News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Study: 2 Million Exchange Enrollees Miss Out On Cost-Sharing Assistance
Kaiser Health News

More than 2 million people with coverage on the health insurance exchanges may be missing out on subsidies that could lower their deductibles, copayments and maximum out-of-pocket spending limits, according to a new analysis by Avalere Health.

Those who may be missing out are people with incomes between 100 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($11,770 to $29,425). Under the health law, people at those income levels are eligible for cost-sharing reductions that can substantially reduce their out-of-pocket costs. But there’s a catch: the reductions are only available to people who buy a silver-level plan.

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Providers working to stop antimicrobial diseases
Modern Healthcare

Health officials and providers are scrambling to find ways to fight antibiotic-resistant infections, which can affect 1 in 25 hospital patients and can kill 23,000 people every year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of a “tipping point” where an increasing number of germs no longer respond to the drugs used to combat them. The federal agency has been pushing the issue of responsible antibiotic use by physicians and the coordination and sharing of information of facilities which host cases of infection like Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or C. difficile.

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Scientists Create Vomiting Machine To Learn How Norovirus Spreads
National Public Radio

Norovirus is a huge public health problem, sickening as many as 21 million people a year in the U.S. But for all the gastric distress it causes, there are still some basic, unanswered questions about the virus.

One biggie: When an ill person vomits, does norovirus become aerosolized? That is, can an ill person’s vomiting launch tiny viral particles into the air, where they might waft into your mouth or onto surfaces that you would later touch?

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How do you teach medical students bedside manner? Hire an actor
Southern California Public Radio

In the world of academia, is there anything tougher than medical school? Years of math, science, anatomy, pharmacology and dissections committed to memory; tests, labs, residencies… but how do you teach what might be the most sensitive and human part of being a doctor: bedside manner?

And who do you hire to do it?

There’s a lesson plan for that, too. And when I started looking, I found out it started here in Los Angeles.

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Hospitals remain stressed, but don’t blame the ACA
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare providers have gotten some balance sheet relief thanks to a greater number of paying patients over the past couple of years. But bankruptcy filings suggest the industry has recovered more slowly than the improving economy would suggest.

It’s not the Affordable Care Act by itself that’s pushing healthcare providers into bankruptcy, but a combination of forces including litigation, payment delays and even bad merger agreements.

“In the general U.S. economy, distress has dropped off 60% to 65%,” said Bobby Guy, a Nashville-based healthcare attorney at law firm Polsinelli. “In healthcare, it has gone up.”

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Can Health Care Be Cured Of Racial Bias?
Kaiser Health News

Jane Lazarre was pacing the hospital waiting room. Her son Khary, 18, had just had knee surgery, but the nurses weren’t letting her in to see him.

“They told us he would be out of anesthesia in a few minutes,” she remembered. “The minutes became an hour, the hour became two hours.”

She and her husband called the surgeon in a panic. He said that Khary had come out of anesthesia violently — thrashing and flailing about. He told Lazarre that with most young people Khary’s age, there wouldn’t have been a problem. The doctors and nurses would have gently held him down.

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Time to switch? Consumers with low-cost Covered California plans can expect to pay full cost for ER visits, hospitalization
Modesto Bee

People who pay as little as $1 a month for the lowest-cost health plans through Covered California should be aware of a benefit change for 2016, health advocates said.

Starting Jan. 1, bronze plans won’t cover emergency room visits or hospitalization until the customer reaches the out-of-pocket maximum, which will grow to $6,000 for individuals and $12,000 for families. Patients seeking hospital treatment for a broken arm or inflamed appendix will be responsible for full costs unless they have hit the maximum.

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Money stripped from bill to provide nurse oversight of foster youth
Daily Democrat

Facing opposition from budget hawks, a lawmaker has deeply cut his bill to bolster monitoring of California’s 63,000 foster children, who critics say are too often prescribed powerful psychiatric drugs with little follow-up or coordinated care.

SB 319 would have expanded duties of foster care public health nurses to include monitoring and oversight of children who are prescribed psychotropic medication and would have funded 38 more nurses so counties have at least one nurse for every 200 patients.

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Study challenges status quo in breast cancer treatment
San Diego Union-Tribune

A massive new study shows that surgery may have no effect on survival rates for women with “Stage 0” breast cancer, a very early form of the disease.

The analysis of more than 100,000 patients with ductal carcinoma in situ reinforces a growing belief that current treatment regimens for this condition are overly aggressive or outright unnecessary. It also creates an even more frustrating gray area for women and doctors trying to navigate a diagnosis that affects about 60,000 Americans each year.

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East Bay medical device company targets $115 million IPO
San Francisco Business Times

A quietly booming Alameda medical device developer wants to use a $115 million initial public offering to boost its product offerings, research and sales force. Penumbra Inc. is that latest in a string of Bay Area life sciences IPOs, but its steady stream of revenue from catheters and coils that treat strokes, aneurysms and other vascular conditions make it a rarity. Most drug developers have longer timelines for bringing drugs to market, but med device development can move much more quickly.

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Healthcare startup Grand Rounds will expand medical consultation services with new funding
San Francisco Business Times

Healthcare startup Grand Rounds raised $55 million in Series C funding Thursday to connect patients with specialty care.

A new, unnamed mutual fund investor led the round with participation from Greylock Partners, Venrock, Harrison Metal and Facebook CFO David Ebersman. The company has raised $106 million to date. TechCrunch reported that the financing round valued Grand Rounds at $750 million.

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Health Net considered takeover options since 2013
Modern Healthcare

Health Net, the Woodland Hills, Calif.-based insurer that is being acquired, had explored the market for almost two years before inking its sale to Centene Corp. this summer, a regulatory filing shows.

Further, when Centene and Health Net were in discussions this past June, Centene CEO Michael Neidorff wanted to get a deal done as quickly as possible due in part to the merger speculation that was swirling in the health insurance industry.

Health Net’s board hired several financial advisers, including J.P. Morgan, in September 2013 to identify “potential strategic partners and the consideration of a potential business combination,” according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Health Net sells private Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and exchange plans along the West Coast.

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UCLA’s MedDreamers seeks to advocate for undocumented medical students
UCLA Daily-Bruin

Seung Jin (James) Lee watched his parents buy over-the-counter medicine each time they got sick, wondering why they never sought medical treatment from a doctor like the other families in his suburban neighborhood.

Without health care, his family did not have time to spare on visits to the doctor. His parents could not afford proper health care because of their status as undocumented immigrants, nor could they afford to lose a paycheck from missing a day of work. Lee’s family’s struggle has now encouraged him to seek to become a doctor.

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UC San Diego Study: Chantix Doesn’t Significantly Help Smokers Quit

The latest research from UC San Diego shows the popular smoking cessation drug, Chantix, has no significant impact on the rate in which Americans stop smoking.

According to research published online in Tobacco Control this week, the effectiveness of the drug is short-lived in comparison to other cessation aides. Researchers found the drug’s effectiveness lasts for three months. After this time, users report they no longer had a higher rate of success with the drug.

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Dignity Health expands Folsom care center
Sacramento Business Journal

Mercy Medical Group is expanding in Folsom. That’s where a related nonprofit organization, Dignity Health, has ambitious long-range plans.

Formally known as Dignity Health Medical Foundation, Mercy Medical Group will expand its Folsom Care Center on Prairie City Road.

Mercy opened a care center there three years ago, but currently uses half of the building. This will change Aug. 31, when doctors will occupy the rest of the space, doubling the care center to about 20,000 square feet.