News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Burwell Says There Is Still ‘Work To Do’ On Health Law
Kaiser Health News

Could she believe what she heard?

Sitting in her office Thursday morning, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell saw on her computer screen that the Supreme Court was about to announce its ruling on a challenge that could cripple the health law. “You knew this was it,” she said.

As she rushed down the hall to a conference room where her team was waiting, Burwell heard a cheer.

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CMS loosens rules for rural ACOs seeking upfront financial help
Modern Healthcare

The CMS is making it easier for rural healthcare providers and small physician groups to participate in Medicare accountable care organizations.

The changes are being made to the ACO Investment Model, which provides loans to rural and underserved communities that would otherwise lack the capital to participate in the ACO program.

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Can Technology Ease The Burden Of Caring For People With Dementia?
National Public Radio

A doctor I interviewed for this story told me something that stuck with me. He said for every person with dementia he treats, he finds himself caring for two patients. That’s how hard it can be to be a caregiver for someone with dementia.

The doctor is Bruce Miller. He directs the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco. According to Miller, 50 percent of caregivers develop a major depressive illness because of the caregiving. “The caregiver is so overburdened that they don’t know what to do next,” he says. “This adds a huge burden to the medical system.”

This burden is going to increase dramatically in the coming decade. By 2025, 7 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s disease, according to one recent estimate. Millions more will suffer from other types of dementia.

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Top Obamacare official says she wept for joy after Supreme Court victory
Washington Post

When Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell saw on her office computer that the Supreme Court was about to release the much-anticipated ruling on Obamacare, she rushed out of her office and down the hall to a conference room where about two dozen senior staff were gathered. Before she got there, she heard a cheer erupt from the room.

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High Court’s Decision On Same Sex Marriage Expected To Boost Health Coverage Among Gay Couples
Kaiser Health News

The right to marry in any state won’t be the only gain for gay couples from last week’s Supreme Court ruling. The decision will probably boost health insurance among gay couples as same-sex spouses get access to employer plans, say analysts and benefits consultants. How much is unclear, but “it’s going to increase coverage” in a community that has often had trouble getting access to medical services, said Jennifer Kates, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Dialysis providers to get modest Medicare rate bump
Modern Healthcare

The CMS proposed a 0.3% rate increase for end-stage renal disease services for 2016. The proposal also modifies Medicare’s quality incentive program for dialysis providers.

Overall, Medicare spending under the ESRD prospective payment system is expected to be flat at $9 billion in calendar year 2016 compared with 2015.

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Providers Frustrated, Seek Accommodation as ICD-10 Draws Near
HealthLeaders Media

Grumbling about the much-delayed but now firm launch of ICD-10 in the U.S. — set for Oct. 1 — continues unabated, but the message seems to be shifting from demands for another postponement or outright cancellation to pleas for a phase-in period and forgiveness for the inevitable hiccups.

“What we’re asking for is a set of training wheels on this new bicycle if we’re forced to ride it,” said Gerald Harmon, MD, a member of the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees, a family medicine specialist in private practice in Georgetown, S.C. Harmon spoke on a panel hosted by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, here on Wednesday.

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Vaccine bill could be a trend setter
San Diego Union-Tribune

California has always had a reputation as a trend-setter, and the state’s recently passed vaccination bill has national bellwether potential — but only if it can survive the governor’s scrutiny and an almost certain legal challenge.

On Thursday, the Assembly approved Senate Bill 277, which would do away with “personal belief” and religious exemptions from vaccination. The legislation would prevent children from attending public schools if they have not received the full schedule of 10 vaccinations, from diphtheria to varicella.

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In Bid For Stricter Vaccine Rules, Officials Grapple With Decades-Old Distrust
National Public Radio

California is on the brink of passing a law that would require nearly all children to be vaccinated in order to attend school.

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Disability Advocates Fight Assisted Suicide Measures
Kaiser Health News

When he was 19, Anthony Orefice hit a telephone pole on his motorcycle going 100 miles per hour. Doctors told his family he wouldn’t survive. He did, but the accident left him paralyzed from the chest down, unable to do what he loved — surf, snowboard or ride dirt bikes.

“All you are thinking is the worst, worst, worst – everything you can’t do,” said Orefice, who lives in Valencia, Calif. “I wanted to be dead.”

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Vaccine Against Meningitis B Gets A Boost From CDC
KALW

Parents, take note! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine committee has expanded its recommendation for immunization against meningitis B, a rare but potentially deadly strain of meningitis.

The committee’s revised guidance, issued late last week, broadens the group of young people that the CDC thinks should consider getting the shot, and increases the likelihood that health insurance policies will pay for the injection.

The previous recommendation was limited to people at high risk of getting the disease — such as lab workers and students at colleges with outbreaks of three or more cases. Now the advisory committee on immunization urges all young people between the ages of 16 and 23 to talk to their doctor about whether the shot is a good idea for them, too.

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State, L.A. Near Deal To Boost Nursing Home Inspections
Kaiser Health News

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health could receive nearly $15 million in additional state funds and about 70 more staff members under a proposed new contract with the state to expand and increase oversight of nursing homes.

But a yearlong training and certification process for new staff members means that the longstanding backlog of nursing home investigations could get worse before it gets better.

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How Population Health Is Driving Merger Mania Among Anthem, Cigna and the Rest of the Big Insurers
The Health Care Blog

The nation’s Big 5 health insurers have thrived under the Affordable Care Act, seeing their profits grow and their stock prices soar.

They also continue to dwarf their main sparring partners—hospital systems—in size. Consider that the largest health insurer, United Health Group, has annual revenue of $130 billion, while revenue at the largest hospital system, HCA, is a tick under $37 billion.

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Kaiser deal delivers jump-start for railyard development
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente’s plan to build a medical center in Sacramento’s downtown railyard is more than just a big project. It’s a critical step forward for the whole infill site, according to people closely involved.

Denton Kelley of Downtown Railyard Venture LLC said the center on 18 acres in the railyard helps draw in other development for its surroundings.

“I don’t think we could be any more excited,” Kelley said. The hospital, combined with a proposed soccer stadium with up to 22,000 seats, are high-profile catalysts, he said. “These are the two right now with the most potential to happen.”

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Hospital board approves funding allocations
RecordNet

The San Joaquin General Hospital Auxiliary Board and membership recently approved their 2015 funding allocations to numerous departments of the hospital for extra materials and equipment to meet the needs of patients and families. Each year, the auxiliary sets aside funds for these expenditures and requests each department manager to submit specific equipment or material needs that might be funded through the auxiliary.

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