News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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California, Oregon To Allow Hormonal Contraceptives Without A Doctor’s Prescription
Kaiser Health News

California and Oregon will be the first states in the nation to allow women to get birth control pills and other hormonal contraceptives directly from their pharmacists – without a doctor’s prescription.

As California officials were busy finalizing regulations on a state law passed in 2013, Oregon’s governor Kate Brown signed a similar bill into law last week.

The two measures were hailed by women’s health advocates. They noted that men have long had an easier time getting birth control, simply purchasing condoms over the counter.

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Even people with low risk of heart attack, stroke can benefit from taking statins, study says
Los Angeles Times

A controversial new way to identify which patients should be treated for high cholesterol got some fresh validation Tuesday, with new research finding that strict adherence to 2013 guidelines for the use of cholesterol-lowering statin medications could prevent 41,000 to 63,000 heart attacks and strokes over 10 years.

Published Tuesday in JAMA, two studies suggest that updated treatment recommendations issued by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Assn. improve upon a set of 2004 guidelines in identifying healthy people who may nevertheless go on to suffer heart attack or stroke.

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Nurse joins Anaheim ambulance crew to treat patients on site
Orange County Register

Anaheim’s fire department has become the first in California to dispatch a nurse practitioner in an ambulance to treat non-urgent medical calls that would otherwise result in a hospital transport. The one-year pilot program started May 31 and will cost nearly $500,000, but will free up Anaheim Fire & Rescue equipment and personnel for true emergencies while reducing costs to the overall health care system, officials said Tuesday.

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Senate Committee probes HealthCare.gov performance
Modern Healthcare

The Senate Finance Committee Thursday will hear how HealthCare.gov, the website used to purchase insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act, is faring. “Failures of the federal exchange have been well documented, and policyholders and taxpayers deserve to know the system is working as intended and secure against abuses,” Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said in a news release.

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Disparities persist despite coverage gains: CDC
Modern Healthcare

As the Affordable Care Act increased access to subsidized health plans last year, fewer adults went uninsured but disparities persisted in their access to insurance and medical care. Fewer adults ages 18 to 64 were uninsured in 2014 compared with the 2013, regardless of race or ethnicity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a new report. However, the drop in the number of uninsured did not erase the gaps between Hispanic and black adults—who were most likely to be uninsured—and white and Asian adults.

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Two may be a crowd in California insurance oversight
Modern Healthcare

California should consider merging its two insurance regulatory agencies in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, according to a study that renews a contentious debate over how the state should oversee health plans.California is the only state in the nation to have two agencies overseeing health insurance. The California Department of Insurance covers traditional indemnity insurance and some PPOs, while the Department of Managed Healthcare, has traditionally regulated HMOs but recently picked up some types of PPOs.

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States Tighten Data Security Laws
HealthLeaders Media

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (D-CT) signed a new data breach security bill into law on June 30, making the Constitution State the latest to beef up its data security protections.

Earlier this year, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Illinois, and North Dakota also updated their data breach laws, and Alabama is on its way to becoming the 48th state to adopt such legislation. New York is also considering a bill to update information security laws while the New Hampshire legislature just passed a bill requiring that state’s education department notify students and teachers if their personal data was possibly breached.

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Opponents of new California vaccination law begin referendum drive
Los Angeles Times

Oponents of a new California law mandating vaccinations for more children were cleared by the state Tuesday to begin collecting signatures on a ballot referendum on the measure.

Led by former assemblyman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks, the opponents must collect the signatures of 365,880 registered voters on petitions by Sept. 28 for the referendum to qualify for the ballot.

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Early Push To Require The HPV Vaccine May Have Backfired
National Public Radio

Nine years after it was first approved in June 2006, the HPV vaccine has had a far more sluggish entree into medical practice than other vaccines at a similar point in their history, according to a report in Tuesday’s JAMA.

This might not surprise those who remember the early days of the human papillomavirus vaccine, which was targeted at girls aged 11 and 12 to prevent a sexually transmitted infection that causes cancer — but which opponents quickly branded as a vaccine that would promote teenage promiscuity.

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When To Start Taking A Cholesterol Pill? The Decision Is Yours
National Public Radio

You may be wondering what to do, if anything, about your cholesterol levels.

Many people, including health professionals, are still puzzling over a groundbreaking revision of cholesterol guidelines that was released almost two years ago. The guideline, from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, represented years of analyzing the medical literature to produce recommendations about who should be treated with cholesterol-lowering drugs.

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Children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders make crafts and friends
Orange County Register

Art teacher Eve Andry dons her paint-splotched apron in front of a group of elementary school-age children, ready to begin instruction. This week’s theme is insects and flowers.

“OK, today we’re going to make this beautiful bouquet of flowers,” says Andry, 26, pointing to a colorful sample made out of coffee filters, paint, markers, paper cups and pipe cleaners.

But first, Andry asks the children to introduce themselves to one another.

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Biohackers Aim To Make Homebrew Insulin, But Don’t Try It Yet
National Public Radio

Might people with diabetes someday be able to brew their own insulin for free at home, just as with beer? The answer may be yes, but whether it’s a good idea is another question.

The home-brewed insulin concept is among the latest to emerge from the bio-hacking movement, in which people meet to tinker with biology in inexpensive do-it-yourself laboratories that have popped up in California, New York and a few other places in the United States and Europe.

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Blog: Surgeons’ performance under scrutiny
Modern Healthcare

After getting their sources of revenue scrutinized, physicians’ performance is now under public review.

The not-for-profit Consumers’ Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services, which previously put out a similar guide to hospitals, released ratings of surgeons. The ratings are based on Medicare fee-for-service data on 14 common major surgeries, including heart-valve replacement and bypass surgery, major bowel surgery, and hip and knee replacement.

Individual surgeons were evaluated based on their risk-adjusted rates of patient deaths, complications (based on prolonged lengths of hospital stays), and readmissions.

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Primary Care, Psychiatry Top Recruiter’s List
HealthLeaders Media

Population health and managing chronic illness are fueling continued strong demand for primary care providers, a new report from physician recruiters Merritt Hawkins shows.

For the ninth straight year, family physicians were the most-recruited specialty by the Irving, TX-based company over the past year. Of the 10 most-recruited positions, six were in primary care, including family physicians, internists, hospitalists, nurse practitioners, OB/GYN, and pediatrics.

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People over 60 encouraged to be vaccinated for Shingles
KUSI News

One out of every three people in the United States will get Shingles or Herpes Zostra at some point in their life, according to the CDC.

What do Shingles feel like? Ask David Stroben.

“I’ve run marathons, broken arms, wrists, Shingles pain is far worse than any break I’ve ever had and it’s long lasting,” he said.

Shingles is the same virus as chicken pox. Remember that?

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Study: Mixing antidepressants and painkillers may be tied to elevated risk of bleeding
Washington Post

If the Food and Drug Administration warning last week wasn’t enough to make you think twice before popping that ibuprofen so liberally for every ache and pain, a paper published Tuesday should give you pause.

The population-based study, published in the BMJ, found that mixing antidepressants with common painkillers appears to be linked to a higher risk of intracranial bleeding — which occurs in the skull — shortly after starting the treatment.  The researchers emphasized that their finding doesn’t necessarily mean that this drug combination causes the bleeding, but that it’s a possibility that needs to be explored further.

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Black infant deaths far exceed other ethnic groups in Fresno County, report shows
Fresno Bee

Black babies in Fresno County are three times as likely to die within their first year of life than white infants, and they die nearly three times as often as Hispanic babies.

It’s a statistic First 5 Fresno County board members will discuss Wednesday at noon at The Lighthouse for Children on Tulare Avenue in downtown Fresno.

The public is invited to the board meeting and to a community meeting on July 24 to continue the discussion.

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LA County health officials responding to rise in congenital syphilis
Southern California Public Radio

One day after state officials singled out Los Angeles County as one of the areas in the state experiencing a rise in the number of pregnant women passing on syphilis to their babies in utero, county officials say they are stepping up their educational outreach to health care workers and patients.

Last year, 31 babies were born in L.A. County with “probable congenital syphyilis” – meaning their mothers had syphilis that either was not properly treated during pregnancy or was treated too late to fully protect the fetus. That’s a sharp increase from the eight in 2013, and the most since there were 32 in 2005, according to county data.

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Dignity Health consolidates area hospital leadership
Sacramento Business Journal

Dignity Health has quietly consolidated its hospital executive ranks in Sacramento — a move that left popular former Mercy Folsom president Michael Ricks out of the lineup. Ricks left Dignity Health in June, according to health system spokesman Melissa Jue. Edmundo Castañeda is now hospital president for both Mercy General and Mercy Folsom. This follows a similar change last year when Gene Bassett retired from Methodist Hospital of Sacramento.

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SRMC Invests In Community’s Future
MyMotherLode.com

Sonora Regional Medical Center celebrated the groundbreaking of its $36-million Cancer Center project, and also recognized some notable donors.

The 64,000 sq. ft. Pavilion will be constructed at the intersection of Mono Way and Greenley Road, at the former site of Andy’s Home Center. Demolition of some of the existing buildings will start as early as next month, and the project should be completed in late 2016 or early 2017.

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