News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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Doctors say data fees are blocking health reform
POLITICO

As they move to exchange patient information with hospitals and other health care partners, doctors are suffering sticker shock: The vendors of the health care software want thousands of dollars to unlock the data so they can be shared. It may take an act of Congress to provide relief.

The fees are thwarting the goals of the $30 billion federal push to get doctors and hospitals to digitize health records. The exorbitant prices to transmit and receive data, providers and IT specialists say, can amount to billions a year. And the electronic health record industry is increasingly reliant on this revenue.

The goal of the 2009 program wasn’t just to move doctors from paper chart to computer. It was also to share the information, improve the quality of patient care and ultimately bring down U.S. health care costs.

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Health Care Reform Tax Error Affects 800,000 People
Live Insurance News

Among the Americans who have enrolled in the insurance policies required by the health care reform, through the HealthCare.gov federal website, have received incorrect tax information from the government and are being advised to wait a while before filing their tax returns, to give the government time to correct the error.

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What Do Women Know About Obamacare That Men Don’t?
The Health Care Blog

For the second year running, more women than men have signed up for coverage in health insurance marketplaces during open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, enrollment ran 56 percent female, 44 percent male, during last year’s open enrollment season; preliminary data from this year shows enrollment at 55 percent female, 45 percent male – a 10 percentage point difference.

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Covered California extends enrollment deadline
Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California will allow consumers to apply for health coverage from Feb. 23 to April 30 if they claim to have been unaware of the new tax penalty for foregoing insurance, the health benefit exchange announced Friday.

Covered California announced its special enrollment period following news this week that the exchange fell about 300,000 signups short of its 1.7 million person goal. The original open enrollment period went from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15.

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Governors: No clear plan if healthcare subsidies fall
Modern Healthcare

Millions of people could lose health insurance subsidies in the coming months if the U.S. Supreme Court sides with opponents of President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

And one thing was clear this weekend as the nation’s governors gathered in Washington: Many of the states that could be affected are not prepared for the potential fallout.

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New CMS rules boost consumer protections in exchange plans
Modern Healthcare

The CMS Friday issued final market rules for 2016 for the state and federal insurance exchanges. The regulations include stronger requirements for insurers to provide accessible, reliable information about provider networks and drug formularies so that exchange customers can make informed choices.

CMS is working to improve the consumer experience and promote accountability, uniformity and transparency in private health insurance,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a written statement. Tavenner is stepping down from the agency’s top post later this month.

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CMS pitches 1.1% boost to Medicare Advantage payments
Modern Healthcare

The CMS has proposed increasing health insurers’ Medicare Advantage payment rates by 1.05% for 2016, a move that kicks off a 45-day dogfight in Washington before the rates are cemented.

The base rate was an 0.95% average decrease, but “when combined with expected growth in plan risk scores due to coding,” Advantage plans will actually receive the 1.05% hike in revenue next year, according to a release from the CMS posted late Friday afternoon.Risk scores relate to how Medicare pays for the health status of beneficiaries. CMS pays more for patients who have more health conditions and less for those who are healthier.

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Scripps revenue boosted by revived provider fee program
Modern Healthcare

Scripps Health, a four-hospital system based in San Diego, booked higher revenue in the first quarter of its fiscal year as the state was able to resume a program that directs extra payments to hospitals that treat large numbers of Medicaid patients.The system also faced higher costs, however, not only because of the program but also because of rising salary and benefit costs and higher depreciation expenses for two new buildings.

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CA bill to require defibrillators in new buildings
San Diego Union-Tribune

Most new buildings in California with an occupancy greater than 200 people would be required to stock electronic devices used to stop cardiac arrest under a new bill.

Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, planned to introduce the bill, SB 287, during a news conference today in San Diego. It would require automated electronic defibrillators be present in structures built after Jan. 1, 2016. Cities, including San Diego, have already passed similar laws for new buildings.

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SD hospitals cautiously confident in superbug fight
San Diego Union-Tribune

News in recent days of a deadly bacterial outbreak at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center has gotten health providers nationwide, including those in San Diego County, thinking about their sterilization practices.

Local hospitals and health systems told U-T San Diego that they are confident in the methods they use to sterilize medical scopes, which help diagnose and treat diseases of the liver, bile ducts and pancreas.

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Court: New California law could threaten rehab program
Orange County Register

Sarah Jenkins once called her mother from the streets, drug addled, lost and wondering how people go about their days like nothing’s wrong, how they lead normal lives.

“I remember honestly not understanding how they did it without the use of drugs,” 24-year-old Jenkins said, recalling her young life, marred by a heroin addiction that began at 15 and pushed her to the point where she didn’t think she’d ever climb out.

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Lots Of Seniors Are Overweight, But Few Use Free Counseling For It
National Public Radio

Anne Roberson walks a quarter mile down the road each day to her mailbox in the farming town of Exeter, deep in California’s Central Valley. Her daily walk and housekeeping chores are her only exercise, and her weight has remained stubbornly over 200 pounds for some time now. Roberson is 68 years old, and she says it gets harder to lose weight as you get older: “You get to a certain point in your life and you say, ‘What’s the use?’ “

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New Hospital Buildings Define Future Of Health Care
National Public Radio

Across the country, the health care industry is pouring billions of dollars into new hospitals and medical centers. And the new hospitals of today are very different than the ones they’re replacing.

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What to do after Anthem security breach
Redding Record Searchlight

The security breach at Anthem Blue Cross can be a very disturbing issue since our insurance companies have so much data about us. Even though the current enrollment process doesn’t require a lot of health history, the simple fact is that the application contains enough data to begin an identity theft. Further our claims information includes much of our medical history and treatment data. So this is all rather unsettling.

I am also insured by Anthem as my husband is a teacher and our benefits under the Central Valley Trust are provided through Anthem.

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Why Anthem Was Wrong Not to Encrypt
The Health Care Blog

Being provocative isn’t always helpful. Such is the case with Fred Trotter’s recent headline ‒ Why Anthem Was Right Not To Encrypt.

His argument that encryption wasn’t to blame for the largest healthcare data breach in U.S. history is technically correct, but lost in that technical argument is the fact that healthcare organizations are notably lax in their overall security profile. I found this out firsthand last year when I logged onto the network of a 300+ bed hospital about 2,000 miles away from my home office in Phoenix. I used a chrome browser and a single malicious IP address that was provided by Norse. I wrote about the details of that here ‒ Just How Secure Are IT Network In Healthcare? Spoiler‒alert, the answer to that question is not very.

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Prime wins conditional approval for Daughters takeover
Modern Healthcare

California Attorney General Kamala Harris gave the green light to Prime Healthcare Services’ $843 million takeover of six-hospital Daughters of Charity Health System but added what she described as “strong conditions” to preserve access to community health services.

The conditions require Prime to continue operating four Daughters’ facilities as acute-care hospitals with emergency services over the next 10 years. Prime also would have to continue to participate in the state’s Medi-Cal program and maintain charity-care benefits at their historical levels. And the hospitals must provide “essential health services,” including reproductive healthcare services.

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