News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Critical Condition: How a Broken Medical Records System is Endangering America’s Health
KQED Radio

Every time she visits a new doctor, long-time breast-cancer patient Jeanne Patterson prints out dozens of paper files about her medical history. She carries bags filled with sensitive documents, CDs and DVDs to each specialist.

Patterson has no choice: her medical records have ended up scattered among 20 different hospitals and health systems, and none of them can be easily shared or accessed electronically in one place.

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Study: Counties need to focus on caring for the uninsured
Sacramento Business Journal

Sacramento County served just 109 indigent patients last year, down from more than 26,000 indigent patients in 2013, according to a new report by the consumer group Health Access. That sounds like good news because it reflects increased coverage under the Affordable Care Act. But the figures leave out more than 30,000 undocumented immigrants without insurance or access to care outside hospital emergency rooms. This population is not eligible for coverage through Medi-Cal or Covered California, the state health benefit exchange.

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Why Not 50 Different Affordable Health-Care Plans?
The Wall Street Journal

If the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell strikes down subsidies to the buyers of health insurance on the federal exchange, President Obama will call on Congress to change the law to allow the subsidies. There also will be enormous pressure on elected officials to establish state exchanges in the 34 states that don’t have them. Instead, congressional Republicans should be laying the groundwork for market-friendly health reforms and devolving power to the states, meanwhile helping Americans who have difficulty purchasing coverage made unaffordable by the Affordable Care Act.

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Medicare accountable care a “learning effort”: Burwell
Modern Healthcare

New York’s Montefiore Medical Center, the most financially successful of Medicare’s most sophisticated accountable care organizations, may bypass what HHS officials are calling the next generation of the evolving payment model to instead concentrate on expanding its use of full capitation for patients.HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell traveled to New York Thursday to praise officials at Montefiore, which earned bonuses of $27 million during the first two years of Medicare’s Pioneer accountable care program, more than any of its peers.

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Congress Explores Longer-Term Solution for Medicare Physician Payments
The Wall Street Journal

Congressional leaders are discussing ways permanently to end the recurring scramble to avoid cuts in Medicare payments to physicians, lawmakers and aides said on Wednesday. House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), and the leaders of several House committees are looking for ways to solve the perennial problem known as “doc fix” before the latest short-term patch expires at month’s end, aides said.

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House leaders’ ‘doc fix’ talks prompt optimism … but doubts too
Modern Healthcare

Negotiations between House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on a permanent “doc fix” are fueling cautious optimism even among some jaded veteran observers of past sustainable growth-rate formula skirmishes. “We’ve been taking them seriously for over a week now,” said one lobbyist tracking the issue, speaking on background.The Boehner-Pelosi negotiations are focusing on finding a permanent way to eliminate Medicare’s widely loathed SGR formula for paying doctors.

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Children’s health insurance is a wise investment
Sacramento Bee

In 2009, we watched a dire prediction come true. The California Legislature had short-funded the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, despite warnings by Children Now and others that the move would put children’s health at risk. Faced with a budget shortfall and no action in Sacramento to fill the gap, California’s children’s health agency imposed a waiting list. Today, Congress faces a similar choice.

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SGR: Include Fee Schedule Overhaul in Fix, Experts Urge
HealthLeaders Media

Any legislation to reform the sustainable growth rate formula for physician payment under Medicare should also include an overhaul of the physician fee schedule, according to several experts.

“Fixing inaccurate valuations in the Medicare fee schedule will be vitally important to the success of the … SGR fix,” wrote James Reschovsky, PhD, Larisa Converse, MA, and Eugene Rich, MD, all of Mathematica Policy Research, a Washington consulting firm. “Inaccurate valuations would make it easier for some physicians, particularly specialists, to maintain incomes in the fee-for-service pathway by shifting the mix of services they provide to favor high-profit procedures, despite low fee updates.” Their article appears online and in the April 2015 issue of Health Affairs.

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FDA issues final rules on endoscopes, other devices
Modern Healthcare

Federal regulators Thursday issued final rules regarding the cleaning and disinfecting of reusable medical devices such as the endoscopes that have been responsible for outbreaks of drug-resistant bacteria at a number of hospitals.

Product makers will be required, under the new guidance, to validate that the disinfecting instructions for their medical devices are effective before they can get Food and Drug Administration approval.

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Legislators Consider Denti-Cal Audit
HealthyCal.org

California legislators will hold a hearing Tuesday on an audit that found that more than half of children enrolled in the state’s low-income health program didn’t see a dentist in 2013, the most recent year data was available.

State Auditor Elaine M. Howle’s report, released in December, found that fewer than 45 percent of kids with Denti-Cal saw a dentist in 2013.

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Doctors hope more parents have children get HPV vaccine
San Diego Union-Tribune

The vaccine to protect against human papillomavirus has been shown to be over 90 percent effective in preventing cervical cancer and blocking genital warts and 75 percent efficient in warding off anal cancer in men.

Despite these numbers, recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the HPV vaccine— which became available in 2006 — is not being given to a majority of young men and women in the U.S.

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California toughens stance on use of mind-altering antipsychotic drugs for poor children, foster you
Los Angeles Daily News

State regulators are rejecting thousands of requests from California physicians to prescribe antipsychotic drugs to poor children and foster youth, a dramatic first step in the state’s new effort to curb the excessive prescribing of powerful mind-altering medications.

Nearly 1 in every 5 requests for the medications were denied in January because they were medically unnecessary or unsubstantiated.

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Most researchers fail to report clinical trial results as required by law
Modern Healthcare

Anyone looking for the outcomes of thousands of closed or completed clinical trials isn’t likely to find them, despite government mandates requiring the data be made available. More than 80% of trials that should have posted results had not done so within one year of completion, and government funded research was the least likely to share findings, according research looking at clinical trial data between 2008 and 2012.

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Kaiser again tops customer-satisfaction survey
North Bay Business Journal

For the eighth consecutive year, Kaiser Permanente received the highest ranking for customer satisfaction in California, ahead of UnitedHealthCare, Aetna, Blue Shield, Cigna, Health Net and Anthem Blue Cross of California, in that order, in a newly released survey.

According to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Member Health Plan Study, Kaiser came out ahead of the six other health plans, scoring 778 out of 1,000 points, 97 points higher than UnitedHealthCare.

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Report: Adventist Health to provide $2 million for Lodi Health Foundation
Lodi News-Sentinel

Adventist Health plans to provide a $2 million donation to the Lodi Memorial Health Foundation under the proposed affiliation agreement between Lodi Health and Adventist Health. Additionally, Adventist health plans to make a $98 million capital investment over the next 13 years for Lodi Health to retain and recruit local physicians and upgrade and modernize the hospital’s intensive care unit, obstetrics unit and surgical services unit.

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Truckee Tahoe Medical Group joins care consortium
Tahoe Daily Tribune

Truckee Tahoe Medical Group last week announced it has joined the National Rural Accountable Care Consortium that is tailored for rural areas like Truckee/Tahoe.

According to a news release, the consortium is intended to help residents — especially seniors — stay well, and navigate the complexity of America’s health care system when services are needed.

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Sutter Santa Rosa hospital earns Gold LEED certification
North Bay Business Journal

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital has earned the distinction of being the first ground-up-built hospital in Northern California to attain LEED Gold certification.

“Gold” is the second-highest of four levels of certification under the U.S Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating systems.

“The new hospital incorporates sustainable building strategies from the ground up to comply with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design criteria,” according to Creed Kampa, Lead Project Designer with HGA, an integrated architecture, engineering and maste

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