News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Having a stroke in the hospital can mean slower care, not faster
Modern Healthcare

Some of the sickest patients with the most urgent need for stroke treatment may be the least likely to receive timely life-saving care because they’re in the hospital when the stroke hits, according to a new study.

Compared with stroke sufferers whose symptoms began outside of a hospital, hospitalized patients waited more than two hours longer for brain scans. They were also “more likely to be dead or disabled at discharge,” according to a study published Monday in the journal JAMA Neurology.

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As Data Breaches Spread, Providers and Payers Must Prepare
HealthLeaders Media

Three words healthcare executives dread hearing — “we’ve been hacked” — are reverberating in hospitals, health systems and physicians groups with growing frequency.

Just last week, Boston-based Partners Healthcare notified 3,300 patients that some information including names, addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers and Social Security numbers and clinical information had been leaked to hackers. In February, the country’s largest insurance company, Anthem, announced that 80 million member and employee records had been breached.

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Are emergency room visits up under Obamacare?
Southern California Public Radio

A poll of emergency room doctors, released Monday, finds that visits to the ER have increased since January 2014, when the Affordable Care Act came into effect.

Reducing ER visits, costs, and wait times was one of the main arguments by Obamacare’s supporters in pushing for the legislation.

It’s not the first indication that ER visits may go up after Medicaid expands. A Harvard study looked at Oregon’s expanding Medicaid pool from 2008-2011 and found a similar jump.

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Obamacare impact substantial
The Appeal-Democrat

Whether you believe the Affordable Care Act is an ill-conceived health care boondoggle or the answer to an ailing medical insurance system, there is no doubt it has brought coverage to more people. It’s been about five years since the act, known not always affectionately as Obamacare, was enacted. It’s been just over a month since the end of the second enrollment period.

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Senate adopts Republican budget targeting Obamacare
Modern Healthcare

The Senate on Tuesday adopted a Republican budget that paves the way for an assault on President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law this summer and a partisan showdown over spending bills this fall.

The Senate passed the nonbinding measure by a nearly party-line 51-48 vote. The House adopted it last week.

Under Washington’s budget process, lawmakers first adopt a budget that’s essentially a visionary document that sets goals that politicians are often unwilling to pursue. The Republican document also lacks specifics about which programs would be cut, insulating the Senate’s large crop of vulnerable incumbents from taking a more politically dangerous vote.

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Medicare’s Value-based Care Payments Gaining Momentum
HealthLeaders Media

About 42% of Medicare’s $360 billion in payments to providers in its fee-for-service program in 2013 were linked with efforts to boost the value of patient care, which is roughly on pace with similar initiatives among commercial payers, an independent review shows.

The first-of-its-kind Scorecard on Medicare Payment Reform was released Tuesday by Catalyst for Payment Reform, a nonprofit coalition of employer and healthcare purchasers.

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U.S. Medicare test program saved hundreds of million of dollars-study

A U.S. government test program with doctors and hospitals slowed healthcare spending in Medicare coverage for the elderly and disabled by hundreds of millions of dollars in 2012 and 2013 but savings were less in the second year, a study released Monday said.

The Journal of the American Medical Association study looked at beneficiaries in 32 Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), in which hospitals and doctors follow 33 quality and care standards for Medicare fee-for-service patients. In return they can receive a portion of any healthcare savings back from the government.

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California lawmakers push for new VA clinic
Sacramento Bee

California lawmakers are still trying to breathe life into a French Camp medical clinic designed to serve veterans living in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada foothills.

Now, the resuscitation effort is up to the Senate.

On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she will “continue to push” for California clinics including the one proposed for French Camp.

“We need more VA health facilities in the…Valley to help veterans access the health care they have earned and deserve,” Feinstein said.

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Spore Wars Help Fend Off Life-Threatening Bacterial Infections
National Public Radio

Infections with the bacteria Clostridium difficile are a big problem, killing 29,000 people a year. Many of those people got infected while in the hospital. And antibiotics often don’t work.

So how about this: Take spores from a harmless version of C. difficile and use them to fight off the bad bugs?

That’s just what researchers at the VA hospital in Hines, Ill., did.

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Whooping Cough Vaccine’s Protection Fades Quickly
National Public Radio

Lately, Californians have been focused on a measles outbreak that got its start at Disneyland. But in the past five years, state health officials have declared epidemics of whooping cough twice — in 2010 and in 2014, when 11,000 people were sickened and three infants died.

Now an analysis of a recent whooping cough epidemic in Washington state shows that the effectiveness of the Tdap vaccine used to fight the illness (also known as pertussis) waned significantly. For adolescents who received all their shots, effectiveness within one year of the final booster was 73 percent. The effectiveness rate plummeted to 34 percent within two to four years.

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A Matter Of Faith And Trust: Why African-Americans Don’t Use Hospice
Kaiser Health News

Even as end-of-life planning gains favor with more Americans, African-Americans, research shows, remain very skeptical of options like hospice and advance directives. The result can mean more aggressive, painful care at the end of life that prolongs suffering.

Kaiser Health News correspondent Sarah Varney, working in collaboration with PBS NewsHour, examines why this disparity exists and what is being done to change it.

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Hospital tower still due in August
Sacramento Business Journal

The Sutter Health sign went up last week on the freeway side of the new women’s and children’s center in midtown Sacramento. It still looks like the long-awaited delivery of the new hospital will occur Aug. 8, spokesman Gary Zavoral said. The Anderson Lucchetti Women’s and Children’s Center received state approval a couple of months ago. Now Sutter is training staff and stocking the place.

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County helps St. Helena Hospital finance renovations
Napa Valley Register

Napa County will help St. Helena Hospital obtain $7 million in tax-exempt bonds for the hospital’s almost-completed Project Transform renovations, though no county money or obligations are involved.

Adventist Health System/West, the hospital’s nonprofit parent group, is seeking up to $55 million in tax exempt bonds for various projects in Napa and other counties. It will use $7 million to help pay for St. Helena Hospital renovations.

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Kaweah Delta gets an ‘A’ for safety
The Foothills Sun Gazette

Kaweah Delta Medical Center has earned an “A,” the top grade for patient safety in the latest Hospital Safety Score. The score rates how well hospitals protect patients from accidents, errors, injuries and infections.

“This ‘A’ recognizes the dramatic improvements we’ve made in quality of care and patient safety. We’re proud of this honor, but our goal will always be to improve our performance in the future for our patients,” said Lindsay Mann, Chief Executive Officer of Kaweah Delta Health Care District.

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Pair of local hospitals receive improved marks in latest safety report

Two area hospitals improved their grades on a national report card this spring after receiving Cs last fall for their patient quality care.

Glendale Adventist Medical Center received an A, while Providence St. Joseph got a B based on the 28 categories that nonprofit Leapfrog Group averaged out to determine the grades. Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital once again was given a C. The data was pooled from surveys conducted by the American Hospital Assn. and Medicare.