News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Bipartisan support voiced for vaccinations, as one critic stays away
Modern Healthcare

Federal lawmakers Tuesday offered a bipartisan endorsement for the use of vaccines as a safe and effective means of protection against preventable infectious diseases in an effort to alleviate concerns raised in recent years by anti-vaccine parents, even as a major proponent of parent choice was not heard from. “Too many parents are turning away from sound science,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension during a hearing. “Sound science is this – vaccines save lives.”

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GAO Outlook for ICD-10 Raises Questions
HealthLeaders Media

A new federal audit that provides an upbeat assessment of progress towards ICD-10 implementation on Oct. 1 is downplaying some unresolved issues, the Medical Group Management Association says.

In a report requested by the Senate Finance Committee, the Government Accountability Office says the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services “has taken multiple steps to help prepare covered entities for the transition, including developing educational materials and conducting outreach, and the majority of the stakeholders we contacted reported that both of those activities have been helpful to preparing covered entities for the ICD-10 transition.”

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What Causes Breast Cancer? These Families Want To Help Find Out
National Public Radio

At 48, Jenny Singleton got breast cancer. At 66, her mother did, too.

“When my breast cancer was diagnosed, I immediately thought we must have a gene for it,” Jenny Singleton said. “So I was tested and I didn’t have the BRCA gene. And so that’s often left me wondering, well, then why is it that my mom and I both got breast cancer?”

Cancer susceptibility genes are estimated to account for only 5-10 percent of breast cancers overall. Now the Singletons and thousands of other families are part of a study that is looking to see if there is evidence that environmental exposures in the uterus during pregnancy could account for some breast cancers later in life.

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Google plays doctor with answers to your health questions

Have a question about a specific medical condition? You may now be able to find the answers you seek via Google.

Obviously, you’ve always been able to search for health and medical information at Google. But now the search giant will start showing more “relevant medical facts” right off the bat, Google product manager Prem Ramaswami said in a blog post Tuesday. The information appears in the Knowledge Graph side panel alongside Google’s regular search results and allows you to drill down to get specific information on symptoms, treatments and other facts about that condition you’re fretting about.

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A Detailed Analysis of the Republican Alternative to Obamacare
The Health Care Blog

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton along with Senate Finance Chairman Orin Hatch and Senator Richard Burr have outlined what is, at least for now, the Republican alternative to Obamacare. Republicans will now argue they have a better health insurance reform plan and that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced by it––particularly if the Supreme Court plunges the new health law into chaos by throwing the subsidies out in 37 states.

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Study supports affordability of Obamacare for CSU students
Los Angeles Times

As this year’s deadline to sign up for Obamacare fast approaches, California State University officials are trying to show students that buying health insurance makes financial sense.

A new analysis from the CSU Health Insurance Education Project found that half the about 445,000 students in the CSU system are able to purchase health insurance for less than they would have to pay in fines for remaining uncovered.

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Health Insurance Co-ops Detail Growing Pains
HealthLeaders Media

Building a health insurance carrier from scratch is risky business. The rapid financial collapse of CoOportunity Health, an Iowa-based insurance cooperative launched last year, highlights the growing pains being experienced at nearly two dozen federally financed co-ops across the country.

Iowa insurance officials say two factors unraveled CoOportunity’s finances: higher-than-expected utilization costs among the cooperative’s exchange beneficiaries and an accounting switch Congress initiated in December that stripped $81 million from the co-op’s balance sheet.

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Every Californian should explore health care options
Contra Costa Times

Having health coverage is important to keep you and your family healthy. It can protect you from the what-ifs of life and can bring peace of mind in case of sickness or accident. As the new chairman of the California Assembly Health Committee, I want to encourage all Californians to explore all health care options available to them and their families. Going to Covered California is a great first step to see what you qualify for.

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Clock is ticking on Covered CA enrollment
San Diego Union-Tribune

With only a few days left during open enrollment for Covered California, the number of new sign-ups is far below the target goal for the health exchange’s second year of operation.

Covered California officials estimated last year that about 500,000 new people would purchase insurance policies for 2015. As of Feb. 2, the tally was 288,558.

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With more patients insured, county trims HIV medical care spending
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County officials on Tuesday cut back on contracts to provide medical care to AIDS and HIV patients, citing increased numbers of people now insured under the federal healthcare overhaul.

The move to cut $4 million from the contracts, paid for with federal monies, marked the latest clash between the county and the powerful nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation, one of the largest providers of medical services to HIV patients in the region.

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Doctors turning away unvaccinated children
Los Angeles Times

When the mother of an 18-month-old visited Dr. Charles Goodman’s practice last week, he explained that under his new policy, the toddler would have to be immunized to remain a patient.

The mother walked out of his office.

Amid the current measles outbreak, Goodman and a growing number of other pediatricians nationwide are turning away parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.

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Marin School District Considers Endorsing Ban of Vaccine ‘Personal Belief Exemption’
Marin Independent Journal

As first reported on State of Health, the face of the vaccine debate in southern Marin’s small Reed Union School District is Rhett Krawitt. He’s a first grader at Reed Elementary in Tiburon. Rhett was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 2 and went through three years of chemotherapy.

Rhett is in remission now, but cannot yet be vaccinated, for medical reasons. A small percentage of school children statewide — 0.19 percent — have such medical exemptions. They depend on everyone around them being vaccinated to protect them from disease. This community protection is called herd immunity.

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ALS patients fight for right to try drug
San Diego Union-Tribune

They’re the two last ditches of human rights: The right to die and, today’s tense topic, the right to try.

For David Huntley, geology professor emeritus at San Diego State University, the clock is racing to midnight. He wants the chance to live — or die trying. “GM6 gives me more than a 50 percent chance of being alive in 12 months,” he wrote the FDA.

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Travelers’ antibiotics may do more harm than good
Yahoo Finance

People who travel to exotic locales and take along their own antibiotics are more likely to come back colonized with resistant bacteria, according to a new Finnish study.

Many travelers take along antibiotics to treat so-called “traveler’s diarrhea” – and if they have the medications along, they are likely to use them even for minor ailments, according to lead author Dr. Anu Kantele of Helsinki University Central Hospital.

In most cases this is a bad idea, she said.

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This Incredible Hospital Robot Is Saving Lives. Also, I Hate It
Wired News

The robot, I’m told, is on its way. Any minute now you’ll see it. We can track them, you know. There’s quite a few of them, so it’s only a matter of time. Any minute now.

Ah, and here it is.

Far down the hospital hall, double doors part to reveal the automaton. There’s no dramatic fog or lighting—which I jot down as “disappointing”—only a white, rectangular machine about four feet tall. It waits for the doors to fully part, then cautiously begins to roll toward us, going about as fast as a casual walk, emitting a soft beep every so often to let the humans around it know it’s on a very important quest. It’s not traveling on a track. It’s unleashed. It’s free.

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New air ambulance now flying
Chico Enterprise Record

Enloe Medical Center has put its new FlightCare helicopter into flight. Photo from January shows its unveiling at the Chico Air Museum at the Chico airport. The Chico hospital is the first to use an EC130 T2 EcoStar helicopter as an air ambulance. The single-engine aircraft is quieter, despite a more powerful engine, and is retrofitted with the latest aviation safety technology and a spacious cabin with new medical equipment.

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Doctors Medical Center San Pablo needs a philanthropist
San Francisco Chronicle

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are to be commended for their generous $75 million donation to San Francisco General Hospital. The money will go a long way to equip the hospital’s new building, which is scheduled to open in December — a project financed through an $887 million bond measure overwhelmingly passed by San Francisco voters back in 2008.

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UCSF Medical Center at Parnassus and Mount Zion to Expand Care
UCSF Today

As UC San Francisco celebrates the successful opening of UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, there’s excitement also brewing at its other clinical care campuses.

The successful move of 131 patients to Mission Bay is part of a larger vision for maximizing capacity for growth of other programs at the Parnassus and Mount Zion campuses, where UCSF Medical Center will be expanding services in key areas.