News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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HHS auditors release HIPAA audit protocol
Modern Healthcare

The Office for Civil Rights at HHS has published what it describes as “a comprehensive audit protocol” containing the requirements that will be assessed when it conducts privacy and security compliance audits as outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The act, also known as the stimulus law, mandated that HHS “provide for periodic audits” to ensure that covered entities and their business associates as defined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 are in compliance with the latter law’s privacy and security provisions.

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Estimates say 22 million could gain coverage if all states go along with reform-law expansions
Modern Healthcare

An additional 22 million people could gain coverage under the federal healthcare overhaul if all states implement its enrollment expansions, according to estimates from the Urban Institute. The expansion projections, drawn from estimates of the 2010 American Community Survey, stem from the law’s provision that expanded Medicaid eligibility to all people with incomes of up to 138% of the federal poverty level.

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Study: Double-checking patient ID cuts CPOE errors
Modern Healthcare

Having computerized physician order-entry systems in place doesn’t eliminate the risk of wrong-patient orders, but interventions that require providers to double-check their work can greatly reduce the likelihood that such errors will occur, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. Led by Dr. Jason Adelman, an assistant professor in the department of medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, the authors first evaluated a tool for measuring wrong-patient orders that occur with CPOE systems.

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Joint Commission seeks input on medical-home program
Modern Healthcare

As it gears up to expand its optional medical-home certification to include hospitals, the Joint Commission is asking for input from the field on how best to tailor the program. First launched in 2011, the Joint Commission’s Primary Care Medical Home Program is an ambulatory-care certification that assesses care coordination, patient self-management, the provision of patient-centered care and the use of health information technology systems, such as electronic prescribing.

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Auburn, Woodland hospitals tie for best safety record in state
Sacramento Business Journal

Two small hospitals in the Sacramento region — Sutter Auburn Faith and Woodland Memorial — tied with a heart hospital in Bakersfield for the best safety record in California, according to a study by Consumer Reports. The three hospitals earned a safety score of 68, among the highest in the nation. The top score was 72 by a clinic in Billings, Mont., according to new ratings by the consumer product-testing organization.

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HHS auditors find possible excess Medicare payments for hospice beneficiaries’ drugs
Modern Healthcare

The Medicare program could be paying multiple times for prescription drugs for hospice beneficiaries, a new federal report suggests.

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Medicaid Expansion Now in States’ Hands
Health Leaders Media

Hospitals are facing a showdown with state officials over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the expansion of Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Last week the court ruled that states couldn’t be coerced into agreeing to the expansion, which would have added an estimated 17 million to the Medicaid rolls. Instead, states may simply decide not to participate in the expansion, which is 100% financed with federal funds for the first three years and then 90% covered for the next seven.

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Supreme Court ruling impacts county’s healthcare agency
Camarillo Acorn

Ventura County healthcare officials estimate 50,000 county residents will become eligible for state-sponsored healthcare coverage after last week’s Supreme Court ruling upholding President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act of 2010.

The June 28 ruling declared Obama’s signature healthcare reform law constitutional and added that individual states could decide whether they want to participate in the optional expansion of Medicaid—the federal health insurance program for no- or low-income residents.

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Nation divided over health care, or is it bridge to unity?
Ventura County Star

To the union man in the Raiders jersey who has made his living by cutting meat for some 30 years, “us” means working-class people.

On the other side are “them.” They’re the people without jobs, living off the government dime and, in his mind, gaming the system.

“It’s always us and them,” said Bobby Marin, of Thousand Oaks, two hours before fireworks Wednesday night, complaining that the people without jobs seem to do as well as he does working as a grocery store butcher.

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Health care for all; California Nurses Association tour makes stop in Santa Cruz
The Mercury News

The California Nurses Association Tour stopped in Santa Cruz Thursday, offering free medical screenings to residents and downtown passers-by at the Louden Nelson Community Center. Volunteer nurses, dressed in red medical outfits matching the color of the tour’s coach, were distributing fliers downtown, inviting people to get a free blood pressure screening and a blood sugar test. Santa Cruz was the 12th stop on the California Nurses Association Tour.

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FDA targets unapproved drugs containing oxycodone
Modern Healthcare

Companies that manufacture and distribute certain unapproved drugs containing the pain reliever oxycodone will have 45 days to stop making those products and 90 days to stop shipping them, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday.

The FDA’s notice in the Federal Register said the agency would take enforcement action against all unapproved, single-ingredient, immediate-release products containing oxycodone that are taken orally—including tablets, capsules and oral solutions—and are labeled for human use.

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Kaiser Permanente names Dr. Tracy Lieu as head of 613-staffer Northern California Research Division
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California-based Division of Research has a new director, Dr. Tracy Lieu. Lieu, most recently a professor and center director at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute’s Department of Population Medicine and Harvard Medical School, is the research division’s fifth director in its 50-year history. She started July 2 at the Oakland-based unit.

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Hospital faces brave new world
North County Times

Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar marks its 25th anniversary this year. When it opened its doors back in 1987, it served a population in Southwest Riverside County of no more than 100,000, a fifth of what it is today.

The question is whether Inland Valley will be viable another 25 years from now, what with the troubles faced in recent years by Southwest Healthcare System, the umbrella for both Inland Valley and Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta.

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Alameda County already improving access to health care
Inside Bay Area

With the recent Supreme Court ruling largely upholding the Affordable Care Act, the legal battle over health care reform may be over, but the political debate is only getting started this election year. Despite the contentious politics surrounding health care reform, everyone agrees that the country’s health care system is too expensive and leaves too many people falling through the cracks — getting sick, dying earlier and going bankrupt for lack of access to medical care and insurance.

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Why States Won’t Opt Out of Medicaid Expansion
The Health Care Blog

I’m reading a lot of articles, and seeing lots of tweets, that detail a running total of governors threatening to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. First of all, those are threats. They are very different than actual action. It’s also in the best interests of states to take this position as a negotiating tactic. In the end, though, I think it will be very hard for states to opt out. Here are some of the reasons why:

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