News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Carotid Artery Stenting Outcomes Vary Widely by Hospital
HealthLeaders Media

In-hospital outcomes among patients undergoing carotid artery stenting (CAS) in the U.S. varied fourfold after adjusting for differences in patient risk factors in an analysis of data from a large, nationwide stenting registry.

Significant variation was seen among hospitals performing CAS in both in-hospital stroke and death, with the risk-adjusted variation ranging from 1.2% to 4.7%, researcher Beau M. Hawkins, MD, of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, and colleagues wrote in the journal JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions, published online May 18.

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‘Underinsured’ May be the Next Healthcare Crisis
HealthLeaders Media

High-deductible health insurance plans have been touted as a means to expand coverage to millions of people who otherwise could not afford it.

New reports out this month suggest that high-deductible non-group plans are not a silver bullet, however, and that while the premiums may be affordable, the costs of accessing care remains prohibitively high.

A survey released this week by The Commonwealth Fund found that 31 million adults ages 19–64 with health coverage were “underinsured” in 2014, and that oftentimes these underinsured people skimped on care because it was too expensive.

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Calming Dementia Patients — Without Powerful Drugs
KQED Radio

Diane Schoenfeld is a weekly visitor at the Chaparral House nursing home in Berkeley.

She comes every Friday to spend time with her aunt, Lillie Manger.

“Hi Aunt Lill!” she says, squatting down next to her aunt’s wheelchair, meeting her at eye level.

Manger is 97. She has straight white hair pulled back in a neat bun today. It’s tied with a green scarf, an homage to the dancer she used to be.

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Is Expanded Medicaid Coverage Even Worth It?
California Healthline

In the Affordable Care Act’s five-plus years of existence, no aspect of the law has been safe from Republican criticism.

The GOP has lobbed disparagements at the ACA that have ranged from truthful (questions about whether it will slow spending) to not-so-truthful (“death panels“), and varying levels in between.

In recent weeks, Republicans’ criticism has shifted to claiming that the ACA is causing individuals to enroll in low-quality coverage.

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Medicare recovery audit program targeted for reform after spike in observation stays
Modern Healthcare

Members of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging called on the CMS during a hearing Wednesday to make changes to Medicare’s recovery audit contractor program, which some providers have identified as a driving force behind the rise in observation stays in recent years.

Committee members encouraged the agency to implement recommendations recently backed by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, in addition to making other changes to address the “hospital observation stay crisis.”

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Anthem Blue Cross In California Plans To Reinstate Out-of-State Coverage In 2016
capital public radio

People on the California side of the Sierra say they have a long-standing practice of going across the Nevada state line for health care. Many told Capital Public Radio – as part of a series on health insurance problems in Northern California – that driving to Reno is often closer or more convenient than seeking care in California, especially in bad weather.

Individual Anthem Blue Cross plans in California currently cover emergencies out-of-state, but not routine care.

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After doctors change their stance, is California closer to becoming a right-to-die state?
Orange County Register

The California Medical Association on Wednesday formally dropped its opposition to a bill that would allow terminally ill Californians to end their own lives, a shift viewed as a potential key in turning California into a right-to-die state.

Proponents of SB128 said the new stance by the politically powerful association will provide the bill with a push toward the legislative finish line.

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California physicians end opposition to aid-in-dying bill
Los Angeles Times

The California Medical Assn. on Wednesday withdrew its opposition to a bill that would allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs for terminally ill patients who want to hasten their deaths.

The group said it was the first state medical association in the nation to be neutral on an aid-in-dying bill. Some physician groups remain opposed to assisted death. But the CMA opposition had been seen as a major obstacle to approval of the measure pending in California.

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California doctors group won’t oppose Monning’s end-of-life bill
Monterey Herald

California’s top doctors group said Wednesday it would stay neutral on a controversial bill allowing terminally ill Californians to end their own life.

The move by the California Medical Association was hailed by backers of the End of Life Options Act as a landmark step, and could boost the controversial legislation as it moves through the state Legislature. The bill would make California one of a handful of states nationwide to remove prohibitions on doctors aiding terminal patients in hastening their own deaths.

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Physician ‘aid in dying’: California Medical Association removes opposition to bill
The Mercury News

Setting a nationwide precedent that might influence other states, the California Medical Association on Wednesday announced it has reversed its decades-long opposition to legislation that allows physicians to help seriously ill patients end their lives.

So the powerful lobbying group is now officially neutral on California Senate Bill 128, the End of Life Option Act.

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Facing Death But Fighting The Aid-In-Dying Movement
Kaiser Health News

Stephanie Packer was 29 when she found out she has a terminal lung disease.

It’s the same age as Brittany Maynard, who last year was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Maynard, of northern California, opted to end her life via physician-assisted suicide in Oregon last fall. Maynard’s quest for control over the end of her life continues to galvanize the “aid-in-dying” movement nationwide, with legislation pending in California and a dozen other states.

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California Medical Association drops opposition to assisted suicide
Sacramento Bee

Reversing a long-standing aversion to letting doctors assist in a patient’s intentional death, the California Medical Association has dropped its opposition to a California bill allowing terminally ill people to take their lives with prescribed drugs.

The shift immediately buoyed Senate Bill 128’s prospects. In past years the powerful doctors group has represented an immovable pillar of opposition to the notion of helping people hasten their deaths, arguing that it undermines their fundamental role as healers and violates their oath to avoid harming patients.

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21st Century Cures bill’s progress hits possible funding roadblock
Modern Healthcare

Insiders say lawmakers are no closer to finding common ground on key funding issues that have postponed discussion on the proposed 21st Century Cures Act.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee scheduled a markup of the bill on Wednesday morning, but delayed the session until Thursday.

While the majority of committee members took time during opening statements Tuesday evening to praise the bipartisan work involved in drafting the proposed legislation, a number of legislators voiced concern over how to fund its estimated cost of $13 billion.

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As insurers limit access to hep C drugs, patients and doctors bristle
Modern Healthcare

Doctors are finding themselves in tense situations as they try to prescribe new hepatitis C drugs to patients eager for a cure while health plans limit coverage to manage the costs of the medications.

Many health insurers have established prior-authorization criteria generally limiting access to the drugs to patients whose disease has progressed to at least Stage 3 fibrosis (just before the onset of liver cirrhosis).

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New target for arthritis drugs
San Diego Union-Tribune

Scientists in San Diego say they may have found a novel drug target for rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes stiff joints and various levels of pain in about 1.5 million Americans.

The target involves RPTPσ, a protein that weakens the ability of arthritic cells to invade a person’s joint cartilage and cause damage.

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Attorney general approves Lodi Health affilation with Adventist Health
Sacramento Business Journal

The state attorney general has approved Lodi Health’s affiliation with Roseville-based Adventist Health, paving the way for the deal to close.

The transaction is expected to be completed by June 1, Adventist spokeswoman Alicia Gonzalez said Wednesday.

Lodi Health is a private, nonprofit community organization that includes 191-bed Lodi Memorial Hospital, 15 medical practices, several outpatient services and centers, an adult day care center and a child care center.

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Walnut Creek, John Muir hospital move forward on long-term pact
Contra Costa Times

The city and John Muir Medical Center are close to agreeing on a development pact that would lock in the hospital’s plans for up to 30 years.

Such a pact is essential in a $500 million building plan, said Michael Monaldo, the hospital’s vice president for real estate. The hospital requested a 20-year term with two five-year extensions.

A major change in the plan will be erecting a building on the main campus instead of across the street at 230 La Casa Via.