News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Limits Exist for Healthcare Consolidation, Federal Court Affirms
HealthLeaders Media

Consolidation has been a mantra and a movement in the healthcare sector for years, but that doesn’t mean the federal government won’t step in to block monopolies formed with the intent of improving care delivery.

That was demonstrated this month when the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals upheld an Idaho federal district court ruling that negated the 2012 acquisition of Nampa, ID-based Saltzer Medical Group by St. Luke’s Health Systems, Ltd.

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Democrats seek relief from health law penalties
San Francisco Chronicle

The official sign-up season for President Barack Obama’s health care law may be over, but leading congressional Democrats say millions of Americans facing new tax penalties deserve a second chance. Three senior House members strongly urged the administration Monday to grant a special sign-up opportunity for uninsured taxpayers who will be facing fines under the law for the first time this year. The three are Michigan’s Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas.

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Healthcare’s Reform Pareto Trap
The Health Care Blog

It is reassuring that in a country which produced HL Mencken, Homer Simpson and Mark Twain, reports of death of satire have been grossly exaggerated.

Recently, the faculty at Harvard were up in arms because their new health plan involves copayments and deductibles. With ninety cents to the dollar covered, the plan is generous by national standards, and would be rated “platinum” in Obamacare’s exchanges. It’s not as if the professors were placed on Medicaid to show solidarity with the poor.

Increased out-of-pocket contribution is the trend post health care reform. That same reform which many Harvard professors supported and some designed. This is why their revolt, an Orwellian political satire, has spread schadenfreude amongst conservatives who are enjoying Gore Vidal’s favorite words in the English Language: “I told you so.”

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Sign-up deadline extended for consumers hit with long wait times, glitches
Modern Healthcare

Federal health officials are granting a special enrollment period for consumers who unsuccessfully tried to buy health insurance before Sunday’s deadline and were sidelined by long wait times or computer glitches.

Some consumers who tried to pick a health plan through HealthCare.gov or its call centers were unable to complete their application because of the high volume of callers or technical problems with income verification.

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Figuring Out If A Doctor Is In Your Network Is Harder Than You Think
Ventura County Star

“Is this doctor in my insurance network?” is part of the litany of questions many people routinely ask when considering whether to see a particular doctor. Unfortunately, in some cases the answer may not be a simple yes or no.

That’s what Hannah Morgan learned when her husband needed surgery last fall to remove his appendix. When they met with the surgeon at the hospital emergency department near their Lexington, Ky., home, Morgan asked whether he was in the provider network for her husband’s individual policy, which he bought on the Kentucky health insurance exchange.

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Intelligence Report Slideshow—The M&A and Partnership Mega-Trend
HealthLeaders Media

With baby boomers rapidly entering the Medicare system and changes in employer-provided healthcare coverage, the role of commercial insurance and government payers as well as the marketplace itself is being transformed by both public and private health insurance exchanges.

To lower insurance costs to the purchasing public, higher deductibles and narrow networks are among the elements of plans being offered. Thus, consumers are beginning to focus on price, availability of services, and clinical reputation, thereby increasing competition among providers.

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Doctors and health experts join non-profit to educate community on obesity, free of charge
KERO

Kern County is known as one of the most obese counties in California and with that comes even more health concerns for many. Now, local doctors and health experts are getting involved in an up-and-coming organization to educate the community on health and wellness to fight obesity. Local therapy and fitness expert, Tim Terrio, believes a big problem is the lack of education.

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Santa Rosa wellness center takes over cardiac rehab program
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The Northern California Center for Well Being, a Santa Rosa-based health and wellness center, has taken over ownership and operation of a cardiac rehabilitation program that is key to heart surgery programs at both Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

The move is part of the growing trend toward health care integration and pools economic and professional resources from the nonprofit center, the two hospitals and the Northern California Medical Associates.

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Palm Drive Hospital seeks to re-open doors in April
North Bay Business Journal

Palm Drive Hospital is hoping to open its doors again this spring under a new name to again serve as west Sonoma County’s only hospital, and, it hopes, to draw patients from other regions as well. Palm Drive closed April 28, 2014, amidst two bankruptcies filed in the last seven years, declines in overnight patients, reduced payments from insurance companies and competition from nearby hospitals. Santa Rosa, Sebastopol’s neighboring city eight miles to the east, is home to large medical centers including a new $284 million Sutter Medical Center, St. Joseph Health, and Kaiser Permanente.

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Hospital sets two ‘aches and pains’ clinics
Sonoma Index-Tribune

Sonoma Valley Hospital is offering two more sessions of its popular “Aches and Pains” clinics in March. There is no charge for Sonoma Valley residents, but pre-registration is required. The clinic will address the aches and pains most people develop over time. Each clinic will focus on one of the two most common forms of discomfort – pains located in the neck and shoulder area, and pains in the hip and lower back.

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Petaluma a healthy role model
North Bay Business Journal

The Petaluma Health Care District has drawn the attention and praise of a top California health official for its community programs.

“This is a model for other communities,” said California Department of Health Care Services Chief Medical Officer Dr. Neal Kohatsu, who was impressed with what he saw during a daylong site visit to Petaluma. “They’ve done good work developing their health care system, with quality strategies fostering a healthy community. Great work all around.”

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