News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Alzheimer’s Drugs In The Works Might Help Other Diseases, Too
National Public Radio

Efforts to find a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease have been disappointing so far. But there’s a new generation of drugs in the works that researchers think might help not only Alzheimer’s patients, but also people with Parkinson’s disease and other brain disorders.

Previous efforts to treat Alzheimer’s have focused on a single target — usually the protein called beta-amyloid, says Maria Carrillo, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Association. “The one-target approach is probably not going to be the answer,” Carrillo says.

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Health Care Hurdles for the Disabled
HealthyCal.org

Yvette Baptiste’s son Andrew was born with Klippel-Feil syndrome, a bone disorder where the neck vertebrae are fused, causing pain and limiting movement.

But even though Baptiste, as the Executive Director of Eastern Los Angeles Family Resource Center, was a seasoned health advocate, it still took more than a year to find a new doctor to treat her adult son.

“When he turned 19, he needed treatment for scoliosis and we tried to find a doctor who knew anything about his condition,” Baptiste says.

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UCLA Health reports data breach that could affect 4.5 million
Los Angeles Business Journal

UCLA Health System said Friday it has been the victim of a criminal cyberattack that could affect as many as 4.5 million patients. The attackers accessed parts of the computer network that contain personal and medical information, but UCLA Health said it has no evidence at this time that the hackers actually accessed or acquired any individual’s personal or medical information.

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Siren Song Of Tech Lures New Doctors Away From Medicine
National Public Radio

Even as a young child, Amanda Angelotti dreamed about becoming a doctor.

But by her third year at the University of California, San Francisco medical school. Angelotti couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing.

During a routine shift at the hospital, making rounds with her fellow students, Angelotti said her thoughts kept drifting.

“I was supposed to be focused on the patient’s vital signs and presenting a summary, but I was consumed with thoughts about how to improve the process of rounds,” she said. Most striking to her was the patient’s absence from the discussion.

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ACA repeal through reconciliation looms for Republicans
Modern Healthcare

Congressional Republicans face a loose deadline next Friday to enact a procedure that would set up repeal of the Affordable Care Act. But the process is more likely to play out as political theater than a threat to the healthcare law.

Earlier this year, Republicans teed up a budget procedure called reconciliation, which creates a fast track for the Senate to bypass a filibuster and pass legislation on a simple majority. Republicans included reconciliation in this spring’s budget discussions for the “sole purpose of repealing the president’s job-killing healthcare law,” according to the House’s resolution from April.

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Indian tribes seek exemption from ACA’s large-employer rule
Modern Healthcare

Representatives of several Indian tribes say they support legislation introduced by congressional Republicans this week that would exempt tribes nationwide from being classified as large employers under the Affordable Care Act—a designation that requires tribes to pay higher insurance costs or face federal penalties.

Supporters say requiring tribes to provide group insurance for tribal employees serves to shift the costs of implementing the Affordable Care Act from the federal government to the tribes.

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Smaller employers struggle with budget, benefits
Redding Record Searchlight

Small employers are often struggling with budget and benefits. They wish to provide benefits for their employees, but have to struggle with the cost to do so. One common mistake many small employers make is to set eligibility for benefits at greater than 30 hours per week.

The rules are quite clear that 30 hours per week is the maximum eligibility period for most insurers plans. A small employer might want to define full time as 32 hours or even 40, but it is simply not allowed.

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Healthcare employers should review federal rules on independent contractors
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Labor Department is warning companies not to misclassify some workers as independent contractors instead of full-fledged employees. Experts say healthcare companies need to make sure their employment practices are in compliance.

David Weil, the department’s administrator, issued a guidance document this week emphasizing to employers that although independent contractors are widely used, “most workers are employees” under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and therefore deserve protections such as a minimum wage, overtime compensation, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation coverage can be particularly important to healthcare workers, who suffer from one of the highest rates of musculoskeletal injuries among all U.S. industries.

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Medicaid enrollment surges, stirs worry about state budgets
Los Angeles Daily News

More than a dozen states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act have seen enrollments surge way beyond projections, raising concerns that the added costs will strain their budgets when federal aid is scaled back starting in two years.

Some lawmakers warn the price of expanding the health care program for poor and lower-income Americans could mean less money available for other state services, including education.

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Engaging Vaccine Hesitant Parents on Values
KQED Radio

The question of declining children’s vaccination rates — and how to improve them — exploded into the public consciousness early this year when a measles outbreak, linked to Disneyland, spread across California and to other states.

Since then, SB 277, a bill to abolish the state’s vaccine “personal belief exemption,” moved through the legislature amid heated and vocal opposition. It was signed by the governor last month. Under the law, all school children must be vaccinated against 10 different diseases. Only those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons are exempt.

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Surprise! That Urgent Care Center May Send You A Big Bill (Just Like The ER)
Kaiser Health News

Sallyann Johnson considers herself a pretty savvy health care consumer. When she fell and injured her hands and wrists, she didn’t head for an expensive emergency room, choosing an urgent care clinic near her Milwaukee home instead.

Before seeking treatment, she asked the key question: Did the center accept her insurance? Yes, Johnson was assured, both on the phone and then again when she arrived at the clinic.

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Overcoming challenges after brain operation
San Diego Union-Tribune

My meningioma diagnosis was an incidental finding, luck.

I was 20 years old, working for one of the local doctor’s offices, which just so happened to be my primary care provider’s. I had him pull up my MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) results for an unrelated illness, and just for fun, we decided to look at the brain MRI. Halfway down the radiology report, we all stopped reading as we gasped. I sat for a while taking it all in. I had headaches often, but a brain tumor? No way! I was too young for this.

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Hope amid dire brain tumor diagnosis
San Diego Union-Tribune

Dr. Bob Carter still remembers that day from medical school.

He listened as a mentor neurosurgeon met with a patient suffering from a malignant brain tumor. When asked how long the patient had to live, the surgeon didn’t give a number. He instead went over treatment options for that individual and emphasized his close supervision of the case.

“After the visit, in my naive student way, I asked why we didn’t provide a figure,” Carter recalled. “(He) said one of the worst kinds of disservice we can do is to take away a patient’s hope with a statistic.”

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Family’s 6-year ordeal with deadly tumor
San Diego Union-Tribune

Three months after giving birth to Sloan, Marni began experiencing headaches. They got so bad that she would be shopping at Costco and have to go into the restroom and sit down.

Some people thought she was having post-partum depression, but she knew that wasn’t it. After the headaches kept getting worse, she went to urgent care in October 2008 and they gave her a shot that helped with her headache and referred her to a doctor.

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Patients squeezed in Gilead, insurer showdown over costly hep C drugs
San Francisco Business Times

In a continuing fight with insurers centering on the cost of its groundbreaking hepatitis C drugs, Gilead Sciences Inc. will limit enrollment in its payment-assistance program by patients whose insurance companies limit coverage or don’t pay for the drugs at all. The program, like those set up by many other drug makers, is designed to help U.S. patients with high insurance co-pays or those whose insurers don’t fully cover Foster City-based Gilead’s (NASDAQ: GILD) Sovaldi and Harvoni.

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County receives big money for mental health services, facilities
Sacramento Bee

After suffering major cuts during the last recession, Sacramento County’s mental health programs are finally bouncing back with an influx of state money that will more than double the number of beds for people needing crisis mental health care.

The California Health Facilities Financing Authority approved a $5.7 million grant, with the money going directly toward the opening of three new 15-bed crisis residential treatment facilities.

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Millions of UCLA Health records compromised in computer breach
Orange County Register

Personal and medical information of about 4.5 million consumers may be compromised after criminal hackers got into UCLA Health’s computer records, according to a statement issued by the hospital system Friday.

While it is apparent that attackers accessed part of the computer that contains sensitive personal and medical information, as early as September 2014, there is no evidence that the hackers actually acquired any of that data, UCLA Health officials said.

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UCLA Health Says 4.5M May Be Affected In Data Breach
National Public Radio

UCLA Health says it was a victim of a criminal cyberattack that affected as many as 4.5 million people.

UCLA Health, in a statement Friday, said attackers accessed parts of the computer network that contain personal and medical information, but there is no evidence they “actually accessed or acquired any individual’s personal or medical information.” The statement said UCLA Health is working with the FBI and has hired private computer forensic experts to help in the investigation.

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Pediatric genetics researcher returns to Rady
San Diego Union-Tribune

For about a year now, Cynthia and Danny Heinemann have known the cause of their daughter’s severe autism: a previously undetected genetic mutation.

On Friday, they learned that they are not alone.

The couple and their 10-year-old daughter, Lisel, met with Dr. Joseph Gleeson at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego, where the pediatric neurologist shared a paper published in May by a research group in Seattle.

The study’s results showed that seven others have been found with the mutation discovered in Lisel’s genetic code — and all exhibit similar symptoms.

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