News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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How under-26 workers choose health insurance — their own, or their parents’
Washington Post

Young adults who need health insurance have more options than before under the health-care overhaul, which generally allows them to stay on their parents’ plans until they reach age 26. But the provision gives employers new options, too: They can encourage their young employees to join Mom and Dad’s plan rather than sign up for the company policy.

Although experts say the practice is uncommon, some think more employers may consider this approach in the future.

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WellPoint to report 2Q results
The Mercury News

WellPoint Inc., the nation’s second-largest health insurer, will report second-quarter results on Wednesday, nearly a week after competitor UnitedHealth Group Inc. saw its stock price slip despite posting a 5 percent increase in quarterly profit. WellPoint, based in Indianapolis, took a $150-million hit last year when a Medicare Advantage plan it has since discontinued attracted more customers with a higher risk profile than the insurer expected.

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Coverage push could miss some kids: GAO
Modern Healthcare

The 2010 federal healthcare overhaul could extend health insurance coverage to about 5.3 million uncovered children but leave 1.7 million uncovered, according to the Government Accountability Office (PDF).

The projections, which were released Monday by the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, were based on 2009 data and requested by senior Senate Democrats. The accuracy of the estimates is highly dependent on future actions by the states and the Internal Revenue Service.

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Building the Best Physician Team
Health Leaders Media

Today, many hospital organizations are teeming with teams, forming physician groups to make decisions about bringing in new doctors, provide clinical care, and make recommendations about administrative planning:

In Maryland, a longtime CMO retires and the opening creates an opportunity to revisit the entire structure of physician involvement for a health system.

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In the fight against AIDS/HIV, there is defiance and success
Sacramento Bee

“Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky.”

— Albert Camus, “The Plague”

A memory from the AIDS crisis. It was 2005, the year that global AIDS deaths peaked at 2.3 million. At the end of a dirt road in Kericho, Kenya, I visited Sister Placida, an energetic nun caring for a few dozen equally energetic AIDS orphans.

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Grim Future for U.S. Docs; Outlook Brighter in California
California Healthline

A national report released last week paints a grim picture of the future of practicing medicine in the U.S., but the sentiment is not universally echoed in California. The white paper from The Physicians Foundation identifies many threats to the viability of U.S. medical practices and makes a number of policy recommendations to address them.

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Tulare hospital board may approve budget Wednesday
Visialia Times-Delta

Even though the Tulare Local HealthCare District operated in the red by $1.3 million during the past fiscal year which ended June 30, hospital bean counters remain optimistic.

The new fiscal year began July 1 with approximately the same amount of spendable cash as last year, $13.4 million. A new budget goes before board members Wednesday and it does not include raises for employees.

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New OB/GYN guidelines urge annual wellness visits
USA Today

Obstetricians and gynecologists want women to keep coming to them for annual exams, even though women are no longer advised to get yearly Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer. In new guidelines published Monday, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists makes the case for an annual “well-woman” visit and continues to recommend annual pelvic exams for women older than age 21. But the doctors’ group also says “no evidence supports or refutes,” the value of the internal exam for finding signs of cancer or other problems in women with no symptoms.

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Desert Healthcare District to discuss funds
The Desert Sun

The Desert Healthcare District’s Board of Directors will hold a study session at its meeting at 2 p.m. today to discuss reorganizing how the district distributes its funds and the possible closure of the Hospice of the Desert Communities. The meeting will be held at the Jerry Stergios Building at 1140 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. A staff report on the proposed grant reorganization outlines a new approach creating three different categories for district grants — short-term grants, programs that run about two years and long-term projects.

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UC Davis Health System fills new fundraising post
Sacramento Bee

The UC Davis Health System has filled a newly created leadership position to help boost the system’s fundraising efforts, officials announced Monday.

Chong Porter is the system’s first associate vice chancellor for Health Sciences Development and Alumni Relations.

In the position, she is the main fundraising officer for the UC Davis Health System and will be responsible for, in the words of university officials, “enhancing the culture of philanthropy at the academic health system.”

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Cancer combo of Nexavar and Tarceva fails late-stage trial
San Francisco Business Times

Nexavar, the blockbuster cancer drug from Bayer HealthCare and Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc., failed a late-stage trial that looked at combining the drug with the Genentech-developed Tarceva in patients with advanced liver cancer. Onyx and Bayer said in a press release Monday that combining Nexavar and Tarceva tablets in the 720-patient, Phase III trial did not improve overall survival of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC.

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Begin HIV treatment sooner, not later, experts say
USA Today

People who test positive for HIV should begin treatment immediately rather than wait until their disease deteriorates, a leading medical society announced Sunday at an international AIDS conference here. The new strategy reflects the findings of recent research showing that people whose virus is well-controlled are rendered virtually non-contagious. The statement came from the International Antiviral Society-USA Panel during AIDS 2012, the 19th international AIDS conference, and is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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HIV increase among black gays called ‘alarming’
USA Today

Rates of HIV are increasing in the black gay community at “alarming” levels, leading AIDS advocates to call for more attention to young men who live at the margins of society. Nearly 6% of black gay men under 30 become newly infected with the AIDS virus each year, according to research presented Monday at AIDS 2012, an international conference of more than 21,000 doctors, activists and policy makers.

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U.S. donates extra $150 million to battle AIDS
USA Today

Science now has the tools to slash the spread of HIV even without a vaccine — and the U.S. is donating an extra $150 million to help poor countries put them in place, the Obama administration told the world’s largest AIDS conference Monday. “We want to get to the end of AIDS,” declared the top U.S. HIV researcher, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health.

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Alzheimer’s Drug Fails Its First Big Clinical Trial
New York Times

The most closely watched experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s disease proved ineffective in its first large clinical trial, dealing a blow to the field, to a theory about the cause of the disease, and to the three companies behind the drug. Pfizer, which is one of those companies, announced late Monday that the drug, bapineuzumab, did not improve either cognition or daily functioning of patients compared to a placebo in the Phase 3 trial.

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Readmissions double Medicare patients’ care costs: study
Modern Healthcare

Hospital readmissions more than double the cost of care for Medicare beneficiaries, according to an analysis commissioned by a group that represents home health providers.

The study was part of the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation’s Clinically Appropriate and Cost-Effective Placement research project, which looked at the impact of admissions and readmissions on Medicare expenditures.

About 22.4% of all episodes of care required at least one readmission, according to the analysis.

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HHS Offers States $275M for Care Delivery, Payment Models
Health Leaders Media

The federal government is making available to states $275 million to design and test cost-effective care delivery and multi-payer coordination models.

“As a former governor, I’ve seen states in action and know what great laboratories they are for innovations we can put into practice nationwide,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a media release.

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