News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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AHA hails signing of law to fight drug shortages
Modern Healthcare

The nation’s hospitals hailed President Barack Obama’s signing of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act on Monday as the right step to address the nation’s drug-shortage problem. “With nearly 100% of hospitals reporting shortages, access to life-saving drugs is essential,” Richard Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association , said in a statement. “The law will help hospitals obtain that critical access.”

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GOP would push cost control instead of wider coverage, lawmaker says
Modern Healthcare

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking member on the Finance Committee, said if Republicans gain control of the chamber next year, their efforts to replace the healthcare overhaul will focus on cost control, instead of coverage expansions. Hatch is in position to lead the committee with primary jurisdiction over federal health policy if Republicans retake the Senate, which Republicans would do if they net only four Democratic-held seats.

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CPMC says it won’t renegotiate Cathedral Hill agreement, dares San Francisco officials to kill St. Luke’s
San Francisco Business Times

California Pacific Medical Center CEO Warren Browner, backed by a phalanx of St. Luke’s Hospital board members, stood his ground at a press conference Monday morning, insisting that CPMC sees no reason to renegotiate a development agreement with the city to invest $2.5 billion in new hospital construction. The press conference, held in a dingy conference room at St. Luke’s on a grey San Francisco morning, came in the wake of Mayor Ed Lee’s apparent decision over the weekend to dig in his heels and insist that CPMC give the city an “ironclad guarantee” it plans to operate a $300 million rebuilt St. Luke’s for at least 20 years.

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89 ACOs Open for Business
Health Leaders Media

Federal officials announced Monday that 89 Accountable Care Organizations opened on July 1 in 40 states and Washington, DC and will serve 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries. Jonathan Blum, principal deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare, said in a teleconference that another 400 provider groups have filed notice that they will apply to be in the next wave of shared savings ACOs that become operational on Jan. 1, 2013.

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Ed Lee, California Pacific refuse to budge on deal
San Francisco Chronicle

The largest development deal under Mayor Ed Lee’s tenure, a $2.5 billion agreement that would see two new, seismically safe hospitals built in San Francisco, is in peril.

Lee insists that the deal must guarantee that St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission District, which serves lower-income residents, remain open for 20 years after it is rebuilt. But on Monday, California Pacific Medical Center refused to budge.

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Number of Medicare ACOs more than doubles
Modern Healthcare

Medicare’s accountable-care experiment, which seeks to revamp how hospitals and doctors get paid, more than doubled in size with 89 newly named participants. The CMS added the latest accountable care organizations to 27 ACOs in its shared-savings program, which offers medical groups, hospitals and federally qualified health centers financial incentives for quality improvement and cost control. An additional 38 organizations operate under other Medicare accountable care contracts.

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John Muir Physician Network is one of six new California Medicare ACOs
San Francisco Business Times

John Muir Health and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the Walnut Creek-based health system’s 197-doctor John Muir Physician Network has been approved as one of six new Medicare ACOs in California and 89 nationally.

The new accountable care organizations, being piloted by various hospitals and medical groups nationwide, are intended to provide better coordination and care to fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries, according to CMS.

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Medicare Proposal Ties Stricter Quality Measures to ESRD Payments
Health Leaders Media

More than 5,000 dialysis centers around the country would have to work within much stricter quality guidelines under Medicare’s proposed incentive payment program for care delivered to patients with end-stage renal disease.

Included in the proposal is that each center’s rate of hospital admissions—the adjusted number of patients who required admission to a hospital because of an infection or other adverse event—would be publicly reported in 2015 “to encourage facilities to improve their care.”

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Calif. many ineligible for new adult day care
San Francisco Chronicle

Ruth Meek Graham, 87, is nearly blind and deaf, and suffers from diabetes, neuropathy and breast cancer.

Juliana Nwokelo, 89, has dementia, arthritis and neuropathy, and cannot be left alone for more than an hour at a time.

Fe Garcia, 88, suffers from serious depression and arthritis; her caretaker is her 78-year-old sister.

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House Republicans Launch All-Out Assault On Health Care Law
10News.com

House Republicans launched an all-out assault Tuesday against President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law, holding a series of committee hearings and other events ahead of a planned vote Wednesday on repealing the measure.

Any House repeal effort is sure to die in the Democratic-led Senate, and the White House made clear Obama would veto such a measure.

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Review finds hospital consolidation means higher prices
Modern Healthcare

Hospital prices climb with hospital consolidation, according to a review of research on the marketplace for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The review, conducted by Martin Gaynor, the E.J. Barone professor of economics and health policy at Carnegie Mellon University, and Robert Town, associate professor of healthcare management, at the University of Pennsylvania, cited a handful of studies that considered the relationship between hospital prices and competition and found a link.

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California nurses stage health care tour with free screenings in Southern California
Southern California Public Radio

A union of California nurses is bringing free health care screenings to the Southland this week, followed by town hall meetings about access to health care.

The 3-week-long health care tour by the California nurses union is winding up in Los Angeles County this week with free screenings in South Central L.A., Santa Monica and West Covina.

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F.D.A. Won’t Order Doctors to Get Pain-Drug Training
New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration, overriding the advice of an expert panel, said Monday that it would not require doctors to have special training before they could prescribe long-acting narcotic painkillers that can lead to addiction. But the agency said companies that make the drugs, like OxyContin, fentanyl and methadone, would be required to underwrite the cost of voluntary programs aimed at teaching doctors how to best use them.

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Will Medicaid patients lose in WellPoint purchase of Amerigroup?
Los Angeles Times

WellPoint’s nearly $5-billion acquisition of Medicaid provider Amerigroup is a bet by one of the country’s largest private insurers that there are big bucks to be made from publicly funded coverage.

It’s also an indication that private insurers expect cash-strapped states increasingly to give them the job of managing medical plans for low-income people.

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WellPoint strikes deal to buy Amerigroup for $4.9 billion
Modern Healthcare

WellPoint said it entered a definitive agreement to acquire Amerigroup, a Virginia Beach, Va.-based managed-care company, for about $4.9 billion.

The deal will expand the Indianapolis-based health insurer’s Medicaid managed-care business, including its share of the dual-eligible population.

“We expect Medicaid spending under managed-care programs to increase by nearly $100 million by the end of 2014,” said WellPoint President and CEO Angela Braly during a conference call.

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Children’s Advocates Divided on Healthy Families Transition
KQED Radio

As the Legislature debated — and ultimately approved –- a budget-cutting plan to transfer nearly 900,000 California children on the Healthy Families program into Medi-Cal next year, dozens of groups joined in opposition. They ranged from the California Medical Association, a professional organization that represents the state’s doctors, to the California Primary Care Association, which represents community clinics.

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