News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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FDA issues endoscope warning following superbug outbreak
Modern Healthcare

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a general warning to health providers regarding the use of medical endoscopes for complex endoscopic procedures such as the one that led to seven people becoming infected with a superbug bacteria at a Los Angeles hospital. Two of those patients died. The complex design of endoscopes used in endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, also known as duodenoscopes, might impede the ability to effectively “clean, disinfect and sterilize reusable devices,” stated the warning, posted on the agency’s website Thursday.

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Cancer Documentary Project Draws Widespread Support
HealthLeaders Media

The oncology “community” is apparently jumping at the chance to show support for documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’ latest PBS project — a 6-hour film examining the history of cancer.

Genentech, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Siemens, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, the American Cancer Society, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the American Association for Cancer Research — have either helped bankroll or support the production and/or the publicity effort around the film, titled “Cancer: the Emperor of All Maladies.”

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Potentially life-threatening issue prompts recall of 12,000-plus MRI devices
Modern Healthcare

The FDA has issued a Class I recall on more than 12,000 General Electric MRI systems because of a potentially life-threatening, nonfunctioning part of the devices. Class I is the FDA’s most serious designation for recalls, indicating severe injury or death could occur as the result of issues with a product. The recall covers numerous GE MRI brands, including Signa and Discovery. The 12,968 devices affected by the recall include 5,708 in the U.S. and 7,260 in other countries. GE had discovered that the magnet rundown units on its imaging devices may not be properly connected.

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Number of Latino doctors isn’t keeping pace with population, study says
Los Angeles Times

Every day, chronically ill Latino patients stream into Harbor-UCLA Medical Center’s family medicine clinic.

Some have neglected their health because they’re flummoxed or alienated by the medical system, Dr. Gloria Sanchez believes — in desperate need of care from providers who understand their words and their problems. “Latino physicians tend to be that bridge, this critical piece of healthcare communication,” she said.

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IRS delays ACA penalties on health reimbursement arrangements
Modern Healthcare

The Internal Revenue Service is delaying fines on small businesses that provide tax-free premium assistance to their workers to purchase insurance through the individual market. Those arrangements–known as health reimbursement arrangements (HRA)–don’t meet the coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

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Special enrollment for HealthCare.gov kicks off March 15
Modern Healthcare

A special enrollment period will begin March 15 and end April 30 to help consumers avoid tax penalties for not obtaining health insurance coverage this year, Andrew Slavitt, principal deputy administrator at CMS, said during a news briefing Friday.To qualify for the exemption, people will need to self-attest that they had to pay a penalty for not having coverage in 2014, they cannot be currently enrolled in a plan on Healthcare.gov, and claim that they only found out they were going to have to pay a tax penalty when they filed their income tax forms.

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Obama administration delays another health care rule for small businesses
Washington Post

One of these days, employers will experience the full effects of Obamacare — but not yet.

In the latest in a long string of delays in enforcing the rules under the health care overhaul, the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department announced on Wednesday that they will wait until summer to start enforcing financial penalties on small businesses that provide so-called Health Reimbursement Arrangements to their employees.

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California’s Obamacare exchange missed its enrollment goal — here’s how it hurts its bottom line
Sacramento Business Journal

Running a statewide health benefits exchange, it turns out, is tougher than anticipated, even in a bluer-than-blue state like California.

Covered California, the state’s Obamacare exchange, has signed up far fewer people in 2015’s open enrollment period than it projected in the summer of 2014, when it expected the tally to be 1.8 million by now.

Instead, the current tally is reportedly about 1.4 million, a number that could drop further if some folks don’t complete the enrollment process or pay their initial premiums.

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Why California’s Superbug Outbreak Isn’t As Scary As It Seems
National Public Radio

News reports are describing a “nightmare superbug” killing people in California. But scientists who study infectious diseases say the risk from this outbreak doesn’t live up to the alarming headlines.

“It’s not something that is likely to spread around the community or is a cause for alarm,” says David Perlin, an infectious disease scientist and executive director of the Public Health Research Institute at Rutgers.

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Measles outbreak: California bill would end all vaccination loopholes except medical
Contra Costa Times

In a move that could give California one of the nation’s toughest vaccine laws, two state senators Thursday introduced legislation that would eliminate most exemptions that allow parents to avoid requirements to vaccinate their children.

If enacted, California would join only two other states — Mississippi and West Virginia — that permit only medical exemptions as legitimate reasons to sidestep vaccinations.

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Managing Obesity Starts with Patient Engagement
HealthLeaders Media

With more than one-third of Americans suffering from obesity, clinicians are struggling to find the key to help these patients get and stay healthy. But a new report suggests that cultural changes in healthcare and properly educating clinicians about obesity might be the secret weapon to engaging these patients.

“Many health professionals view people with obesity as lazy or lacking in willpower,” says William H. Dietz, MD, PhD, and director of the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

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A Biological Quest Leads To A New Kind Of Breast Cancer Drug
National Public Radio

Each year, the Food and Drug Administration approves dozens of drugs, but often those medicines don’t make a huge difference to people with disease. That’s because these “new” drugs are often very much like existing medicines — or are, in fact, existing medicines, approved for a slightly different purpose.

But every now and then the FDA approves a truly new drug. And that’s the story of Pfizer’s palbociclib, brand name Ibrance, which the agency approved for the treatment of a common form of advanced breast cancer.

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Humana Discloses Widening Justice Dept. Probe Of Medicare Advantage Plans
National Public Radio

Humana, Inc. faces new scrutiny from the Justice Department over allegations it has overcharged the government by claiming some elderly patients enrolled in its popular Medicare plans are sicker than they actually are.

The Louisville, Ky.-based insurer disclosed the Justice Department’s recent civil “information request” in an annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Feb. 18. The company noted that it is cooperating with authorities.

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