News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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The Black Market For Stolen Health Care Data
National Public Radio

President Obama is at Stanford University today, hosting a cybersecurity summit. He and about a thousand guests are trying to figure out how to protect consumers online from hacks and data breaches.

Meanwhile, in the cyber underworld, criminals are trying to figure out how to turn every piece of our digital life into cash. The newest frontier: health records.

I grab a chair and sit down with Greg Virgin, CEO of the security firm RedJack.

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House Members Mull October ICD-10 Launch at Hearing
HealthLeaders Media

The U.S. implementation of the ICD-10 diagnosis coding system has been delayed several times, but members of a House subcommittee seemed to be leaning Wednesday toward making sure the current Oct. 1 deadline sticks. “Many providers and payers, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), have already made considerable investments in the ICD-10 transition, and any further delay will entail additional costs to keep ICD-9 systems current, to re-train employees, and to prepare, again, for the transition,” Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, said in his opening statement at a hearing on the issue.

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Stents: major benefit to stroke patients
Orange County Register

Stroke experts are reporting a major advance: Stents similar to the ones used to open clogged heart arteries also can be used to clear a blood clot in the brain, greatly lowering the risk a patient will end up disabled.

Patients treated with these brain stents were far more likely to be alive and able to live independently three months after their stroke, doctors said Wednesday at an American Stroke Association conference in Nashville.

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Between two mirrors, Obama touts health law sign-up
POLITICO

President Barack Obama made a comic online video — complete with silly faces and several shots with a selfie stick — that reminds Americans that they only have through Sunday to sign up this year for Obamacare.

A BuzzFeed video released Thursday shows the commander-in-chief speaking and checking himself out in front of a mirror, practicing his messaging that people should go to HealthCare.gov by Feb. 15 to get covered.

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You’ll pay a lot more to see the doctor with ‘Obamacare’
KCRA

Obamacare enrollees have to shell out a lot more to see the doctor or get medications than their peers with job-based health insurance. Deductibles, co-payments, and drug payments are higher under the average Obamacare silver-level plans — the most popular — than employer policies, according to a CNNMoney comparison of reports by Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Education Trust.

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Covered California Considering Enrollment ‘Contingency Plans’ Tied to Tax Deadline
KQED Radio

Covered California open enrollment ends this Sunday. Sort of. For starters, the agency announced Thursday that people who start an application by this Sunday get until next Friday, Feb. 20, to finish it. That’s similar to steps that Covered California has taken in the past.

But advocates have long been frustrated with the timing of open enrollment. That’s because of how penalties for lacking insurance are assessed — on your taxes. The tax deadline is not for another two months, April 15.

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Covered California reps take message to O.C.
Orange County Register

Covered California officials made several stops in Orange County this week to remind communities about Sunday’s looming deadline to sign up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

Peter Lee, executive director of the state-run health insurance exchange, visited three locations, including The Greater Light Church in Santa Ana, Orange County Community Clinics in Irvine and Nhan Hoa Comprehensive Health Clinic in Garden Grove.

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California falling 400,000 short of health care sign-up goal
Sacramento Bee

California is falling short of its goal to sign up 1.7 million people for private insurance in the second year of the federal health expansion, but state officials hope to make up much of the difference this weekend.

Sunday is the open enrollment deadline to purchase individual health insurance through Covered California, the state’s exchange established under the Affordable Care Act. About 1.3 million people — 400,000 fewer than the goal — have either signed up for new coverage or started renewing coverage, the state reported Thursday.

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As Covered California Enrollment Winds Down, a Push for HIV Prevention
KQED Radio

You’ve got just three days left to choose a new health plan under Covered California.

Choose carefully — especially if you want to take the only pill approved by the Food and Drug Administration to block HIV.

“Some plans may look appealing because their premiums are low,” Dr. Hyman Scott, who specializes in HIV at San Francisco General Hospital, said he tells patients interested in the drug, Truvada. “But the copays and deductibles, especially for what are often considered specialty drugs, can be really high.”

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Deadline fast approaching for health care coverage
BakersfieldNOW.com

With only three days left before the deadline for health care enrollment, the Kern County Department of Human Services helped uninsured people sign up for coverage Thursday.

A health care coverage fair took place at the Valley Plaza Mall, where about 300 people showed up and a number of insurance providers set up booths to answer questions and help them get enrolled.

“We have all these partners here ready with their laptops to initiate and submit the application for Covered California,” said Pat Perales with Human Services.

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Fraud Case Casts Spotlight On Medicare Advantage Plans
National Public Radio

As privately run Medicare health plans for seniors scramble to stave off proposed funding cuts, federal prosecutors in Florida are pursuing an unusual criminal fraud case that’s likely to raise new concerns that some plans may be overcharging the government.

The criminal case is believed to be among the first to take aim at billing practices of Medicare Advantage plans, which are popular with seniors because out-of-pocket costs are lower and they provide more benefits than traditional Medicare.

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Practice Makes Perfect: Knowledge is power in payer negotiations
Modern Healthcare

In June 2014, the Medical Group Management Association released the results of a questionnaire that ranked members’ most pressing practice management challenges. In this edition of “Practice Makes Perfect,” we’ll tackle No. 9 on that list: negotiating contracts with payers.Payer contracts are deeply woven into many practice processes and are an important component of a financially sound organization. Payer contracts are so important that many MGMA resources and conferences address the topic.

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Court says health workers get second meal break after 12 hours
San Francisco Chronicle

Workers in California are entitled to a 30-minute meal break after five hours, and — if they work really long shifts — to a second meal break when they go over 12 hours. But in 2000 the state’s Industrial Welfare Commission passed rules allowing workers in the health care industry to “waive” the second break — we’re using quotes because the voluntary nature of the waiver is in dispute — for those really long shifts.

Now a state appeals court has ruled that the commission’s action conflicted with state law.

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Anthem data breach poses a big test for its CEO
Los Angeles Times

In unusually blunt terms, the chief executive of Anthem Inc. told investors recently that his company and the health insurance industry rank last in customer service.

That was before the insurance giant disclosed a massive data breach last week affecting as many as 80 million Americans. Now, there’s a lot at stake in how CEO Joseph Swedish handles his first full-blown crisis at the nation’s second-largest health insurer.

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Anthem beefs up identity-theft protections amid criticism
Modern Healthcare

Anthem health plan customers affected by the recent data breach can sign up for two years of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services starting Friday, the insurer told state attorneys general.

Also, Anthem expects to share how many people were actually affected by the hack “before end of week,” spokeswoman Kristin Binns said.

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Tutoring kids in health careers
Manteca Bulletin

Doctors Hospital of Manteca offered a three-hour presentation on the different aspects of the medical facility’s operation to students from Give Every Child a Chance earlier this week.

CEO Nicholas Tejeda opened the session welcoming the some 30 students who filled the conference room in the hospital.

Eddie Gutierrez, an MRI/CT technician, explained his duties to the students. He told them what they had to do to prepare to step into his shoes.

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Are Pediatricians Prepared To Help Patients Who Want IUDs?
National Public Radio

When Wendy Sue Swanson started out as a pediatrician eight years ago, it never crossed her mind to bring up the option of intrauterine devices — an insertable form of long-acting contraception — when she had her regular birth-control discussions with teenage patients who were sexually active.

“The patch had been the thing,” she said, referring to a small, Band-Aid-like plastic patch that transmits hormones through the skin to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

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Molina Healthcare anticipates more profitable 2015
Modern Healthcare

Molina Healthcare is projecting that profit will nearly double in 2015 as more Medicaid revenue flows into the managed-care company’s coffers.

The Long Beach, Calif.-based insurer released its 2015 financial estimates Thursday ahead of its biannual investor day meeting.

Molina expects net income will reach $117 million by the end of this calendar year, which would be a little less than two times the $62.2 million profit recorded in 2014. Earnings per share will be near $2.35, slightly below Wall Street’s prediction but still generally positive, analysts said.

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Daniels appointed CIO at Kaiser
Modern Healthcare

Dick Daniels has been appointed executive VP and CIO of Kaiser Permanente after serving as interim CIO since September.

Daniels, 60, replaced Philip Fasano, who was hired to be executive VP and CIO for insurance giant American International Group. His appointment is effective immediately. Before stepping into the interim role, he served as Kaiser’s senior VP of enterprise shared services and earlier as senior VP of information technology for health plan and hospital operations.

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Foundation nabbed $128 million in funding for new hospital
San Francisco Business Times

The San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, which recently nabbed a $75 million gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan, M.D., has garnered 95 percent of its $135 million goal toward funding San Francisco General’s new inpatient tower, or about $128 million. That tally includes the big gift from Zuckerberg and Chan, announced earlier this month.

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