News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Two years into Obamacare, only one state still has more than 20% uninsured
Los Angeles Times

When the Affordable Care Act took effect in October 2013, there were 14 states in which more than 1 in 5 adults lacked health insurance; today only Texas remains, according to data released Monday.

At the other end of the scale, only five states’ populations were so well-insured in 2013 that fewer than 1 in 10 adult residents lacked insurance. Today, more than half the states have achieved that goal.

The state-by-state insurance levels, which detail how rapidly the insurance picture has changed since President Obama’s signature healthcare reform started, come from a large-scale, twice-a-year survey by Gallup. The survey included more than 178,000 adults in 2013, before the law took effect, and 88,667 in the first half of 2015, allowing unusually precise estimates of the effect  the law has had at the state level.

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Doctor housecalls are back with the click of button
Marketplace

In this on-demand economy, there’s an app for pretty much anything. Do you want Thai food? Done. Need a ride to the airport? A car will be at your place in 10 minutes. Want a custom-tailored shirt? Yes, there’s an app for that too. So why wait for a doctor?

Dr. Renee Dua is trying to change the way we approach doctor visits. We visited her office in Santa Monica and asked her how she went from being a nephrologist to running a tech company called Heal.

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HealthCare.gov failed to verify all applicants’ eligibility
Modern Healthcare

The federal marketplace for getting insurance under the Affordable Care Act lacked adequate controls for verifying citizenship status, income and family size to determine eligibility and subsidies, according to a new report.

HHS’ Office of Inspector General reviewed 90 applicants from the 2013 and 2014 enrollment periods. The report notes that the problems identified don’t necessarily indicate that anyone was improperly enrolled or received subsidies they weren’t eligible to receive.

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Booz Allen Hamilton tapped as key HealthCare.gov contractor, but CMS can’t quit Optum yet
Modern Healthcare

The CMS has picked veteran federal contractor Booz Allen Hamilton to replace Optum subsidiary QSSI as the key contractor on HealthCare.gov. The five-year contract is worth $202 million. But the Obama administration will temporarily stick with Optum’s Quality Software Services Inc. as its quality tester for the federal insurance marketplace because two failed bidders are protesting the choice of Edaptive Systems to assume that role. Tantus Technologies and HIT Venture filed protests with the Government Accountability Office. The agency said it would respond to the protests by Sept.

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CMS delays insurance payout data from ACA’s risk corridors
Modern Healthcare

The federal government has postponed the release of data that will show how much health insurance companies will receive or be charged under an Affordable Care Act program meant to mitigate the risk of taking on previously uninsured members.All health insurers that sold plans on the ACA’s exchanges had to submit information on the risk corridors program by July 31. The CMS planned to publish data Aug. 14, but the agency pushed back the release to an unknown date because there were inconsistencies in the data.

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Audit of Health Exchanges Finds Fault With Controls
The Wall Street Journal

Some consumers who got health coverage or subsidies through HealthCare.gov might not have been eligible to receive them last year because of deficiencies in the federal exchange’s internal controls, according to a government report likely to further stoke Republican criticism.

Not all the internal controls were effective in determining if applicants were properly eligible for health insurance or subsidies, the Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General concluded in a report released Monday.

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SMA: 4 things to know
San Diego Union-Tribune

Type I spinal muscular atrophy (also known as Werdnig-Hoffman disease) is a severe form of the disorder that is diagnosed at birth or within the first few months of an infant’s life. Infants who have this type of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) are developmentally delayed, so much so that most are unable to support their head or sit without help. Children with this type of SMA have breathing and swallowing problems that can lead to choking or gagging.

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Capitol Health Network’s top exec to step down
Sacramento Business Journal

The executive director at Capitol Health Network is stepping down after three years on the job.

James Ellsworth recently told the board, friends and colleagues he’s ready to move on after “a very challenging, and yet, very rewarding experience.” He plans to stay until a replacement is found.

The nonprofit coalition of community clinics hopes to find a new leader in the next three months, board chairwoman Debra Oto-Kent said. Meetings are scheduled this week to gauge what members, supporters and others need from the network and want in the next leader.

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Clinical trials may lead to a cure to SMA
San Diego Union-Tribune

It’s one of the leading genetic causes of death in young children, but there’s hope on the horizon that a crippling disease may be on the cusp of being cured.

The disease is spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a rare, genetic disease that appears in roughly 1 in every 6,000 to 10,000 newborns.

Dr. Vik Udani, a neurosurgeon affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital, said the disease affects all motor neurons, so “any muscle in the body can be affected.”

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L.A. County supervisors to weigh proposed merger of health agencies
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County supervisors are poised to decide whether to go forward with a proposed overhaul of three health agencies, the latest in a series of moves to restructure county government since last year’s election ushered in a new board majority.

In January, Supervisor Michael D.

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SNMH taking measures to keep patients safe from ’superbugs’
The Union

Decades of antibiotic use — some say overuse — have led to a modern horror story of infection-causing “superbugs” that have adapted over the years to resist these wonder drugs.

The problem comes from overuse of antibiotics, antibiotics used in food and animals, and infections caused by personal contact, the Centers for Disease Control said. The national agency points out that antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs. While they are life saving, the CDC observed that they are not optimally prescribed up to half the time.

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Nurses union gives Sanders his first major labor endorsement
Modern Healthcare

Bernie Sanders picked up his first major labor endorsement from the nation’s largest organization of nurses, reflecting the Vermont senator’s appeal among unions in his challenge to Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The 185,000-member National Nurses United endorsed Sanders during an event with the independent senator in Oakland, California.

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Nurse Family Partnership brings first-time moms and nurses together
KALW

Nurse Arzelia Lopez is heading to her next work appointment in East Oakland.

Her client, Jasmine Jurado, is 19 — she has a toddler, who’s 14 months old. It’s been Lopez’s job, since Jurado was pregnant, to provide her with parenting support, both emotional and medical.

Lopez says her goal for today’s appointment is to test the baby’s ASQ. “We’re about to do the 14 months ASQ to see how [the baby’s] doing developmentally,” she says.

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New Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital Complete
Santa Barbara Independent

At the end of this month, Cottage Health will open a new facility “to serve the needs of Goleta for years to come,” said Cottage Health Vice President Arie Dejong. The $126 million project to rebuild Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital has been on the horizon since the mid-1990s, when California state legislature mandated that all hospitals be rebuilt to sustain at least a 6.0 magnitude earthquake after the 1994 Northridge earthquake damaged 11 hospitals.

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