News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Two-thirds of uninsured Californians gain coverage after Obamacare rollout
Los Angeles Times

More than two-thirds of Californians uninsured before the Affordable Care Act now have coverage, a new report finds.

“For people that didn’t have health insurance, California has been very successful in enrolling two-thirds of that group,” said Mollyann Brodie, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, which released the survey’s findings Thursday. “But the group that is left is a harder-to-reach group.”

She said the survey results indicate that, for the most part, people who have obtained coverage are seeing the benefits of health insurance and having their medical needs met.

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Obamacare: 70 percent of previously uninsured Californians now have health plans
The Mercury News

Nearly 70 percent of California’s previously uninsured adults have gained health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act — and most of them say their health care needs are being met, according to the latest survey of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But the survey released Thursday by the Menlo Park-based group also found that plenty of challenges for the newly insured remain when it comes to paying for and accessing care.

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Increased Competition Kept Lid on Health Insurance Inflation, U.S. Says
New York Times

The Obama administration said on Thursday that many consumers were benefiting from increased competition among insurers under the Affordable Care Act. Most people who bought insurance through the federal marketplace had a greater choice of health plans this year than in 2014, the administration said, and premiums rose less in counties where more insurers were competing for business.

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Donald Trump Hates Obamacare – So I Asked Him How He’d Replace It

Donald Trump is leading in numerous major polls of GOP presidential candidates. And the first Republican presidential debate is looming next week.

Whether or not you think Trump’s a spectacle, I think it’s past time to start taking him seriously. Even when it sounds like he’s trying to be funny.

Take his comments on health care this week. Speaking with CNN, Trump said that the Affordable Care Act has “gotta go” and that he would repeal the law and replace it with “something terrific.”

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California Survey: Newly Insured Satisified With Coverage, More Financially Secure
Kaiser Health News

Americans have long stood out among residents of developed nations for how much they fret over, and are bankrupted by, health care costs. But well into the second year of expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act, those worries have eased significantly in the nation’s most populous state.

A statewide survey has found that newly insured Californians no longer rank health care costs as their top financial concern. It has dropped below other essentials such as housing, utilities and gasoline.

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At 50, Medicare and Medicaid Face the Challenge of a New Generation of Super-Expensive Drugs
The Health Care Blog

Happy birthday Medicare and Medicaid! Fifty years old today. Middle age. Congratulations. You’ve survived a lot—and 76 million baby boomers and 60 million low-income Americans are mighty glad you’re still around, covering one in three Americans, with solvency until 2030 at last accounting.

Unfortunately, the challenges are not going to let up. In fact, they’re likely to get worse.

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Providers back bill notifying Medicare patients about observation stays
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare providers are expressing support for legislation overwhelmingly approved by Congress requiring hospitals to notify Medicare patients when they are receiving observation care but have not been admitted.The bill is a partial response to the problem of beneficiaries facing sticker shock when they go to a skilled nursing or rehab facility after leaving the hospital and finding that Medicare won’t cover the tab. That’s because to qualify for skilled-nursing facility coverage, beneficiaries must first spend three consecutive midnights as an admitted patient in a hospital; observation days don’t count.

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CMS reduces pay bump for skilled-nursing facilities in fiscal ‘16
Modern Healthcare

Skilled-nursing facilities will get a smaller rate increase than initially proposed by the CMS for fiscal 2016. The providers will now receive a 1.2% Medicare rate increase, leading to $430 million in higher payments.In April, the agency initially proposed a 1.4% rate increase that would have led to $500 million in higher Medicare payments.The decrease is due to various changes in calculations including inflation predictions, according to a CMS spokesman.The finalized rule increase is down from the 2% bump, or additional $750 million, that the facilities received for fiscal 2015.

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Meet The California Family That Has Made Health Policy Its Business
National Public Radio

If there’s such a thing as the first family of health care, the Lees may be it. Five decades ago, two brothers helped start Medicare. Their father inspired them and they, in turn, have inspired the next generation. To mark the anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson signing Medicare into law on July 30, 1965, three Lees sat down to reflect on the U.S. health care system.

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EHR Interoperability With Long-Term Care Providers Wanted, but Who Will Pay?

CMS has urged skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and home care agencies to acquire electronic health record systems that are capable of exchanging data with hospitals and other health care providers, but it hasn’t explained where these long-term and post-acute-care (LTPAC) providers will get the money to implement these health IT systems. LTPAC providers are ineligible to participate in the federal EHR incentive program.

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Breastfeeding benefits both baby and mother
Moorpark Acorn

When you’re expecting a baby—especially if it’s your first—you may feel like you have a million questions about the tiny human you’re bringing into the world. One of the most important issues you’ll face is how you’re going to feed your baby.

For centuries, breastfeeding wasn’t even a question; it was the only option. Mothers didn’t have an alternative for feeding until the 1950s, when formula came into widespread use. The traditional method of breastfeeding suddenly felt outdated, and formula-feeding was king for a few decades.

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Prevention Task Force Recommends Depression Screenings for Pregnant Women, New Moms
Kaiser Health News

One in seven women experience depression during pregnancy or the first year after giving birth, yet many may not realize it or report their concerns to clinicians. A new proposal by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force could help change that. It recommends that all women who are pregnant or within a year of giving birth be screened for perinatal depression, as it’s called. The screening proposal is included as part of a broader recommendation to screen all adults for depression that the task force released this week for public comment.

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Low-Income Teens Have Best Shot At Getting HPV Vaccine
National Public Radio

When it comes to getting the HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer, teens below the poverty line are doing better than the rest.

Among teenage girls ages 13 to 17 whose total family income was less than the federal poverty level for their family size, 67.2 percent have received the first dose of the human papillomavirus vaccine, compared to 57.7 percent for those at or above the poverty line. For teen boys, it’s 51.6 percent compared to 39.5 percent.

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Anthem’s good intentions get lost in aggressive telemarketing
Los Angeles Times

Joseph Goldstein received a call the other day at his West Los Angeles home from someone claiming to represent his insurer, Anthem Blue Cross.

The caller said he knew that one of Goldstein’s family members had been seriously injured in a fall and wanted to make sure that Goldstein knew about Anthem’s wellness and home-care programs.

“They said I had to sign up right away or I’d lose these benefits,” Goldstein recalled. “It was a very hard sell.”

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Altura Medical sold to Lombard Medical for up to $50.5M
Silicon Valley Business Journal

Altura Medical, a venture-backed stent graft developer, has been acquired by Lombard Medical in a deal valued at up to $50.5 million. Irvine-based Lombard is issuing $15 million of its stock (NASDAQ:EVAR) at $4 a share in connection to the deal, taking on $5.5 million in bank debt and assuming $2.5 million in certain liabilities and transaction-related costs. It has also agreed to $27.5 million more in payments tied to milestones being achieved over the next five years.

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Oakland: Highland Hospital to keep substance abuse program
Contra Costa Times

Highland Hospital will keep a substance abuse program that had been scheduled to close Friday.

The decision was reversed Thursday by the Alameda Health System board of directors executive committee. The decision came after public comments during recent meetings and a recommendation from management to keep the program open, according to a statement from the health care provider that runs Highland and four other hospitals, in addition to some clinics.

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Doctor named new medical director for St. John’s robotic surgery
Camarillo Acorn

The newest innovations in laparoscopic surgery—otherwise known as minimally invasive surgery—allow doctors to perform a growing number of procedures that are safer and require shorter recovery times for patients than traditional surgeries.

The da Vinci Si Surgical System, made by Northern California-based Intuitive Surgical, is equipped with a threedimensional endoscope and three arms that can be fitted with various surgical instruments to execute delicate movements that the human hand cannot.

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Tulare Regional Medical Center reaches financial health
Visialia Times-Delta

Tulare Regional Medical Center has improved its financial standing under the administration of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates.

At the closing for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the hospital has improved the number of days of cash on hand, its net position and recorded 14 straight months of profit margin, according to Benny Benzeevi, president of HCA.

HCCA began administering the hospital on Jan. 10, 2014. At that time, the hospital had less than 30 days of cash on hand. Now at 98 days on hand, which is the amount of days the hospital could remain open if all revenue stopped, Tulare Regional has the highest number of such days in five years.

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Woodland Memorial Hospital receives Avatar Patient Experience Award
Daily Democrat

Avatar Solutions, a leading provider of Patient, the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, Employee, and Physician Surveys, recently announced its 2014 award-winning hospital partners. Highlighting its consistent dedication to providing a high-quality patient experience, Dignity Health’s Woodland Memorial Hospital is proud to be among the healthcare providers recognized for outstanding performance.

Woodland Memorial Hospital received the Exceeding Patient Expectations award, based on patient surveys completed in 2014.

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Tahoe Forest Hospital CEO selection likely this fall
Sierra Sun

The pool of candidates is narrowing in Tahoe Forest Hospital District’s search for a permanent leader.

Since the search was launched nearly three months ago, roughly 1,000 emails and more than 100 phone calls have been made to high level health care executives in California and beyond, said Don Whiteside, managing director of executive search for HFS Consultants, the firm hired to conduct the CEO search.

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Marian Regional Medical Center growing with the region
Lompoc Record

Marian Regional Medical Center has had a unique historical presence in Santa Maria, having adapted to the growing population — and the health needs that accompanied it — over the past 75 years.

On its 75th anniversary, Marian Regional Medical Center staff invited community members to reflect on the hospital’s extensive history.