News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

California’s Rural Counties Urge Legislature to Eliminate Medi-Cal Rate Cuts
Sierra Sun Times

The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) join the California Hospital Association and a broad-based coalition of Medi-Cal providers, known as We Care for California, in urging the Legislature and Administration to eliminate the Assembly Bill 97 (2011) Medi-Cal reimbursement rate cuts, and increase Medi-Cal payments to health care providers and facilities during the upcoming State Budget negotiations.

“Access to healthcare services in the more remote parts of California is already an issue, and these Medi-Cal reimbursement rate cuts only exacerbate it,” said Lee Adams, RCRC Chair and Sierra County Supervisor.

News Headlines Article

Simple Changes for Emergency Department Success
HealthLeaders Media

The effective and efficient triage of patients is key to the flow of an emergency department. Not only for practical reasons but also because a new survey measuring patient satisfaction in the ED is on the horizon. ED-CAHPS — similar to HCAHPS, the survey that allows patients postdischarge to rate hospitals on communication, noise level, and other factors — is in development now.

Providers originally expected the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to begin using ED-CAHPS this year, but delays have pushed it back to 2016.  Still, hospitals and health systems that have made patient experience a priority are not holding back on preparing for ED-CAHPS.

News Headlines Article

Improved Economy, Obamacare Boost Demand For Travel Nurses
Kaiser Health News

With her children grown and husband nearing retirement, Amy Reynolds was ready to leave behind snowy Flagstaff, Ariz., to travel but she wasn’t ready to give up her nursing career. She didn’t have to.

For the past three years, Reynolds, 55, has been a travel nurse — working for about three months at a time at hospitals in California, Washington, Texas and Idaho, among other states. Her husband accompanies her on the assignments. “It’s been wonderful,” she said in May after starting a stint in Sacramento. “It’s given us a chance to try out other parts of the country.”

News Headlines Article

Scientists are using herpes to treat skin cancer — and it’s working
Washington Post

In a few months time, those suffering from skin cancer may find an unlikely hero in their treatment regimen: herpes. A modified version of the Herpes Simplex 1 virus (known for causing cold sores and some cases of genital herpes) called T-Vec has successfully been used to treat melanoma in a phase III clinical trial. That means it’s just waiting for a final okay from the FDA before the Amgen product can hit the market. The results of the trial were published Tuesday in Journal of Clinical Oncology.

News Headlines Article

Why you can’t blame Obamacare for the crisis in ‘underinsurance’
Los Angeles Times

Thanks to a couple of timely surveys of medical consumers, the focus of the healthcare debate has shifted abruptly from helping the uninsured to how to help the “underinsured.” These are the people who have insurance but still face co-pays and deductibles that could break them financially if they had a major medical need.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that anti-Obamacare conservatives have seized on the trend, declaring it another flaw in the Affordable Care Act and blaming the act for making it worse. They’re wrong, and their own figures prove it. More on that in a moment.

News Headlines Article

States Band Together To Keep Obamacare Afloat
The Fiscal Times

A handful of states struggling to finance their Obamacare health exchanges are considering teaming up with other states to keep their insurance portals sustainable as federal funds run out this year.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government gave states a collective $4.8 billion to set up and customize their own exchanges for their own state residents. The idea was that the federal government would help prop up the exchanges, and then states would have to make them self-sustainable by this year.

News Headlines Article

Supreme Court decision could lead to more fraud lawsuits in healthcare
Modern Healthcare

A U.S. Supreme Court decision Tuesday won’t extend the statute of limitations in fraud lawsuits, as many in the healthcare industry had feared it might. But the ruling could make it easier, in some cases, for whistle-blowers to file fraud lawsuits over issues already brought to court.

In a unanimous decision, the justices Tuesday partly reversed and partly affirmed a lower court’s decision, sending the case, Kellogg, Brown & Root Services Inc. v. United States ex. rel. Carter, back to the lower court.

News Headlines Article

‘Milestone’ Rules Would Limit Profits, Score Quality For Medicaid Plans
Kaiser Health News

Sweeping proposals disclosed Tuesday would create profit guidelines for private Medicaid plans as well as new standards for the plans’ doctor and hospital networks and rules to coordinate Medicaid insurance more closely with other coverage.

“We are taking steps to align how these programs work,” said Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which proposed the rules.

News Headlines Article

Private Medicaid plans face sweeping new regulations under CMS proposal
Modern Healthcare

The CMS has released a sweeping proposed rule intended to modernize the regulation of Medicaid managed-care plans. The Medicaid managed-care population is growing rapidly, but the last regulation governing such plans was issued in 2002.

In one provision that generated frustration among health insurers in the hours after the draft was posted, the CMS called for health plans to dedicate a minimum portion of the rates they receive toward medical services, a threshold known as a medical loss ratio.

News Headlines Article

CMS plans new website to better track fraud
Modern Healthcare

The CMS wants to launch a system to track enforcement actions against Medicare providers over questionable claims. Fraud costs the federal government an estimated $60 billion to $90 billion annually.

The federal agency is on the hunt for a contractor to build and maintain the so-called Provider Compliance Reporting system. It will be accessible on the yet-to-launch ProviderMedicare.gov website.

News Headlines Article

Four ICD-10 Fears, Decoded
HealthLeaders Media

So much anxiety and uncertainty hover around ICD-10 that the incoming president of the American Medical Association, Steven Stack, says his organization would prefer to skip it altogether. “Let’s just get to ICD-11 and get it done properly,” he told a reporter this month.

The reasons are many. There are reports of tanked productivity in countries where it has been implemented, leery clinicians, and questions about whether implementation will benefit patient care are just a few of the concerns.

News Headlines Article

How A Claim That A Childhood Vaccine Prevents Leukemia Went Too Far
National Public Radio

Sometimes a story takes odd turns as you report it. Every once in while it goes off the rails. That’s what happened as I reported on a new study purporting to explain how a childhood vaccine helps prevent leukemia. The experience reaffirmed the lessons I’ve learned in my years of reporting on vaccines and other scientific research: be wary of grand claims, get outside perspectives on new research and never, ever rely only on the press release.

Of course, the press release headline was captivating: “Study Explains How Early Childhood Vaccination Reduces Leukemia Risk.” Multiple news stories were already sharing how the Hib vaccine, which prevents a horrific, often fatal disease known as Haemophilus influenza Type b, could help prevent childhood cancer. It’s always thrilling to come across a new way that existing vaccines can benefit people, such as using the tetanus vaccine to enhance immunotherapy for brain tumors. So I eagerly dove into reporting on this development.

News Headlines Article

New Push Ties Cost of Drugs to How Well They Work
The Wall Street Journal

Express Scripts Holding Co., a large manager of prescription-drug benefits for U.S. employers and insurers, is seeking deals with pharmaceutical companies that would set pricing for some cancer drugs based on how well they work.

The effort is part of a growing push for so-called pay-for-performance deals amid complaints about the rising price of medications, some of which cost more than $100,000 per patient a year.

News Headlines Article

Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping May Benefit Children Years Later
National Public Radio

A couple of extra minutes attached to the umbilical cord at birth may translate into a small boost in neurodevelopment several years later, a study suggests.

Children whose cords were cut more than three minutes after birth had slightly higher social skills and fine motor skills than those whose cords were cut within 10 seconds. The results showed no differences in IQ.

“There is growing evidence from a number of studies that all infants, those born at term and those born early, benefit from receiving extra blood from the placenta at birth,” said Dr. Heike Rabe, a neonatologist at Brighton & Sussex Medical School in the United Kingdom. Rabe’s editorial accompanied the study published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

News Headlines Article

Is Healthcare Designing the Wrong Patient Experience?
The Health Care Blog

Patient experience.

It what’s in. It’s what’s vogue. It’s all the rage.

There is a not a day that one cannot open a paper, a medical journal, Twitter, FaceBook, email, or a conference brochure and not see something about patient experience.

In the U.S. its healthcare’s new version of a best practice. It’s another way to share best practices across an industry. It provides another bandwagon to hop on and spread across the great plains.

News Headlines Article

Medical device startup SI-BONE raised $21 million for back-pain treatment
Silicon Valley Business Journal

Medical device company SI-BONE raised $21 million in growth capital financing on Tuesday to treat lower-back pain. In addition, the company named a new chief financial officer: former Auxogyn executive Laura Francis. New investor Redline Capital Management led the round, with participation from all existing major investors, including OrbiMed Advisors, Montreux Equity Partners, Skyline Ventures and Novo A/S. The company has raised $61.1 million to date.

News Headlines Article

Tech Rivalries Impede Digital Medical Record Sharing
New York Times

Since President Obama took office, the federal government has poured more than $29 billion into health information technology and told doctors and hospitals to use electronic medical records or face financial penalties.

But some tech companies, hospitals and laboratories are intentionally blocking the electronic exchange of health information because they fear that they will lose business if they share information on patients with competing providers, administration officials said. In addition, officials said, some sellers of health information technology try to “lock in” customers by making it difficult for them to switch to competing vendors.

News Headlines Article

County can make manufacturers pay for discarded drugs
San Francisco Chronicle

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge by the pharmaceutical industry Tuesday to an Alameda County law, the first of its kind in the nation, requiring drug manufacturers to pay the costs of disposing of consumers’ unused medications. The action allows the county to move forward with the program and clears the way for similar ordinances elsewhere. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved a drug-disposal measure in January but delayed implementation while the court considered the Alameda County case.

News Headlines Article

Supreme Court: Big Pharma must pay for prescription drug disposal in Alameda County
Contra Costa Times

A groundbreaking law that forces the pharmaceutical industry to pay for collection and disposal of unused drugs passed its final court test Tuesday, and the Alameda County officials who originated the concept predicted it will now spread across the country.

Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider the industry’s challenge of Alameda County’s law, which is intended to keep drugs out of the bay, the groundwater basin and the hands of abusers. A federal appeals court had earlier upheld the ordinance.

News Headlines Article

High court rejects drug makers’ challenge to Alameda County’s drug take-back law
San Francisco Business Times

A handful of drug take-back programs in the Bay Area and elsewhere can move forward after the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday chose not to hear a drug industry challenge to an Alameda County ordinance. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, or PhRMA, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association and the Biotechnology Industry Organization asked the high court in December to hear the case.

News Headlines Article

Bay Area health care giant gobbles rival, powers up East Bay presence
San Francisco Business Times

Stanford Health Care, one of the region’s two academic medical behemoths, has completed its acquisition of Pleasanton’s ValleyCare Health System.

The trans-Bay merger gives Stanford a stronger foothold in the East Bay, far from its traditional Peninsula and South Bay bailiwicks. And it gives a firm financial foundation to ValleyCare, which had been floundering recently as an independent system in a region dominated by giants like Stanford, UCSF Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health.

News Headlines Article

$887 million San Francisco hospital tower nears completion (Slideshow)
San Francisco Business Times

San Francisco General Hospital & Trauma Center’s new $887.4 million inpatient tower is expected to open in December. The exterior work is wrapping up, but late-stage interior work, staff training and other tasks must be done before the new structure opens its doors to the public. “The exterior is essentially completed,” Rachael Kagan, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, told me Tuesday morning.

News Headlines Article

UC Irvine doctors share how technology is shaping medicine, from phone apps to brain surgery
Orange County Register

Technology isn’t just making your smartphone faster and your car safer. It’s also changing how doctors diagnose and treat patients and how they learn in medical school.

Three physicians from UC Irvine Health shared how technology is shaping their field of practice, during a recent lecture at Newport Beach Central Library.

News Headlines Article

Watsonville low-income health clinic kicks off fundraising
Santa Cruz Sentinel

About 80 people gathered at Salud Para La Gente’s East Beach Clinic Tuesday to kick off fundraising for its $10 million renovation and new wing set to open in April.

The health clinic has remained open despite construction, which began this fall on the 8,000-square-foot pediatric wing and 14 new exam rooms. The addition would allow the clinic, which currently serves around 26,000 low-income patients, to serve 10,000 more, said Dori Rose Inda, Salud Para La Gente CEO.

Commands