News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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States Looking For More Effective Ways To Encourage Vaccinations
Kaiser Health News

When kids start school this fall, it’s a sure bet that some won’t have had their recommended vaccines because their parents have claimed exemptions from school requirements for medical, religious or philosophical reasons. Following the much publicized outbreak of measles that started in Disneyland in California in December, these exemptions have drawn increased scrutiny.

That outbreak, which eventually infected 147 people in seven states, was a wake-up call for many parents, who may not have realized how contagious or serious the disease can be, and for states as well, say public health officials.

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New breed of paramedics treats patients before emergencies occur
Los Angeles Times

Paramedic Jacob Modglin parks on a palm-lined street in Oxnard and jumps out of his ambulance. He is prepared for any kind of emergency.

But his patient is standing in the driveway of a one-story house, holding a thermos, and smiling. It’s time for his 8 p.m. appointment.

Modglin is part of a new cadre of “community paramedics” working in a dozen pilot programs across California. Their jobs are to treat patients before they get sick enough to need emergency care.

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Obamacare ‘Cadillac tax’ to hit 1 in 4 employers that offer health care benefits
Washington Post

Obamacare’s “Cadillac tax” will hit one in four employers that offer health care benefits, a leading industry analyst says in a report being released Tuesday, socking companies with a massive levy that Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill say is unfair to those who have negotiated high-quality plans as part of their jobs.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 26 percent of companies will be affected by the tax when it takes effect in 2018 and 42 percent of employers will be paying the levy a decade later, signaling just how quickly health care costs are expected to rise —

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House Republicans Really Think They Can Amend Obamacare This Fall
National Journal Magazine

While congressional leaders continue to debate whether to pursue near-full repeal of the Affordable Care Act through budget reconciliation, and GOP presidential candidates lay out Obamacare-replacement proposals, House Republicans are looking at a smaller batch of changes to the health care law they think could make it to President Obama’s desk.

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady told National Journal that his panel could mark up health care tax legislation later this year.

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House GOP adds healthcare tax bill to fall agenda
The Hill

House GOP leaders are eyeing a package of healthcare bills this fall that will target some of the most despised taxes under the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee’s Health Subcommittee, said he expects a comprehensive bill repealing healthcare taxes to be ready sometime after lawmakers return from recess.

“We’re going to continue to focus on ObamaCare implementation, but we’re also looking at a number of the tax provisions that need to be repealed,” Brady said in an interview on Monday.

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Medicare reconsiders rule that leaves dying patients facing a stark choice
Washington Post

For more than 30 years, Medicare presented dying patients with a stark choice: They could continue treatments that might extend their lives or they could accept the medical and counseling services of hospice care meant to ease their way to death. They could not do both.

Now, the federal government is experimenting with a change that would remove that either/or proposition. Beginning next year, people choosing to participate in a demonstration project will be able to receive Medicare hospice benefits while continuing treatment for the diseases that are killing them.

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If your doctor says you need surgery, you may want to explore other options
Washington Post

Doctors used to routinely remove tonsils — until research found that the pain, risks and costs of the procedure usually outweighed its benefits. While tonsils are more secure now, research suggests that some people may still be getting surgeries they don’t need. Here, four procedures to question if your doctor pushes for them:

Knee surgery

Arthroscopic surgery to trim or remove a torn meniscus — the cartilage that cushions your knees — is the most common orthopedic surgery in the United States.

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Medical care at California prison still inadequate, inspection says
Southern California Public Radio

After years of federal oversight, medical services at a California state prison still fail to meet constitutional standards, according to an inspection released Monday.

Care provided to nearly 4,000 inmates at California Correctional Center in Susanville is inadequate, the state inspector general said. The report blames the prison’s remote location in northeastern California for a lack of doctors.

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Study: Autism, creativity and divergent thinking may go hand in hand
Washington Post

The researchers call it the “paradox of creativity” in autism.

For many years, scientists believed that individuals with the disorder may be at a disadvantage due to the rigidity with which many see the world. But a surprising new study published this month found the opposite — that people with autistic traits excel in coming up with unusually creative ideas.

The British study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, involved the analysis of data from 312 people who took part in a series of tests on creativity.  It turned out that those who had autistic traits offered fewer responses to problems presented, but their solutions were more original and creative than those who did not have autistic traits.

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A Racial Gap In Attitudes Toward Hospice Care
Kaiser Health News

Twice already Narseary and Vernal Harris have watched a son die. The first time — Paul, at age 26 — was agonizing and frenzied, his body tethered to a machine meant to keep him alive as his incurable sickle cell disease progressed. When the same illness ravaged Solomon, at age 33, the Harrises reluctantly turned to hospice in the hope that his last days might somehow be less harrowing than his brother’s.

Their expectations were low. “They take your money,” Mrs. Harris said, describing what she had heard of hospice. “Your loved ones don’t see you anymore. You just go there and die.”

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Health effects of aspirin: Where do we stand?

An aspirin a day, keeps the doctor away. Or does it? Aside from being a potent painkiller to help with that numbing headache or aching pain in your back, doctors today routinely prescribe a daily regimen of aspirin to help prevent heart attack and stroke. And a number of studies also indicate that they may also be able to decrease your likelihood of certain types of cancer.

But not everyone should be taking the little while pills. Talk to your doctor first about taking it daily. Doctors agree that a low dose — as little as 75 milligrams, which is less than a baby aspirin — can help those patients who have already had (or are at high risk for) a heart attack or stroke. For those with a low risk of heart disease, potential side effects such as internal bleeding and stomach ulcers may outweigh the preventative benefits. While the benefits of aspirin seem strong, always consult your doctor before starting daily usage.

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Kidney-care providers consolidate to manage costs, patient care
Modern Healthcare

The largely consolidated dialysis sector has been quiet on the M&A front of late, but the transition to value-based payment models could be renewing the drive for scale.Two large kidney-care providers announced transactions Monday that will increase their footprints, provide more leverage with payers and allow them to gain access to additional patient data. The deals are expected to close by the end of 2015.Denver-based DaVita HealthCare Partners announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Colorado-based Renal Ventures for $415 million.

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Two Bay Area drug companies cut half-billion-dollar cancer drug deal
San Francisco Business Times

A cancer-fighting drug that BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. picked up in a $97 million acquisition five years ago is at the center of a potential $570 million deal with fellow Bay Area drug developer Medivation Inc. The late-stage drug — dubbed talazoparib, or BMN-673 — is a so-called PARP inhibitor, a class of drugs that block enzymes that cancer cells use to repair themselves after chemotherapy or other stresses.

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UCSD Health hires interim CEO
San Diego Union-Tribune

Patty Maysent, formerly the organization’s chief strategy officer, will serve as UC San Diego Health System’s interim chief executive, the university announced Monday.

Hired in 2012 by former CEO Paul Viviano, Maysent will take over now that her former boss has left for a new position as chief executive of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

The hire comes as UC San Diego continues a nationwide search for Viviano’s replacement.

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Arcata hospital rewards workers with bonus checks

The Mad River Community Hospital rewarded its staff members with bonus checks and a gift for a job well done.

The bonuses were handed after the hospital reported that it was able to achieve low infection rates and high inpatient discharges. Every single employee, from janitors to doctors, received a check along with a coffee thermos.

Administrators at the hospital said that it was a way to thank the workers for all of their hard work to make that accomplishment.

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New Emergency Department Waiting Room Dedicated At Valley Children’s Hospital
ABC News

Valley Children’s Hospital has a brand-new facility for patients and their families to use. A dedication ceremony was held on Monday for the Manuel and Katye Mancebo Emergency Department Waiting Room.

The hospital chose to name the new facility after the former owners of the Kings County Truck Lines because of their generous giving over the years. The Mancebos have a planned giving commitment valued at more than $1 million to the hospital.