News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Emergency epinephrine syringes in short supply
Modern Healthcare

The Food and Drug Administration is reporting shortages of pre-filled syringes of epinephrine, which are most commonly used to treat individuals who are in cardiac arrest. The FDA’s drug shortage database shows that both Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based Amphastar Pharmaceuticals and Lake Forest, Ill.-based Hospira are reporting shortages of the injections. The syringes are in intermittent supply and it’s not expected that will change anytime soon, said Stacey Winston, senior director of pharmacy contracting solutions at Amerinet, a group purchasing organization.

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Bundled Payments’ Disruptive Effects Detailed
HealthLeaders Media

Hospitals and health systems are likely to respond quickly and ruthlessly to the announcement last week that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will soon require bundling of reimbursement for hip and knee surgeries, with profits tied closely to costs and quality metrics. With outcomes dictating reimbursement levels, postop facilities that can’t make the grade are likely to be cut loose.

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California begins to regain control of prison health care
The Mercury News

California on Monday began regaining responsibility for its prison health care system after nearly a decade of federal control and billions of dollars in improvements.

A court-appointed receiver returned medical care at Folsom State Prison to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the first of many steps toward ending a long-running lawsuit.

“Basically, what I saw at Folsom was a reasonably well-functioning health care system in a prison context,” receiver J. Clark Kelso said in a telephone interview.

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Do Cell Phones Belong In The Operating Room?
Kaiser Health News

Next time you’re on the operating table and you have one last look around as the anesthesiologist approaches, don’t be too sure that that person in scrubs looking at a smartphone is pulling up vital health data. He or she might be texting a friend, or ordering a new carpet.

Cellphone use is not generally restricted in the operating room, but some experts say the time for rules has come. In interviews, many described co-workers’ texting friends and relatives from the surgical suite.

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Obama administration moves to strengthen nursing home oversight
Modern Healthcare

The CMS is proposing rules aimed at dramatically improving the quality of care Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries are receiving in nursing homes.

An estimated 1.5 million beneficiaries are receiving treatment at more than 15,000 long-term care facilities or nursing homes around the country that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The 403-page proposed rule released Monday contains numerous proposals to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions and infections, increase quality of care and introduce new safety measures.

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Covering poor children without legal status is first step, say California advocates
Orange County Register

When Fabiola Ortiz heard California had granted health coverage to poor children lacking legal immigration status, she was 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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How to leverage technology to alleviate ACA reporting requriements
San Francisco Business Times

For most companies with more than 50 full-time or full-time equivalent employees, 2016 will bring significant new Internal Revenue Service employer reporting requirements. The goal of the IRS: To ensure that your employees maintained health insurance coverage in 2015, in addition to verifying that required employers offered coverage to full-time employees, as mandated by the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA).

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Bungled Payments
The Health Care Blog

The proposal involves a five-year bundled payment model across 75 geographic areas whereby hospitals would be eligible for a bonus if their costs and outcomes were optimal or be penalized if not based on results 90 days post-discharge. The agency noted that in 2013, it spent more than $7 billion on hospitalization for these procedures with the payments for hospitalization and recovery ranging widely from 16,500 to $33,000. Comments about the proposal will be received by CMS through September 8, 2015, aiming for implementation January 1, 2016.

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Medicare Part D fraud draws scrutiny in House
Modern Healthcare

A House subcommittee will wade into the increasingly hot topic of fraud and abuse involving Medicare’s drug benefit program.During a hearing Tuesday, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee is slated to discuss measures needed to strengthen the integrity of Medicare’s drug benefit program. The hearing follows a flurry of activity drawing attention to the issue, including charges filed against 44 people across the country for Medicare Part D fraud in June—the first large-scale federal effort to focus on Part D fraud.

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Latest Choosing Wisely Grantees to Focus on Patients
HealthLeaders Media

The ABIM Foundation has awarded a second round of grants for its Choosing Wisely campaign, which aims to educate clinicians and patients about reducing unneeded medical testing, procedures, and medication use.

The grants, which are funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, have been awarded to seven initiatives, all of which will work toward reducing the use of antibiotics for viral infections by at least 20% over nearly three years.

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Health Insurer Mergers Will Pressure Pharma Over High-Cost Drugs
The Wall Street Journal

As the nation’s biggest health insurers jockey for supremacy, drug makers should brace for added pressure because doctors are likely to face stingier reimbursement over the next few years. And cancer treatments, in particular, are expected to be targeted, according to a report from Moody’s Investor Service.

The changes reflect ongoing efforts insurers are making to diversify and cut costs in response to the Affordable Care Act, which is now prompting a flurry of merger talks.

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‘Surgeon scorecard’ measures docs by complications
USA Today

Surgeons around the country are now scored against their peers in a new statistic developed by a non-profit news organization that goes beyond hospital-level data, providing a never-before-available tool for consumers and generating debate and some angst in the surgical community.

Nearly 17,000 doctors performing low-risk, common elective procedures such as gallbladder removal and hip replacements are measured in the new calculation, which the non-profit news outlet ProPublica calls an “Adjusted Complication Rate.” The data, derived from government records collected about Medicare patients, is now available online for anyone to search.

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FDA To Take Another Look At Essure Contraceptive Device After Health Complaints
National Public Radio

When Amanda Dykeman was certain she was done with having children, she had two options for permanent birth control: surgical sterilization, which typically involves general anesthesia and a laparoscopy, or Essure, the only nonsurgical permanent birth control option approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

She chose Essure. And she says her life has never been the same.

“Physically, it has permanently ruined my body inside and out,” said Dykeman, now 33 years old, of Coal Valley, Ill. “Mentally I’ve never been stronger.

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El Camino Hospital has a very good year
Mountain View VOICE

El Camino Hospital raked in more money than anticipated this fiscal year, ending with $65 million in extra cash — and hospital officials won’t have a problem finding ways to spend it.

Work on the hospital’s massive building projects, which were presented to the Mountain View City Council earlier this year, is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Between facilities upgrades and the shift to electronic medical records, the hospital’s bill for improvements is expected to reach $1.1 billion over the next decade.

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Why Health Care Performance Measures Need Their Own Grades
The Health Care Blog

Some measures of health care quality and patient safety should be taken with a grain of salt. A few need a spoonful.

In April, a team of Johns Hopkins researchers published an article examining how well a state of Maryland pay-for-performance program measure for dangerous blood clots identified cases that were potentially preventable. In reviewing the clinical records of 157 hospital patients deemed by the state program to have developed these clots — known as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism — they found that more than 40 percent had been misclassified. The vast majority of these patients had clots that were not truly preventable, such as those associated with central catheters, for which the efficacy of prophylaxis remains unproven.

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Sebastopol’s Sonoma West Medical Center set to open
North Bay Business Journal

Sonoma West Medical Center is set to open for business. The hospital has received its building permit, and expects a visit from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development for the final signoff on health and safety codes sometime this week. Formerly known as Palm Drive Hospital, the facility will serve once again as West Sonoma’s only hospital. “We’re very, very excited and can hardly wait. It’s been an incredible process and it’s so good to see the opening coming so close,” said Raymond Hino, CEO of the hospital.

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Kern County drops loan cap to Kern Medical Center
Bakersfield Californian

The balance on Kern Medical Center’s loan from the Kern County general fund dropped to a dramatic low of $8.1 million in June.

The loan keeps the hospital running through the dramatic see-saw of the KMC’s volatile billing cycle.

Two years ago the county-owned hospital owed Kern’s general fund more than $100 million.

Now the balance is one-tenth of that.

Don’t expect the number to remain that low. KMC’s management team certainly doesn’t.