News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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Nurse practitioner scope-of-practice bill moves ahead
Sacramento Business Journal

A hotly debated bill that would allow nurse practitioners to do what they are trained to do without supervision by a doctor was approved by the state Senate last week.

The vote was 25-5, with nine other lawmakers not voting. Votes were bipartisan all the way down the line, with Democrats and Republicans in all three clumps. Senator Richard Pan from Sacramento, a doctor, was the only Democratic “no” vote on the bill.

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Home Visits By Nurses For First-Time Mothers Help Reduce Government Costs
Kaiser Health News

Symphonie Dawson was 23 and studying to be a paralegal while working part-time for a temporary staffing agency when she learned that the reason she kept feeling sick was because she was pregnant.

Living with her mom and two siblings near Dallas, Dawson worried about what to expect during pregnancy and what giving birth would be like, not to mention how to juggle having a baby with being in school.

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What’s Next If The Supreme Court Strikes Down Obamacare Aid?
Kaiser Health News

Millions of Americans get subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. But those subsidies are being challenged. And in the coming weeks the Supreme Court could rule that in more than 30 states, the subsidies are illegal.

To find out what federal and state lawmakers could do if the subsidies disappear, we spoke to Linda Blumberg, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, an economic and social policy think tank. This is a lightly edited transcript of the conversation.

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Feds put hospitals on notice with Florida settlements over ambulance rides
Modern Healthcare

Nine Florida hospitals have agreed to pay $6.2 million to settle allegations that they led ambulance companies to bill federal health programs for medically unnecessary rides, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida announced Friday.

It’s a case government officials say could have implications for hospitals across the country. Andrea Treese Berlin, senior counsel with the office of counsel to the HHS Inspector General, said the settlement should put hospitals on alert when it comes to making sure they’re properly signing Certificates of Medical Necessity and Physician Certification Statements.

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Low, Middle Income Workers Most Vulnerable To Loss Of Obamacare Subsidies
National Public Radio

The Supreme Court may soon rule Obamacare subsidies illegal in about three dozen states. NPR’s Audie Cornish talks to Linda Blumberg of the Urban Institute about the options those states would have.

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Free Contraceptives Must Be Free, Obama Administration Tells Insurers
National Public Radio

Free means free. The Obama administration said Monday that health plans must offer free at least one option for every type of prescription birth control free of charge to consumers. The instructions clarify the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.

“Today’s guidance seeks to eliminate any ambiguity,” the Health and Human Services Department said. “Insurers must cover without cost-sharing at least one form of contraception in each of the methods that the Food and Drug Administration has identified … including the ring, the patch and intrauterine devices.”

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U.S. closes insurance loopholes on preventive care
Los Angeles Times

The Obama administration Monday closed a series of insurance loopholes on coverage of preventive care.

The Department of Health and Human Services said insurers must cover at least one birth control option under each of 18 methods approved by the FDA — without copays.

Also, insurers can’t charge patients for anesthesia services in connection with colonoscopies to screen for cancer risk.

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House Dems: Repeal medical device tax by Memorial Day
The Hill

More than a dozen Democrats are pressuring House leadership to advance a bill that repeals ObamaCare’s medical device tax before Memorial Day.

Rep. Scott Peters (Calif.) led 17 House Democrats in a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging “timely passage” of the bill.

Peters and 17 other Democrats warned that the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices is prompting companies to slash their budgets on research and development, which they say “puts the discovery of new breakthrough medical technologies at risk.”

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State Legislatures Quarrel Over Whether To Expand Medicaid
National Public Radio

Five years after the Affordable Care Act passed, the law’s provision allowing the expansion of Medicaid coverage to more people is still causing huge fights in state legislatures.

Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia said yes to Medicaid expansion when the law went into effect. Since then, just six more have signed on. States that say yes get billions of additional federal dollars, but many Republican lawmakers are loathe to say yes to the Obama administration.

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Amended California vaccine bill bypasses appropriations committee
Sacramento Bee

California’s controversial proposal to eliminate the personal and religious belief exemptions for vaccinations could come up for a vote in the Senate as early as Thursday after amendments were quietly made to the bill last week.

Senate Bill 277 no longer includes a provision that would require schools to notify parents of their immunization rates, removing the financial costs associated with the legislation and allowing it to skip the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Understanding Value-Based Purchasing
The Health Care Blog

Value-based care is one of the most misunderstood and controversial areas in a rapidly evolving healthcare system. This helpful webinar introduces and clarifies many of the core concepts involved in the transition to the value-based model. You’ll get a walk through of programs offered by CMS. Learn how programs are measured. Hear about the success of programs to date. Find out what organizational changes are necessary for the transition.

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Kaweah Delta earns ‘A’ in hospital Safety
Visialia Times-Delta

There are a few “firsts” going on at Kaweah Delta Health Care District and it’s leaving staff and administration feeling proud.

The level III Trauma Center just received the top letter grade “A” for patient safety in the latest hospital safety score.

The rating was done by the Leapfrog Group, a national patient safety rating organization.

This is the first time the medical facility received the top letter grade in its three-year rating history with Leapfrog, according to Kaweah Delta staff.

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Scopes linked to UCLA superbug raised concerns in Europe, report says
Southern California Public Radio

The scopes that spread a superbug at UCLA last winter had previously led to outbreaks in Holland and Germany and raised concerns at European regulators, according to a doctors’ report in the medical journal Endoscopy.

That outbreak at Ronald Reagan Medical Center led to multiple deaths and exposed dozens of patients to the deadly bacteria. But information about the faulty scopes, manufactured by Olympus Corporation, was unknown to American regulators.

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Family Doctors Who Do More, Save More
National Public Radio

Is a good family doctor one who treats your knee pain and manages your recovery from heart surgery? Or is it one who refers you to an orthopedist and a cardiologist?

Those are questions at the heart of a debate about primary care – one with serious health and financial implications.

A study from the American Academy of Family Physician’s Robert Graham Centersheds some light on this topic. The findings, published in the latest issue of Annals of Family Medicine, suggest that family doctors who provide more care themselves save the health system money.

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Merced groups seek health coverage for undocumented immigrants
Merced Sun-Star

More than 250 people gathered at Tenaya Middle School in south Merced on Friday to ask that health care be accessible to all, regardless of immigration status.

The event, led by community residents and local nonprofits, served as a space for those who are unable to obtain health care coverage to share how it affects their everyday lives.

Currently, undocumented immigrants are excluded from the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

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Why doctors’ group is wrong about empowering nurse practitioners
Los Angeles Times

In September 2013, just as Covered California was preparing to enroll a million new patients in the state’s healthcare system, the state Senate caved to pressure from the California Medical Assn. and voted down a bill that would empower nurse practitioners to see patients without supervision by a medical doctor. Last week, it corrected its error, passing a similar bill despite renewed opposition from the state doctors’ guild, which whined, as it has for years, that allowing nurse practitioners to operate independently would put patients at risk.

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Open Sourcing What Works in Health & Wellness
The Health Care Blog

Few argue that we have a fully optimized healthcare system. In fact, many argue the opposite. I have good news for you. All of the components of a high achieving health ecosystem have not only been created — they have been proven with solid evidence backing them up.

The future is here. It is just unevenly distributed. — William Gibson

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Hoag makes push to reduce C-section births
Orange County Register

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, one of the largest medical facilities in Orange County, needed to move quickly.

A big insurer had warned that Hoag’s maternity costs were too high and it might be cut from the plan’s network. The reason? Too many Cesarean sections.

“We were under intense scrutiny,” said Dr. Allyson Brooks, executive medical director of Hoag’s women’s health institute.

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Palm Drive Health Care District Meeting for Detachment Decision in Limbo
Sonoma County Gazette

Another public meeting without resolution on whether Russian River Corridor Communities can detach from the Palm Drive Health Care District (PDHCD) and stop paying a parcel tax to support a hospital people say they no longer need. Back when the parcel tax was approved by voters, Palm Drive was the closest hospital to all West County Communities. Since then Sutter has moved to Larkfield which makes it a straight shot east on River Road from communities as far away as Jenner.

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Building an Effective Physician Enterprise
Health Leaders Media

One of the more important strategic imperatives for hospitals and health systems is “physician alignment.” That’s been shorthand for finding a way for healthcare organizations to share risk and accountability with physicians as the industry moves gradually toward a changing payment orthodoxy based on cost and outcomes. Lately, the drive for physician alignment for many organizations is more than just talk. Many organizations are backing this drive with considerable investment in new management structures and specialized talent, information technology, and team-based care.

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