News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California lawmakers will consider limits on prescription drug costs
Sacramento Business Journal

Besides a special session on Medi-Cal, the big health care issue waiting action by lawmakers when they return from summer recess today is the high cost of new specialized prescription drugs.

People need them but the costs are jaw dropping: A new drug that cures Hepatitis C with minimal side effects costs $94,000. The question for lawmakers is how to make them affordable.

A per-prescription cap on out-of-pocket costs for patients does that but does nothing to encourage drug companies to lower costs — and is likely to prompt health plans to raise premiums because they’ll have to pick some of the tab.

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California’s Plan To Absorb Medically Fragile Children Into Managed Care Proves Controversial
Kitsap Sun

When Kausha King’s son Christian was born with cerebral palsy, along with a seizure disorder and lung disease, doctors told her he would not live past the age of three. Today, Christian is 18, and although he cannot walk or speak, he is happy and thriving, King says.

King credits much of her son’s progress to a little-known state program known as California Children’s Services (CCS), which pays for specialized medical care for children with severe illnesses or birth defects.

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Though Not A Death Sentence, HIV/AIDS Still Holds A Powerful Stigma
National Public Radio

Indiana was hit with an outbreak of HIV/AIDS this spring, and it got a lot of attention because it is so exceptional.

Our perception of HIV/AIDS has changed since the disease emerged in the early 1980s. There are all kinds of treatments and resources — things that simply didn’t exist when the epidemic began.

In the U.S., an estimated 1.2 million people are living with HIV, according to the CDC. New infections are down from the peak in the 1980s, but the epidemic is nowhere near over. HIV/AIDS has affected millions of people around the world. In this country, gay men have been hardest hit.

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For Hospitals, Sleep And Patient Satisfaction May Go Hand In Hand
Kaiser Health News

It’s a common complaint — if you spend a night in the hospital, you probably won’t get much sleep.

There’s the noise. There’s the bright fluorescent hallway light. And there’s the unending barrage of nighttime interruptions: vitals checks, medication administration, blood draws and the rest.

Peter Ubel, a physician and a professor at Duke University’s business school, has studied the rational and irrational forces that affect health. But he was surprised when hospitalized at Duke in 2013 to get a small tumor removed at how difficult it was to sleep. “There was no coordination,” he said. “One person would be in charge of measuring my blood pressure. Another would come in when the alarm went off, and they never thought, ‘Gee if the alarm goes off, I should also do blood pressure.’”

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Republican: Congress ‘fully committed’ to ObamaCare repeal
The Hill

Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) on Saturday said GOP lawmakers remain completely invested in repealing ObamaCare. Guthrie added that rolling back President Obama’s signature healthcare law is essential before its latest set of regulations takes effect next year. “We’re fully committed to repealing ObamaCare,” he said during the GOP’s weekly address. “If ObamaCare’s next round of regulations takes effect on Jan. 1, mere months from now, small businesses will be forced into larger group insurance markets that have dramatically higher rates,” Guthrie added.

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Most Health Insurance Co-ops Are Losing Money, Federal Audit Finds
New York Times

Most federal insurance cooperatives created under the Affordable Care Act are losing money and could have difficulty repaying millions of dollars in federal loans, an internal government audit has found, prompting the Obama administration to step up supervision of the carriers.

Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, said that most of the insurance co-ops enrolled fewer people than they had predicted, and that 22 of the 23 co-ops lost money last year.

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When Rehab Might Help An Addict — But Insurance Won’t Cover It
National Public Radio

The latest numbers show that deaths from heroin-related overdose more than tripled nationally between 2002 and 2013. Opiate addiction touches every demographic: white, black, Hispanic, rural, suburban and urban.

Proposed solutions nationally include more government funding for treatment, tougher penalties for dealers, and proactive interventions to stop people before they start.

Now, a couple of parents who lost their son to a heroin overdose are pointing out that drug addiction doesn’t tend to be treated like a disease in the United States — which means that when drug users want to get treatment, health insurance coverage often comes up short.

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Doctor-patient relationships evolving with technology
Sacramento Bee

There has always been a certain aura around the provision of medical care. While a doctor offers services in exchange for payment, the doctor-patient relationship goes deeper than a simple transaction. Physicians take on responsibility for people when they are sick and vulnerable.

For this reason, health care historically avoided the commoditization that characterizes other industries. The Wal-Marts of the world crowded out local mom-and-pop shops in retail. Fast-food giants revolutionized the way we eat. The same can be said for media, manufacturing and even farming.

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‘Play This Video Game And Call Me In The Morning’
National Public Radio

I’m driving through a frozen world, where the roads are paved in ice. As I swerve left to avoid a miniature iceberg, a red fish flashes at the top of my screen. I’m supposed to tap all the red fish that pop up, but not the green fish or the blue. And I have to do this without crashing the car.

An unidentifiable omnipresent game-meister says: “Doing one thing at a time is easy, but doing them both at the same time is where the magic happens!”

As I get better at the game, my brain is being trained to ignore distractions and stay focused — or, at least, that’s the hypothesis of the neuroscientists who designed it.

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UCSD gets $52 million to speed drug development
San Diego Union-Tribune

The National Institutes of Health is giving UC San Diego $52 million to accelerate efforts to turn scientific discoveries into new drugs and therapies, stoking La Jolla’s rapid rise as a leader in translational medicine.

In less than two years, local scientists have received more than $525 million in big grants and donations to find more effective ways to treat everything from cancer and dementia to diabetes and auto-immune disorders.

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Kings County domestic violence shelter awarded $15,000 grant
Fresno Bee

The Kings Community Action Organization was awarded a $15,000 grant by Blue Shield of California Foundation in early Aug. in an effort to strengthen services to survivors of domestic violence.

The Barbara Saville Women’s Shelter is the only domestic violence and homeless shelter serving Kings County, and provides shelter among other resources to those in need.

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Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital celebrates grand opening with community tours

The new Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital opened its doors to the community on Saturday. The hospital replaced all of its inpatient care facilities, which came with a price tag of $126 million. The facility now offers all private inpatient rooms and its emergency department has more than doubled, offering 20 treatment rooms compared to its previous eight. The updated hospital also has six surgical suites and a Center for Wound Management with four hyperbaric chambers.

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North Bay hospitals take food lessons from hotels
North Bay Business Journal

Gone are the Swedish meatballs, the unrecognizable foodstuff, ubiquitous gelatin, and the one-size-fits-all meals. Check into a hospital these days, and your menu choices will likely include free-range chicken, teriyaki glazed salmon, organic salads, vegetarian options, even wine, delivered when you are ready to eat. “It’s just like a hotel,” said Lisa Amador, executive director of strategy and development at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital. The trend in hospital food these days is towards a room-service model where guests — er, patients — order from a restaurant-like menu any ti

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Oroville Hospital opens Dove’s Landing clinic
Oroville Mercury-Register

A vacant department store site has been transformed into Oroville Hospital’s answer to offer premier services to patients who travel to Sacramento for care. Dove’s Landing has opened in a renovated building on Oro Dam Boulevard that once housed the Montgomery Ward department store from 1968 to the early 2000s. A multi-specialty practice, outpatient rehabilitation center and pharmacy are open.