News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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State Senate passes nurse practitioner bill
Southern California Public Radio

The California Senate approved a bill Thursday that would give nurse practitioners the right to treat patients without a doctor’s oversight in certain circumstances.

SB 323 passed on a 25 to 5 vote, and now moves on to the Assembly.

Currently, nurse practitioners must have a doctor oversee their work. Under the bill, they would be allowed to treat, diagnose and prescribe medications without that oversight, so long as they were affiliated with a medical group. Those unaffiliated with a medical group would not be able to practice on their own.

The bill’s author, Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), said SB 323 is meant to help ensure access to health care in the face of a looming provider shortage as millions more people get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The need will be especially acute in rural and inner city areas, he added.

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Hospital Infection Reporting to Widen, Definitions to Get More Precise
HealthLeaders Media

A two-pronged federal effort launching this year seeks to more accurately collect hospital-acquired infection rates.

The new, more specific definitions of infections seek to reduce confusion among providers, health officials say. The aims are first to assure clinicians report beyond the ICU to general med-surge patients, and second, to prevent hospitals from subjectively interpreting what qualifies as a reportable infection.

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Health disparities, assimilation threaten ‘Latino Paradox’
Sacramento Bee

Maria Watts remembers digging as a child through her family fridge for tamales before school each day. The traditional Mexican fare, left over from one of her family’s nightly sit-down dinners, made for an excellent breakfast hand-prepared by her immigrant mother.

Home-cooked meals, neighborhood soccer games and religious traditions are thought to be crucial to “the Hispanic Paradox,” a term researchers have applied to the fact that Latinos continue to enjoy the longest life expectancy despite being some of California’s most impoverished and least insured residents.

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Heart Attack Survival Better When Meds Are Free
HealthLeaders Media

Providing appropriate preventive drugs to patients free of charge following a heart attack would increase survival and save billions annually, a cost-effectiveness analysis found. Compared with usual coverage, providing beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE I) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB), statins, and aspirin without cost to patients would result in greater quality-adjusted survival (0.14 quality-adjusted life years) and less cost ($4,011 savings) per patient.

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Consultant: Obamacare not in danger, but may face changes
Healthcare Finance News

Like most people, healthcare consultant Paul Keckley, doesn’t believe the recently passed Senate budget resolution spells the end of the Affordable Care Act. Though he’s not so sure when it comes to change to the so-called “employer mandate.”

“There’s a rigorous debate on what is full-time,” said Keckley, managing director for Navigant Center Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis. “It will be tweaked but it doesn’t go away.”

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Walk-in clinics bring affordable, on-demand health care to the masses
Fresno Bee

The tradition and inconvenience of appointment-based health care is under attack across America.

A growing number of walk-in health clinics, with late-night and weekend hours, on-site prescription drugs and cheaper prices, are proving a hit with busy patients who’ve grown tired of getting medical treatment when it’s most convenient for doctors.

Walk-in clinics include the nation’s 1,900-plus retail health clinics and more than 6,400 urgent care centers.

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Half of remaining uninsured are workers; look for small-biz push
Sacramento Business Journal

Small business owners and their workers are up next in the push to sign uninsured Californians up for coverage. About half the people still uninsured but eligible for coverage under Obamacare are workers, so it’s time to ramp up attention on this sector of the market, speakers said at a Capitol hearing Wednesday. Covered California for Small Business — the new name for the Small Employer Health Options Program better known as SHOP — hopes to bolster enrollment significantly this fall.

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Nearly 1 in 4 Californians Hit By Surprise Medical Bills
KQED Radio

Over the past two years almost one in four Californians with private health insurance received a surprise medical bill — a bill where the insurer paid less than expected — according to a survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

Of those consumers who had been hospitalized or went to an emergency department, 23 percent were charged an out-of-network rate when they had thought the doctor was in-network. “This is one of the big loopholes in the health insurance system that perpetuates the bill shock that consumers are facing,” said Betsy Imholz of Consumers Union in San Francisco who oversaw analysis of the California survey results. “It really puts consumers in the middle of the battle between insurance providers and out-of-network doctors in particular.”

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GOP-led Medicaid expansion states test limits of CMS flexibility on waivers
Modern Healthcare

Republican-led states that already expanded Medicaid now are coming back to the Obama administration with requests to move their expansion programs in more conservative directions, including higher cost sharing for beneficiaries, work requirements, and coverage time limits. These moves may test the limits of the administration’s flexibility and could lead to rollbacks in Medicaid expansion across the country.

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State Expands Dental Coverage for Poor — But Getting Treatment Is Another Matter
KQED Radio

Inside the cavernous main building at the Sacramento County Fairgrounds was a beehive of activity. But this was no county fair or concert.

Instead, hundreds of long, reclining dental chairs fill the floor, and 2,000 people wait for a turn. The sound of drilling buzzed the air, and the acrid smell of anesthetic permeated it.

It was free dental day – a special program run by the California Dental Association Foundation. “CDA Cares” took over the entire fairgrounds for this event in March, and 300 dentists were busy pumping in Novocain and making lame jokes to captive patients.

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Little Known Disease Accounts for 4 in 10 Hospital Deaths
Healthline

There’s a disease you’ve likely never heard of that kills more people every year than breast or prostate cancer.

In fact, it accounts for 4 in 10 hospital deaths, but less than half of people in the United States have ever heard of it.

Patti Alber, 54, and Ashley Gallegos, 27, were unaware of it until the illness took them to death’s door.

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In deal with big drugmaker, Sutter will test new approaches to common chronic conditions
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Health launched a research partnership Wednesday with drug maker AstraZeneca to work on new approaches to care for patients with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and other conditions. The nonprofit health system will work with U.S.-based management of the London-based for-profit global biopharmaceutical company to design and pilot new ways to track patients and improve care.

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Blue Shield’s $1.25-billion deal for Care1st faces more state scrutiny
Los Angeles Times

Bowing to demands from consumer advocates, state regulators will hold a hearing next month on Blue Shield of California’s proposed acquisition of Medicaid insurer Care1st for $1.25 billion.

The California Department of Managed Health Care said both companies will explain their rationale for the deal at the June 8 hearing in Sacramento. The public will also have a chance to chime in.

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California Senate votes to expand powers of nurse practitioners
Los Angeles Times

Addressing a doctor shortage that is especially dire in rural parts of California, the state Senate voted Thursday to let nurse practitioners do much more for patients, including diagnosing and ordering treatment and prescribing drugs, without supervision by a physician.

Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) said his bill will make sure that Californians have easier access to primary healthcare by giving more responsibility to nurse practitioners in certain settings, including medical clinics.

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Molina Healthcare’s profit surges, fueled by Medicaid, exchange plans
Modern Healthcare

Molina Healthcare recorded booming revenue and net income figures in the first quarter, a direct result of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid and private health coverage.

“We believe that government-sponsored initiatives, including the Affordable Care Act, will continue to provide us with significant opportunities for membership growth in our existing markets and in new programs in the future,” Molina said Thursday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Thanks to whistleblower, Blue Shield’s $1.25 billion California acquisition under review
San Francisco Business Times

The state Department of Managed Health Care is reviewing Blue Shield of California’s $1.25 billion bid to acquire Medi-Cal specialist Care1st, after complaints from whistleblower Michael Johnson, a former Blue Shield executive, and several consumer groups. A hearing on the deal is scheduled for early June.

San Francisco-based Blue Shield announced the proposed deal in early December. Later, thanks in part to issues like those raised by Johnson, a former public policy director at Blue Shield, the giant insurer had its California tax-exempt status yanked by the Franchise Tax Board, increasing scrutiny on Blue Shield.

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O.C. clinics awarded nearly $2 million in Obamacare grants to help those most in need
Orange County Register

Three Orange County community clinics have been awarded a total of nearly $2 million in grants from the Department of Health and Human Services to improve health care access for those who need it the most – the uninsured, underinsured and new Medi-Cal enrollees.

Among Orange County’s beneficiaries are La Habra-based Friends of Family Health Center, which will receive $650,000 in grant funding, and Share Our Selves in Costa Mesa and the Vietnamese Community of Orange County, which will receive $704,167 each.

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Doctors Hospital earns top rating for patient safety
Manteca Bulletin

Doctors Hospital of Manteca was honored with an “A” grade in the Spring 2015 Hospital Safety Score, which rates how well hospitals protect patients from errors, injuries and infections.

The Hospital Safety Score is compiled under the guidance of the nation’s leading experts on patient safety and is administered by The Leapfrog Group (Leapfrog), an independent industry watchdog. The first and only hospital safety rating to be peer-reviewed in the Journal of Patient Safety.

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