News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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HHS auditors find possible excess Medicare payments for hospice beneficiaries’ drugs
Modern Healthcare

The Medicare program could be paying multiple times for prescription drugs for hospice beneficiaries, a new federal report suggests. HHS‘ inspector general’s office conducted a nationwide review of prescription drugs for hospice beneficiaries between January and December 2009 and found that Medicare Part D paid for a variety of prescription medications—including analgesic, anti-nausea, laxative and anti-anxiety drugs and drugs to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—that should have been covered under the per diem payments made to hospice organizations under Medicare Part A.

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Assessing Ambulatory Service Centers
Health Leaders Media

In just a few months, a patient may walk into an ambulatory surgery center, pull up the organization’s quality metrics on his or her smartphone, and walk right back out. That’s because starting on October 1, 2012, a new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rule created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will require any Medicare-eligible ASC to submit reports on five quality measures or face a 2% payment reduction.

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State cuts hurt child medical program
Visialia Times-Delta

Physician assistant Alisia Lee put two brothers on the same examination table, moving from one boy to the next, listening to their hearts and lungs with a stethoscope Tuesday at Family HealthCare Network in Goshen. The boys, Alvaro, 7, and Enrique Lopez, 4, were brought in for their annual examination by their mother, Angela Rodriguez of Goshen. They are covered under Healthy Families, a state-sponsored low-cost insurance program for children, teens and pregnant mothers. Rodriguez said she paid $10 per child for the medical appointment.

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Consumer Reports releases hospital safety ratings
Modern Healthcare

Consumer Reports has released individualized safety ratings for more than 1,100 hospitals, becoming just the latest organization to issue facility-specific marks based on measures such as readmissions, medication safety and healthcare-associated infections. Hospitals–1,159 in 44 states-–-were scored on a 100-point scale. More than half of hospitals received an overall safety score below 50%, Consumer Reports said in a news release.

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Doctors sue Aetna for out-of-network denials
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Thousands of California doctors are suing Aetna, alleging the health insurer denies patients access to out-of-network physicians. In a release Tuesday, the California Medical Association said it has teamed with the Los Angeles County Medical association and health care organizations to file the suit.

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No One Dies Alone program offers comfort to the end
Los Angeles Times

Barbara Farkas is certain about what happens after death. It is the end, she says; there is no heaven, no hell, no journey that lies ahead. Her conviction hasn’t changed, no matter how many times she has sat with the dying.

Holding Taylor Hall’s hand, she could tell he would be around for a while. She felt his grip and looked into his bright blue eyes. He was getting a fairly light dosage of morphine, at least for now, she thought.

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Consumer Reports Rates Hospital Safety
Health Leaders Media

The spotlight on hospital-caused patient harm has become a bit brighter with the launch of Consumer Reports’ hospital safety ratings, which uses several different measures than the Leapfrog Group’s recent and controversial hospital letter grades, and reaches opposite conclusions about many facilities.

The CU rating system, featured in the magazine’s August issue, rates hospitals in six categories:

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FDA approves first rapid, take home HIV test
USA Today

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first over-the-counter HIV test, allowing Americans to test themselves for the virus that causes AIDS in the privacy of their homes. The OraQuick test detects the presence of HIV in saliva collected using a mouth swab. The test is designed to return a result within 20 to 40 minutes. Government officials estimate one-fifth, or about 240,000 people, of the 1.2 million HIV carriers in the U.S. are not aware they are infected.

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State nurses group to host town-hall forum in San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo Tribune

Representatives of one of the nation’s leading nurses unions will be in San Luis Obispo on Friday to discuss the recent Supreme Court ruling on health care and the need to ensure Medicare coverage into the future. Free health screenings will start at 3 p.m. at the Ludwick Community Center, 864 Santa Rosa St. A town hall meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and continue to 8.

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Stanford researchers move fetal genome testing ahead
San Francisco Chronicle

In a discovery that widens a lens into lives not yet lived, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have for the first time determined an unborn child’s genome with nothing but a blood sample from the mother.

This new approach to genetic testing, the scientists say, could expand families’ ability to screen for potential disorders in fetuses without the risk of miscarriage that comes with conventional tests. In a few years, the testing could be part of a routine trip to the doctor.

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New state law calls for autism coverage
Orange County Register

A new state law took effect July 1 that requires insurance companies to pay for autism treatment, in what regulators describe as a reconfirmation of existing law. Lisa Ackerman, founder of Irvine-based Talk About Curing Autism or TACA, said the law, known as SB 946, builds upon the Mental Health Parity Law, which took effect in 2000.

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RV makes dental care fun and free
HealthyCal.org

Transportation is a big barrier to better health care in rural areas, says James Genobaga, DDS, Yuba County’s self-styled “dentist on a van.” Genobaga works on the Happy Tooth Mobile, which puts dental care on wheels to reach underserved populations. The Mobile, an RV outfitted with all of the typical equipment of a dentist’s office, travels to five public schools in Yuba County, stopping at each site for four to six weeks.

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SVMHS will act with care
The Californian - Salinas

The news that Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System and Hospital Corporation of America will not continue to explore possible affiliation further defines the strategic planning process under way at SVMHS. As president of the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System board of directors, I have always viewed affiliation as an option to pursue only if we were certain it would benefit our community, and only if we could find the right partner.

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Climbing the Medicaid Mountain
The Health Care Blog

The Affordable Care Act envisions a major expansion of health insurance in America, with some 30 million Americans gaining coverage. That figure includes some 17 million people with low incomes who were to get health insurance via an expansion of Medicaid eligibility. With eligibility raised—from 100 percent of the poverty level to 133 percent—many states will enlarge their Medicaid rolls and pay for it with federal funds, at least for a few years.

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