News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Observation Status Appeal Advances in Federal Court
HealthLeaders Media

The U.S. Court of Appeals has sided partially with the plaintiffs in a hospital patient admission-status case with huge cost implications for some Medicare beneficiaries.

In an opinion released Thursday, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sent the case back to District Court, ordering the lower federal court to review whether Medicare beneficiary rights under the due process clause of the Constitution are being violated.

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California Takes Different Path On Insuring Immigrants Living In U.S. Illegally
Kaiser Health News

Angel Torres hasn’t been to the doctor since coming to the United States illegally more than two decades ago. But now, his vision is getting blurry and he frequently feels tired. Torres, 51, worries he might have diabetes like his brothers.

“Time is passing,” he said in Spanish. “I need to get checked out.”

Torres is in luck. He lives in California, which has a dramatically different approach than most other states to health care for immigrants without authorization to live here.

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Suspected cancer promoter actually suppresses tumors
San Diego Union-Tribune

Challenging a long-held dogma about cancer, a new study finds that enzymes long believed to promote cancer actually suppress it.

These enzymes are well-known among cancer researchers and have been a major target of drug development. They belong to a group called protein kinase C, coded for by numerous related genes. These enzymes play essential roles in cell survival, growth and migration, all of which are enhanced in cancer.

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Blue Shield responds to Sutter Health: Give us two more years
Sacramento Business Journal

Blue Shield of California issued a counter offer to Sutter Health on Wednesday that would extend the previous contract between the two companies through 2016.

Sutter proposed earlier this week that Blue Shield let patients keep their Sutter doctors until the end of this year. The two salvos in a nasty contract fight between one of the largest health systems and one of the largest health plans in the state sound good for patients but protect the special interests of the one behind the offer.

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Health Care Costs, Confusion Have Many Avoiding the Doctor
Yahoo! News

Confusion over health policies and out-of-pocket costs have led many people to delay seeking medical treatment.

That’s the finding of a new report by Connecticut-based SCIO Health Analytics and commissioned by Harris Poll. According to the survey, about four in 10 Americans said they had a difficult time understanding their health care plans. Questions about what the policies actually cover and how much they cost have caused many to put off treatment altogether.

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Senate GOP fails to sway Dems on Obamacare workweek change
Modern Healthcare

Senate Republicans appeared to make no progress Thursday in convincing more Democrats to join them in making a significant change to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by backing a bill redefining full-time employment as 40 hours per week instead of 30 hours, as the ACA does now. Republicans need four more Democrats, in addition to the two they have already brought on board, to back a measure for changing the work-week definition so they can bring the bill to a Senate vote.

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Obama’s Big Bid To Change Sick-Leave Laws May Hinge On Small Business
National Public Radio

In his State of the Union speech earlier this week, President Obama pitched a plan to boost what he called “middle-class economics.” He asked Congress to help him make community college free, cut taxes for the middle class — and also do this:

“Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave,” Obama said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Many in the business lobby aren’t likely to agree with that.

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Covered California Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Community Leaders
Los Angeles Sentinel

Amid statewide events and ceremonies honoring the birthday and memory of America’s greatest champion of civil rights, the head of California’s agency that administers the Affordable Care Act joined citizens and community leaders in Los Angeles on Monday to encourage enrollment in the historic health care program.

Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California, was among the dignitaries at the 30th annual Kingdom Day Parade.

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Californians stuck in Medi-Cal backlog win lawsuit against state
Los Angeles Daily News

California residents whose Medi-Cal applications have been stuck in limbo for months have won a legal victory over the state after a superior court judge ruled that they were entitled to receive medical care until their eligibility was decided.

Alameda Court Judge Evilio M. Grillo said in his ruling filed Tuesday that those who sued the state were correct in claiming that the California Department of Health Care Service did not comply with its duty to make a decision on their eligibility within 45 days.

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Hospitals’ Medicare Quality Bonuses Get Wiped Out By Penalties
National Public Radio

What Medicare gives with one hand, it’s taking away with another. Most government quality bonuses to hospitals this year are being wiped out by penalties issued for other shortcomings.

The government is taking performance into account when paying hospitals, one of the biggest changes in Medicare’s 50-year-history and one that’s required by the Affordable Care Act.

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Congressman to AMA: Offer SGR Solutions Not Complaints
HealthLeaders Media

The American Medical Association (AMA) is doing a disservice by not weighing in on how to pay for repealing the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for physician reimbursement under Medicare, a member of Congress said Thursday.

During the second day of a hearing on repealing and replacing the SGR, Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD (R-Ind.), a cardiac surgeon and member of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, asked Barbara McAneny, MD, chair of the AMA’s board of trustees, if the AMA could offer “substantial possible pay-fors” to cover the cost of the repeal. The Congressional Budget Office last year put the cost at about $140 billion over 10 years.

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Fewer California parents refuse to vaccinate children
Los Angeles Times

The number of California parents who cite personal beliefs in refusing to vaccinate their kindergartners dropped in 2014 for the first time in a dozen years, according to a Times data analysis.

The shift came amid rising alarm over the number of children being exempted from immunization, which prompted new campaigns to reverse the trend.

A state law that went into effect last year made it more difficult for parents to excuse kindergartners from vaccines.

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Coffee consumption linked to lower melanoma risk
Los Angeles Times

Sunblock you can drink? A new study suggests that drinking coffee could reduce the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by as much as 20%. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health and the Yale School of Public Health found that the more coffee people drank, the lower their melanoma risk.

To reach this conclusion, the team assessed data from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, which included 447,357 non-Latino white participants who were cancer-free at the start of the study.

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Debate could lead to freestanding ER in San Clemente
Orange County Register

San Clemente Councilman Bob Baker said he was encouraged to hear Tuesday night what sounded like a little movement by opposing sides in a dispute over the future of San Clemente’s 73-bed community hospital.

Tony Struthers, administrator of the hospital at 654 Camino de los Mares, said that MemorialCare Health System’s vision of transforming medical care in San Clemente by replacing the hospital and emergency room with a comprehensive outpatient medical pavilion and 24/7 advanced urgent care will better serve the population.

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BCH becomes first High Desert hospital to receive NICHE designation
Desert Dispatch

Barstow Community Hospital announced it has become the first High Desert hospital to receive a Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders designation. According to BCH spokesman John Rader, the hospital’s goal is to achieve systematic nursing changes that benefit older patients who are hospitalized, including prevention and management of pain, pressure ulcers, adverse medication events, delirium, urinary incontinence and fall prevention.

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Hospital recognized for maternity care
Camarillo Acorn

The Ventura County Medical Center has been recognized as one of 33 “high-performing” California hospitals for its maternity care services, according to a report by the California Hospital Assessment and Reporting Taskforce.

Titled “A Tale of Two Births: High- and Low-Performing Hospitals on Maternity Measures in California,” the report designates hospitals as “high performing” when they receive three or more superior or above-average scores, and no average or below-average scores.