News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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No autism-vaccine link, study finds
San Diego Union-Tribune

No association was found between autism and getting the MMR vaccine, according to a study published Tuesday in JAMA.

The study of 95,000 children with older siblings also examined those at high risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), namely those who have an older autistic sibling. No link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism was found in these high-risk children, researchers said in the study.

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Pediatric Emergency Readiness Improving in Hospitals
HealthLeaders Media

Children have different medical needs than adults, and that’s also true in emergency situations. That’s why Marianne Gausche-Hill, MD, FACEP, FAAP, of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, says it’s “really heartening” that the nation’s emergency departments have significantly improved their pediatric readiness in the past several years.

Gausche-Hill is the author of a study published in JAMA Pediatrics this month, which assessed how well EDs are complying with recommendations for pediatric readiness that were issued in 2009 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Emergency Physicians, and Emergency Nurses Association.

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Screening Tests For Breast Cancer Genes Just Got Cheaper
National Public Radio

A new California company announced Monday it is offering a much cheaper and easier way for women to get tested for genetic mutations that increase their risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

Color Genomics of Burlingame, Calif., has begun selling a $249 test that it says can accurately analyze a saliva sample for mutations in the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, as well as check for 17 other genetic variants that have been associated with a somewhat increased risk for cancer of the breast or ovaries.

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Is It Time To Make Medical And Family Leave Paid?
National Public Radio

It’s been more than 20 years since passage of the landmark Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for medical or family reasons without losing their jobs.

Some workers’ advocates and politicians say it’s time to plug a big hole in the law by requiring that workers get paid while they’re on leave. But the change faces stiff opposition from some small business and other groups that argue that it would be too expensive and an unnecessary government intrusion.

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Poll: Obamacare in positive territory (by one point)
USA Today

There’s more evidence that President Obama’s health care law is gaining in popularity.

According to the monthly Kaiser Health Tracking Poll released Tuesday, 43% have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act and 42% have an unfavorable view — the first time the law has been in positive territory since November of 2012, the month President Obama won re-election.

Of course, the poll points out that the margin is “one percentage point, and the difference is within the survey’s margin of sampling error and is not statistically significant.”

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Poll: Obamacare pokes its head above the water line

The American public is still almost evenly divided in its views on Obamacare, a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows.

But for the first time since 2012, the president’s signature health care law has its head above water, with 43 percent viewing it favorably and 42 percent unfavorably. The split is still within the margin of error but a vast improvement for the law’s supporters since July of last year, when those opposed outweighed those in favor by 16 percentage points.

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Californians can now pay cash for health insurance at 7-Eleven
Southern California Public Radio

The largest publicly run health plan in the nation, L.A. Care, will allow customers who do not have traditional bank accounts to pay their health insurance premiums with cash.

One in four Americans who were previously uninsured and eligible for federal insurance subsidies don’t have a bank account, relying instead on prepaid debit cards, money orders and cash to pay bills, according to a study by Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.

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SGR Appeal: Fixing the Present, Setting a Foundation for the Future
The Health Care Blog

Last week, I was riveted to the deliberations on the Senate floor, as the fate of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA – so far, more commonly called the “SGR fix”) was decided. One amendment after another failed to pass; the legislation ultimately passed by a vote of 92-8, and was signed into law shortly thereafter.

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Pan Amends Vaccine Bill Ahead Of Do-Or-Die Committee Vote
capital public radio

The author of a bill that would require California school children to be vaccinated is making some last-minute changes ahead of a critical committee vote Wednesday.

Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) says the amendments would allow unvaccinated children to be home-schooled through the public school system’s independent study program – or in multi-family groups.

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Bill limiting vaccine exemptions at moment of truth
San Francisco Chronicle

A bill that would eliminate the option California parents use to skip their child’s school immunizations faces a do-or-die test Wednesday in a state Senate committee that came close to rejecting it last week.

The bill’s authors made two amendments in an effort to win committee support. One allows unvaccinated children to be home-schooled with non-family or non-household members, and the other allows students in recognized independent-study programs to skip required vaccinations.

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CNA Bill Harms the Affordable Care Act and Community Benefit Programs
PR Newswire

California’s not-for-profit hospitals would find their ability to carry out successful community benefit partnerships greatly harmed if Senate Bill (SB) 346 were passed and signed into law. SB 346 by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) would compromise the resources used by hospitals to tailor a wide array of community benefit programs to meet the specific health needs of their community. The bill would replace collaboration and flexibility with arbitrary formulas and rigid requirements that conflict with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Bills move forward to curb overuse of psychiatric medications in California foster care
The Mercury News

Following powerful testimony by former foster youth, a package of reform bills designed to rein in the excessive use of psychiatric drugs in California’s child welfare system met unanimous approval in the state Senate on Tuesday — the first step in a series of legislative moves ahead.

The foster youth told the Senate’s Human Services Committee they’d been kicked out of residential treatment programs for refusing drugs that caused them debilitating side effects, had been prescribed four and five medications at once, and often suffered in silence when no one was there to listen.

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Young Adults With Autism More Likely To Be Unemployed, Isolated
National Public Radio

The transition to adulthood marks a big turning point in life for everyone, but for young people on the autism spectrum that transition can be really tough.

Young adults with autism had lower employment rates and higher rates of complete social isolation than people with other disabilities, according to a report published Tuesday by the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute.

Two-thirds of young people with autism had neither a job nor educational plans during the first two years after high school. For over a third of young adults with autism, this continued into their early 20s, the report found.

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Physician Compensation, Dissatisfaction Ratchet Up
HealthLeaders Media

Physician compensation has seen modest gains since last year—but satisfaction has not risen along with pay, data from Medscape’s Annual Physician Compensation Report shows. The report is analyzes how compensation influences physician career considerations and job satisfaction.

Now in its fifth year, the survey of more than 19,500 physicians across 26 specialties reveals that most physicians saw a modest increase in pay in 2014, and that employment status, therapeutic specialty, and gender were the key drivers for physician compensation.

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Death in Secret: California’s Underground World of Assisted Suicide
KQED Radio

Physician-assisted suicide is illegal in California. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Sick patients sometimes ask for help in hastening their deaths, and some doctors will explain, vaguely, how to do it. This leads to bizarre, veiled conversations between medical professionals who want to help, but also want to avoid prosecution, and overwhelmed family members who are left to interpret euphemisms at one of the most confusing times of their lives.

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Nine Calif. Hospitals Among Becker’s List of 100 Best Facilities in U.S.
Becker's Hospital Review

Nine California hospitals made Becker’s Hospital Review’s 2015 list of “100 Great Hospitals in America,” Becker’s Hospital Review reports.

For the list, the editorial staff of Becker’s Hospital Review examined hospital rankings from several sources, including: The American Nurses Credentialing Center:

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Doctors Medical Center Closure Shows Struggle Of Hospitals That Serve The Poor
capital public radio

Doctors Medical Center, a 60-year-old hospital in San Pablo, has been struggling financially for two decades. Economic changes in health care are putting new pressures on hospitals, especially ones that serve the poor.

Doctors Medical Center is shutting down at 7 a.m. Tuesday, after two decades trying to close a budget deficit.

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Patients give Monterey County hospitals passing grades
The Californian - Salinas

Not one hospital in Monterey County received a five-star rating from a new patient satisfaction survey just released by the federal government.

However, hospital officials on Tuesday cautioned that the survey is but a snapshot — not the entire picture — of hospital quality.

Seeking a more simplified way of gauging patient satisfaction, the feds came up with the five-star system, similar to what consumers use to rank restaurants and other services.