News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Study says repealing ‘Obamacare’ would add to budget deficit
San Francisco Chronicle

A nonpartisan government study says repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law would modestly increase the budget deficit and the number of uninsured Americans would rise by more than 20 million. The report from the Congressional Budget Office comes ahead of a highly anticipated Supreme Court ruling that could have a major impact on the Affordable Care Act, nullifying health insurance subsidies for some 6 million people in more than 30 states. The budget analysts said that would add a host of new uncertainties to their estimates.

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To Ease Pain, Reach For Your Playlist
National Public Radio

We all know that listening to music can soothe emotional pain, but Taylor Swift, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys can also ease physical pain, according to a study of children and teenagers who had major surgery.

The analgesic effects of music are well known, but most of the studies have been done with adults and most of the music has been classical. Now a recent study finds that children who choose their own music or audiobook to listen to after major surgery experience less pain.

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California Unaffected By Obamacare Supreme Court Case on Subsidies
KQED Radio

While a Supreme Court decision to eliminate health care subsidies would throw most states into turmoil, whatever the court decides, there will be no direct impact on California.

The Court is expected to issue a ruling in King v Burwell by the end of this month, determining whether it is lawful for people who buy health insurance through a federally-run exchange to receive a subsidy to help them pay their premiums.

California operates its own independent state exchange, so Californians who receive subsidies to buy their coverage will keep their subsidies, no matter what the Court rules, according to several analysts.

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Obamacare endgame: Universal health care, but only in blue states?
Washington Post

As we come closer to a Supreme Court ruling in King v. Burwell, news organizations are gearing up to portray a decision nixing subsidies in three dozen mostly-Republican states as a fatal blow to the whole Affordable Care Act. CNN predicts such a decision could send “Obamacare” into a “death spiral.” Reuters blares: “Obamcare faces latest brush with death.”

But in fact, the absolute worst-case scenario you can envision unfolding from an adverse ruling is a considerably less awful outcome. Put simply, it’s very plausible the health care system would continue progressing towards universal health care in around 16 to 18 mostly blue states, while in many red states, something approaching chaos would set in, at least in the short term.

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Is Obamacare working?
San Diego Union-Tribune

Health exchange subsidies and increased Medicaid spending mandated by Obamacare will have a net cost $74 billion this year and $1.2 trillion by 2025, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

However, the same office on Friday estimated that repealing the law would add $137 billion to the federal deficit by 2025. That’s because killing the Affordable Care Act would also take out the package of taxes and Medicare cuts that are projected to generate more revenue than the law’s expenses.

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Jeb Bush Lays Out Post-Obamacare Plan for the GOP
National Journal Magazine

As most of the Republican presidential candidates join in the same Obamacare-bashing chorus, late entrant Jeb Bush seems to be on a different page, perhaps a different hymnal entirely.

With a major Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act expected by the end of the month, Bushrecently wandered away from the GOP harmony by pointing out that the health insurance exchanges at the heart of the court case were originally “a Republican idea.”

In an interview with The Des Moines Register following his formal announcement as a candidate last week, Bush noted that the concept was two decades old. “They were first conceived as an alternative to Hillarycare,” he said.

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California’s Obamacare exchange to collect insurance data on patients
Los Angeles Times

California’s health insurance exchange wants to know why you got sick this summer.

With 1.4 million people enrolled, the state-run marketplace is embarking on an ambitious effort to collect insurance company data on prescriptions, doctor visits and hospital stays for every Obamacare patient.

Covered California says this massive data-mining project is essential to measure the quality of care that patients receive and to hold health insurers and medical providers accountable under the Affordable Care Act.

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CBO Finds 19 Million Would Become Uninsured If Health Law Repealed
Kaiser Health News

Repealing the federal health law would add an additional 19 million to the ranks of the uninsured in 2016 and increase the federal deficit over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said Friday.

The report is the first time CBO has analyzed the costs of the health law using a format favored by congressional Republicans that factors in the effects on the overall economy. It is also the agency’s first analysis on the law under Keith Hall, the new CBO director appointed by Republicans earlier this year.

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Covered California awards multimillion-dollar PR and marketing contracts
Los Angeles Business Journal

Covered California has awarded new multimillion-dollar contracts for marketing and public relations services. Campbell Ewald got a three- to five-year marketing contract worth up to $52.2 million a year. Ogilvy Public Relations got a three- to five-year contract worth up to $2 million annually. Effective this month, the agreements were announced midweek. The job: to spread word that affordable health insurance is available through Covered California.

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Doctors, Nurses Among 243 Charged In Million-Dollar Medicare Schemes
National Public Radio

Federal agents have arrested 243 people — including 46 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals — who are accused of running up more than $700 million in false Medicare billings. Charges range from fraud and money-laundering to aggravated identity theft and kickbacks.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch calls it “the largest criminal health care fraud takedown in the history of the Department of Justice.”

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California and Mexico to Battle TB Problem Together
Times of San Diego

Public health officials from both sides of the border Friday signed an agreement for a joint effort to battle tuberculosis.

Nearly one third of San Diego County’s TB patients have ties to Baja California, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. In 2014, the HHSA reported 220 cases of the disease.

This comes as the annual number of cases in the region has dropped by around half over the past 20 years.

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High cost of hepatitis drug reflects a broken pricing system
Los Angeles Times

Jane Blumenfeld isn’t sure when or how she contracted hepatitis C. All she knows is that back in 2000, when she tried to donate blood, the lab told her she had it.

After that she shared the nightmare of millions of hepatitis C victims.

Hoping to stave off the disease’s most dire outcomes — progressive liver damage, liver cancer or a liver transplant — she underwent what until recently was the preferred therapy.

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Population Health Exchange: Leaders Detail Winning Strategies
HealthLeaders Media

At an invitation-only gathering, healthcare leaders at the forefront of population health shared information on engaging patients, managing their chronic diseases, and leveraging data to improve health outcomes among communities and patient populations.

More than two dozen healthcare executives from a broad spectrum of disciplines shared their thoughts challenges, solutions, and innovations at HealthLeaders Media’s 2015 Population Health Exchange at The Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, CA June 17–19.

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Health insurer Cigna rejects Anthem’s $54-billion takeover bid
Los Angeles Times

In a fiery response, Cigna Corp. rejected a $54-billion takeover bid from Anthem Inc. and unleashed several criticisms of the health insurance giant.

Cigna said Sunday that the $184-a-share offer was inadequate and not in the best interests of its shareholders.

The nation’s fifth-largest health insurer expressed frustration with Anthem taking its private negotiations public a day earlier and for failing to address key issues such as the fallout from a massive data breach at Anthem this year.

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Cigna calls Anthem proposal “inadequate” and not in “best interests”
USA Today

Health insurance firm Cigna (CI) has turned down a $54 billion bid offered by larger rival Anthem.

The most recent offer, which Anthem said was of $184 per share in cash and stock, “is inadequate and not in the best interests of Cigna’s shareholders,” said Cigna Corp. president and CEO David Cordani and the company’s chairman of the board Isaiah Harris in a letter sent to Anthem’s board of directors in Indianapolis.

Anthem (ANTM) has made four bids this month for the Connecticut-based firm.

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Anthem proposes to buy Cigna for $184 per share
San Francisco Chronicle

After getting the cold shoulder, U.S. health insurer Anthem Inc. said it’s raising its offer to buy smaller rival Cigna Corp. for about $47 billion, including cash and stock.

Indianapolis-based Anthem said Saturday it’s proposing $184 per share, about 31 percent of that would be in Anthem shares and the remainder in cash. The offer represents a premium to Cigna’s stockholders of 18 percent over Cigna’s closing stock price on Friday. It said the bid also represents a premium of 35.4 percent based on the closing price of Cigna’s shares on May 28 when reports of industry merger talks began. Anthem said the total transaction is valued at nearly $54 billion, including debt.

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Cigna rejects Anthem takeover bid
Modern Healthcare

Health insurer Cigna Corp. has rejected a $47 billion offer to be acquired by Anthem, a larger rival, saying the terms of the bid are inadequate and “woefully skewed in favor of Anthem shareholders.”

Cigna’s sharply worded rejection came just one day after Anthem went public with its cash-and-stock offer, which amounts to about $184 for each Cigna share or about an 18% premium on Cigna’s closing stock price on Friday.

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Despite Project Challenges, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital On Track for 2018 Completion

The rebuilding of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is about 30 days behind schedule, but should be complete by 2018.

The hospital is in the fifth of eight phases of a $700 million rebuilding of its multiblock facility at 400 W. Pueblo St. Phase 6 will consist of building a third patient care pavilion and a diagnostic and treatment pavilion.

“We are heading to the finish line, finally,” said Ron Biscaro, vice president of project management for the Cottage Health System.