News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation


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Doctors, Hospitals And Insurers Ask For More Pay From Medi-Cal

Sixteen dollars doesn’t cover a lot of overhead for doctors in California.

But that’s all they get paid for seeing a patient with Medi-Cal coverage, California’s version of Medicaid.

A coalition of doctors, hospitals and insurers called We Care for California is asking state lawmakers to give them a pay raise. The group complains California’s Medi-Cal rate is one of the lowest Medicaid rates in the nation.

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Addressing Emergency Department Flow, Inside and Out
HealthLeaders Media

In addressing ED flow problems, one can look at the demand side (ED visitors), the supply side (inpatient beds, usually), and the efficiency of what happens within the ED itself. Of course, there are circumstances where approaching the demand side of ED volume makes sense, but efforts to stem patient flow should be undertaken while recognizing the patient’s role in the decision to seek treatment, and the patient’s self-appraisal of the urgency.

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The Readmissions Penalty at Year Three: How Are We Doing?
The Health Care Blog

A few months ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) put out its latest year of data on the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). As a quick refresher – HRRP is the program within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that penalizes hospitals for higher than expected readmission rates. We are now three years into the program and I thought a quick summary of where we are might be in order.

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Health Law Tax Passed Along to States
New York Times

There’s more than a touch of absurdity in the way an industry fee in President Barack Obama’s health care law is being passed along to state taxpayers.

As Alice in Wonderland might say, a curious tax just got curiouser. The burden to states could mount to $13 billion in less than a decade.

The Health Insurance Providers Fee was aimed at insurance companies. The thinking went: Because insurers would gain a windfall of customers, they ought to help pay for the expansion of coverage.

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Healthcare too costly? Don’t fear telling your doctor
Los Angeles Times

Despite high medical costs topping Americans’ list of financial concerns, many of us have a hard time telling our doctors that the care they’re prescribing may break the bank.

As part of a recent awareness campaign called “I Wish My Doctor Knew,” the online health social network Inspire asked patients and caregivers what medical concerns they wish doctors better understood.

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Faculty Senate votes on screening policies for late career physicians
The Stanford Daily

At Thursday’s Faculty Senate meeting, members voted to pass a motion recommending that University leadership advise the Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford Health Care and Stanford Medicine to end screening processes that apply to Medical Center practitioners 74.5 years or older in age. The Faculty Senate also discussed diversity in university doctoral programs as well as changes in the body’s leadership.

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84% of Medical Specialties Lack Clinical Registry Affiliation
HealthLeaders Media

Of the clinical registries that exist in the United States, only a handful are up to snuff, and a lot of care isn’t being tracked at all, according to a stuy published in the Journal for Healthcare Quality.

It not only found that most U.S. clinical registries that collect data on patient outcomes are substandard, but also that the vast majority of recognized medical specialties in the United States have no national clinical registry.

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‘Groundbreaking’ cystic fibrosis treatment could improve quality of life for thousands
Washington Post

For most patients with cystic fibrosis, survival is about managing the symptoms through a series of lung treatments, medications and hospitalizations. The genetic condition, which prompts the body to make excess amounts of thick mucus that leads to loss of lung function and chronic infections, is aggressive and kills most before their 40s.

There’s only one approved drug that targets the underlying cause of the disease but it has only been found useful for a miniscule fraction of patients with a certain genetic mutation.

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State Pressured To Explain Why it Revoked Blue Shield Not-for-Profit Status
California Healthline

A consumer advocacy organization has launched a campaign to get state officials to explain why they revoked Blue Shield of California’s not-for-profit status last year. Consumer Watchdog also wants the state to explain why Californians didn’t learn of the decision for seven months.

The California Franchise Tax Board decided in August that Blue Shield of California, the state’s third-largest health insurer, no longer qualified as a not-for-profit company. The decision was noted in government records but the public didn’t hear about it until March this year when a newspaper reported the change.

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Paramedics Steer Non-Emergency Patients Away From ERs
Kaiser Health News

Paramedic Ryan Ramsdell pulled up to a single-story house not far from Reno’s towering hotels and casinos in a nondescript Ford Explorer.

No ambulance, no flashing lights. He wasn’t there to rush 68-year-old Earl Mayes to the emergency room. His job was to keep Mayes out of the ER.

Mayes, who has congestive heart failure and chronic lung disease, greeted Ramsdell and told him that his heart was fluttering more than usual. “I had an up-and-down night,” he said.

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New test could sharply reduce risky, costly lung cancer biopsies
Washington Post

When a suspicious lesion shows up in the lungs on a CT scan, the first thing your doctor wants to know is whether it’s cancerous. A specialist will pass a long, thin bronchoscope into your airway in the hope of grabbing a few cells of the growth so they can be examined under a microscope.

But some of these lesions or nodules are deep in the small branches of the lungs, out of reach of the bronchoscope, which is about the diameter of a pen. Other times, the results are inconclusive.

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Pomona health plan program targets women’s changing roles
San Bernardino Sun

Women are invited to explore their creative selves at a May 30 program sponsored by Inter Valley Health Plan.

This is the third year that the Pomona-based nonprofit has hosted a community event such as this one.

The free program is titled “Women’s Changing, Aging Roles.” It is geared to those 55 years old and older, but is part of an overall effort to encourage women to embrace life at all stages. The program is set from 9 a.m. to noon at the Western University of Health Sciences – Health Professions Center in downtown Pomona.