi-Cal in the early weeks of open enrollment, Covered California and the California Department of Health Care Services announced Wednesday.

The consumers, who applied for coverage through Covered California since open enrollment began on Nov. 15, include 48,952 Covered California plan selections and 81,287 eligibility determinations through Dec. 3, as well as 116,262 enrollments into Medi-Cal coverage, and 44,295 who are likely eligible for Medi-Cal.

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California Border Residents Grapple with Out-of-State Health Insurance Restrictions
capital public radio

For some people living along California’s state border, the closest or most convenient care is out of reach.

Kory and Stacey Felker experienced this problem for the first time this year, when they signed up for individual insurance with Anthem Blue Cross.

The Felkers live in Quincy, California with their two kids.

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Deadline for Covered California coverage renewals passes, and some won’t go back
Daily Breeze - Los Angeles

As the deadline to renew a health care coverage plan through Covered California arrived Monday, Mary Anne Cheraz just sat and watched the day pass.

The Duarte resident said she was no longer interested in what Covered California, the state’s health care insurance exchange, had to offer.

“I’ve decided to opt out of Covered California,” Cheraz said. “I’ll be going with a privately paid plan even though it’s more expensive.”

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Narrow Networks Enjoying a Resurgence
HealthLeaders Media

Market conditions in the healthcare industry are driving the growth of narrow networks, according to a pair of leaders from large employer organizations.

“This time, narrow networks are here to stay,” William Kramer, executive director of health policy for the San Francisco-based Pacific Business Group on Health, said this week. “With the early HMOs, some managed care plans were put together clumsily and generated a backlash from some providers and many consumers.”

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UnitedHealthcare, MD Anderson deal may spur more bundled payments in cancer
Modern Healthcare

Two major players in the private sector have launched a fixed-payment structure for cancer care that could serve as a harbinger of more such arrangements as the appetite for such payment reforms continues to grow across the industry. UnitedHealthcare, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston agreed to a three-year deal in which the insurer will pay MD Anderson a fixed rate for the care of up to 150 patients with certain types of head and neck cancer.

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Scripps Health’s surplus declines with loss of state provider-fee revenue
Modern Healthcare

Scripps Health, a four-hospital San Diego-based system, ended fiscal 2014 with a drop in its operating surplus as it booked significantly less revenue than in the prior year even as it held expenses in check. However, like many systems, it benefitted from higher investment income.

The system had an operating margin of 6% for the year, which ended Sept. 30, compared with 7.3% for fiscal 2013.

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Mission Hospital Laguna gets its largest donation: $10M
Coastline Pilot

Mission Hospital Laguna Beach received its largest financial gift since the facility opened in 2009 when local residents Sue and Bill Gross donated $10 million, according to a news release.

The money will be used to enhance emergency room operations in what will be renamed The Sue and Bill Gross Emergency Department at the hospital.

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