News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Study Predicts Huge Toll Of Hepatitis C Drugs On California Budget
Kaiser Health News

California taxpayers could be on the hook for billions of dollars to treat hepatitis C patients in various state-funded programs, according to a report released Tuesday by an insurers’ trade group.

The analysis commissioned by the California Association of Health Plans estimates that paying for the patients’ high-priced hepatitis C medications in prisons and state hospitals, or through Medi-Cal and other state programs, could range from $512 million to $5.1 billion. The wide-ranging estimates depend on how many patients are treated and how much the drugs are discounted by manufacturers.

Charles Bacchi, president and CEO of the association, said the report underscores what is to come in the near future when more costly prescription drugs are approved. The high costs aren’t sustainable for health plans, consumers or taxpayers, Bacchi said.

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Doctors seek cause behind dramatic increase in ER trips for kids with food allergies
Hanford Sentinel

The rate of emergency room visits and hospitalizations of children with severe food allergy reactions nearly tripled in Illinois over five years, a recently released study by Northwestern Medicine reported, raising questions about the cause of such a dramatic upswing and offering an especially comprehensive data that may supply insights for what is a growing nationwide issue.

Increases in visit frequency were found across all ages and ethnicities studied, the report states, even among groups that in the past had relatively low levels of allergy problems.

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The Future of Healthcare Could Be in Concierge Medicine

Kurt Mosley was speaking to a group of physicians when the subject of concierge medicine came up. He asked one of the doctors what they charge their patients for this type of guaranteed care.

The doctor told him $157.50 a month.

Mosley thought that was kind of arbitrary. Why the extra 50 cents?

“How did you arrive at that number?” Mosley asked.

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AMA Delegate Blasts ICD-10 Implementation Requirements
HealthLeaders Media

Physician groups have led much of the resistance against ICD-10 implementation. At its June Delegates meeting, the American Medical Association approved a resolution from W. Jeff Terry, MD, for a two-year grace period to protect physicians from errors and mistakes related to the code set.

Terry also authored an AMA resolution to delay ICD-10 in November 2011 which led to postponing implementation until October 1, 2014. Terry has practiced urology in Mobile, Alabama, since 1985 and has served as president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, president of the Alabama Urology Society, president of the Mobile Young Physician Society, and chairman of the Alabama Independent Physicians Association.

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California Mandates Vaccines for Schoolchildren
New York Times

California on Tuesday became the largest state in the country to require schoolchildren to receive vaccinations unless there are medical reasons not to do so, as Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that ended exemptions for personal or religious reasons.

Mr. Brown, a Democrat, signed the bill after it was passed by significant margins in the State Legislature. The new law was the subject of a long and heated debate in reaction to a strong movement among some parents who refuse to vaccinate their children against infectious diseases like measles.

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California Ends Personal Belief Exemption for Vaccines
KQED Radio

Legislation ending personal belief exemptions for vaccines is now a done deal. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed SB277into law, and California now has one of the strictest mandatory vaccination laws in the nation. It also becomes the third state after Mississippi and West Virginia to disallow exemptions for religious reasons.

“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” Brown said in an accompanying signing statement. “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”

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California nurses lose bid to expand practices
Sacramento Bee

Legislation that would have authorized “nurse practitioners” to treat patients without the supervision of a physician, including prescribing drugs, was rejected Tuesday by the Assembly Business and Professions Committee.

The lopsided, 8-4 vote against the measure, Senate Bill 323, was a climax to this year’s version of the Capitol’s perennial war among medical factions over “scope of practice.”

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Nurse practitioner autonomy bill fails in state Assembly (updated)
Southern California Public Radio

A bill that would have given California’s nurse practitioners more autonomy died in an Assembly committee Tuesday.

The vote in the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions was 9 to 4 with one abstention against SB 323. The bill, which cleared the Senate last month, would have allowed nurse practitioners to work independently, without a doctor’s supervision, as long as they contracted with a medical group.

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with masters or doctorate degrees and additional certifications.

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Why right-to-die advocates are focusing rallies on 3 Latino assemblymen
Los Angeles Daily News

Terminally ill Michael Saum stuttered as he explained the incessant pain plaguing a body he hopes to escape Wednesday.

The 35-year-old didn’t use to fumble words, but he can’t help it now that an inoperable tumor grips his brain. Stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme — “the Terminator” of cancers — and palliative medication have begun to shut down his body. Saum’s throat inexplicably closes, his nose forgets to breath, and his body can’t regulate its own temperature. Saum’s two best friends fanned the transgender man as he sat in Assemblyman Roger Hernandez’s air-conditioned office.

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SEIU merges home-care, nursing home workers into one unit
Sacramento Bee

The Service Employees International Union will announce Tuesday that long-term care workers from three California locals have combined to create the largest such union in the country.

The move unites some 280,000 home-care and nursing home workers from more than 37 counties into the new statewide SEIU Local 2015. Union officials said it will help them lead the nationwide fight for a $15 minimum wage and to bolster their bargaining power for improved wages and workplace conditions.

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Clinton: fight obesity on many fronts
San Diego Union-Tribune

As a new mother, Chelsea Clinton said Tuesday that she is coming to understand the nation’s obesity epidemic on a new level.

Clinton spoke in a packed ballroom at the 8th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference, which is set to run through Thursday at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in Mission Valley.

She holds a master’s degree in public health and, as vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, has led the organization her parents created in its focus on health programs.

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U.S. doctors, hospitals reap $6.5 billion from drug and device makers: report
Yahoo! News

U.S. doctors and research hospitals collected nearly $6.5 billion in payments for services rendered to pharmaceutical and medical device companies in 2014, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Open Payments report released on Tuesday.

The report, in its second year, lists 11.4 million payments to 607,000 physicians and more than 1,100 teaching hospitals made by 1,444 companies.

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Elderly heart valve patients have new life-saving option at Dominican
Santa Cruz Sentinel

The first thing that 88-year-old Lee Fitzgerald noticed when he woke up from a surprisingly brief nonsurgical procedure to put a new valve in his heart was that the unremitting pain of angina that had limited his movement for the last year was gone. He could breathe better.

“When the operation was over, the first thing I felt was, ‘Oh God, there’s no pain,’” he said. “The chest pain was really confining. I couldn’t walk from one room to the next without pain.”

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L.A. County approves new pact for troubled nursing home inspection program
Los Angeles Times

Amid criticism of past oversight efforts, Los Angeles County supervisors approved a new contract Tuesday that redefines state and local responsibilities for inspecting nursing homes and other health facilities and investigating complaints of abuse, neglect or inadequate care of patients.

The new contract will give the county more money and scale back its duties.

Los Angeles County is the only local government in the state that is contracted to inspect health facilities. Elsewhere, the state handles licensing duties and investigates complaints.

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South L.A. may get a trauma center again

The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to look at ways to bring a Level I trauma center back to South Los Angeles.

At the recommendation of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the board directed staffers to come up with options, including a timeline, within 90 days.

“Ensuring quality trauma care is a priority for me,” Ridley-Thomas said. “We need more information and analysis to get a complete picture of the county’s trauma care needs.”

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Kaiser to open medical offices in Manhattan Beach
The Beach Reporter

Kaiser Permanente announced today it has begun construction of medical offices at 400 S. Sepulveda Blvd. in Manhattan Beach to meet the demands of increased beach city membership. The 9,000 square foot facility, scheduled to open in November, will offer adult primary care, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, a nurse clinic, x-ray, pharmacy and video appointments. Additional services, including general surgery, podiatry, orthopedics, dermatology and allergy, will be added next year.