News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Hospitals seek water savings amid drought
San Diego Union-Tribune

From nurses washing their hands every time they enter a patient’s room to steam scalding surgical instruments sterile, water is everywhere in a hospital.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, hospitals are among the highest water users in communities and have untapped potential to help California fight its ongoing drought.

Jonah Schein, a technical coordinator in the EPA’s Water Sense Program, said the main focus on efficiency has generally been on saving energy, but the drought is changing that perspective.

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CMS announces 0.9% hospital payment increase for 2016
Modern Healthcare

The CMS lowered its final increase for hospitals rates in 2016 to a scant 0.9%, down from the 1.1% increase it proposed in April. The move will heighten pressure on the nation’s 3,400 acute-care hospitals to rein in costs and reduce unnecessary spending.

The 435 long-term care hospitals certified by Medicare will see a 4.5% cut in their payments in fiscal 2016, which begins Oct. 1. The CMS on Friday posted a final rule that said long-term care hospitals can expect to see a decrease in payments by $250 million next year.

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ACA Database: Are There Any Plans in the Works to Force Doctors to Accept Obamacare?
The Health Care Blog

After several attempts at trying to find doctors who accept my lame-o ACA health plan (Blue Cross Blue Shield advantage HMO), I finally reached my limit today when a rather important appointment got cancelled unless I wanted to pay cash, because “we don’t accept your policy”. When I googled “none of my doctors accept my Obamacare health insurance”, your article came up.

Do you or does anyone else know if there is some kind of plan of action for doctors to be forced to accept these ACA plans?

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ACA Database: The High Price of Specialty Drugs Is (Literally) Killing Me
The Health Care Blog

Joyce J wrote in with this to say after reading Steve Findlay’s post on Medicare’s 50th Anniversary last week.

“Just yesterday, I was on my last and final rant relative to the price of not only specialty drugs, but also Tier 3 drugs! So much of a rant that I considered writing my Congressman Tim Murphy. After much thought, I decided to suck it up, pay the price and let my congressman work on bigger issues.(before reading your article today!)

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Vaccine-injured children, adults can seek compensation from federal government
Contra Costa Times

Vaccines remain one of the greatest success stories in public health. But for some Americans, rare side effects of inoculations have led to hardship, serious injury, even death.

For almost three decades, the federal government has quietly acknowledged as much: It has paid out more than $3.2 billion to 4,150 individuals and families for injuries caused by everything from flu, diphtheria and tetanus shots to whooping cough vaccines.

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Advocates Say Mental Health ‘Parity’ Law Is Not Fulfilling Its Promise
Kaiser Health News

When Michael Kamins opened the letter from his insurer, he was enraged. His 20-year old son recently had been hospitalized twice with bipolar disorder and rescued from the brink of suicide, he said. Now, the insurer said he had improved and it was no longer medically necessary for the young man to see his psychiatrist two times a week. The company would pay for two visits per month.

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Serious infections tied to medical scopes go far beyond issues with a single device
Los Angeles Times

A doctor reported in December that a medical scope commonly used to examine patients’ lungs had infected 14 people with a superbug that kills half its victims.

Yet another type of scope, used to see inside the bladder, sickened three patients with a different bacteria in March, according to a nurse. The device was sent to the manufacturer, which found “foreign substances” inside despite cleaning.

And in November, a nurse manager reported that seven patients were infected with an often lethal bacteria known as clostridium difficile from a device used for colonoscopies.

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With 365% stock climb, this Bay Area drug maker has skin in the game
San Francisco Business Times

Wall Street is scratching its health care itch, nearly quadrupling the value of Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s stock on the hopes of quick regulatory approval and a potential 2017 launch of the company’s late-stage eczema treatment. Much of the stock boom came this month, after Palo Alto-based Anacor (NASDAQ: ANAC) announced early data from two studies of crisaborole — formerly known as AN-2728 — in people with raised, red, itchy and oozing blotches also known as atopic dermatitis.

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Bay Area obesity drug maker slims down as market slows
San Francisco Business Times

Facing a slower market for fat-fighting drugs and needing cash for an important safety study, Vivus Inc. said it will cut staff at its Mountain View headquarters and among its sales force. The restructure move is immediate, Vivus (NASDAQ: VVUS) CEO Seth Fischer said in a press release Thursday, and is aimed at hitting neutral or positive operating cash flows by year-end 2016.

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Why Blue Cross Hates Anthem’s Cigna Deal

You’re hearing crickets from inside the headquarters of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association’s headquarters in the 200 block of North Michigan Avenue in Chicago when the topic of health plan mega mergers arises these days.

That’s because it’s largest member company, Anthem (ANTM), may be causing anxiety for fellow Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans across the country with its $54 billion purchase of Cigna (CI).

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Acquisition in the health care world
Redding Record Searchlight

Three big announcements made it to my inbox recently as follows:

*Aetna has agreed to acquire Humana, one of the country’s leading managed health care companies.

“This transaction is expected to give Aetna over 14 million new members and create the company serving the most seniors in the Medicare Advantage program and the second largest U.S. managed care company. Together, we will have even more resources to invest in new, competitively priced offerings and services for our customers.”

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St. Joseph Health, a prominent O.C. hospital chain, seeks merger with another nonprofit Catholic group, Washington-based Providence
Orange County Register

St. Joseph Health System, which owns three prominent hospitals in Orange County, is in talks to consolidate with Washington-based Providence Health and Service, another, larger nonprofit Catholic healthcare network.

“Discussions are in the early stages and specific details about a partnership have not been finalized,” the hospital groups said in a shared statement. Officials declined to comment further.

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Palomar Health to move some cancer services
San Diego Union-Tribune

As it prepares to close its downtown Escondido hospital, Palomar Health is looking for a way to maintain the services offered by its radiation oncology and radio surgery departments.

Palomar’s elected board voted in June to close the facility, saying it was losing about $20 million per year and will needs significant and expensive maintenance.

When it announced its plans to close the collection of buildings on Valley Parkway, the inland North County health care district said where it would send most of its existing services from labor and delivery to rehabilitation.

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Covered California adds third insurance company for SLO County in 2016
San Luis Obispo Tribune

San Luis Obispo County residents who buy health insurance through Covered California will have one more choice when they select an insurer for 2016.

Covered California announced this week that United Healthcare has been approved to sell insurance on the exchange in 34 under-served counties, including San Luis Obispo. In the two years that Covered California has been operating, SLO County residents have been limited to two insurer choices — Blue Shield of California or Anthem Blue Cross — which drew criticism from people because of the limited options.

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Petaluma Health Center opens Rohnert Park branch

Petaluma Health Center is just days away from launching a new comprehensive primary care facility in Rohnert Park, a city that is home to a significant portion of its rapidly growing patient base.

Offering specialty services like dental, mental health and substance abuse counseling in addition to primary care, the site will reflect and in some ways expand the model of Petaluma Health Center’s successful main location on North McDowell Boulevard, which opened in 2011.