News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Google named as partner in bid for $11B military EHR contract
Modern Healthcare

Tech giant Google has been identified as part of a PricewaterhouseCoopers-led group vying for the Defense Department’s $11 billion electronic health-record contract. PwC says Google was always part of the bid, which proposes to build a system on open-source software derived from the Veterans Affairs Departments’ EHR system, VistA. Google would provide services in infrastructure, including cloud, security, storage, networking, and enterprise search capabilities, according to PwC health IT practice leader Dan Garrett.

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Health Insurance Prices: Highest In Alaska, Lowest In Sun Belt
National Public Radio

In health insurance prices, as in the weather, Alaska and the Sun Belt are extremes. This year Alaska is the most expensive health insurance market for people who do not get coverage through their employers, while Phoenix, Albuquerque, N.M., and Tucson, Ariz., are among the very cheapest. In this second year of the insurance marketplaces created by the federal health law, the most expensive premiums are in rural spots around the nation: Wyoming, rural Nevada, patches of inland California and the southernmost county in Mississippi, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has compiled premium prices from around the country.

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11 Healthcare Buzzwords for 2015
HealthLeaders Media

As the fifth anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act nears, providers are continuing to adjust to dramatic changes in the way they deliver care and administer their business practices. The language used to describe these changes is also evolving. Some of it is borrowed from other industries, some of it is home-grown; all of it is in flux. This glossary of jargon was culled from chatter overheard at healthcare conferences, interviews with industry leaders, and the pages of medical journals.

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7 million fewer uninsured under Obamacare, Commonwealth Fund finds
Modern Healthcare

The number of uninsured, working-age Americans has decreased by 7 million since full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to survey data released Thursday by the Commonwealth Fund. The number is lower than other recent estimates, which put the total in the 10 million range.Roughly 29 million adults ages 19 to 64 lacked insurance last year, down from 36 million in 2012, a 19% drop, the fund reported. The rate of uninsured adults dipped from 19% in 2012, the last time the Commonwealth survey was conducted, to 16% last year.

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Early Test Of An Obamacare Experiment Posts Little Progress
National Public Radio

Obama administration officials have warned that ambitious experiments run by the health law’s $10 billion innovation lab wouldn’t always be successful. Now there is evidence their caution was well placed.

Only a small minority of community groups getting federal reimbursement to reduce expensive hospital readmissions produced significant results compared with sites that weren’t part of the $300 million program, according to partial, early results.

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States boost outreach intensity ahead of enrollment deadlines
Modern Healthcare

More than 7.7 million people have enrolled in insurance plans for 2015 through HealthCare.gov or state-based exchanges, according to state and federal officials.Another 163,000 enrolled through the federal marketplace between Jan. 2 and Jan. 9, bringing the total number to 6.7 million. In states, the tally of new and re-enrolled consumers had reached about 990,000 as of Jan. 14. HHS has estimated the exchanges would enroll 9.1 million individuals by the end of the open enrollment period Feb. 15.

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Hospitals fall short on infection goals
Modern Healthcare

U.S. hospitals made significant strides in the past several years in reducing the number of infections acquired within their facilities but fell short of the Obama administration’s targets, according to a new federal report.The number of central-line bloodstream infections in hospitals dropped by 46% between 2008 and 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual National and State Healthcare-Associated Infections Progress Report released Wednesday.

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State’s steps to control HIV seen as model for nation
Boston Globe

Massachusetts residents with HIV are twice as likely as patients nationally to have the disease under control, according to a report from the state Department of Public Health with wider implications for other states and nations seeking to curb the spread of the virus.

The Massachusetts findings, drawn from laboratory blood samples of every person diagnosed with HIV since the start of the epidemic, follow a federal government report late last year showing that in two-thirds of Americans with HIV, the virus was not being suppressed with medication.

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Skid row doctor’s care includes finding patients a home
Los Angeles Times

Joan Morton was pencil-thin and hollow-cheeked when Dr. Susan Partovi found her sleeping on skid row, with what Morton said were lingering pneumonia and HIV complications.

Partovi, a longtime skid row “backpack” doctor, said she could get Morton a permanent place to live — an offer she said she hadn’t received in nearly three decades on the streets.

“Only once I lived inside with my ex-husband,” said Morton, 43.

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Aetna competitors unlikely to match $16 minimum wage move
Modern Healthcare

Aetna’s competitors have no plans to follow its lead by raising employees’ minimum wage to $16 an hour while also improving their health benefits, according to those interviewed at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.All Aetna employees, starting in April, will earn at least $16 an hour, or about $33,000 a year for full-time workers. About 5,700 Aetna employees, most of whom work in customer service or other administrative roles, will see a pay raise as a result.

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Athenahealth could shake up the small-hospital EHR market
Modern Healthcare

Athenahealth, thanks to its planned purchase of RazorInsights, can bring a new electronic health-record business model to the small-hospital segment just as that sector is searching for alternatives to current vendor offerings, say health IT market watchers.“If Athena comes in with a revenue model that doesn’t require a lot of capital outlays, and Athena makes it easy for them financially and their vendors don’t use the time to catch up, there is a huge opportunity,” said Colin Buckley, director of research strategy for clinical IT systems at Orem, Utah-based KLAS Enterprises.

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Health-care contract snafu hits PAMF customers
Los Altos Town Crier

Local residents who are insured by Blue Shield and rely on Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) for medical services may be in for a surprise this year.

Blue Shield has announced that it could not come to terms on a new contract with Sutter Health – PAMF’s parent company – by Dec. 31, according to a Santa Cruz Sentinel report last week.

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San Diego-area clinic closes after seeing measles symptoms
Sacramento Bee

An urgent care center east of San Diego is closed after several people showed up with measles symptoms.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency said Wednesday that it will determine if they have measles. Until test results are in, it’s unclear if the cases are related to a measles outbreak tied to visits to Disney theme parks in California.

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