News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Affordable Care Act’s benefits for hospitals aren’t yet clear
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals in states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility for low-income adults are seeing a sharp drop in the amount of charity care they’re providing and an increase in admissions. But the uptick in high-deductible plans across the country means they’re seeing higher-acuity patients and losing out to retail clinics and other lower-cost providers for less complex care, a new report found. By the end of 2014, charity care in Medicaid expansion states had fallen to 1.7% of revenue, down from the national average of 3.2% in 2013.

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Poll Explores Our Perception Of How Factors Large And Small Shape People’s Health
National Public Radio

We often think of health as a trip to the doctor or a prescription to treat or prevent diseases. Or maybe it’s an operation to fix something that’s gone wrong.

But a new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reveals that Americans perceive health as being affected by a broad range of social and cultural factors.

Much of our series, What Shapes Health, explores how doctors and other health professionals pay little attention to early childhood experiences as a fundamental cause of health problems. We look at efforts to change this.

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When Health Care Is Far From Home
KQED Radio

It’s Tuesday morning, half past eight and already hot, when the small bus pulls up to the community clinic. Most of the passengers are waiting in front — an old man with a cane, two mothers with four kids between them, packed lunches in hand.

Two more arrive. A gray-bearded man with a pirate bandana steps from the shelter of his Subaru. A sunken-cheeked woman rushes up on her bike.

“Woohoo! We have a full car!” the driver says brightly after they’ve all climbed aboard.

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Supreme Court case against Obama’s health law
San Francisco Chronicle

The U.S. Supreme Court this week hears a challenge to President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. If successful, the lawsuit would cripple Obama’s prized domestic achievement, a program that has brought the U.S. as close as it has ever come to universal health care. The Affordable Care Act passed Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote in favor. An explanation of the legal case:

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Obamacare rule harms millions: Opposing view
USA Today

In King v. Burwell, four Virginia residents are a challenging an IRS Obamacare rule in the Supreme Court. While the case involves only a handful of plaintiffs, it is really about the millions of Americans who are victims of Obamacare’s mandates and penalties.

Like the King plaintiffs, millions are harmed by Obamacare’s individual mandate, which forces them to either buy insurance that they don’t want or to pay a tax penalty. But the IRS rule also has devastating consequences for countless other Americans and their families.

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If Obamacare plaintiffs win, millions lose: Our view
USA Today

On Wednesday the Supreme Court will hear the most serious challenge to Obamacare since a single vote at the high court kept the law alive in 2012.

As legal challenges go, the latest complaint is bizarre: If the plaintiffs lose, they face little or no harm. If they win, about 8 million people around the USA face substantial injury.

The case is being brought on behalf of four people who claim they’re being hurt because the law gives them generous subsidies to buy health insurance.

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People With Low Incomes Say They Pay A Price In Poor Health
National Public Radio

When you ask people what impacts health you’ll get a lot of different answers: Access to good health care and preventative services, personal behavior, exposure to germs or pollution and stress. But if you dig a little deeper you’ll find a clear dividing line, and it boils down to one word: money.

People whose household income is more than $75,000 a year have very different perceptions of what affects health than those whose household income is less than $25,000. This is one key finding in a poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. One third of respondents who are low income say lack of money has a harmful effect on health.

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Cedars-Sinai probing whether superbug infections are tied to scopes
Los Angeles Times

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said it’s investigating whether patients with superbug infections are linked to contaminated medical scopes, similar to a recent outbreak at UCLA.

The well-known Los Angeles hospital said it hasn’t determined whether the CRE infections it has found are tied to duodenoscopes, which were the source of exposure at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center.

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More parents pushing doctors to postpone vaccines
San Francisco Chronicle

Parents have increasingly pressured doctors to delay vaccines for young children, making their kids and others vulnerable to preventable diseases, a study suggests. The findings are in a national survey of pediatricians and family doctors asked about parents wanting to postpone some of the many shots recommended for children younger than age 2. Nearly all doctors said that at least some parents had requested vaccine delays in a typical month; and 1 in 4 said those numbers had increased since the previous year.

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Half of adults will get chronic kidney disease, model predicts
Washington Post

A new model predicts that about half of all people aged 30 and older in the United States will develop chronic kidney disease during their lifetimes, a surprisingly large proportion for a condition that is not on the radar screens of many Americans.

Writing in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases Monday, a team of researchers concluded that 54 percent of people between the ages of 30 and 49 will develop the disease. The figure is 52 percent for people between the ages of 50 and 64, and 42 percent for those 65 and older.

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Fines Remain Rare Even As Health Data Breaches Multiply
National Public Radio

In a string of meetings and press releases, the federal government’s health watchdogs have delivered a stern message: They are cracking down on insurers, hospitals and doctors offices that don’t adequately protect the security and privacy of medical records.

“We’ve now moved into an area of more assertive enforcement,” Leon Rodriguez, then-director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, warned at a privacy and security forum in December 2012.

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SCOTUS and PPACA: What If?
HealthLeaders Media

For example, if the Supremes throw out subsidies, will that mean a trip in the way-back machine to a pre-Obamacare world?

That was just one of the questions put forward by Robert Wah, MD, president of the American Medical Association, during a panel discussion at the AMA’s National Advocacy Conference on Wednesday. (Read MedPage Today’s exclusive interview with Wah here.)

King v. Burwell is yet another opportunity for the Supreme Court to weigh the legality of the ACA.

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Medicare Advantage Flash Points Center on Cuts and Stars
HealthLeaders Media

Where you stand depends on where you sit.

That maxim of bureaucratic politics, known as Miles’ Law, covers a lot of ground in deciphering the proposed 2016 Medicare Advantage payment rate for insurance carriers.

The perspective of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services represents the rosiest payment rate scenario. Upon release of the MA proposed payment rate and rule changes Feb. 20, Sean Cavanaugh, director of CMS’s Center for Medicare, declared that CMS had set “stable rate policies” for the value-based alternative to traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

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After UC Irvine grad chooses to die, ‘Death with dignity’ gains traction, but some fear dire consequences
Orange County Register

Deborah Ziegler and Dr. Robert Olvera sat arms linked, she wrapped in a pink shawl – a present left by her daughter before she died – he gazing at his daughter’s photo, taken before her face was marred by cancer-fighting steroids.

Ziegler’s daughter, Brittany Maynard, 29, made headlines in October when she moved from California to Oregon to use that state’s Death with Dignity law. Olvera’s 25-year-old daughter, Emily Rose, did not have that option and died in her Santa Ana home blind, bedridden and struggling to breathe.

Together, Ziegler and Olvera are throwing their support behind Senate Bill 128, California’s End of Life law that will give terminally-ill patients the right to end their lives at the time of their choosing.

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Dignity Health finances buoyed by $420M from Medi-Cal fee
Sacramento Business Journal

Dignity Health finances rebounded in the final three months of 2014, when the San Francisco-based health system recorded $420 million in past-due reimbursement from a Medi-Cal provider fee. The company reported net income of $402.3 million for the quarter ending Dec. 30, 2014, up 25 percent from $321.1 million for the same period in 2013 — and a big swing into the black from a net loss of $29 million for the quarter ending Sept. 30, 2014, when the health system was waiting for federal health officials to approve the fee.

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Is La Jolla big enough for two heart hospitals?
San Diego Union-Tribune

Soon, La Jolla will be home to two state-of-the-art heart hospitals built only half a mile apart. To some, the proximity of UC San Diego’s Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center and Scripps Health’s Prebys Cardiovascular Institute just south of Genesee Avenue might look a little too close for comfort. (Prebys Cardiovascular, the region’s newest heart hospital, had its grand opening ceremony Thursday.)

owever, leaders of the UC San Diego Health System and Scripps Health expressed confidence that the beds in their facilities will stay full even as trends in cardiac care shift away from overnight stays and toward less-invasive procedures performed on an outpatient basis.

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Valley Children’s Hospital NICU performs the highest level of care
Fresno Bee

Gabby Morales adjusts the blankets around her infant daughter, Olivia. It’s a little difficult to navigate the assortment of tubes and wires that help the staff of Valley Children’s Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit keep tabs on the 3-month-old baby.

Olivia’s obviously sleepy, but she manages a smile at the attention she’s getting. It’s not just the Shafter mom who monitors the infant so closely.

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Butte County health officials planning residential crisis treatment center
Oroville Mercury-Register

A home that was reportedly once owned by the family that established Richardson Springs Resort could become a residential crisis treatment center.

On Tuesday, the Butte County Board of Supervisors authorized General Services Department staff to negotiate with Enloe Foundation to buy a sprawling home tucked behind the former Chico Community Hospital.

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