News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Hospital stocks leap after Supreme Court backs overhaul
Monterey Herald

Investors in hospital stocks rejoiced Thursday after the Supreme Court upheld a key portion of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and eliminated the prospect of a sudden influx of uninsured patients seeking care. Shares of big hospital operators like HCA Holdings Inc., Tenet Healthcare Corp. and Community Health Systems Inc. all jumped much higher than the broader market after the court upheld tax subsidies that play a key role in helping millions of Americans pay for health insurance.

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Having Survived Court Ruling, Insurance Markets Still Face Economic Threats
Kaiser Health News

Despite having survived a challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal government’s health insurance markets face weighty struggles as they try to keep prices under control, entice more consumers and encourage quality medical care.

The government’s insurance markets – as well as more than a dozen run by states — have been operating for less than two years and are about to lose their training wheels. Start-up funds that have helped stabilize prices and partially pay for administration of the marketplaces are ending, feeding fears that premiums may rise after next year at a steeper rate.

There are still 18 million uninsured people who are eligible for coverage but have not purchased insurance. Without broader participation, insurers may be pressed to raise rates as they get a more complete picture of how much medical care their current customers are using.

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APIC: Data Reporting Burden Hobbles Infection Preventionists
HealthLeaders Media

At the expense of activities that might directly avert the spread of disease, infection preventionists spend more than half their time collecting and reporting hospital infection data, research shows.

Five hours a day is the average amount of time spent collecting and reporting hospital infection data to federal health agencies, according to a study to be released Saturday at the APIC (Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology) conference in Nashville.

“We always knew reporting data took a long time,” says Sharon Parrillo, assistant director of infection prevention at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, NJ, lead author of an article published in the June issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

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3 Out of 4 Internal Medicine Residents Clueless on Costs
HealthLeaders Media

Only about 25% of internal medicine residents say they know where to find costs estimates for tests and treatments and that they can share those estimates with patients, according to a survey by the American College of Physicians.

The cross-sectional survey questioned more than 18,000 U.S. internal medicine residents who took the Internal Medicine In-Training Examination in October 2012. The study was published in the June issue of Academic Medicine: The Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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SCOTUS Upholds Obamacare, Leaders React
HealthLeaders Media

In a decisive 6-3 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday morning turned back the latest challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The ruling handed down in King v. Burwell rejects the plaintiffs’ assertion that the PPACA does not authorize the federal government to provide insurance premium subsidies to people living in states that rely upon the federally run HealthCare.gov.

The plaintiffs in the case had challenged the specific wording “through an Exchange established by the state,” located in Section 36B of the 974-page law.

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Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling clears the air in California
Orange County Register

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, means California can intensify its focus on increasing enrollment, improving health outcomes and addressing concerns about costs, health experts said Thursday.

While the court’s ruling had no direct effect on insurance subsidies provided through the state exchange, Covered California’s executive director, Peter V. Lee, said ending federal subsidies in other states would have undermined the law and created confusion among consumers here.

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Statehouse Fights Over Obamacare To Rage On Despite Supreme Court Decision
National Public Radio

The Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Obama administration means 6.4 million people won’t lose subsidies that helped them afford health insurance.

But the historic ruling in King v. Burwell may be far from the last word on health overhaul.

Bills to advance or cripple the law in statehouses didn’t come to a halt in the months that lawmakers awaited the Supreme Court decision.  They may well smolder for months or years.

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High Court Upholds Health Law Subsidies
Kaiser Health News

The Affordable Care Act made it through its second do-or-die Supreme Court test in three years, raising odds for its survival but by no means ending the legal and political assaults on it five years after it became law.

The 6-3 ruling, a major win for the White House, stopped a challenge that would have erased tax-credit subsidies in at least 34 states for individuals and families buying insurance through the federal government’s online marketplace. Such a result would have made coverage unaffordable for millions and created price spirals for those who kept their policies, many experts predicted.

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The big Obamacare winners will surprise you
USA Today

Obamacare is here to stay. And markets are telling investors loud and clear which companies are getting the biggest shot in the arm from the law.

Traders Thursday are surging back into the stocks that were the biggest beneficiaries from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Thursday. And there’s no question – it’s the hospitals.

The healthcare facilities stocks in the Russell 1000 are up an average of 7.7% Thursday on the news that the Supreme Court upheld one of the most key aspects of the healthcare law.

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What’s next for Obamacare? Most action isn’t expected in Congress.
Washington Post

Rep. Dave Brat stood just off the House floor Thursday, minutes after the Supreme Court had rejected the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, and gathered his thoughts.

“Just a shocker,” the Virginia Republican said, echoing the reaction of many fellow conservative lawmakers. “How the brightest legal minds could come to that conclusion is beyond me.”

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Health coverage expanded to undocumented immigrants in 35 counties
Sacramento Bee

A state panel expanded health care coverage Thursday for undocumented immigrants and other low-income residents of 35 rural counties, including Yolo County and El Dorado County in the Sacramento region.

The move by the County Medical Services Program board promises to fill in health access gaps for people who don’t qualify for low-income health coverage through Medi-Cal or for private insurance under the state’s health exchange, Covered California. Many of those people are undocumented immigrant adults who have only had access to emergency care.

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No high-deductible CalPERS medical plan in California budget
Sacramento Bee

A proposal to add a low-cost, high-deductible plan to the state’s menu of medical insurance options was left out of the budget that Gov. Jerry Brown signed on Wednesday, although it could resurface later.

“Staff advise that those provisions weren’t included in the final agreement” that Brown struck with the Legislature, Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said in an email.

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California vaccine bill SB 277 passes Assembly; will Jerry Brown sign it?
The Mercury News

After months of rancorous debate and emotional pleas from parents, a bill that would force most Californians to vaccinate their children cleared its last major legislative hurdle on Thursday.

So now the only question is: Will California’s famously unpredictable governor give the measure his blessing?

Senate Bill 277, which mandates vaccinations for all schoolchildren regardless of their parents’ personal or religious beliefs, passed on a 46-to-30 vote in the state Assembly after an hourlong impassioned debate. That much was expected, as is Monday’s pro forma Senate vote to approve the bill again and send it to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

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California Lawmakers Vote To Remove Vaccine Exemptions For Schoolchildren
National Public Radio

The California Assembly has joined the state Senate in voting to approve a controversial bill requiring all children attending school to be vaccinated against measles and other common, preventable illnesses — effectively eliminating so-called “personal belief exemptions” that allowed parents to opt out.

The bill is aimed at increasing immunization rates following a serious measles outbreak in December that was traced back to Disneyland and that sickened dozens.

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California Law To Curtail Vaccine Exemptions Clears Hurdle
National Public Radio

The controversial bill that would require almost all children entering day care or school in California to be vaccinated crossed another key hurdle Thursday, as the state Assembly approved it by a vote of 46-30.

The bill, SB 277, now returns to the state Senate, where lawmakers will be asked to concur with amendments made in the Assembly.

If it passes out of the Legislature, the bill would then move to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor hasn’t indicated whether he’ll sign the bill, but a spokesman said via email that Brown “believes that vaccinations are profoundly important and a major public health benefit and any bill that reaches his desk will be closely considered.”

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LifeLong Medical gets $2 million boost from state
Contra Costa Times

LifeLong Medical Care, a clinic that has taken on hundreds of new patients since Doctors Medical Center closed in April, will expand hours at its San Pablo urgent clinic starting next month after receiving a $2 million boost from the state.

“It’s a signal that people at the state level understand that there are still issues related to the closure of the hospital,” LifeLong Executive Director Marty Lynch said Thursday.

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Kaiser Permanente announces plans for medical center in railyard
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente has announced plans for a new medical center on 18 acres in the Sacramento railyard. The nonprofit medical provider’s senior vice president and area manager, Ron Groepper, said in an email announcement Kaiser has entered a purchase and sale agreement for the site in the railyard. Kaiser now begins a two-year due diligence and entitlement phase for the project, according to the email announcement.

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Palomar Health to close Escondido hospital
Fox News

Palomar Health announced Thursday that it will consolidate its operations by closing the former Palomar Medical Center site in downtown Escondido.

Services at the campus will be transferred to the new Palomar Medical Center on the west side of Escondido, and Pomerado Hospital in Poway, according to the healthcare organization.

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