News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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Legislators to propose changes to California’s vaccination requirement
San Bernardino Sun

As California measles cases edge closer to triple digits, two state senators are expected to announce legislation Wednesday to change the current immunization requirements in schools.

The senators — Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician who represents Sacramento, and Ben Allen, the former board president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District who represents much of the Westside and a portion of Torrance — would not say Tuesday what sort of changes their bill proposes.

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Most Surgical Readmissions Caused by Common Complications
HealthLeaders Media

Complications from surgery for medical conditions—rather than from the medical conditions themselves—are the chief reason surgical patients required readmission within 30 days after their procedures, and life-threatening surgical site infections (SSIs) top the list.

That’s according to a report that examined audited medical records of nearly 500,000 patients who underwent surgery at 346 hospitals participating in an American College of Surgeons quality program in 2012.

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Obama Budget Gets Mixed Reviews from Providers, Advocates
HealthLeaders Media

The reaction from healthcare providers to the Obama Administration’s $4 trillion 2016 budget proposal has been mixed, but predictable, with those earmarked for more money praising the president’s spending plan, and those facing cuts bemoaning “bad medicine.”

The total proposed budget for the Department of Health and Human Services in fiscal year 2016 is approximately $1.1 trillion, up from $1.04 trillion in 2015, and includes about $84 billion in discretionary funding. The proposal calls for a permanent repeal of Medicare’s widely reviled Sustainable Growth Rate funding formula for physicians, which would cost about $150 billion over the next decade, and the end of the sequestered 2% reimbursement cuts to providers that are budgeted through 2021.

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Health IT: Glass Half Empty? Half Full? Shattered?
The Health Care Blog

Technology occupies an unusual place in health care. Some people say that electronic health records are clumsy barriers between patients and their doctors. Others suggest that technology is a kind of secret sauce. In many places physicians and other clinicians are stymied by awkward technology. In other organizations — Kaiser Permanente included — electronic health records enable some of the finest individual and population health care ever.

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House votes to repeal healthcare law
Modern Healthcare

The Republican-controlled House has once again voted along party lines to repeal the healthcare law that stands as President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.The vote Tuesday was 239-186. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is unlikely to pass. And even if it does, Obama has threatened a veto.The House has voted more than 50 times in the past four years to uproot the law.Today’s vote was the first opportunity to go on record officially for newly elected Republicans who took their seats for the first time last month.

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HCA offers conservative expectations for 2015
Modern Healthcare

HCA, the largest hospital chain by revenue, reported a 24.3% increase in net income for the fourth quarter of 2014, continuing a strong year.However, the Nashville-based company offered projections for its 2015 financial results that were more conservative than analysts had been expecting. Still, for 2015, HCA is expecting healthcare reform to account for 6% to 7% of the growth in its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, compared with 4.5% in 2014.

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Anxiety over Supreme Court’s latest dive into health care
San Francisco Chronicle

Nearly five years after President Barack Obama signed his health care overhaul into law, its fate is yet again in the hands of the Supreme Court.

This time it’s not just the White House and Democrats who have reason to be anxious. Republican lawmakers and governors won’t escape the political fallout if the court invalidates insurance subsidies worth billions of dollars to people in more than 30 states.

Obama’s law offers subsidized private insurance to people who don’t have access to it on the job. Without financial assistance with their premiums, millions of those consumers would drop coverage.

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Medicare Offers Relief To 400,000 Caught In Drug Plan Mix-Ups
National Public Radio

More than 400,000 Medicare beneficiaries who may have been confused or misinformed about the pharmacy details of their 2015 Aetna prescription drug plans have until the end of this month to find participating pharmacies or switch plans, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The kerfuffle highlights the growing complexity of many Medicare prescription drug plans.

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Once A Vaccine Skeptic, This Mom Changed Her Mind
National Public Radio

The ongoing measles outbreak linked to Disneyland has led to some harsh comments about parents who don’t vaccinate their kids. But Juniper Russo, a writer in Chattanooga, Tenn., says she understands those parents because she used to be one of them.

“I know what it’s like to be scared and just want to protect your children, and make the wrong decisions,” Russo says.

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Parents with doubts about vaccinations face backlash from pediatricians, peers
Washington Post

The letter arrived in the midst of a growing furor about the country’s worst measles outbreak in years.

Cindy Shay, a Maryland health-care lawyer, had been taking her children to Bayside Pediatrics in Annapolis for a decade when her doctor wrote last month that he was “no longer able to continue as your child’s pediatrician.” Her twin 13-year-olds are up to date on all state-mandated vaccines, Shay said.

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Infections most common cause of readmissions after surgery
Monterey Herald

Surgery patients end up back in the hospital most often because of incision infections that don’t show up until after they’re sent home, according to a study that found unexpected readmission rates vary widely.

Among six common surgeries, the lowest readmission rate was just under 4 percent for hysterectomy patients. The highest rate — almost 15 percent — was for artery disease patients who had surgery to reroute blood flow in the legs.

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Gilead’s 2014 profit margin nears 50%, fueled by hep C drugs
Modern Healthcare

Gilead Sciences, the Foster City, Calif.-based drugmaker, said sales of its blockbuster hepatitis C duo topped $3.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014, fueling quarterly revenue that doubled to $7.3 billion and $3.5 billion in profits.

Gilead’s Sovaldi, which has been on the U.S. market for 13 months, generated $1.7 billion in sales in the fourth quarter. It brought in $10.3 billion in sales in one year, with $8.5 billion coming from the U.S. market. Harvoni, also developed by Gilead, received approval in October from the Food and Drug Administration and has already reported $2.1 billion in sales.

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Aetna closes 2014 with record profit, up 6.6% for the year
Modern Healthcare

Aetna recorded more than $2 billion in profit in fiscal 2014, the highest level in the company’s history and a signal that healthcare reform continues to treat the health insurance industry well.The Hartford, Conn.-based insurer also raised its 2015 earnings per share projection to “at least” $7, up from the company’s $6.90 prediction in December. Most analysts are even more optimistic, forecasting earnings per share this year of $7.14. Ana Gupte, a managing director at Leerink Partners, said it could be as high as $7.30.Aetna’s net income was down 37% in the fourth quarter.

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