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News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California Safety-Net Hospitals ‘At Risk’ Under Health System Changes
capital public radio

Safety-net hospitals serve a higher percentage of the uninsured, and low-income patients who have Medi-Cal.

Jan Emerson-Shea with the California Hospital Association says these hospitals often don’t have enough patients with higher-paying commercial insurance to offset losses.

“While Medi-Cal does provide some level of reimbursement to hospitals, we still lose significant amounts of money on every Medi-Cal patient we treat,” she says.

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OIG presses CMS to cut hospital outpatient payments for low-risk surgeries
Modern Healthcare

HHS‘ Office of the Inspector General is using a congressionally mandated report to repeat its call for Medicare to pay hospitals the same as it pays ambulatory surgery centers for low-risk outpatient procedures.

The policy change could save $15 billion over five years, the OIG estimates, but would require legislation allowing the CMS to cut the rates for low-risk surgeries without having to increase other payment rates to make the policy change budget-neutral as required by law.

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Affordable Care Act adds 16.4 million to health insurance rolls
Washington Post

About 16.4 million adults have been added to health insurance rolls under the Affordable Care Act, which provided especially robust gains in coverage for minorities and states that expanded their Medicaid programs, administration officials announced Monday.

The total includes 14.1 million adults who joined the insurance rolls since October 2013 and 2.3 million younger adults ages 19 to 25 who were able to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans since October 2010, when that provision of Obamacare went into effect.

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Promising findings shown for heart-related issues
Modern Healthcare

Positive results supporting the use of non-invasive heart valve replacement as a potential alternative to surgery, plus evidence a new class of cholesterol-lowering drugs may also reduce the risk of cardiac events were just two of the highlights from the second day of the American College of Cardiology meeting this past weekend.

One of the most highly anticipated studies presented at the 64th annual ACC Scientific Sessions in San Diego Sunday were results from the PARTNER 1 trial that looked at outcomes of patients who underwent transcatheter aortic valve replacement who were deemed to be at high risk to have open heart surgery.

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Hurdles surface, but optimism remains for permanent ‘doc fix’
Modern Healthcare

A permanent “doc fix” plan—negotiated by House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—will need to gain traction in the coming days if it’s going to have a realistic shot at enactment.

That’s because both the House and Senate need time to consider a permanent fix before Congress adjourns for spring break at the end of the month.

Congress has until March 31 to take action on the issue. Otherwise doctors would face a 21.2% decrease in payments for treating Medicare patients.

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Obamacare Cut The Ranks Of The Uninsured By A Third
National Public Radio

A total of 16.4 million non-elderly adults have gained health insurance coverage since the Affordable Care Act became law five years ago this month. It’s a reduction in the ranks of the uninsured the the Department of Health and Human Services called historic.

Those gaining insurance since 2010 include 2.3 million young adults aged 18 to 26 who were able to remain on their parents’ health insurance plus another 14.1 million adults who obtained coverage through expansions of the Medicaid program, new marketplace coverage and other sources, according to the report from the department released Monday.

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ACA lowers uninsured pool by 16.4 million
Modern Healthcare

Approximately 16.4 million uninsured Americans have received some type of health coverage since the Affordable Care Act was passed five years ago, government officials reported Monday.

The large drop in those without health insurance indicated that the healthcare law is reaching its intended goals, officials argued. But the law and many of those who gained coverage face an uncertain future because of a pending U.S. Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell, which could upend subsides paid to many of these new policyholders so they could afford to purchase insurance.

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Five Years Later: Obamacare Hits Americans with Higher Premiums for Healthcare Coverage
insurance newsnet

In advance of the fifth anniversary of the President’s health law, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today released a fact sheet outlining how the law has made healthcare coverage less affordable for some Americans as more families, workers, and job creators are getting hit with higher insurance premium costs.

Premiums Spike Under Obamacare: Studies show the healthcare law increased individual market premiums by almost 50 percent in 2014 relative to 2013 prices.

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Dominican Hospital shows off $2.1 million endoscopy suite
Santa Cruz Sentinel

Dignity Health Dominican Hospital showed off a new endoscopy ultrasound suite Monday, a $2.1 million investment and the first in Santa Cruz to provide a less invasive way to diagnose problems in the digestive tract, pancreas and liver. About $1.2 million came in private donations.

Before, Dominican referred 150 patients a year to out-of-county facilities, according to Susan MacMillan, the hospital’s senior director of strategy and business development, who expects the service to attract 250 patients a year.

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Intelligence Report: Payer-Provider Strategies
Health Leaders Media

When asked whether the results of the HealthLeaders Media Payer-Provider Strategies Survey warn of contentious relationships and indicate the presence of an emerging foundation for sharing risk, Alan J. Murray, president and CEO of North Shore-LIJ CareConnect Insurance Company, Inc., of East Hills, New York, says, “I don’t necessarily see that there is a seismic shift in the trust level.”

CareConnect is a provider-owned health plan that was created by North Shore-LIJ Health System in 2013, with a network that includes more than 16,000 providers at hospitals and physician practices throughout downstate New York.

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Type 2 Diabetes Comes at a High Cost for Patients Around the World
Healthline

Diabetes is not just a physically debilitating disease. It’s also an economic burden for people around the world.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, conducted a review of the economic impact of type 2 diabetes. Their assessment shows that diabetes puts severe economic strain on many countries and negatively affects people’s employment opportunities and wages.

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Meaningful-use Stage 3 rule expected within days
Modern Healthcare

A proposed final rule for Stage 3 of the electronic health-record meaningful-use program is expected as soon as Wednesday, an HHS official told Modern Healthcare.

Among other provisions, it will streamline the number of measures providers are expected to track, and “de-couple” the meaningful-use program from the certification program. The streamlining is expected to occur through consolidating the number of metrics providers are expected to track.

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Major Bay Area health pact could create new hospitals
San Francisco Business Times

UCSF Medical Center, already engaged in a regionwide battle with Stanford Health Care, has significantly tightened its connections with John Muir Health.

The two hospital systems said late Monday they’re creating a jointly owned network “to provide patients with high-quality care at an affordable price,” along with a development company to build new medical facilities and increase the number of doctors in their network, and a new health plan allowing them to provide insurance coverage as well as care in the Bay Area.

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Hospitals need a paradigm shift to emphasize efficiency
Modern Healthcare

Health systems that hope to profit under accountable care or bundled payments will likely fail to do so without plans to sharply cut hospitals’ operating costs, said executives in Chicago Monday for a national meeting of healthcare managers.

Changes to incentives or referral patterns are “necessary but not sufficient” to offset pressure on margins that hospital operators face, said Chip Caldwell, chairman of Caldwell Butler & Associates in one of dozens of presentations at the four-day American College of Healthcare Executives’ annual Congress on Healthcare Leadership.

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Male-female pay disparities abound in healthcare professions
Modern Healthcare

Women represent 1 of 3 physicians and surgeons but they earn only 69 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn. Male physicians made $202,533 on average in 2013, while female doctors had a median income of $140,036 that year, according to new national data.

Only a few jobs in the financial sector and a few other occupational areas had a higher income difference between men and women than do physicians, reported the latest income data released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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