News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

C. Diff Infection Doubles Chances of Hospital Readmission
HealthLeaders Media

Inpatients diagnosed with Clostridium difficile infection, whether acquired in the community or during their hospital stays, were twice as likely to be readmitted within 30 days, according to an analysis of seven Detroit Medical Center health system hospitals.

“Compared with any other cause for readmissions, which totaled 14.4% of patients returning to the hospital within 30 days, 30.1% of patients previously diagnosed with C. diff were readmitted,” says Teena Chopra, MD, assistant professor at Wayne State University and director of infection control and antibiotic stewardship at DMC’s Harper University Hospital.

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Mental health parity in Medicaid plans would help — not solve — limited access
Modern Healthcare

Proposed regulations ensuring mental health parity in Medicaid managed care plans promise better coverage for important services like substance-abuse counseling — at least for beneficiaries who have providers. But the CMS rules won’t guarantee more providers will participate.

“One of the questions that still remains in terms of access to care is whether there is the workforce to care for these people, particularly psychiatrists,” said Dr. Tara Bishop, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health and Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Out of all medical specialties, psychiatrists “are the least willing to take any type of insurance, including Medicaid.”

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HIEs Fail to Deliver on Their Promise
HealthLeaders Media

Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) aren’t ready for their close-up — and even many of the attempts to quantify their effectiveness are best left out of the spotlight, researcher findings suggest.

“The data is just not there,” says Nir Menachemi, PhD, MPH, professor and chair at the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University in Indianapolis, and one of three authors of a research paper published in the March issue of Health Affairs.

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Is Covered California struggling to woo repeat customers?
Los Angeles Business Journal

California ranked in the bottom five states on overall growth during open enrollment this year, according to an analysis by Avalere Health, in large part because it trailed only Vermont and Washington state in retaining 2014 enrollees among states that reported full results. It was unclear Tuesday why California ranked so low, but the data reveals problems with how much traction the state’s fledgling Obamacare exchange is gaining among Golden State residents.

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Workers sent to shop for health plans as employers quit benefits
Chicago Tribune

A growing number of Americans are no longer getting health insurance directly from work as companies quit administering benefits, sending about 40 million people to shop for their own coverage by 2018, a new study estimates.

Instead of picking a companywide health plan, employers are increasingly giving workers financial support to choose their own from a menu of options. For 2015, 6 million workers selected coverage from markets run by private benefits administrators, according to a study from Accenture.

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Covered California adds 18,000 so far in special enrollment period
Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California has enrolled about 18,000 people so far in a special enrollment program for individuals who didn’t understand the tax consequences of not signing up for health insurance in 2015. Launched Feb. 23, the period ends April 30. The numbers are important because enrollment in Covered California is below projections. The program has about 1.4 million members, significantly behind a program target of 1.7 million.

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HSAs are no substitute for ACA coverage
Concord Monitor

Dr. Ben Carson, a brilliant surgeon, free thinker and presumptive Republican candidate for president is unfortunately given to making hyperbolic statements, including some that have been followed by apologies and backpedaling. Nothing in Carson’s speech earlier this week in Manchester was as controversial, say, as equating the Affordable Care Act with slavery, but his words at times deserved raised eyebrows.

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House Finance begins digging in to governor’s Medicaid bill
San Francisco Chronicle

The House Finance Committee on Tuesday began digging in to Gov. Bill Walker’s proposal to expand and reform Medicaid in Alaska. Walker has made expansion a priority and his administration sees expansion as going hand-in-hand with efforts to reduce and contain costs within the current Medicaid program. But some lawmakers have raised concerns with the potential impacts of adding more people to a system widely seen as currently unsustainable.

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Quick Income Changes Can Threaten Coverage For Those On Medicaid
National Public Radio

When the earnings of low-income consumers change over the course of the year, a family can risk losing their health coverage if they shift between eligibility for Medicaid and eligibility for coverage on the health insurance exchanges that were set up under the Affordable Care Act.

Researchers call this “churning.” And it’s not new to Medicaid. But Obamacare added millions of new customers whose incomes hover near the Medicaid line. Health officials are concerned about how well the insurance marketplaces can handle the larger volume of customers moving between the two types of coverage.

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Medicare Advantage rates show insurers’ lobbying muscle
Modern Healthcare

Health insurers didn’t get everything they wanted from their lobbying blitz on Medicare Advantage rates, but the policies issued Monday made the industry’s political power abundantly clear.

Health plans will receive the largest increase to their capitated payments since the Affordable Care Act went into effect five years ago, and several other policy measures will ensure the private Medicare program for seniors becomes a larger focus of insurers’ revenues.

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Congress, it’s time to end the ‘doc fix’ charade
Visialia Times-Delta

You may notice your doctor is a little more distracted than usual. Even edgy. Maybe that’s because a 21 percent cut in physicians’ Medicare fees kicked in last Wednesday.

The U.S. House voted overwhelmingly to stop that pay cut. But the Senate left town on a two-week recess without following suit. So doctors are left in limbo.

This is only the latest chapter in the frustrating spring ritual in Washington known as the “doc fix.”

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SGR. RIP, Hopefully
The Health Care Blog

The U.S. Senate has an opportunity next week to hammer the final nail in the coffin of the failed “sustainable growth rate” (SGR) formula for Medicare physician payment. At the same time, it can move the U.S. closer to a system that pays doctors for the quality of care they deliver, not the quantity. Bear in mind that Medicare pays about a third of the tab each year for all physician services in the U.S.

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Tackling the Hidden Crisis in Men’s Health Care
Pacific Standard

“Your guys are here to see you.” These matter-of-fact words from a veteran nurse spurred my interest in men’s health as a young physician. She hadn’t checked the appointment schedule. She simply knew. So rare were young men’s visits that their appearance meant they must be looking for me.

Two decades later, men continue to be seriously under-represented in our nation’s health care system. One telling study found that women were three times more likely than men to see a doctor on a regular basis.  Moreover, more than half of all men had not seen a primary care physician for a physical exam in the past year, while more than 40 percent had been diagnosed with chronic conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, or diabetes, according to another study. And as reflected in my own experience, the trend starts early. By mid to late adolescence, boys’ trips to primary care physicians have already started to drop off.

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Patients can address doctor’s office wait times
San Diego Union-Tribune

Practically everyone has experienced a long wait at one time or another while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room.

And while average wait times at a physician’s office shrank by one minute from last year, according to a survey on the physician review site, patients nationwide still wait an average of 19 minutes and 16 seconds to be seen.

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NorthBay breaks ground for new Wellness Center
The Reporter

NorthBay Healthcare continues to invest in Solano County and the Vacaville Community, this time with a $58 million state-of-the-art wellness center at its VacaValley Hospital campus.

Despite gloomy, rainy weather, spirits were high Tuesday afternoon at the ground breaking of the 110,000-square-foot building that will feature a medical fitness center and become the new home of the NorthBay Cancer Center, currently located in Fairfield.

“It’s a long-awaited day,” said Gary Passama, president and CEO of NorthBay Healthcare.

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St. Joseph Health Taps Chief Medical Officer
Orange County Business Journal

Irvine-based St. Joseph Health said today that Dr. Jack Cox is its new senior vice president and chief medical officer.

St. Joseph Health operates 16 hospitals in California, Texas and New Mexico, including St. Joseph Hospital-Orange, St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton and Mission Hospital, which has campuses in Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach.