News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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The State-Level Future of Healthcare Reform
The Atlantic

The Supreme Court’s ruling in King v. Burwell, whatever it may be, won’t mark the end of Obamacare. On the other hand, Obamacare itself was never intended to be the last word on the country’s healthcare needs. At the state level — where, unlike Congress, elected officials actually have to govern — Republicans are already proposing and even enacting their own approaches to healthcare reform. The likely result is a national consensus, at some point in the future, on a plan that both parties could have agreed upon a long time in the past.

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Medical Schools Reboot For 21st Century
National Public Radio

Medicine has changed a lot in the past 100 years. But medical training hasn’t — until now. Spurred by the need to train a different type of doctor, some top medical schools around the U.S. are tearing up the textbooks and starting from scratch.

Most medical schools still operate under a model pioneered in the early 1900s by an educator named Abraham Flexner.

“Flexner did a lot of great things,” says Dr. Raj Mangrulkar, associate dean for medical student education at the University of Michigan Medical School. “But we’ve learned a lot and now we’re absolutely ready for a new model.”

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1 in 5 Adults Report Age Discrimination in Healthcare Settings
HealthLeaders Media

Ageism is common in healthcare, and when older adults experience it frequently, they’re more likely to develop new or worsened disability, according to a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Researchers analyzed data from 6,017 Americans older than 50 who took part in the 2008, 2010, and 2012 nationally representative Health and Retirement Study. They found that one out of five of these adults experience discrimination in healthcare settings, and one in 17 experiences it frequently.

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Study Finds Health Care Getting More Expensive and Disparate
US News

Health care is more affordable in California and New York than it is in Texas and Florida.

That’s according to a report released Friday by The Commonwealth Fund, a research group that analyzed the country’s four largest states. It found significant differences among the states in rates of health insurance coverage, delays in care because of cost, and problems paying medical bills – much of which the authors attributes to states’ decisions to expand Medicaid.

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Obama Administration Report Slams Digital Health Records
The Wall Street Journal

The Obama administration took vendors of electronic health records to task for making it costly and cumbersome to share patient information and frustrating a $30 billion push to use digital records to improve quality and cut costs.

The report, by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, listed a litany of complaints it has received about vendors allegedly charging hefty fees to set up connections and share patient records; requiring customers to use proprietary platforms; and making it prohibitively expensive to switch systems.

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Health IT: ‘We Were Bound To Be Disappointed’
HealthLeaders Media

Robert Wachter, MD, works an hour north of Silicon Valley. Being surrounded by an “incredibly dynamic, vibrant IT ecosystem” contributed to a sense of disconnect for the associate chairman of medicine at the University of California San Francisco.

Wachter couldn’t help but compare the nimbleness of companies to the sense of disappointment with the state of technology in healthcare, he told MedPage Today.

He doesn’t mince words. “In retrospect, we were bound to be disappointed,” reads the first line of his latest book, “The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age,” when he compares the daily experience of consumer technology to healthcare’s less straightforward path to computerization.

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Electronic Medical Records May Cast Physicians in Unfavorable Light During Lawsuits
The Health Care Blog

While the electronic medical record (EMR) has advantages, it also has introduced liability risks. EMRs can lead to lawsuits or result in a weak defense by casting the physician in an unfavorable light.

EMRs can increase malpractice risk in documentation of clinical findings—copying and pasting previously entered information can perpetuate any prior mistakes or fail to document a changing clinical situation. 1 In a study by The Doctors Company of 97 EMR-related closed claims from 2007 to 2014, 13 percent of cases involved prepopulating/copy-and-paste as a contributing factor.2 Copy-and-paste is a necessary evil to save time during documentation of daily notes, but whatever is pasted must also be edited to reflect the current situation. Too often the note makes reference to something that happened “yesterday.”

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Medicaid expansion battles continue as legislative sessions wind down
Modern Healthcare

Bipartisan efforts continue in three states to expand Medicaid to low-income adults, as the clock runs down on their legislative sessions. But expansion supporters, including hospital and business groups, face tough fights against conservatives, spearheaded by an advocacy group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, who oppose anything associated with the Affordable Care Act.

The possibility of expansion is still alive in Alaska, Florida and Montana.  An effort to expand Medicaid in Nebraska ended when lawmakers there voted 28-16 on Wednesday to send expansion legislation to the bottom of their agenda, making it unlikely it will be debated again this year.

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‘Doc fix’ still on track despite two weeks to lose steam
Modern Healthcare

Two weeks have passed since the Senate left town without taking action on legislation to permanently repeal Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula for paying doctors. That left the deal in limbo and disappointed healthcare advocates who thought that a permanent “doc fix” was imminent.But with Congress set to return on Tuesday, no serious threats to the deal have emerged and the Senate appears poised to end the decade-plus cycle of short-term fixes.

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Don’t cut coverage for 1 million children
Fresno Bee

With the May deadline for finalizing California’s budget looming, our state leaders need an answer from the U.S. Senate on whether it will deliver on more than a half a billion dollars in annual federal funding promised to California families for their kids’ health insurance coverage.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a critical source of coverage for low- and moderate-income working families that makes sure California’s kids get the care they need to stay healthy and succeed.

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Building better health care: New alliances form between health care heavyweights, former rivals
San Francisco Business Times

San Francisco and the upscale suburb of Walnut Creek are 24 miles and seven BART stations apart. But the two are joining forces in a new alliance that could be the heart of a much bigger constellation of partners — and the latest sign of the major changes under way in Bay Area health care. UCSF Medical Center and Walnut Creek-based John Muir Health finalized a partnership in mid-March. It includes a jointly owned accountable care network along with a development company to build new medical centers, possibly on the eastern edges of the Bay Area and elsewhere.

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Brain scan can guide autism diagnosis
San Diego Union-Tribune

Brain scans of possibly autistic infants and toddlers can predict whether they will develop normal language skills, according to a new study by UC San Diego researchers.

If the results hold up, this would be the first time that brain imaging of living children has been used successfully to guide autism diagnosis and help choose appropriate therapy. Currently, autism assessments are based on behavior.

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Natividad Medical Center honored for bariatric surgery
The Californian - Salinas

Looking for top-notch bariatric surgery? Look no further than Natividad Medical Center in Salinas.

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Sutter Health considering closing major East Bay hospital
San Francisco Business Times

Sutter Health is considering the closure of its Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley before January 2030, a step that could cost thousands of jobs and leave the upper East Bay without a significant private hospital between Vallejo and Oakland.

That assumes, as seems increasingly likely, that the West Contra Costa Healthcare District will follow through with plans to close its financially ailing Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo by month-end.

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