News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Congress Is Told Ruling Against Health Law Would Impact Poor
New York Times

The Obama administration told Congress on Tuesday that it had no plans to help low- and moderate-income people if the Supreme Court ruled against the administration and cut off health insurance subsidies for millions of Americans.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, said a court decision against the administration would do “massive damage” that could not be undone by executive action.

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Antibiotic overuse targeted by specialty groups as problem persists
Modern Healthcare

The Infectious Diseases Society of America, seeking to rein in the over-prescribing of antibiotics, has published a list of instances in which both physicians and patients should question their use. “Awareness will cause them to think twice,” said Andrés Rodríguez, director of practice and payment policy for the IDSA, whose new list includes four common conditions and one test that often lead to antibiotic prescriptions.

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White House: No quick fix if court kills health subsidies
Modern Healthcare

President Barack Obama’s health secretary told Congress Tuesday that she has no administrative actions available to fix the “massive damage to our healthcare system” that would result should the Supreme Court invalidate federal subsidies that help millions of Americans buy healthcare coverage.

The letter from HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell continued the administration’s tough stance in its building confrontation with Republican lawmakers in advance of an expected Supreme Court decision in June.

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Treasury issues reprieve for health law tax errors
Modern Healthcare

The Treasury Department says it is offering a reprieve for some taxpayers affected by healthcare law errors.

A senior Treasury official told the Associated Press on Tuesday that taxpayers who have already filed returns with errors affecting their healthcare subsidies will not be required to resubmit corrected returns.

That would save time, effort, and any additional tax preparation fees for an estimated 50,000 people who may have already filed returns with erroneous details supplied by another government department.

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Insurers reveal what healthcare providers are paid
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare consumers have a new tool to compare prices using data from some of the largest U.S. health insurers, but comparison shopping will remain a challenge for most. On Wednesday the Health Care Cost Institute, a not-for-profit healthcare research organization, launched the first of two websites conceived to help consumers navigate prices for medical services. The website—named Guroo—allows consumers to search for average prices for 70 services across more than 300 hundred cities, 41 states, coastal California and the District of Columbia.

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CMS Puts the Squeeze on Medicare Advantage Plans
HealthLeaders Media

It’s all part of the plan. Proposed Medicare Advantage payment rates and rules for 2016 released Friday feature an average proposed revenue impact on health plans pegged at -0.95%. When risk-adjusted to reflect costs associated with treating elderly populations, such as chronically ill patients, MA health plans should post modest 1.05% revenue growth in 2016, federal officials say.

In a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon, Sean Cavanaugh, director of the Center for Medicare, said the proposed payment level and rule changes for 2016 represent “stable rate policies” that embrace a drive started last month to boost value-based contracting in Medicare.

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Data-sharing fees: A healthcare reform-killer?

The fees associated with sharing patient data threaten to thwart the $30 billion federal push to move the healthcare industry to electronic records–and it could require Congress to step in to change things, Politico reports.

Though a majority of providers have adopted electronic health record systems, most of that information sits on myriad computer systems offered by competing software companies with little incentive to make them work together.

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Patients, doctors see benefits of sharing medical records
Yahoo! News

When Stacey Whiteman was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years ago, she didn’t realize the toughest challenge would be its impact on her brain. The 53-year-old from Massachusetts was forced to quit work as an executive assistant after becoming easily confused and prone to forget, even about priorities like doctor appointments.

When her physician suggested OpenNotes, an electronic portal allowing patients full access to their medical records, including doctors’ notes, Whiteman was eager to log on.

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Value-Based Care Fuels Drive to Make Deals
HealthLeaders Media

The effect of the push and pull of healthcare reform is manifested in the industry’s continuing appetite for consolidation and partnerships. Ultimately, because providing care is very much a provider-patient activity, the infrastructure for care delivery has a local flavor, which means that, compared to other industries, the healthcare industry can be characterized as fragmented. However, the drive toward delivering value-based care provides compelling motivations for healthcare organizations to join forces, creating an active environment of mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships (MAPs).

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Anthem: Hacked Database Included 78.8 Million People
The Wall Street Journal

Health insurer Anthem Inc. said the database that was penetrated in a previously disclosed hacker attack included personal information for 78.8 million people, including 60 million to 70 million of its own current and former customers and employees.

The figures, provided by an Anthem spokeswoman, provide extra detail beyond what Anthem disclosed earlier this month, which was that the compromised database included records for around 80 million people.

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Anthem breach costs could surpass its insurance coverage
Modern Healthcare

Insurer Anthem Tuesday acknowledged in a new financial filing that its recent data breach involving 80 million people could result in “significant” expenses that its cybersecurity insurance policy may not fully cover.

Some observers were quick to note the disclosure was likely done as a defensive measure by Anthem, trying to alert investors to any and all possible outcomes from the breach to preclude future lawsuits for failing to disclose key financial information. The disclosure was in the company’s annual 10-K report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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TVHD affiliation: Updated agenda shows Adventist, Dignity respond
Tehachapi News

Two large healthcare systems responded to Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District’s request for affiliations, according to an updated agenda report sent out on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 24.

Both Advenist Health and Diginity Health repsonded to the affiliation RFP.

Adventist operates San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield. Dignity operates Bakersfield Mercy Hospital.

TVHD moved forward with the affiliation process in a bid to secure a method to complete its new hospital project in Capital Hills.

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Kaiser mental health services improve, but more needs to be done, agency finds
The Mercury News

Kaiser Permanente has made it easier for patients seeking mental health care to get appointments, but it still is not meeting all their needs, a new state report finds in a follow-up to a highly critical 2013 report that resulted in a multimillion-dollar fine.

Some patients are still having to wait too long to be seen, and some are being given inaccurate and misleading information about their plans’ mental health coverage, according to a state Department of Managed Health Care report released Tuesday.

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Washington Hospital begins construction of $339 million project
San Francisco Business Times

Washington Hospital in Fremont is breaking ground today on its $339 million Morris Hyman Critical Care Pavilion, roughly a year and a half after it planned to begin the huge project.

The big project is now expected to be completed by 2018, roughly two years later than earlier estimates, after larger-than-anticipated construction bids sent the hospital and the Washington Township Health Care District, which runs it, back to the drawing board.

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Encino Hospital Opening Geriatric ER
San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Encino Hospital Medical Center plans to unveil the first Geriatric Emergency Room, or “senior ER,” in Southern California on Wednesday.

The facility will include both a senior ER and a Geriatric Inpatient Center, both designed to provide care for the Valley’s growing elder population.

Rooms will feature non-skid floors, handrails and thicker-than-normal mattresses to accommodate elder needs.