News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Newly Insured Californians Wary Of Costs But Embracing Coverage
Kaiser Health News

Many Californians who obtained health insurance last year said they struggled to pay their premiums, although having coverage made them more confident about affording future medical care, according to a survey released Thursday.

Nearly half of newly insured adults in the state said it was difficult to afford the monthly charge and more than a third delayed or went without care, according to the survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

The data highlight that health care costs continue to be a worry for many low-income Californians, even with more affordable insurance options available through Obamacare.

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Medicare Pays For Spouses To Get Grief Counseling Through Hospice
Kaiser Health News

Medicare’s hospice benefit covers services not only for a terminally ill beneficiary. Family caregivers also can receive grief and loss counseling for up to a year following the beneficiary’s death. However, a recent study found that hospice services had only a modest impact on symptoms of depression in surviving spouses.

The study, published online in JAMA Internal Medicine earlier this week, examined symptoms of depression among 1,016 surviving spouses who were interviewed as part of the Health and Retirement Study, an ongoing survey of a representative sample of adults older than age 50.

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Creative Minds: Building a Better Electronic Health Record
The Health Care Blog

Is 5 too few and 40 too many? That’s one of many questions that researcher David Chan is asking about the clinical reminders embedded into those electronic health record (EHR) systems increasingly used at your doctor’s office or local hospital. Electronic reminders, which are similar to the popups that appear when installing software on your computer, flag items for healthcare professionals to consider when they are seeing patients.

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Slideshow: Healthcare Leaders on Outpatient Care Spending
HealthLeaders Media

A recent HealthLeaders Media Intelligence Report reveals that healthcare leaders intend for 64% of their capital budget investments to go toward ambulatory or outpatient care expansion, and just 36% to inpatient acute care expansion.

Jack Kolosky, executive vice president and COO of Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, says that 70% of his organization’s spending are outpatient revenues. “Healthcare is changing, with a significant shift toward the outpatient arena and trying to do things outside the hospital that we didn’t do previously, says Christian Pass, interim CFO at John Muir Health in Walnut Creek, CA.

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Digital mandates hobble health care market
Orange County Register

About a decade ago, a doctor friend was lamenting the increasingly frustrating conditions of clinical practice. “How did you know to get out of medicine in 1978?” he asked with a smile.

“I didn’t,” I replied. “I had no idea what was coming. I just felt I’d chosen the wrong vocation.”

I was reminded of this exchange upon receiving my med-school class’s 40th-reunion report and reading some of the entries.

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Scaled-back immigrant health care bill advances to Senate floor
Sacramento Bee

A scaled-back version of Senate Bill 4, the proposal to provide health coverage to Californians living in the country illegally, advanced to the Senate floor on Thursday after passing the Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 5-2.

Under the new version of the bill, undocumented immigrants would still be allowed to purchase insurance on the state’s health exchange, pending a federal waiver, but the expansion of Medi-Cal would be limited to children under the age of 19. Adults would only be made eligible for Medi-Cal coverage if additional funding is appropriated.

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Scaled-back immigrant healthcare bill clears key fiscal panel
Los Angeles Times

A sweeping measure to offer state-subsidized healthcare coverage to people in the country illegally was significantly pared back Thursday in an effort to rein in costs as it cleared a key legislative hurdle.

Rather than extend Medi-Cal–California’s healthcare coverage for the poor–to all eligible adults regardless of immigration status, as originally proposed, the amended bill by state Sen. Ricardo Lara would set up a limited enrollment healthcare program.

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Interstate Licensure Agreement Adds Two More States
HealthLeaders Media

The tally of states at the vanguard of a movement that promises to alleviate physician shortages now stands at eight.

Alabama and Minnesota became the seventh and eighth states to enact the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact on this month, triggering the formation of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission. The commission aims to administer a streamlined process for physicians seeking to obtain licensure in multiple states. Greater license portability is expected to be a boon to the practice of telemedicine.

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‘Show me the money’ is not the right approach in preventive care
Modern Healthcare

A white paper released Thursday by the Bipartisan Policy Center calls for increasing the evidence base for what works in preventive health. It also calls for incentivizing prevention and public health measures and challenging physicians to work more closely with community organizations to improve health. A panel discussion followed the release of the report, at which Dr. Darshak Sanghavi, director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation’s preventive and population health models group, highlighted a new CMS initiative that will do some of what the BPC’s paper called for.

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A Classic Non-Reaction Reaction From Screening Proponents
The Health Care Blog

Is it just me or has there been a deafening silence from the wellness proponents of forced HRA/biometric screening since Dr. Atul Gawande’s article Overkill appeared?

Two salient quotes from the article capture the issue. The first about over screening and testing in general, not specific to wellness but applicable:

“Often, these are fishing expeditions, and since no one is perfectly normal you tend to find a lot of fish. If you look closely and often enough, almost everyone will have a little nodule that can’t be completely explained, a lab result that is a bit off, a heart tracing that doesn’t look quite right.”

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Deal would shorten response times
San Diego Union-Tribune

Ambulance service in San Diego would improve but patient fees would increase 9 percent under a proposed five-year contract extension between the city and Rural/Metro Corporation.

The extension, which is scheduled for City Council approval on Monday, also revamps San Diego’s outdated ambulance service model and boosts accountability by adding more penalties when Rural/Metro fails to meet response time goals.

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UnitedHealth Group cautiously optimistic on Supreme Court subsidy ruling
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Supreme Court case over the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies will be decided in the next month, and the nation’s largest health insurer remains guarded about how it thinks the ruling would affect the healthcare industry.UnitedHealth Group is not speculating how the Supreme Court will rule in King v. Burwell. However, the company believes some remedial action would be taken if the justices struck down subsidies on the federal exchanges.

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Dignity Health breaking ground on Woodland medical office
Sacramento Business Journal

A medical office building breaking ground next week will add a new dimension to a large Woodland retail development.

Dignity Health Medical Foundation plans to open a 35,000-square-foot center in about a year at the Woodland Gateway center, by Petrovich Development Co. But mixing retail with medical services is only becoming more common, said Dean Ward, Dignity’s vice president of operations for its Woodland and Davis clinics.

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Dignity Health, Gap and others throw support behind sweeping climate change bill
Sacramento Business Journal

Twenty-four companies doing business in California including Dignity Health and Gap Inc. announced support Thursday for a climate change agenda promoted by Gov. Jerry Brown and being pushed through the Legislature by Senate leader Kevin de León.

It’s unclear whether newfound support from a diverse range of private companies would influence the debate on legislation that is opposed by several state business groups including the California Chamber of Commerce. The firms range from a small movie theater in Monte Rio to California heavyweights like Autodesk Inc., Levi Strauss & Co. and The North Face.

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$80-million hospital expansion will begin in fall
Camarillo Acorn

Plans to expand the only hospital in Camarillo are underway.

St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital—which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary—is building a new tower and upgrading its existing facilities. Darren Lee, president and CEO of the hospital, presented plans for the expansion project to the Camarillo City Council during its May 13 meeting.

“I’m just thrilled and excited to be able to share this with you,” Lee said. “We are excited about investing nearly $80 million in Camarillo to build a new patient addition and update the existing resources we have.”

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Ojai Valley Community Hospital honored for emergency care
Pacific Coast Business Times

The national organization Women’s Choice Award: The Voice of Women has named Ojai Valley Community Hospital one of America’s best hospitals in California for emergency care. The Ventura County hospital received the honor for its exceptional patient care and treatment, making it one of six facilities across the state to receive the recognition. A member of the nonprofit Community Memorial Health System, Ojai Valley is part of a regional network that includes Community Memorial Hospital and 12 family-practice health centers called Centers for Family Health.

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