News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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Medical debt woes decline for families eligible for insurance subsidies
Modern Healthcare

Families who qualified for the most financial aid reported the largest drop in trouble paying medical bills during the first six months of subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. According to the results of the a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28% of Americans younger than age 65 in near-poor families (those with incomes between 100% and 200% of federal poverty thresholds) reported their family struggled to pay medical bills during the prior year.

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Health insurance actuaries want leeway to change rates if Supreme Court kills subsidies
Modern Healthcare

Health insurance actuaries are pushing HHS to allow plans to revise their rates for 2016 coverage if the U.S. Supreme Court invalidates the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies in federally run exchanges.

They warn that without leeway to adjust premiums in health plans sold in those marketplaces, the solvency of some insurers “could be threatened.”

Rate filings for 2016 federal exchange plans are due May 15. But the King v. Burwell case, which is being argued next week, likely won’t be decided until June. That means insurers will be submitting final 2016 premiums as if the subsidies still exist even though those subsidies could vanish after the fact.

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CMS extends meaningful-use deadline, this time for providers
Modern Healthcare

The CMS, in another show of flexibility on the meaningful-use program, extended the attestation deadline until March 20. That gives eligible providers more time to demonstrate that they have fulfilled the requirements set forth by the electronic health-record incentive program and so avoid payment penalties. The previous deadline for attestation was Feb. 28. The extension is “not necessarily a surprise,” said Jeff Smith, vice president of public policy at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives.

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Claim submitters not quite ready for ICD-10 prime time, experts warn
Modern Healthcare

The first round of ICD-10 end-to-end testing yielded positive results for the CMS‘ claims-handling but a mixed picture for how providers and others are doing in properly submitting claims.

Providers and others have their work cut out for them to be ready for the Oct. 1 implementation of the new diagnostic and procedural coding system, experts warned.

The testing, conducted between Jan. 26 and Feb. 3, “demonstrated that CMS systems are ready to accept ICD-10 claims,” the CMS said in a statement announcing the results.

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Two patients sickened by superbug in Los Angeles sue device maker
Yahoo! News

Attorneys for two patients who were infected with a drug-resistant bacterial “superbug” during medical procedures in a Los Angeles hospital, one of whom died, have sued the maker of the devices used in their care. Aaron Young, an 18-year-old high school student who remains under monitoring at a hospital fighting the severe infection, and the family of Antonia Cerda sued Olympus Corp, which manufactured the specialized scopes used during the outbreak at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

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Parents lobby California lawmakers from both sides of vaccine debate
Sacramento Bee

A bill to require vaccinations for more California kids has not even been scheduled for a committee hearing, but advocates on both sides of the issue were lobbying lawmakers in the Capitol on Wednesday – carrying petitions, hoisting signs and dragging along small children.

Hannah Henry, a Web designer from Napa with two children in tow, delivered a box containing more than 20,000 signatures on a petition from the left-wing MoveOn group. The petition calls on lawmakers to make vaccines mandatory for schoolchildren, except for limited medical exemptions, and eliminate the ability for parents to opt out of vaccines based on their personal beliefs.

Henry delivered the box to state Sens. Richard Pan and Ben Allen, two Democrats who are carrying Senate Bill 277 to eliminate the “personal belief” vaccine exemption.

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Drug Companies Would Have to Disclose Profits, Production Costs, Under New Bill
capital public radio

Democratic Assemblymember David Chiu’s bill would require that production costs associated with medications priced more than $10,000 a year be reported to the State of California. He says drug prices are too high.

“Impacting the overall cost of delivering health care, threatening the long term success of health care for all, and putting enormous cost pressures on state and local governments,” says Chiu.

But University of Southern California pharmaceutical economics professor Jeff McCombs says the bill is a first step towards government regulation of drug pricing. And that would stifle innovation that could cure disease.

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Improving antibiotic use can address one major cause of infections
Modern Healthcare

The continued overuse of antibiotics is associated with a majority of the nearly half million cases of Clostridium difficile infection that occurred in 2011, which in turn were linked to an estimated 29,000 deaths, federal health officials said Wednesday. “C. difficile infections cause immense suffering and death for thousands of Americans each year,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden in a released statement.

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Private exchange eHealth posts losses for Q4, all of 2014
Modern Healthcare

Private health insurance exchange eHealth recorded a sharply higher loss in the fourth quarter than in the year-ago comparable period as individual and family applications during the Affordable Care Act’s open-enrollment period came in lower than expected.eHealth lost $19.2 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a $2 million loss in the same period of 2013. Revenue in the fourth quarter plummeted 17% to $45 million.

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Kaiser still has mental health care issues, state agency reports
Modern Healthcare

Kaiser Permanente has resolved some of the problems with its mental health services that led to $4 million in fines in 2013, but it still has work to do, according to a newly issued state report.

The Oakland, Calif.-based healthcare giant is doing a better job of tracking whether mental health care is delivered in a timely manner, but it still faces issues with timely access to care and educating plan members about the scope of services covered, according to the report issued Tuesday by the California Department of Managed Health Care. The state issued its first report and imposed the fines in 2013.

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Former Simi Hospital CEO lands job with county health
Thousand Oaks Acorn

Beginning next month, Ventura County Medical Center’s staff of 1,432 will have a new leader.

Kim Milstien, former president and CEO of Simi Valley Hospital, has been chosen as the new CEO of Ventura County Medical Center and Santa Paula Hospital. Her first day will be March 1. She said she’s eager to begin her new responsibilities because both county hospitals are vital to the community.

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UCLA Health System president leaving for Pennsylvania
Los Angeles Business Journal

UCLA Health System President David Feinberg is leaving the hospital group for a new job as president and CEO of the Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa. Meanwhile, Dr. John Mazziotta, a world-renowned brain imaging expert who established the UCLA Brain Mapping Center, has been named vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, effective March 1.

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Valley patients win in expansion of medical residency programs
The Business Journal

As the second open enrollment period for health insurance comes to a close, the number of Central Valley residents with medical coverage continues to increase, stressing local hospitals and rural health care clinics. The region already faces a chronic shortage of trained physicians and the newly insured have prompted health care groups to expand and create new medical residency programs.

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The Hospital That Would Be Healed – Sonoma West Medical Center
Sonoma County Gazette

While an alarming trend of closing hospitals continues across the country, a small hospital in Sebastopol, California is rallying to re-open thanks to unprecedented community support and an entrepreneurial strategy.

Founded in 1941, Palm Drive Hospital served the region for 73 years before it was closed in April 2014 due to ongoing financial problems.

However, the community served by the hospital has rallied, led by a devoted Foundation, and momentum is building to reach a target opening date of April 27, 2015.

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South County hospital’s trauma director on mission
Orange County Register

When south Orange County residents are taken with life-threatening injuries to the nearest trauma center, they will likely arrive at Mission Hospital Medical Center, where Almaas Shaikh, 39, runs the operations.

“I am thrilled and humbled … to run the trauma center for the community that raised me,” said Shaikh, who took over the position as trauma medical director about seven months ago. Mission Hospital Medical Center is one of three trauma centers in the county.

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Sonoma County hospitals will stand up to quakes
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

At the turn of the century, a quarter of Sonoma County’s hospital-related buildings posed a significant risk of collapse in the event of a major earthquake. That’s 14 of 50 hospital structures.

Today there are none, thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent on hospital retrofits, renovations and complete rebuilds.

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