News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Obamacare ruling: what about the 35 million people who are still uninsured?
The Guardian

For many in Washington, the dramatic supreme court ruling in favour of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act on Thursday marked the final chapter of one of the most bitter sagas in recent political history.

Though some Republicans immediately vowed to keep trying to repeal Obamacare, the sight of conservative-leaning chief justice John Roberts coming to its defence for a second time removed one of the last-remaining practical avenues to do so.

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Who controls the data? U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear healthcare case
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case next term on whether a self-funded insurer should have to turn over certain information to the state of Vermont — a case that could have far-reaching implications.

The court announced Monday that it would hear Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. In the case, the state of Vermont argues it needs certain data from Liberty, such as claims, member eligibility and other issues, to help it improve the cost and effectiveness of healthcare. Liberty Mutual, however, argues that the federal Employer Retirement Income Security Act, known as ERISA, protects it and its third-party administrator from having to hand over the information, which is otherwise required by the state.

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Medical School Hopefuls Grapple With Overhauled Entrance Exam
National Public Radio

It’s T minus four days until exam day, and Travis Driscoll is practically living at his desk.

“Each day, I’m easily here for five hours,” he says. “I haven’t done much of anything else but studying for the last two months.”

Driscoll is one of 13,000 medical school applicants across the U.S. taking the new Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT. He’s got stacks of science books on his desk to help him prepare, and a rainbow of biochemistry charts pasted to the walls:

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Aging Doctors: Time for Mandatory Competency Testing?
MedPage Today

The idea that all doctors turning 65 or 70 should be routinely screened for age-related physical or mental slippage to assure they won’t hurt patients sounds like overkill to Paul Goldfarb, MD. “There’s already so much peer review, continuing education, maintenance of certification and self assessment” and testing, the 72-year-old San Diego oncology surgeon said last week after wrapping up a partial pancreatectomy.

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Hillary: We must defend ObamaCare
The Hill

Democratic 2016 front-runner Hillary Clinton released a campaign video Monday trumpeting the benefits of ObamaCare just days after the law secured a major victory in the Supreme Court.

“We’ve got to defend the Affordable Care Act,” Clinton says in the minute-long video, which was taped at a campaign event in New Hampshire.

It’s her first healthcare-focused ad of the 2016 election cycle and comes in the wake of the court’s decision to uphold the law’s healthcare subsidies in King v. Burwell.

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California lawmakers to tackle health care, road funding
The Sacramento Bee

The California Legislature is holding two special sessions this summer to tackle long-vexing funding shortfalls in the state’s transportation and health care programs. But talk of targeted tax increases has prompted political hand-wringing.

At issue in the sessions ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown is how California should pay billions of dollars for needed road and highway repairs as well as funding Medi-Cal, the state’s medical insurance program for the poor. Medi-Cal now provides coverage to one in three Californians.

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Fraud Still Plagues Medicare’s Prescription Drug Program
Pacific Standard

Fraud and abuse continue to dog Medicare’s popular prescription drug program despite a bevy of initiatives launched to prevent them, according to two new reports by the inspector general of Health and Human Services.

The release follows the arrests of 44 pharmacy owners, doctors, and others, who were accused of bilking the program, known as Part D.

The reports issued two weeks ago provide more insight into the extent of the fraud, as well as steps federal regulators should take to stop it. The first, which covers data from last year, found:

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CMS To Post Critical Access Hospital Data on Hospital Compare

CMS says that it plans to release more critical access hospital data on its Hospital Compare website next month, AHA News reports (AHA News, 6/26).

In 2005, CMS began posting quality ratings for more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals on its Hospital Compare website.

The site first included data on adherence to basic clinical care guidelines and later expanded to include additional information, such as patient experience scores, readmission rates, mortality rates and complication rates.

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Strict vaccine bill OK’d by lawmakers, heads to Gov. Brown’s desk
The Press-Enterprise

California lawmakers Monday, June 29, sent the governor a bill that would impose one of the strictest school vaccination laws in the country in response to a measles outbreak at the Disney theme parks earlier this year. The Senate reaffirmed the bill eliminating California’s immunization exemption for personal or religious beliefs on a 24-14 vote. Only two states, Mississippi and West Virginia, have such strict requirements in place.

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Legislature passes pioneering vaccine bill to Calif. governor
San Francisco Business Times

A pioneering and emotionally charged bill to require vaccinations for nearly all children has advanced to Gov. Jerry Brown following a Senate vote Monday.

The bill is not only important for children and schools, but also the economy, supporters contend. Businesses should care about Senate Bill 277 because it seeks to keep employees and customers safe from disease outbreak, said Sen. Richard Pan, a Sacramento Democrat and author of the bill.

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California Legislature Passes ‘Mandatory’ Vaccine Bill, Sends It To The Governor
National Public Radio

A bill that would make vaccinations a requirement for nearly every schoolchild passed the California Legislature. The bill, SB 277, is now on its way to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. It’s one of the toughest vaccination bills in the country, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Under the proposal, children enrolling in public or private schools, or day care, would be required to have certain vaccinations, such as those guarding against measles or whooping cough. Parents no longer would be able to cite personal or religious beliefs to decline the immunizations.”

The Times writes that children with specific medical problems, like immune system deficiencies, would be exempt from vaccinations as long as they have confirmation from their doctor. Here’s more:

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California Senate passes vaccine bill on second vote; now heads to governor
The Mercury News

The controversial bill that would give California one of the country’s strictest vaccination laws headed on Monday to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, with supporters urging him to sign it and opponents promising to stand vigil around the clock to convince him to veto it.

On Monday, a majority of the California state Senate again passed Senate Bill 277, incendiary legislation that would require almost all schoolchildren to be fully vaccinated in order to attend public or private school, regardless of their parents’ personal or religious beliefs.

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Experts: California vaccine bill would prevent new outbreaks
Yahoo News

Giving California some of the strictest school vaccination requirements in the nation could help prevent outbreaks of disease like the measles flare-up at Disneyland, experts say.

Lawmakers introduced a measure eliminating the state’s personal belief exemption for vaccines after the outbreak at the theme park in December infected over 100 people in the U.S. and Mexico. The bill likely would be successful in increasing immunization rates and stopping the spread of disease, pediatric doctors said Monday after the state Senate sent the legislation to the governor.

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California Court Strikes Down Nursing Home Law

A California judge has ruled a law that allows nursing homes to make treatment decisions for mentally incompetent residents is unconstitutional.

The law has been in place for more than 20 years. It says if a doctor determines a resident is mentally incompetent, and they don’t have a representative, then a nursing home can choose the course of care.

Last week, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo decided the rule violated patients’ rights to due process.

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Your Colonoscopy Is Covered, But Surprise! The Prep Kit May Not Be
Kaiser Health News

With summer vacations coming up, one reader this week asked about travel insurance, while others had questions about coverage of preventive services, including costs related to colonoscopies.

Q. We know now that anesthesia for a screening colonoscopy is covered with no cost sharing as a preventive service under the health law. As a plan administrator, I am also struggling to find guidance on how to handle bowel prep kits for colonoscopies. Can you help?

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Readmission Location Linked to Post-Surgical Mortality Rates
HealthLeaders Media

Patients with complications after major surgery have better survival odds if they’re readmitted to the same hospital where the surgery was performed, throwing into doubt the assumption that traveling long distances to high-volume hospitals necessarily leads to the best outcomes.

“There’s a trade-off involved,” says lead study author Benjamin Brooke, MD, PhD assistant professor of surgery at the University of Utah and director of the Utah Intervention Quality and Implementation Research (U-INQUIRE) group.

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The Perils of Cut-and-Paste Documentation
HealthLeaders Media

It may sometimes seem easier for a physician to grab a block of prewritten text and paste it into a patient record. But while this quick cut-and-paste may shave a few minutes off initially, it can create some major headaches down the line, says Glenn Krauss, RHIA, BBA, CCS, CCS-P, CPUR, CCDS, C-CDI, an independent revenue cycle consultant in Burlington, Vermont.

Not only is this practice of copying and pasting without updating a note  a questionable billing practice, it also creates the potential for adverse patient outcomes as nicely summarized in a Joint Commission Quick Safety Issue February 2015 titled “Preventing copy-and-paste errors in EHRs,” he says.

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Sutter Medical Center staff train on new helistop (Video)
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Medical Center staff are in training to handle air ambulance transports from the helistop atop midtown Sacramento’s tallest building — the Anderson Luchetti Women’s and Children’s Center — to a neonatal intensive care unit on the seventh floor. Transports will begin Aug. 8, the day patients will be moved from Sutter Memorial and formal hospital operations begin.

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Temecula Valley Hospital adds board of governor positions
San Diego Daily Transcript

The Temecula Valley Hospital has named Major General Claude Reinke and Terry Gilmore to its Board of Governors. The Governing Board is comprised of physician members, community representatives and hospital leaders. The important role of the Board is to oversee the safety and quality of services that are provided at the hospital and to represent the Temecula Valley Hospital to the community it serves. When asked why he wished to serve as a board member, Maj. Gen. Reinke stated, “I see a genuine desire at Temecula Valley Hospital to provide exceptional and compassionate care.