News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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California patients struggle to transition to managed care system
Los Angeles Times

One year ago, California began moving certain Medi-Cal patients into a managed healthcare system with the goal of saving money while better coordinating treatment. But for some of these low-income seniors and disabled patients, the transition has been anything but smooth, forcing severely ill patients to give up their doctors, delay treatment and travel long distances for specialty care.

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Dignity Health to acquire U.S. HealthWorks, will become national health system
Sacramento Business Journal

Dignity Health has signed an agreement to buy the largest independent operator of occupational health and urgent care centers in the U.S., health system officials announced Monday. The deal with U.S. HealthWorks is subject to regulatory approvals but is expected to close in August. The acquisition will transform the parent company from local Mercy hospitals into a national health care system with 172 centers in 16 states.

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Figuring Out the Effect of a Watershed Law
The Wall Street Journal

The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act is only the beginning. Sweeping changes will roll through the $2.7 trillion health-care industry and eventually touch most Americans, shaped not only by the affirmation of the law but by the way it was decided. A number of key issues have yet to be resolved. With the law’s full Medicaid expansion in doubt, it isn’t clear what will happen to safety-net hospitals depending on the infusion of covered patients to balance the law’s cutbacks.

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Medical providers – Providence and Facey – align to prepare for Obama plan
Los Angeles Daily News

Two San Fernando Valley area medical providers said Monday that they have formed an affiliation to better deal with the national health care law declared constitutional last week by a divided U.S. Supreme Court.

Providence Health & Services of Southern California and the Facey Medical Foundation and Facey Medical Group said the goal of the affiliation is to prepare for changes in the national healthcare landscape while making “quality health care more accessible, affordable and efficient.”

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What’s next from Obamacare
San Francisco Chronicle

A little boy with stomach pain so severe it made him turn pale and curl up in a ball was seen five times in a busy federally funded clinic. The child had endoscopies and scans for which he was anesthetized, but the diagnosis remained elusive until a semi-retired physician spent the time to get a complete history. This physician was subsequently sanctioned for not meeting the clinic quota of seeing a patient every 13.3 minutes.

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Poll: Americans split on Supreme Court’s healthcare decision
Los Angeles Times

Americans remain sharply divided on President Obama’s healthcare reform law following the affirmation of most of its provisions by the Supreme Court. But, a new CNN/ORC poll reveals that there have been some positive, if slight, gains for the Affordable Care Act since its contentious passage into law.

Fifty percent of Americans side with the Supreme Court in its ruling Thursday, with 49% disagreeing.

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Demand for care will rise as health law boosts insured
Merced Sun-Star

The Supreme Court’s validation of President Barack Obama’s landmark health law set off a scramble across California to find enough primary care doctors and other professionals to serve an estimated 3 million newly insured patients by 2014. California rates below average in the number of doctors per capita. But the state, and rural counties in particular, will face additional shortages as health reform slashes the ranks of its 7 million uninsured.

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10 Polemics from the Supreme Court Decision
Health Leaders Media

One may be loath to read all 193 pages of Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including dissents and footnotes.

But some of it is quite instructive, even entertaining, and in some places, downright sarcastic. The Justices wrote with some passion, and used several catch phrases to signify major themes in their legal wrangling.

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Calif. Blue Shield, John Muir Health Partner to Form Full-Risk ACO
AIS Health

Blue Shield of California and integrated delivery system John Muir Health are partnering on an accountable care organization that will cover all 16,000 HMO Blues plan members who have chosen a John Muir primary care physician. The two are guaranteeing at least $5 million in savings for employer clients in the first year.

The project, which will launch July 1, will run for an initial three-year period.

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Poll: Most want fight over health care law to stop
San Francisco Chronicle

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to largely uphold President Obama’s health care law, a majority of Americans now want to put the fight over the Affordable Care Act behind them, a new survey finds.

Fifty-six percent of Americans believe opponents of the law should “stop trying to block its implementation and instead move on to other national problems,” according to the poll by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

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GOP tells governors not to set up exchanges
Modern Healthcare

GOP lawmakers in both chambers started their July 4 recess by asking the nation’s governors not to implement the state health insurance exchanges required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) along with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) have sent a letter to all 50 governors that urged the state leaders to oppose creating state exchanges that the federal lawmakers say impose a financial threat to strained state economies. Resisting implementation of the exchanges, they contend, is good for hiring and investment.

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Obesity researchers study thin people for clues about hunger and metabolism
Washington Post

Maureen Michael likes food. Most days, she has three or four meals, and on occasion she eats yet another in the middle of the night. But she rarely worries about her weight, and at 5-foot-8 and 155 pounds, she looks quite trim.

“I eat anything, and I eat a lot,” the 51-year-old District resident said. “I like large portions. I have one of those metabolisms, I guess.”

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Doctors may fear being rated, but they often score high with their patients
Washington Post

Physicians have long been prickly about Web sites that assign them points or letter grades or even smiley and frowny faces based on patient reviews of their experiences. Picking a physician is more complicated than buying a toaster, they say, and doctors can’t be accurately evaluated solely on the basis of whether they’re good communicators, for example, or keep appointments punctually.

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When patients demand tests and prescriptions, doctors should think twice
Washington Post

As an infectious-disease specialist, I often see patients who complain of a headache, nasal congestion and short-term fatigue. There is no fever or cough, and it appears the problem is sinusitis, which requires no further testing or treatment. But when I say, “Let’s wait and watch,” many of my patients seem disappointed. In some cases, it seems they are satisfied only if I prescribe an antibiotic or order a blood test or X-ray.

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CMS rule would boost payments to renal facilities 3.1%
Modern Healthcare

The CMS issued a proposed Medicare payment rule for end-stage renal disease facilities that would result in an overall payment increase of 3.1% in 2013 and would boost requirements of the ESRD Quality Incentive Program, according to a CMS news release.

The base payment rate is expected to rise 3.2%, but be reduced by a productivity adjustment of 0.7%, resulting in an increase of 2.5%.

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Cranky Uncles, for Better or Worse, Will Lurk in More Exam Rooms
New York Times

Money has always played a role in health care, even back in the good old days when Hippocrates charged a drachma or two for a second opinion. Back then it was the coin of the realm that healed the sick, and now, thanks to the upheld individual insurance mandate, it is going to be a little plastic card for all. So nothing has really changed, right?

Wrong.

Health insurance is more than a cash equivalent. It is cash with strings attached, like a rich uncle with deep pockets but a volatile personality, munificent one minute and stingy the next.

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Drug giant Glaxo pleads guilty, fined $3B for drug marketing
USA Today

Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline will plead guilty and pay $3 billion to resolve federal criminal and civil inquiries arising from the company’s illegal promotion of some of its products, its failure to report safety data and alleged false price reporting, the Justice Department announced Monday.

The company agreed to plead guilty to three criminal counts, including two counts of introducing misbranded drugs — Paxil and Wellbutrin — and one count of failing to report safety data about the drug Avandia to the Food and Drug Administration.

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With boomers coming, hospice industry diversifies
San Francisco Chronicle

Forget that image of a hospice worker sitting next to a hospital bed in a dimly lit room. Today, hospice care is delivered everywhere from the golf course to the casino.

As they brace for the eventual needs of the aging baby boom generation, hospice providers are working to diversify their services and dispel misconceptions about what they do.

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Alameda County first to expand medical coverage to people with HIV, AIDS
The Mercury News

The uncertainty hovering over low-income people living with HIV or AIDS ended this week with the announcement that in California they are now eligible for Medicaid, even in advance of the national implementation of the Affordable Act Care reforms. That means uninsured, low-income HIV patients statewide for the first time do not have to wait until they are diagnosed with AIDS to qualify for the publicly-funded health care program, called Medical in California.

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ObamaCare ruling, after the shouting
USA Today

The instant reaction to last week’s Supreme Court decision upholding ObamaCare was entirely predictable. The right fumed at Chief Justice John Roberts for siding with the court’s four liberal justices: Radio host Glenn Beck began offering T-shirts with Roberts’ face over the word “COWARD.” On the left, there was giddy optimism: Radio host and columnist Bill Press wrote that the decision guaranteed President Obama’s re-election.

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Roberts’ ruling isn’t final
USA Today

In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision, can you still argue that the Constitution does not support ObamaCare? The liberal blogosphere apparently thinks the constitutional debate is over. I wonder whether they would have had that opinion the day after the Dred Scott decision. While it is clear to anyone who was awake in high school civics class that the Supreme Court has the power to declare whether a law is valid under the Constitution, that power is not a pronouncement set in stone.

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Health care reform needs better sales pitch
USA Today

President Obama went before the TV cameras shortly after the Supreme Court saved the most important accomplishment of his presidency last week and spoke about why his health reform law makes sense. His remarks were about eight minutes long and clocked in at 1,224 words. No wonder he’s losing the political fight over ObamaCare.

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Obamacare individual mandate: Tax or penalty?
ALLVOICES

In the aftermath of Thursday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, Democrats and Republicans have been waging a war or words on whether the provision involves a tax or a penalty. The confusion appears to reside in the way Justice Roberts legally classified the individual mandate provision. By the letter of the law, the individual mandate could only be allowed to stand as a tax. But it does not fit the usual definition of a tax because it is not based on income or earnings.

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The Perils of Medical Jargon
KQED Radio

When a doctor can’t explain their patients’ diagnoses and treatments in plain language, people suffer. Poor health literacy — a patient’s inability to understand health information – was first linked to poor health a decade ago. People who find their doctor’s advice confusing don’t manage their chronic diseases as well and are more likely to wind up hospitalized; among the elderly, the death rate is higher.

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