News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Uninsured rate drops to 12.9%, Gallup reports
Modern Healthcare

An average of 12.9% of U.S. adults were uninsured during the fourth quarter of 2014, down significantly from 17.1% a year ago and 13.4% from last quarter, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The fourth-quarter result is the lowest rate recorded by the index since it began tracking the uninsured rate in 2008.

The uninsured rate has dropped 4.2 percentage points since the individual insurance mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2014.

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President pledges first veto in 2015 Obamacare wars
Modern Healthcare

President Barack Obama plans to veto legislation that would redefine full-time work under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as 40 hours a week, according to a statement he issued Wednesday. The announcement is an early indication that Obama won’t be shy in fending off changes to the landmark healthcare law. “The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 30, the Save American Workers Act, because it would significantly increase the deficit, reduce the number of Americans with employer-based health insurance coverage, and create incentives for employers to shift their employees to part-time work—causing the problem it intends to solve,” according to the statement from the White House.

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Latest measles outbreak highlights a growing problem in California
Los Angeles Times

The issue of measles in California suddenly generated national headlines Wednesday thanks to a Disney connection.

A person infected with measles is suspected of visiting Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in December after authorities discovered a dozen confirmed and suspected cases, all involving people who attended either of the parks just before Christmas.

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Flu Virus Hasn’t Hit California Too Hard Yet
KFBK

The flu is hitting people hard around the country, but it’s not too bad in California.

Nancy Sarieh with the San Francisco Department of Public Health says the weather in the state may be one reason people aren’t getting as sick here.

“Being warmer weather and not being cold — it helps a lot. The flu is something that travels more when it’s in the air. If you’re in a confined space with a lot of people and somebody’s sneezing then you’re bound to catch it that way,” she said.

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Enrollment pace slows for HealthCare.gov; 100K sign up in week 7
Modern Healthcare

An additional 102,896 people gained coverage through HealthCare.gov between Dec. 27 and Jan. 2, HHS reported in a blog post Wednesday. That figure is up slightly from the 96,446 that got coverage the week before. To date, nearly 6.6 million consumers selected a plan or were automatically re-enrolled in the federally facilitated marketplace.

The enrollment pace is down significantly from the more than 1 million people that signed up in week 4 alone, however.

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Obamacare complexifies tax season
USA Today

Much of the attention regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is focused on Americans signing up for health insurance, the cost and services covered. Largely lost in this dialogue is the fact that the ACA is the most significant change to the tax code in 20 years. It has made filing a tax return more complex for the more than 147 million individual tax filers — insured and uninsured alike. This will be a steep learning curve for many Americans as they prepare their tax returns over the next couple of months.

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Californians Are the Savviest ACA Exchange Consumers
California Healthline

Californians are among the best at signing up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, according to an online calculator called Putting Patients First, the Orlando Business Journal reports.

The Putting Patients First calculator was created by the National Health Council. Using the tool, individuals can calculate their estimated health care costs for various 2015 health plans based on their personal health usage information, such as their:

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Congressional Republicans Take Another Swing At Obamacare
National Public Radio

Taking a swing at President Obama’s biggest policy achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is at the top of the agenda for the new Republican Congressional majority.

On Thursday, the House will debate, and likely pass, a bill that would make a change in Obamacare. It would raise the law’s definition of full-time work from 30 hours to 40 hours a week, reducing the number of workers to whom employers would have to offer health insurance.

The bill before the House Thursday already passed there during the last Congress. Republicans touted it as a way to prevent employers from capping workers’ hours.

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Workers spending 9.6% of income on healthcare
Modern Healthcare

The attractiveness of employer-based health insurance, often considered the gold standard of coverage, may be starting to wane. New data show employees are paying much more in monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs in every state for such plans while wages remain stagnant. In Florida, for example, 12.4% of an employee’s average median income went toward premiums and deductibles in 2013—the highest percentage of any state. That’s up from 6.7% in 2003. Nationally, 9.6% of an employee’s household income was spent on premiums and deductibles, compared with 5.3% in 2003.

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Workers paying more for health insurance, but getting fewer benefits
Los Angeles Times

Although the Affordable Care Act has not led to soaring insurance costs, as many critics claimed it would, the law hasn’t provided much relief to American workers either, according to a new study of employer-provided health benefits.

Workers continue to be squeezed by rising insurance costs, eroding benefits and stagnant wages, the report from the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund found.

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Changes loom for Covered California board
Capitol Weekly

Three seats on the powerful board that governs California’s multibillion-dollar health insurance exchange are up for grabs, giving the Brown administration – whose allies already comprise a majority on the five-member board — an opportunity to name two new directors.

Two seats held by appointees of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger expired last week. A third became vacant following the resignation last month of Robert Ross, the president of the nonprofit California Endowment, which advocates for improved access to health care.

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Specialists Split Over HPV Test’s Role In Cancer Screening
National Public Radio

Two medical groups say doctors could replace the Pap smear with a different test to screen many women for cervical cancer.

But that recommendation, included in an “interim guidance” released Thursday, is highly controversial; other experts call it premature.

For years, physicians have recommended that women routinely get Pap smears to catch any signs of cervical cancer early.

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Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation donates to Walter Reiss Outreach program
Lodi News-Sentinel

Each year the Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation donates a portion of the proceeds from the Russell Steele Golf Tournament, held at Woodbridge Golf and Country Club, to the Walter E. Reiss Outreach Care (WEROC) program. The 2014 tournament chairs, Mike Georguson and Carolyn Hoff, presented the Foundation’s check to Pam Schneider, executive director and administrator of WEROC. “The Foundation is pleased to partner with WEROC so they can provide ongoing medical services for the underserved populations in the greater Lodi area,” said Georguson.

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Kaweah Delta Hospital District set to open Dinuba clinic Friday
Fresno Bee

Kaweah Delta Health Care District will open a health clinic Friday in Dinuba, the district’s fourth rural clinic serving patients in Tulare County.

The Dinuba clinic at 855 W. Monte Vista Drive, will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed from noon-1 p.m. for lunch).

The clinic has 12 exam rooms and will offer family medicine, pediatric care and women’s health services.

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