News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Consumers Contributing Less To Health Savings Accounts, Study Finds
Kaiser Health News

Even though consumers are digging deeper to cover rising out-of-pocket medical costs, they’re contributing less to health savings accounts that could help take the sting out of their expenses, according to a new study.

Between 2011 and 2014, the percentage of people who said they contributed nothing to their health savings accounts (HSAs) more than doubled, to 23 percent, according to a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Meanwhile, the percentage who said they contributed $1,500 or more dropped to 30 percent from 44 percent.

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CMS to cut Medicare rates after April 15 if SGR bill not approved
Healthcare Finance News

Starting April 15, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it will begin reducing physician payment for Medicare claims by 21 percent, the rate mandated under the sustainable growth rate, if legislation is not passed.

The reduced payment will be retroactive to claims received on or after April 1, according to the notice.

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SGR bill includes $800 million for home-visitation program
Modern Healthcare

A little-noted provision of the legislative package repealing Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula for paying doctors extends a grant program to pay for in-home visitations for at-risk families with newborns. The House bill includes $400 million for the visitation program in each of the next two years. That’s less than the $500 million requested by the Obama administration. “We’re really pleased that it’s extended for two years,” said Patricia Cole, director of government relations for Zero to Three, an advocacy group that focuses on young children.

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Surprise! The SGR bill could affect medical malpractice liability
Modern Healthcare

A few small lines of a new bill meant to permanently fix the way Medicare pays doctors are grabbing attention among those who work on medical malpractice issues.

They’re not likely to change much about malpractice suits against doctors, but they do touch on a larger debate over how it should be decided in such cases if doctors acted appropriately, some legal experts caution.

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Senate has new deadline to avoid doctors’ Medicare cuts
Yahoo! News

Congress will get a little extra time to prevent a threatened 21 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors.

Technically, the cut was to take effect Wednesday.

But the Department of Health and Human Services said it will hold off processing claims at the lower rate until April 15.

The House has overwhelmingly passed a bill to repeal the 1990s budget formula that requires the Medicare cuts.

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US scientists report promising new melanoma vaccines
Yahoo! News

Experimental tailor-made vaccines targeting melanoma patients’ individual genetic mutations have given encouraging preliminary results, researchers have said.

The clinical test on three patients with this form of aggressive skin cancer in an advanced stage is unprecedented in the United States.

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Drug-Resistant Food Poisoning Lands In The U.S.
USA Today

This time last year, a painful new virus was knocking on our doorstep. Travelers were bringing chikungunya to the U.S. And eventually, the mosquito-borne virus set up shop in Florida.

Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says another nasty pathogen is hitching a ride to the U.S. with travelers: multidrug-resistant Shigella. Shigella is just about as bad as the word sounds. The bacteria infect your intestines and trigger crampy rectal pain, bloody or mucus-laced diarrhea and vomiting.

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Study suggests surgeons do get better with experience
Yahoo! News

The more procedures surgeons have performed, the better their patients’ outcomes, at least until the doctors hit a learning plateau, according to a new analysis of data on more than one million surgeries.

The flattening out of the learning curve happens at different points – ranging from 25 to 750 procedures – for different types of surgery, the authors found.

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Medical expenses: Finding your way with a patient navigator
San Francisco Chronicle

A medical emergency leaves you with tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid hospital bills. Your health insurance company rejects coverage for an important medical test. An unexpected diagnosis requires you to find three new medical specialists. In today’s health care system, consumers are increasingly on their own when these complex — and often costly — medical problems arise.

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Cigarette smoke makes MRSA worse
San Diego Union-Tribune

Cigarette smoke functions much like an alarm to the superbug MRSA, warning it to activate its defenses, according to a new study led by UC San Diego scientists.

In lab studies in human cells and whole mice, MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria exposed to cigarette smoke extract become harder to kill, said Dr. Laura E. Crotty Alexander, a pulmonologist at UCSD and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System.

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Opening skull to let brain heal from stroke
San Diego Union-Tribune

The brain surgery on Feb. 11 at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla marked a major milestone in one stroke victim’s journey of recovery.

That journey began when the patient, a 40-year-old woman, was rushed to the hospital after suffering the most common type of stroke — one caused by a blood clot in the brain.

Typically, physicians would put a catheter into a person’s femoral artery in the leg and snake it all the way to the brain so the clot can be removed.

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Stanford Health Care leases 138,000 square feet in East Bay
Silicon Valley Business Journal

Stanford Health Care has leased 138,000 square feet in the Pacific Research Center in Newark.

The eight month and eight year lease brings the 1.4 million square foot complex to around 80 percent leased, said landlord BioMed Realty Trust Inc. (NYSE: BMR), a real estate investment trust that specializes in biotech facilities.

In the last two months, Stanford Health Care also topped off a $2 billion medical facility in Palo Alto and signed a 90,000-square-foot lease in Emeryville.

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Exhibit showcases USC Verdugo Hills Hospital’s origins
La Canada Valley Sun

USC Verdugo Hills Hospital was “founded by doctors from the community for the community,” and those words are affixed to the wall introducing its recently completed history exhibit. The wall, painted in the backdrop of a stunning mural of La Cañada Flintridge and the Angeles National Forest, chronicles the hospital’s beginnings from the land transfer from Behrens Memorial Hospital in Glendale and the opening of the 158-bed facility on Verdugo Boulevard in 1972.

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Sonoma Valley Hospital, Vintage House offer series on active aging
Sonoma Index-Tribune

Sonoma Valley Hospital and Vintage House senior center will present an informative series during May called, “Active Aging: Live Your Best Life Now.” The four lectures will provide insight and information on how to get the most out of your senior years. The talks are open to the community without charge and will be held in Stone Hall at Vintage House, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Thursdays during May, including May 7, 14, 21 and 28. Light refreshments will be provided. Vintage House is located at 263 First St. E.

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Two-story medical office proposed on Sunrise in Roseville
Sacramento Business Journal

The city of Roseville has received an application for a two-story office building on a busy thoroughfare to house one or more dental offices. Proposed for 580 N. Sunrise Boulevard, the 9,700-square-foot building is still in early stages, said a city planner. The application requests both a design review permit and a tree permit, and will require planning commission approval, said Gina McColl, an associate planner.

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Nurse training school possible for downtown Modesto site
Modesto Bee

At long last, Stanislaus County has a conditional agreement to sell the former Medical Arts Building at 17th and G streets in downtown Modesto.

Tuesday, supervisors approved selling the 24,000-square-foot building and nearby parking lots to Dr. Gurpreet Singh for $1 million. The buyer must complete due diligence and secure bank financing before closing the deal.

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