News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Huge coalition launches $10M media campaign to hike Medi-Cal rates
Sacramento Business Journal

A coalition of health care, business, consumer and labor groups will spend $10 million over the next eight weeks on a media campaign to convince state leaders to raise Medi-Cal rates.

The group wants lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown to support two bills that would roll back Medi-Cal provider cuts — and, ultimately, increase rates to the same level that Medicare pays. Senate Bill 243 by Senate Health Committee chair Ed Hernandez and Assembly Bill 366 by Assembly Health Committee chair Rob Bonta are virtually the same.

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Amid slower growth, California’s Obamacare exchange cuts proposed spending
Los Angeles Times

After using most of $1 billion in federal start-up money, California’s Obamacare exchange is preparing to go on a diet.

That financial reality is reflected in Covered California’s proposed budget, to be released Wednesday, as well as a reduced forecast calling for 2016 enrollment of fewer than 1.5 million people.

The recalibration comes after tepid enrollment growth for California during the second year of the Affordable Care Act.

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Cystic Fibrosis Drug Wins Approval of F.D.A. Advisory Panel
New York Times

A federal advisory committee on Tuesday recommended approval of a drug from Vertex Pharmaceuticals that might eventually help nearly half of patients with cystic fibrosis.

The advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted 12 to 1 that the drug, which Vertex plans to call Orkambi, was safe and effective enough to be approved. The F.D.A. is supposed to decide by July 5.

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HHS lifts HIV organ-donor ban
Modern Healthcare

Individuals with HIV will no longer be prohibited from donating organs in the U.S. HHS on Friday lifted a regulatory hurdle that has prevented use of organs from infected patients in research since 1988, the height of the HIV epidemic.

The policy, which goes into effect June 8, means kidneys and livers from donors infected with the human immunodeficiency virus can be collected and transplanted into HIV-infected recipients through specified clinical research studies.

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Inside Washington: No fallout for congressional health plan
San Francisco Chronicle

If the Supreme Court rules the way most Republicans want in the latest health overhaul case, GOP lawmakers who now have insurance coverage under President Barack Obama’s law may wind up with some explaining to do.

Members of Congress, staffers and dependents actually get their health insurance under a little-known provision of “Obamacare.” But if the Supreme Court strikes down government health care subsidies for millions of people in more than 30 states, legal and benefits experts say coverage for lawmakers from those states won’t be affected.

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FDA publishes draft of rules allowing gay men to give blood
Washington Post

The Food and Drug Administration published proposed guidelines Tuesday that would allow gay men to donate blood for the first time in 30 years, a move that follows a recommendation from an agency advisory committee late last year.

The draft of the guidelines states that a man should be barred from giving blood only for one year after he has had sex with another man. The FDA has banned blood donations from any man who has had sex with another man at any time since 1977.

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How CFOs Tackle Financial Integration
Health Leaders Media

With most mergers and acquisitions, chief financial officers quickly realize that consolidating finance operations would improve efficiency and lower costs. Achieving that integration is no small task, however, and healthcare executives who have met that challenge more than once say it requires a focus on common platforms and sensitivity to the impact on employees.

The feasibility of merging finance operations was one factor considered in the recent merger of Banner Health in Phoenix with the University of Arizona Health Network.

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Number of Americans using $100,000 in medicines triples -Express Scripts

May 13 More than a half-million U.S. patients had medication costs in excess of $50,000 in 2014, an increase of 63 percent from the prior year, as doctors prescribed more expensive specialty drugs for diseases such as cancer and hepatitis C, according to an Express Scripts report released on Wednesday.

Of the estimated 575,000 Americans who used at least $50,000 in prescription medicines last year, about 139,000 used at least $100,000 worth of medication, nearly triple the 47,000 who hit that mark in 2013, the report said.

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Medical experts propose expansion of organ procurement process
Hanford Sentinel

The U.S. health care system could significantly cut waiting times for transplants if it recovered organs from people who die outside of hospitals or in the emergency department, according to an article published online Monday by The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The change would require new thinking about organ donation and new protocols, such as the deployment of mobile preservation teams when deaths occur in homes or other nonhospital settings.

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With Specialists In Short Supply, L.A. County Turns To e-Consulting
Kaiser Health News

Doctors called it the black hole. If their low-income or uninsured patients needed specialty care, they put in a referral to the massive Los Angeles County health care bureaucracy and then waited — for weeks or even months. It could take eight months to see a neurologist, more than three to see a cardiologist.

To speed things up, doctors at county and community clinics urged their patients to go straight to the emergency room, the unofficial back door for specialist appointments.

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900 Heath Net workers in Rancho Cordova face uncertain future
Sacramento Business Journal

About 900 Health Net employees in Rancho Cordova face an uncertain future as most of their jobs are shifted to a contractor, Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp.

Health Net estimates 878 employees will get job offers from Cognizant, be “re-badged” and do pretty much the same work they do now. But 27 will be laid off. And big questions remain about how long the Cognizant jobs will last.

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Expanded ER finally open at Rideout
The Appeal-Democrat

It’s official. After a two-year wait from the time the ribbon was cut, the state has licensed Rideout Memorial Hospital’s new emergency department expansion.

A California Department of Public Health inspection team showed up at the hospital at 10 a.m. Tuesday, finished its survey before noon, called the field office in Chico and, after a call to the Sacramento office, had all of the approvals for the emergency department to open for business.