News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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UC schools will require vaccinations for college students by 2017
Orange County Register

The University of California system will require incoming students to get full vaccinations to enroll by 2017, but they still will be able to seek waivers for personal, religious or health reasons.

UC Irvine already mandates vaccinations because individual campuses are allowed to set their own rules.

The systemwide mandate is part of a three-year plan to expand vaccination requirements, but the proposal was planned long before the recent measles outbreak tied to Disneyland, UC spokeswoman Brooke Converse said.

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Anthem Hack Liability Hinges on Due Diligence
HealthLeaders Media

Anthem Inc. faces hefty costs to repair the massive security breach that may have compromised the personal records of 80 million people. The extent of that liability could depend upon what safeguards the health plan had in place, and how it responds to the concerns of customers and federal regulators, industry observers say.

Given that this is the largest breach of healthcare sector data in U.S. history, Anthem potentially could face record-busting fines for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

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Harnessing The Immune System To Fight Cancer
National Public Radio

When Barbara Marder was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, she had part of her right lung removed, went through a round of chemotherapy and tried to move on with her life.

“I had hoped that everything was fine — that I would not create difficulty for my children; that I would get to see my grandchildren grow up,” says Marder, 73, of Arnold, Md.

But a routine scan a year later found bad news: The cancer was back — this time in her other lung.

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Obamacare: Medi-Cal a waiting game for many low-income Californians
The Mercury News

Julie Moreno felt lucky to be among more than 2.7 million previously uninsured Californians to be added to Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for the poor.

Until she needed cataract surgery.

For three months after her November 2013 diagnosis, the 49-year-old Mountain View resident said, she tried to get an appointment, but each time she called, no slots were available. Desperate and worried, she finally borrowed $14,000 from her boyfriend’s mother to have the procedure done elsewhere last February.

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Eased ACO rules aren’t enough to lure more takers, healthcare groups say
Modern Healthcare

Some of the nation’s most prominent healthcare groups are telling the Obama administration that its proposals to soften the financial risk involved in Medicare accountable care contracts won’t be enough to make sure U.S. hospitals and doctors keep signing up.

The central concession would be to give participants more time in the program before they have to accept the risk of penalties along with the opportunity to earn bonuses based on the quality and efficiency of the care they provide.

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Almost 15,000 new local consumers enroll in Covered California
Sacramento Business Journal

A total of 14,715 new consumers from the Sacramento area enrolled in Covered California and picked a plan from Nov. 15, 2014 — the start of the second annual open enrollment — through Feb. 2, new data from the state health benefit exchange show. Sacramento County grew the most, with 9,251 new enrollees for 2015. Placer added 2,880; El Dorado, 1,456, and Yolo, 1,128. A total of 69,540 consumers from these four counties enrolled in Covered California and picked a plan during the first open enrollment period last year.

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Schools help families enroll in Covered California, Medi-Cal
EdSource

With huge numbers of California children still uninsured, schools are beginning to take the lead in letting families know that affordable health care coverage is available.

In school libraries and courtyards from Sacramento to Los Angeles and beyond, trained enrollment counselors have been invited to set up folding tables, commandeer desk space and corral parents before the Feb. 15 sign-up deadline for Covered California, the state’s online health insurance marketplace created under the federal Affordable Care Act.

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Vaccine avoiders put California at risk
San Francisco Chronicle

In a state with some of the most lenient childhood immunization laws in the country, thousands of California children enter kindergarten every year with incomplete vaccination records, and it’s easy for parents to opt out of vaccinating their kids. California’s immunization rates are lower than the national average for almost all vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, which is still spreading widely in the largest outbreak in the state in more than a decade.

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County prepared for measles
Lake County Record-Bee

Although Lake County has no reported cases of the measles, healthcare facilities are preparing, just in case the outbreak reaches the area.

The county health department has vaccine in stock. They also expect to receive an order of state funded vaccine. In addition, county public health officer Dr. Karen Tait has been attending conferences on the disease and forwarding the findings to local physicians.

“We’ve been disseminating information,” said Sherylin Taylor, the Lake County public health department’s Nursing Director. “We do recognize that a lot of the newer providers haven’t seen measles.”

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Can employers require their employees to be vaccinated?
The Business Journal

If it can happen in the “Happiest Place on Earth”, then why can’t it happen at my office? That is a question many employers are asking themselves after a recent multi-state measles outbreak was linked to Disneyland in California.

Combined with the Ebola scare that saturated the 24-hour news cycle last fall and another nasty flu season in full swing, issues related to preventing the spread of infectious diseases in the workplace have started to gain increasing attention among HR departments across the nation.

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UC to mandate vaccines for incoming students by 2017
Sacramento Business Journal

The University of California, citing a widespread measles outbreak that originated in Disneyland and the re-emergence of other vaccine-preventable diseases, said it will require incoming students to be vaccinated against a host of diseases under a plan set to take effect in 2017. Currently, the university system only requires students to be vaccinated against hepatitis B, although some individual campuses have additional requirements.

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To Get Parents To Vaccinate Their Kids, Don’t Ask. Just Tell
National Public Radio

As California’s measles outbreak continues to spread beyond state borders, many doctors nationwide are grappling with how best to convince parents to have their children vaccinated. Inviting a collaborative conversation doesn’t work all that well, many are finding. Recent research suggests that being more matter-of-fact can work a lot better. Pediatrician Eric Ball, who practices in southern California, says, in his experience, the families skeptical of vaccines can be divided into two types.

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California whooping-cough outbreak raises vaccine concerns
San Diego Union-Tribune

A California city with a large number of whooping cough cases despite a high immunization rate is revealing the limitations of the current vaccine used to protect against the disease, a newspaper reported.

Elk Grove had a whooping-cough infection rate three to five times higher than other places in Sacramento County last year even though only 80 of the suburb’s 4,500 kindergartners opted out of vaccinations, according to the Sacramento Bee.

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Battles Over Hospital-Wide Nurse Staffing Ratios Persist
HealthLeaders Media

State health policy analysts in Massachusetts and Minnesota are fighting new battles in the ongoing war between hospitals and organized nurses over staffing ratios.

A law requiring 1:1 and 1:2 nurse-to-patient ratio in intensive care units went into effect in Massachusetts in September. But health researchers in Minnesota were unable to complete a study looking at the relationship between nursing levels and patient outcomes in their state.

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23andMe: Quest for Parkinson’s cure opens door to genetic data mining
The Mercury News

Even seated, Mary Haynes’ body is perpetually in motion. Her torso lurches side to side when she speaks, while Mike Tossy’s body is noticeably still. His eyes dart around, but his head rarely turns.

Both Haynes and Tossy suffer from Parkinson’s disease — a neurodegenerative disorder affecting nearly a million Americans. They are also two of 11,000 customers of 23andMe with Parkinson’s participating in the DNA testing company’s research program.

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Zuckerberg and wife give $75M to S.F. General Hospital
Silicon Valley Business Journal

Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, are giving $75 million to San Francisco General Hospital, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The donation — one of the largest private gifts from individuals to a public hospital in the U.S. — will help fund equipment and technology at the hospital’s new inpatient tower, slated to open by the end of 2015. Like hospitals throughout the state, the San Francisco General is being rebuilt to meet new seismic safety standards. The rebuild is primarily financed with a $887.4 million bond measure.

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Zuckerberg, wife give $75 million to S.F. hospital
San Francisco Chronicle

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, are donating $75 million to San Francisco General Hospital to help fund critical equipment and technology for the new public hospital, which is scheduled to open at the end of the year. The donation to the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, the hospital’s fundraising arm, is expected to be announced Friday.

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Anthem alerts customers to scam email campaigns
Sacramento Business Journal

California residents who may have been affected by the massive data breach at Anthem Blue Cross should watch out for scam email campaigns that target current and former Anthem members, the company warned Friday. Designed to appear as if they come from Anthem, the emails seek to capture personal information — and include a “click here” link for credit monitoring. “These email are NOT from Anthem,” the company said in a news release.

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Anthem says thieves targeting customers following data breach
San Francisco Business Times

Anthem Inc. is warning customers about phone and email scams following the massive data breach at the company.

Anthem (NYSE: ANTM), the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross in California, said Feb. 4 that as many as 80 million customers have had their account information stolen. In California alone, millions of former and current Anthem customers could be affected.

A new message on Anthem’s telephone hotline (877-263-7995) says the company is aware of phone and email scams targeting former and current customers.

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Yuba-Sutter TIP helps trauma victims
The Appeal-Democrat

When there is a fatal traffic accident, drowning or structure fire, a Trauma Intervention Program volunteer is there. “There are a lot of resources in our community for trauma victims,” said Lou Binninger, director of Yuba-Sutter TIP, which was formed in 1994. “We just help connect people to them.” All local emergency response agencies know they can call a TIP volunteer to the scene of any incident, Binninger said.

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