News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Nevada adds $200K to fight California patient busing lawsuit
Sacramento Bee

Nevada officials including Gov. Brian Sandoval have approved more money to fend off a lawsuit that San Francisco filed over alleged psychiatric patient dumping. The Nevada Board of Examiners voted Tuesday to approve $200,000 more to continue the legal battle. The state has already authorized more than $2.1 million for a law firm contract that’s scheduled to last through the end of the year.

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Divergent Paths to Better Patient Scheduling, Greater Access
HealthLeaders Media

Access to healthcare is wildly variable throughout the US, but one obstacle to access — patient wait times — can be reduced by the implementation of systems-based approaches in scheduling, research from the Institute of Medicine suggests.

“We saw [this report] as an opportunity to improve upon what we see as a huge problem, which is waits and delays in our system,” says Gary Kaplan, MD, Chairman and CEO at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. He was lead author of Transforming Healthcare Scheduling and Access: Getting to Now, published by the Institute of Medicine.

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After Health Care Act, Sharp Drop in Spending on Birth Control
New York Times

Out-of-pocket spending on most major birth control methods fell sharply in the months after the Affordable Care Act began requiring insurance plans to cover contraception at no cost to women, a new study has found. Spending on the pill, the most popular form of prescription birth control, dropped by about half in the first six months of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012, before the mandate took effect.

The study, by health economists from the University of Pennsylvania, analyzed health insurance claims from a large private insurer with business in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It evaluated the effect of the Affordable Care Act, the biggest piece of social legislation in decades, on women’s pocketbooks. It estimated that savings from the pill alone were about $1.4 billion in 2013.

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Praise for Two-Midnight Rule Revision, but Pay Cut Grates
HealthLeaders Media

Hospitals welcomed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ proposal to soften its “two-midnight rule” for inpatient payments, but are complaining about other aspects of the agency’s planned changes to hospital and ambulatory surgical center reimbursements for 2016.

When CMS proposed its annual payment update last week, it also suggested relaxing the controversial rule related to patients’ admission status. The proposed update allows physicians more flexibility to decide whether Medicare beneficiaries should be classified as inpatient or outpatient, but the overall cuts to hospital payments disappointed hospitals and insurers.

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Lacking Votes, Calif. Assembly Shelves Aid-In-Dying Bill
Kaiser Health News

Backers of a bill that would have allowed terminally ill Californians to get lethal prescriptions to end their lives shelved the legislation Tuesday morning because they lacked the votes to move it out of a key committee.

The End of Life Option Act, had already cleared the state Senate, but faced opposition in the Assembly Health Committee.

Among those expected to vote against the bill were a group of southern California Democrats, almost all of whom are Latino, after the Archdiocese of Los Angeles increased its lobbying efforts. Church officials argued that some poor residents could feel pressured into ending their lives prematurely if they couldn’t afford expensive medical treatment. Disability rights advocates have also fought against the legislation.

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Aid-in-dying bill withdrawn due to lack of support
San Francisco Chronicle

Lawmakers abruptly withdrew a bill Tuesday that would allow dying patients to end their lives with doctor-prescribed drugs after it became clear the proposal did not have the votes needed to make it through a key committee. Authors of the assisted-dying bill could not persuade enough fellow Democrats on the Assembly Health Committee to support SB128 in time to meet upcoming legislative deadlines. Instead of forcing a vote they knew would fall short, bill authors Sens. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Bill Monning, D-Carmel, withdrew SB128 from being heard by the committee on Tuesday.

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Mammograms have a magical reputation. But they don’t save as many lives as you think.
Washington Post

Mammograms have an almost magical reputation among many women. At pink ribbon events, breast cancer survivors credit the screening tool as having saved their lives and the U.S. government believes in their power so strongly that coverage for it is mandated by the Affordable Care Act for newer insurance plans.

Much of this faith in mammograms comes from a pivotal paper based on tests conducted in the 1960s and ’70s in Sweden that showed that screening could reduce breast cancer mortality by an amazing 20 to 25 percent.

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Birth Control Coverage Saves Women Significant Money
Kaiser Health News

Women are saving a lot of money as a result of a health law requirement that insurance cover most forms of prescription contraceptives with no additional out-of-pocket costs, according to a study released Tuesday. But the amount of those savings and the speed with which those savings occurred surprised researchers.

The study, in the July issue of the policy journal Health Affairs, found that the average birth control pill user saved $255 in the year after the requirement took effect. The average user of an intrauterine device (IUD) saved $248. Those savings represented a significant percentage of average out-of-pocket costs.

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The 3 hot spots in the U.S. with the highest colon cancer death rates
Washington Post

Although the risk of death from colorectal cancer in the United States has dropped dramatically in recent decades, there are three “hot spots” in Appalachia and the rural South where death rates are “unnecessarily high,” researchers said.

The highest colon cancer death rates are in the lower Mississippi Delta, where rates were 40 percent higher than the rest of the country during 2009 to 2011, according to a study published Wednesday in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

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Despite National Progress, Colorectal Cancer Hot Spots Remain
National Public Radio

One of the great successes in the war on cancer has been the steep decline in the death rate from colorectal cancer.

Since 1970, the colorectal cancer death rate per 100,000 Americans has been cut in half, falling to 15.1 in 2011 from 29.2 in 1970.

Increased screening, improvements in treatment and changes in risk factors (such as a drop in smoking) have contributed to the dramatic reduction.

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FDA approves new heart failure pill from Novartis
Modern Healthcare

Government regulators have approved a new pill from Novartis to treat heart failure.The Food and Drug Administration approved the combination drug, Entresto, based on studies showing it reduced rates of heart-related death and hospitalization compared with older drugs.More than 5 million Americans and more than 25 million people worldwide have heart failure, a disease that causes the heart to gradually lose its pumping power. It kills up to half of patients within five years, despite numerous generic pills and other treatments available.

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Kaiser Permanente inks $9.3 million land deal
The Press-Enterprise

Kaiser Permanente is moving forward to build a new medical complex in Murrieta. The health care organization signed the $9.3 million land deal in Mapleton Park Centre for a hospital, treatment and diagnostic center, medical office building and central energy plant in the city’s medical and technology corridor, according to Mike Tingus, principle of Lee & Associates.

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Kaiser names new San Francisco area leader
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente has a new senior vice president and area manager for its greater San Francisco service area, which includes its medical centers in San Francisco and South San Francisco. Ron Groepper, who had held a similar role in Kaiser’s Sacramento region since 2011, started the new position Monday. He succeeds Deborah Raymond, who had been interim area manager at the San Francisco Medical Center since late last year.

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Kaiser names new top exec for Sacramento
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente’s point person on the proposed hospital campus in the downtown Sacramento railyard left town Monday for a new job in San Francisco. Sacramento area manager Ron Groepper is now Kaiser’s senior vice president and area manager for Greater San Francisco. Sandy Sharon, former chief operating officer at Kaiser’s Roseville Medical Center, took Groepper’s job the day he left, Kaiser announced Tuesday.

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Community celebrates opening of Martin Luther King hospital
Los Angeles Times

When King/Drew hospital closed eight years ago, the people of South Los Angeles feared that it would not be replaced.

In low-income communities of color, they say, businesses leave, never to return.

But on Tuesday, residents rejoiced as the long-delayed Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital opened, delivering on a long-standing promise by the county to bring medical care back to an area with a high rate of chronic illnesses and traumatic injuries.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital Opens Its Doors In South Los Angeles
ABC News

It’s been eight years since the 1.3 million people who call the South Los Angeles area home have had a full-service medical center.

That changed on Tuesday as the long-awaited Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital opened its doors and began seeing patients.

In 2007, complaints of poor patient care forced federal regulators to close the original medical center. It’s a legacy doctors are aware of and acknowledge.

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Children’s Hospital L.A. gets new CEO

The CEO of the UC San Diego Health System will become president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles beginning Aug. 24, the hospital announced Tuesday. Paul S. Viviano is also associate vice chancellor of UC San Diego Health Sciences. He will replace Richard Cordova, who announced in December that he plans to retire from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

“I want to expand on CHLA’s significant contributions in all aspects of pediatric care,” Viviano said.

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Step toward Pomona Valley Hospital trauma center designation OKd
Los Angeles Daily News

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors authorized county administrators Tuesday to enter into a contract with Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, a first step in the facility being designated a trauma center.

Supervisor Hilda Solis, in whose district the hospital is located, said in a statement the facility will provide services to residents of the eastern end of the county.

“Whether a patient is being transported by helicopter or by ambulance, each second is critical to that patient’s survival,” Solis said in the statement.