News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California children’s health care improves, but their economic well-being lags
Sacramento Bee

Thanks largely to its vigorous implementation of Obamacare, California has jumped from 26th to 14th in state-by-state rankings of children’s health well-being compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

However, the state still ranks 49th out of 50 states in children’s economic well-being, the foundation says in its annual report, and 38th in overall well-being.

The report’s profile of California counts 2.1 million California children living in poverty, 23 percent of the state’s youngsters, and five percentage points higher than in 2008, during the height of the Great Recession.

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Rising U.S. Drug Prices Are Focus of Research Grant
The Wall Street Journal

A Houston philanthropist couple plans to announce Tuesday that they are providing a $5.2 million grant to a Boston nonprofit, the Institute of Clinical and Economic Review, to expand the group’s research evaluating whether new drugs are worth their price tags.

ICER research has already made a mark: Some U.S. drug-plan managers credited the nonprofit last year with helping them secure big discounts on expensive new hepatitis C drugs, after ICER concluded the therapies would only be cost-effective at half their price.

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Alzheimer’s disease could be detected through saliva
Modern Healthcare

Saliva may someday lead to early detection of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Preliminary findings from a small study presented Sunday at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference going on now in Washington, D.C., suggests saliva could be used to differentiate between people who age normally, those with Alzheimer’s and patients with what’s known as mild cognitive impairment, which may or may not develop into Alzheimer’s.

Early detection of Alzheimer’s has remained a challenge because the disease is still not fully understood. The ability to identify Alzheimer’s in its early stages, before a patient begins to experience deterioration of their cognitive function, could lead to earlier intervention by providers.

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Expanding, Not Shrinking, Saves A Small Rural Hospital

Missouri cattle farmer Greg Fleshman became so concerned about keeping his local hospital open that in 2011 he joined its governing board.

“I mean they’ve saved my dad’s life twice,” Fleshman says. “He had a heart attack and a stroke and they life-flighted him out of here both times.” Keeping the doors open at Putnam County Memorial Hospital in Unionville, Mo., seemed crucial to the community — but maybe an impossible task.

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‘Illegal Activity’ Fine Print Leaves Some Insured, but Uncovered
New York Times

There’s no video of the altercation between Monroe Bird III, a 21-year-old sitting in a car with a friend, and Ricky Leroy Stone, 56, a security guard who found them one night in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Tulsa, Okla.

But the tragic culmination of their encounter is not disputed: Mr. Stone drew his gun and shot Mr. Bird, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

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Medicare Expanding Access to Hospice Care
The Wall Street Journal

The federal government is announcing Monday the expansion of a pilot project that paves the way for Medicare beneficiaries to use hospice services while still getting treatments that aim for a cure.

A successful test could lead to a fundamental shift in the delivery of health-care at the end of patients’ lives. Under current Medicare payment rules, beneficiaries can’t get both curative treatment and hospice care at the same time.

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More Health Plan Choices At Work. What’s The Catch?
Kaiser Health News

Until recently, John Henry Foster, an equipment distribution firm based in Eagan, Minn., offered its employees only a couple of health plans to choose from. That’s common in companies across America.

“They just presented what we got,” says Steve Heller, a forklift operator who has worked at John Henry Foster for 15 years.

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What do you do when your prescription costs $34,000 a year?
Washington Post

As more expensive specialty drugs come on the market to treat serious chronic diseases, states are stepping in to cushion the financial pain for patients needing medicine that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

At least seven states — Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New York and Vermont — limit the out-of-pocket payments of patients in private health plans. Montana, for instance, caps the amount that patients pay at $250 per prescription per month. Delaware, Maryland and Louisiana set the monthly limit at $150 and Vermont at $100. Maine sets an annual limit of $3,500 per drug.

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California’s children still struggle in poverty, new report says
Los Angeles Daily News

California’s children are more likely to have health care coverage, avoid teen pregnancy and live until adulthood, but many remain in poverty or with parents who lack secure jobs, according to a report released today.

That mixed assessment of the well-being of California’s youth means the Golden State ranks poorly when it comes to making programs more accessible to help children live better, said authors of a report for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The private philanthropy based in Baltimore makes grants to respond to children’s poverty among other issues.

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Studies show success in HIV drugs for prevention
Yahoo! News

Despite evidence that taking powerful anti-HIV drugs can help protect uninfected partners from contracting the virus that causes AIDS, the therapy is far from becoming routinely prescribed, scientists said Monday.

The practice, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, means that a healthy person who engages in sex with an HIV-positive partner takes anti-retroviral drugs daily as a preventive measure to ward off HIV.

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Who Will Care For Me?

Nearly two-thirds of adults over 40 have no idea how they’ll pay for long-term care when they’ll need it. That’s one of the dismal findings from a recent survey exploring the state of aging and caregiving.

More than half of those interviewed admitted they’d done virtually no planning for their long-term care needs. The poll was conducted as a joint effort by the University of Chicago’s NORC Center for Public Affairs Research along with the Associated Press.

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Medical staffing company has bold plan to move from bankruptcy to growth
Sacramento Business Journal

Response 1 Medical Staffing Inc. landed a strategic partnership July 6 with a Texas staffing firm in a deal that could help both grow.

Once one of Sacramento’s fastest-growing nurse staffing firms, Response I filed for bankruptcy reorganization March 31 but has received financial backing from Sebastopol-based Meritus Capital to recapitalize operations, Response 1 chief financial and operating officer Tyler Covey said. The company is headquartered in El Dorado Hills.

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Prime issues $700 million in debt as growth continues
Modern Healthcare

Prime Healthcare Services may have walked away from its biggest deal to date, but the rapidly-growing hospital chain is once again shoring up its balance sheet for more takeovers.The Ontario, Calif.-based company plans to issue $700 million in new debt that will fund previously-announced deals. The bond offering Monday received a B3 rating with a stable outlook from Moody’s Investors Service.The high-yield bond was issued this morning and is expected to become available by early next week, according to a spokeswoman for Prime.

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UCSD Medical Center earns top spot in hospital rankings

CSD Medical Center was the top hospital in San Diego for the consecutive fifth year, according to rankings released tonight by U.S. News & World Report, with Scripps-affiliated facilities finishing second and third.

UC San Diego Health also ranked in the top 50 nationally in a dozen specialties.

UC San Diego Health CEO Paul Viviano called the recognition a “remarkable achievement.”

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UC San Diego, Scripps again top U.S News list
San Diego Union-Tribune

UC San Diego’s quality in a dozen hospital specialties ranks among the 50 best in the nation, according to the latest “Best Hospitals” evaluation by U.S. News & World Report.

Released today, the closely followed health care compendium also bestows eight national rankings to the combined programs of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and Scripps Green Hospital.

While health quality experts are quick to note that such rankings should not be consumers’ only factor in deciding where to receive care, the results do bring a certain cachet that can help influence doctor referral patterns and make it easier for top performers to recruit new talent.