News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Hospital Consolidations at the Tipping Point
Health Leaders Media

Deal activity around mergers, acquisitions, and other consolidation in the healthcare sector increased 18.4% in 2014 when compared with the previous year, and totaled $61 billion, according to a report from PwC.

Brett Hickman, PwC’s US health industry deals leader, says the long-term care/post-acute space led the way with a record 288 deals worth $29.2 billion in 2014.

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Cal INDEX Still Faces Legal, Regulatory Challenges, CEO Says
California Healthline

The California Integrated Data Exchange — a statewide health information exchange created by Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross — is on track for success, but the HIE still faces some legal and regulatory challenges, the health information exchange’s CEO said in a recent interview with HealthLeaders Media.

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Nurses Have To Translate When Medical Devices Fail To Communicate
National Public Radio

Walk past a patient’s hospital room, and the flashing control panels on devices by the bed might make you think you’re peering at the cockpit of a 737.

Medical technology can make patient care better and more precise. But the gadgets and computers can cause trouble, too. One big problem is that most of the devices can’t communicate with one another. The ultimate technological goal is what the engineers call interoperability.

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Study calls heart imaging into question for mild chest pain
Modern Healthcare

A big federal study finds that people who see a doctor for chest pain have no less risk of suffering a heart attack, dying or being hospitalized later if they are checked with a fancy newer type of CT scan rather than a simple treadmill test or other older exam.

CT scans, a type of X-ray that gives a very detailed look at heart arteries, have been used for about a decade without evidence they are better or worse than older tests.

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Senate Dems threaten to oppose deal on Medicare doc fees
Modern Healthcare

Democratic senators would oppose a potential House bipartisan deal preventing cuts in physicians’ Medicare payments if it doesn’t finance a children’s health program for four years, senior Senate Democratic aides said Sunday.

The aides issued the threat as House bargainers try preventing a 21 percent reduction in doctors’ Medicare reimbursements scheduled for April 1. Negotiators want to craft an agreement annulling a 1997 formula that annually threatens deep cuts in those payments.

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Medicare’s New ACO Model Aims to Smooth Cash Flow
Health Leaders Media

With the announcement of a new accountable care payment model last week, federal officials are forging ahead with their efforts to boost value-based payments for Medicare services.

The Next Generation ACO model unveiled last week seeks to advance Medicare’s accountable care payment initiatives, according to Patrick Conway, MD, chief medical officer and deputy administrator for innovation and quality at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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New sign-up under health care law gets lukewarm reception
San Francisco Chronicle

Several million people hit with new federal fines for going without health insurance are getting a second chance to sign up, and that could ease the sting of rising penalties for being uninsured.

But after the enrollment window reopened Sunday, it’s unclear how many know about the time-limited opportunity, let alone are taking advantage of it.

Fines payable to the IRS are the stick behind the offer of taxpayer-subsidized private insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

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Democrats Need To Compromise On Healthcare Reform
Forbes

The relationship between the White House and Congressional Republicans is at an historic low. The “Iran Letter,” as many have taken to calling it, shows just how great the schism between the two has become. It seems as though each party no longer recognizes the constitutional rights of the other.

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After Prime Healthcare pullout: 3 scenarios for Daughters of Charity
San Francisco Business Times

Now that Prime Healthcare Services has yanked its $843 million bid to buy six safety net hospitals from the Daughters of Charity Health System, it confronts a set of scenarios, some of them quite grim. In particular jeopardy is Daly City’s Seton Medical Center, which requires a seismic rebuild and upgrade that could easily cost $350 million it doesn’t have.

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How Bay Area’s hospital landscape is shifting radically
San Francisco Chronicle

A small Bay Area hospital chain is scrambling to find a new buyer after a deal suddenly fell through this week, and it may eventually have to file for bankruptcy.

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Studies boost hopes for new class of cholesterol medicines
Modern Healthcare

New research boosts hope that a highly anticipated, experimental class of cholesterol drugs can greatly lower the risk for heart attacks, death and other heart-related problems. The government will decide this summer whether to allow two of these drugs on the market.

People taking one of these drugs had half the risk of dying or suffering a heart problem compared to others who were given usual care—typically one of the statin drugs such as Lipitor or Zocor, doctors found.

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FDA steps up rules on medical devices to prevent spread of ’superbug’
L.A. Biz

The Food and Drug Administration has announced stricter new recommendations on reusable medical devices to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistant infections, such as the ones that occurred at Los Angeles hospitals.

The FDA said it has issued new rules for cleaning reusable medical devices such as the duodenoscopes at the center of the “superbug” infections and that companies that make the scopes and other devices will need to supply proof that the devices can be cleaned reliably before it can gain FDA approval.

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HIE Pushes Value Propositions in CA
Health Leaders Media

David Watson is seeking to capitalize on a golden opportunity in The Golden State.

The University of Southern California graduate is CEO of Cal INDEX, one of the most ambitious health information exchange initiative’s in the country. A pair of major payers formed the non-profit HIE in August 2014, with Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross committing $80 million in seed money to help launch the not-for-profit organization.

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Blue Shield taking monster lease — two buildings in Rancho Cordova
Sacramento Business Journal

Blue Shield of California is leasing 175,000 square feet of office space in Rancho Cordova, and plans to move 650 workers there by year’s end. It’s one of the region’s largest leasing deals in years.

The two buildings at 3300 Zinfandel and 10834 International drives called Zinfandel I and II will be entirely occupied under the lease. Tenant improvements are expected to take about six months. “It’s really an ideal fit for Blue Shield,” said company spokesman Sean Barry.

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Blue Shield to move 650 employees to Rancho Cordova
Sacramento Bee

Blue Shield of California’s blockbuster lease agreement for nearly 175,000 square feet of space in Rancho Cordova was billed Friday as a deal to spread out existing staff, but it also raised the prospect of more health plan workers coming to the Sacramento area.

“The (Rancho Cordova) location certainly does offer space for longer-term job growth. There’s potential for that,” said Blue Shield spokesman Sean Barry.

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Group discusses health care for undocumented immigrants
News10.net

Community members concerned with health care for undocumented immigrants met Saturday to discuss the future of health care in California.

Leaders from the Building Communities Coalition gathered in Sacramento in advance of a workshop which will be held by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors next week.

In 2009, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors implemented a policy barring undocumented immigrants from accessing county health care services.

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