News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Breast cancer and mammograms: Study suggests ‘widespread overdiagnosis’
Washington Post

The importance of regular mammograms to ending breast cancer has been widely endorsed by everyone from a government-backed panel to patient advocacy groups and Angelina Jolie. Is it possible they’ve all been wrong?

A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine published Monday looked at data from 16 million women in 547 U.S. counties in 2000. More than 53,000 were diagnosed with breast cancer that year. As expected, the researchers found that the number of breast cancer diagnoses rose with more aggressive screenings. The surprise: the number of deaths remained the same.

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Can a Startup Transform Health Care in California’s Lake County?
KQED Radio

A group of tech entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley has taken on a huge task — trying to transform an entire community’s health status in five places across the country, in just five years.

One of those targets is in rural Lake County, just north of Napa. The challenge is to find out if those innovators, with all of their tech tools, can help reverse some of the worst health trends in the state.

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Calif. Advocates Hail Coverage Of Children In State Illegally, Seek Inclusion Of Adults
Kitsap Sun

When Fabiola Ortiz heard California had granted health coverage to poor children lacking legal immigration status, she felt grateful. Since arriving in the U.S. illegally 12 years ago, she has taken her two youngest children to the doctor only for required school physicals and relied on home remedies for everything else.

“The truth is that we really need insurance,” the 46-year-old Anaheim resident said. “For the children, it will be a big help.”

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CMS: No ICD-10 Audit Claims for Specificity in Year One
HealthLeaders Media

After a vigorous, last-ditch push by the AMA for a two-year transition period after implementation to protect physicians from all ICD-CM coding errors and mistakes, CMS and AMA made a joint announcement that appears to signal a burying of the hatchet.

Steven Stack, MD, AMA’s president, touts the changes in a post that begins with a concession his group has resisted stating for years: “Implementation of the ICD-10 code set is just around the corner, with a hard deadline of Oct. 1.”

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‘Aid in dying’ causes a Democratic split
San Diego Union-Tribune

As “death with dignity” legislation heads toward a crucial vote in an Assembly committee on Tuesday, it seems increasingly unlikely that California will become the fourth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide — at least not this year. The reason: A split between the Democratic Party’s white legislators from affluent, liberal coastal districts and its Latino members, who tend to represent working class areas and cities in the state’s agricultural heartland.

Called the “End of Life Option Act,” SB 128 would let terminally ill patients request a drug that would hasten their death. Introduced by Democratic Sens. Bill Monning of Carmel and Lois Wolk of Davis, the legislation got a boost last month when the California Medical Association — long opposed to turning doctors into suicide-providers — moved to a neutral stance.

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SB 128: Aid in dying bill faces resistance from Southern California Democrats
The Mercury News

On the eve of Tuesday’s critical vote in an Assembly hearing, an aid-in-dying bill is facing resistance from the most unexpected corner: Southern California Democrats, mostly young and Latino.

The right for terminally ill people to end their lives is typically considered a liberal progressive issue, like the right to abortion, the right of gays to marry and the right to unionize.

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‘No One Should Have The Right To Prolong My Death’
National Public Radio

When Jennifer Glass goes to Sacramento on Tuesday to deliver testimony in favor of the California End-of-Life-Options Act, the trip will require some complex logistics.

Her 17-year-old stepson, Tristan, will bundle her into her car and get behind the wheel to drive the two hours from her home in San Mateo, just south of San Francisco. Glass, 52, hopes she’s up to the physical challenge.

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California right-to-die bill struggling despite publicity around Brittany Maynard’s death
U.S. News & World Report

Legislation that would allow California physicians to help terminally ill patients end their lives has met strong opposition from lawmakers in Catholic districts and others ahead of a Tuesday vote.

Aid-in-dying advocates hoped the nationally publicized case of Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old California woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally end her life last fall, would prompt a wave of new state laws allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending medications.

But no state has passed right-to-die legislation this year, and efforts have been defeated or stalled in Colorado, Maine, New Jersey and elsewhere.

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After Measles Outbreaks, Parents Shift Their Thinking On Vaccines
National Public Radio

Nothing like a good measles outbreak to get people thinking more kindly about vaccines.

One third of parents say they think vaccines have more benefit than they did a year ago, according to a poll conducted in May. That’s compared to the 5 percent of parents who said they now think vaccines have fewer benefits and 61 percent who think the benefits are the same.

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Screening mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer deaths, study finds
Los Angeles Times

The increased use of mammograms to screen for breast cancer has subjected more women to invasive medical treatments but has not saved lives, a new study says.

After reviewing cancer registry records from 547 counties across the United States, researchers concluded that the screening tests aren’t working as hoped. Instead of preventing deaths by uncovering breast tumors at an early, more curable stage, screening mammograms have mainly found small tumors that would have been harmless if left alone.

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California’s Dental Program Gains Patients While Losing Dentists

California’s dental program for the poor is falling short.

A new state review of the Denti-Cal program, shows between 2009 and 2014, the number of children enrolled in the Denti-Cal program increased by nearly 40 percent.

But the number of dentists who treated Denti-Cal patients decreased by almost 14 percent. Denti-Cal pays less than one-third of the commercial insurance rate.

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Merced County seeks improvements mental health, primary care
Merced Sun-Star

In the age of health care reform, integrating resources, according to health officials, is key to improving the quality of care.

For this reason, the Merced County Department of Public Health is seeking a grant that would help coordinate health care service available in the community.

The Safety Net Integration grant from the Blue Shield of California Foundation would address gaps between mental health, substance abuse and primary care services, according to the department.

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Aetna’s $37B Humana Acquisition Has Providers Wary
HealthLeaders Media

Aetna’s $37 billion acquisition of Humana Inc. and the broader consolidation in the health insurance industry is making providers antsy.

Under the deal announced last Friday, Aetna said the combined company would cover more than 33 million people, and would vie with Anthem to be the nation’s second-largest health insurance company, with annual operating revenues of approximately $115 billion.

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UCLA Health Hopes to Complete New Medical Center by Next Summer
Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Acquired in 2013, the UCLA health care group now plans to build out its Tourney Road building for completion in the spring or early summer of 2016. Constructions costs were estimated to run $5.8 million.

The 36,280 square foot facility located at 27235 Tourney Road was built in 2009 but had never been occupied at the time of the sale.

“We’re going to build it out and have the plans approved,” said Dr. Matt Dinolfo with UCLA Health. “We’ll occupy the whole building.”

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Mercy General to open $11.6M oncology unit
Sacramento Business Journal

Mercy General Hospital will open a brand-new, $11.6 million oncology unit next week.

The 24-bed unit with all private rooms and upgraded technology is a big switch from 20 beds in mostly shared space in the south wing. Patients will move to the new unit on July 16.

The evolution stems from growth in Dignity Health’s regional cancer program and opening of a comprehensive outpatient cancer center on C Street in Sacramento four years ago. In an effort to be more competitive in the local cancer market, the health system has bolstered its doctor ranks and modernized facilities to be more accommodating to patients.

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A new beginning for MLK hospital and the community
Los Angeles Times

For several decades, King/Drew hospital in South Los Angeles served one of the neediest parts of Los Angeles, treating patients who didn’t have insurance or anywhere else to turn for care.

Its opening in 1972 was viewed as a victory of the civil rights era and a source of pride for black Los Angeles. But plagued in later years by poor medical care, staff errors and a series of controversial patient deaths, it came to be viewed by many as a place of peril, nicknamed Killer King.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital to open Tuesday
Los Angeles Business Journal

The long-awaited Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles is opening to the public on July 7, aiming to fill the healthcare needs of a community that has been without a full-service medical center since 2007. The new state-of-the-art hospital comes eight years after federal regulators forced the closure of MLK-Drew Medical Center after it failed several inspections and drew national attention for poor treatment of patients.

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Rideout passes Medicare/Medicaid processes
The Appeal-Democrat

Rideout Memorial Hospital passed a crucial survey that clears the Rway for it to continue treating Medicare and Medi-caid/MediCal patients, hospital CEO Robert Chason said. Chason said late Monday afternoon he received a letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) notifying him Rideout successfully completed last month’s survey. It also lifted a “system improvement agreement” the hospital was under since alleged violations were found more than a year ago.