News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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U.S. Healthcare Spending On Track To Hit $10,000 Per Person This Year

There’s never a shortage of major healthcare policy events in any given calendar year ‒ and 2015 will be no exception. Here’s a short list of some that are pending and noteworthy ‒ with a few predictions.

First up isn’t a prediction as much as a major milestone that’s reflective of escalating healthcare costs. According to CMS our National Healthcare Expenditure (NHE) is projected to hit $3.207 trillion this year. The U.S. Population is currently hovering at around 320 million, so 2015 looks to be the first year healthcare spending will reach $10,000 per person. We may be “bending the cost growth curve,” but the per capita amount continues to grow.

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CDC Recommends Antiviral Drugs For At-Risk Patients
National Public Radio

If you think the flu season is especially bad, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you’re right. He tells NPR’s Rachel Martin why taking antivirals are a good idea.

Odds are that by this point in the year, either you or someone you know has been stricken by the flu. Tracking the annual flu season is a perennial news story, but this year, it really is worse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already declared an influenza epidemic. The CDC’s director, Dr. Tom Frieden, joins me now from Atlanta. Dr. Frieden, welcome to the program.

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FDA drug approvals reached 18-year high in 2014
Modern Healthcare

The Food and Drug Administration approved 41 first-of-a-kind drugs in 2014, including a record number of medicines for rare diseases, pushing the agency’s annual tally of drug approvals to its highest level in 18 years.

FDA drug approvals are considered a barometer of industry innovation and the federal government’s efficiency in reviewing new therapies. Last year’s total was the most since the all-time high of 53 drugs approved in 1996.

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Obamacare’s guaranteed health coverage changes lives in first year
Los Angeles Times

Like many working Americans, Lisa Gray thought she had good health insurance.

That was until she was diagnosed with leukemia in mid-2013, and the self-employed businesswoman made a startling discovery: Her health plan didn’t cover the chemotherapy she needed. “I thought I was going to die,” Gray, 62, said recently, recalling her desperate scramble to get lifesaving drugs.

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Deciding Whether That Covered California Subsidy Is Worth the Hassle
KQED Radio

With the deadline looming to re-enroll in California’s insurance exchange, Kuei Lin Liu faced a tough question: Do I want to go through this all over again?

After a year of bureaucratic snags, data glitches and inexplicably dropped coverage, Liu wondered whether Covered California was worth the effort.

“I’m so frustrated right now,” she said. “I spent the last year trying to work out this mess.”

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Tax destroys jobs and innovation: Opposing view
USA Today

I was humbled to receive in November the National Medal of Technology and Innovation at the White House for the development of life-changing medical devices. Traveling to our nation’s capital, I couldn’t help but think: There is no way I could have had the same impact if the tax on medical devices was in place when I got started over 50 years ago.

Simply put, the medical device tax is destroying job creation and innovation, and as a result, patient care is suffering.

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Keep medical device tax: Our view
USA Today

Not many issues get strong bipartisan support in Congress these days. One big exception, though, is the tax on medical devices, a 2.3% levy on everything from tongue depressors to artificial hip joints. Republican or Democrat, most of Congress hates it, and the tax is a top candidate for repeal in the new session that begins Tuesday. That would be a serious mistake.

The tax has been in effect since Jan. 1, 2013. It was written into the Affordable Care Act as part of the funding that now helps uninsured Americans get health coverage. Thanks to the law, medical device makers — along with hospitals, insurers and others — are getting millions of new customers and billions in new profits. It only seems fair that they should help offset the cost of the law.

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Sutter Health, Blue Shield contract expires
Sacramento Business Journal

A contract between Sutter Health and Blue Shield of California that covers thousands of members in Northern California expired on New Year’s Eve. Negotiations are expected to continue this week, but the two sides appear far apart. Sutter spokesman Bill Gleeson said Sunday that Blue Shield is demanding rate rollbacks and several changes to language in the contract.

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New Harbor City Kaiser hospital features state-of-the-art technology
Daily Breeze - Los Angeles

Awash in soothing shades of cool pastels, the new four-story North Hospital at Kaiser Permanente in Harbor City doesn’t look much like hospitals from earlier decades.

The long-anticipated new building at Normandie Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway is set to open in February after nearly three years of construction. It will replace the old hospital building, constructed in the late 1950s, that stands next to the new tower and will come down over the next year to make room for more parking.

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Slideshow: Ambulatory & Outpatient Care—A Market-Driven Approach for Success
HealthLeaders Media

On-demand. One-stop shopping. What you need, when you need it. These phrases are more than just slogans. They are today’s models for how leading companies are winning customers and revolutionizing the marketplace. Businesses that provide a wide array of high-quality products easily, quickly and at reasonable price points are rising to the top. And this can certainly be said for the healthcare industry.