News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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80% of health IT leaders say their systems have been compromised
Modern Healthcare

Roughly eight out of 10 health information technology leaders recently surveyed say their provider or insurance organizations suffered a cyberattack that compromised their computer systems in the past two years, according to the consulting group KPMG.

Only 16% of the 223 executives who participated in the survey said their organizations had not been compromised in the past 24 months while another 3% were unsure.

The percentage, 81%, with breached systems could be even higher if the remaining 19% are like most health IT leaders, said Michael Ebert, head of KPMG’s health and life sciences cyber practice.

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Amputees protest proposed Medicare changes for artificial limbs
Washington Post

Jim Young stood on a crate on the broad plaza outside the Department of Health and Human Services, a red megaphone in his right hand and, beneath his khaki shorts, an artificial left leg.

“Limbs, limbs are not a luxury!” he chanted, leading nearly 150 people clustered around him who were wearing prostheses and matching orange T-shirts that said on the back, “Medicare amputees deserve legs too.”

Wednesday afternoon’s modest protest was organized to attract outsize attention to concerns by the nation’s amputees — and health practitioners who work with them — that the government might make it more difficult for older and disabled Americans to afford state-of-the-art artificial legs, or any artificial legs at all.

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Rest Assured, Surgeons’ Late-Night Work Doesn’t Cause Patients Harm, Study Says
Kaiser Health News

Patients receiving common operations in the daytime fared no worse in the short-term if their attending physician worked a hospital graveyard shift the night before than patients whose doctor did not, according to a new study examining the effects of sleep deprivation on surgeons.

Patients whose physicians worked from midnight to 7 a.m. the night before a daytime operation were as likely to die, be readmitted to the hospital or suffer complications within 30 days of their procedure as other patients who had the same operations in the daytime from physicians who had not worked after midnight, researchers said. Short-term outcomes were compared for patients receiving 12 elective procedures such as knee and hip replacements, hysterectomies and spinal surgeries. The study, conducted in Ontario, Canada by researchers in Toronto, was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. It included 38,978 patients and 1,448 physicians.

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Insurers Win Big Health-Rate Increases
The Wall Street Journal

At a July town hall in Nashville, Tenn., President Barack Obama played down fears of a spike in health insurance premiums in his signature health law’s third year.

“My expectation is that they’ll come in significantly lower than what’s being requested,” he said, saying Tennesseans had to work to ensure the state’s insurance commissioner “does their job in not just passively reviewing the rates, but really asking, ‘OK, what is it that you are looking for here? Why would you need very high premiums?’”

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Did the ACA Improve Access to Rx Drugs? Some Patients Don’t Think So
California Healthline

The Affordable Care Act guarantees that 10 “essential health benefits” — including coverage of prescription drugs — will be included in every plan sold through the law’s insurance exchanges.

But there’s a catch.

Health plans offered through the ACA’s exchanges are required to cover prescription drugs, but insurers get to decide their own drug formularies — and those can vary significantly from plan to plan. And while insurers are required to publicly post details of their drug coverage policies, the formularies often are “incomplete, inaccurate or difficult to navigate due to lack of standardization and confusing or inaccessible consumer cost information,” according to a California-based study released this month by the California HealthCare Foundation. CHCF publishes California Healthline.

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Small networks rule California Obamacare plans
Central Valley Business Times

Tiny networks rule when it comes to Obamacare plans in California according to University of Pennsylvania researchers. According to data collected by the group, 76 percent of networks offered by the Silver plans on the state’s healthcare exchange were either small or extra small.

That is more limited choices than all but three other states, Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma.

Nationwide, 41 percent of networks in Obamacare plans were labeled narrow, meaning they included 25 percent or less of the physicians in a rating area.

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Obamacare: Poll shows rising support throughout California
The Mercury News

Less than two years after the nation’s new health care law kicked into gear, more than six in 10 California voters are embracing its reforms, and an overwhelming majority are also tipping their hats to the way it’s been implemented in the Golden State, according to a new Field Poll.

And while most California Republicans continue to oppose the Affordable Care Act, nearly half of GOP voters say the law they deride as “Obamacare” has met several of its key goals here — from encouraging more previously uninsured people to get coverage to providing health insurance buyers with better co

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Californians support expanding health care coverage
Central Valley Business Times

A new Field Poll found that 58 percent of the state’s registered voters support expanding health care to undocumented Californians. That was up from 51 percent that supported the measure in the same poll conducted last year. The poll also found that 63 percent of voters believe that the state’s Medi-Cal program is important to themselves and their families. Nearly half, 45 percent, say it’s very important to them.

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At last, Covered California finally has a full board again
San Francisco Business Times

Covered California is back to a full board of directors after six months with at least one vacant seat.

Art Torres — a former state legislator and Democratic party chair — was appointed without fanfare by the Senate Rules Committee on July 8. He attended his first meeting of the state health exchange board last week.

He replaced Bob Ross, who resigned at the end of 2014. Torres will finish out Ross’s term, which ends January 1, 2016.

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Poll finds Californians happier with their health care
San Francisco Chronicle

Nearly two years after the major elements of the federal health care law went into effect, California voters say they’re happier with the way the state is running its health care services, but the cost of coverage continues to be a problem, according to a Field Poll released Wednesday.

The poll, the ninth in an annual series of health-related surveys funded by the California Wellness Foundation, found 58 percent of voters said they were generally satisfied with the way the state’s health care system is functioning. Thirty-four percent of respondents described themselves as dissatisfied.

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CMS releases 2014 Medicare ACO quality, financial results: 10 things to know
Becker's Hospital Review

CMS announced Tuesday that 20 Pioneer and 333 Medicare Shared Savings Program accountable care organizations generated net savings of $411 million in 2014 and improved in most quality measures.

“These results show that ACOs as a group are on the path towards transforming how care is provided,” CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt said in the release. “Many of these ACOs are demonstrating that they can deliver a higher level of coordinated care that leads to healthier people and smarter spending.”

Here are 10 things to know about the recently announced 2014 quality and financial performance results of Medicare ACOs.

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Brown administration opens door to cigarette tax, with a caveat
Sacramento Bee

Responding to the Legislature’s renewed attempt to fund healthcare through a cigarette tax, a Brown administration official signaled support if the revenue is properly targeted. “Everything’s on the table from the standpoint that Medi-Cal consumes $93 to $94 billion in funds a year, both state and federal,” said Jennifer Kent, director of the Department of Health Care Services, so “if people are legitimately willing to take a hard look at doing an additional tobacco tax to support those services then we are willing to talk about ways that we would targe

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Surgeon performance unaffected by fatigue from overnight work: study
Yahoo! News

Going without sleep the night before does not affect the performance of doctors doing elective surgery the next morning, according to a new Ontario study that runs contrary to research demonstrating that sleep-deprived physicians pose a hazard to patients.

The odds of having a surgery-related problem were 22.2 percent when the doctor had been treating patients between midnight and 7 a.m. and 22.4 percent when the doctor had, presumably, received sufficient sleep.

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Why Your Doctor Is Thinking About Getting an MBA
The Health Care Blog

To understand why so many medical students (and pre-meds) (and doctors) contemplate business training, let’s consider two real-life examples: Dr. Bob Kocher and Dr. Bijan Salehizadeh. Both trained as physicians, both are currently healthcare investors, and both shared their stories with Lisa Suennen and me on our Tech Tonics podcast. (Kocher’s interview can be found here; Salehizadeh’s will available at the end of the month.)

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Let Fear Guide Early Stage Breast-Cancer Decisions
New York Times

Two patients, I’ll call them Sara and Janine, both learned that they had ductal carcinoma in situ (D.C.I.S.), often referred to as Stage 0 breast cancer. Both underwent lumpectomies in their early 50s. Told that worrisome cells were found, both had another surgery. Then a third surgery was recommended.

Sara decided she would rather live with the risk. Janine had the opposite response. “Let’s get this all out,” she said.

Each is certain she made the best decision, but can both of them be right?

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Daily dose of aspirin may cut colon cancer risk — but don’t run to the drugstore just yet
Washington Post

The staples of your medicine closet — aspirin, ibuprofen and other pain relievers — have been in the headlines a lot lately, and it’s no surprise that many consumers are confused about how these pills can affect your body.

The latest news is about how taking low-dose aspirin may cut your risk of colon cancer, a leading cause of cancer deaths— in the United States. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:

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Texting Helps Low-Income Diabetes Patients Manage Insulin Dosing
National Public Radio

People whose diabetes requires insulin injections usually have to make a series of visits to the doctor’s office to fine-tune their daily dosage. But many low-income patients can’t afford to take those few hours off to see the doctor. As a result, they often live with chronically elevated blood sugars for weeks or months until they can find time to get to the clinic.

But mobile technology can help patients with the process of titrating their dosage without them having to see a doctor, according to a study from New York’s Bellevue Hospital.

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Blog: Do patients held for observation skew performance on quality measures?
Modern Healthcare

Just how much success have hospitals had in their efforts to prevent patients from returning soon after leaving? Perhaps not as much as reported, two physicians argue at the blog for health policy journal Health Affairs.

Why? Because Medicare patients who end up in hospital beds for observation technically do not count as repeat visitors.

The number of patients who are held for observation has grown, as has been widely reported, as Medicare began to audit short hospital visits and deny full payment for admissions.

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Bungled bundling of hospital payments for joint replacements
Orange County Register

Federal officials are about to make orthopedic surgery a lot more painful.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services soon many order hospitals in 75 metropolitan regions to change the way they pay health care providers for knee and hip replacements for seniors on Medicare. Instead of paying for each stage of the procedure separately, CMS will send one lump sum that’s supposed to cover the cost of the entire episode of care.

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Woman fights health insurer in months-long wait for birth control
Long Beach Press-Telegram

Frustrated by a potentially six-month wait to obtain birth control, a Tarzana woman has launched a social media campaign against her health insurer, saying the company’s list of physicians is misleading and a referral to an out-of-network provider would mean fronting a $1,200 bill.

Rosie Wiklund, 29, said Wednesday she’s received much support and feedback on Facebook and Twitter since she began writing about how difficult it has been to access a female doctor who can prescribe an IUD, also known as an intrauterine device.

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Amgen files for FDA approval for drug to treat dialysis patients
Los Angeles Business Journal

Amgen Inc. said it has filed for approval to sell its drug to treat patients with chronic kidney disease on dialysis. Thousand Oaks-based Amgen(Nasdaq: AMGN) said it submitted a new drug application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for etelcalcetide, formerly AMG 416, for the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism, a condition that can cause fragile bones, bone pain and organ damage.

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New health sciences program to open with only three students
Sacramento Business Journal

Talk about student-focused. The new undergraduate College of Health Sciences at California Northstate University will launch classes next week with a faculty-to-student ratio of 8 to 3. As of this week, at least, just three students are enrolled for classes that start Sept. 2. “We would take another. Things are moving fast,” said Rose Leigh Vines, dean of the new college. “We are checking all credentials and have turned several students away — but for now, we have the best faculty-to-student ratio of any college I know.”

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Hoag Hospital opens residential-style addiction treatment center
Daily Pilot

Hoag Hospital announced Wednesday that it has opened a 21-bed substance abuse treatment center at its Newport Beach campus to help recovering addicts as they transition from detox to residential living.

The facility, called SolMar Recovery, is the first such treatment center in California operated on the campus of an acute-care hospital. The center currently is caring for a handful of patients but will officially open to outside patients on Sept. 1, the hospital said.

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St. Joseph Hoag to run a wellness center/medical clinic at Masimo Corp.’s Irvine headquarters
Orange County Register

A wellness center operated by St. Joseph Hoag Health for the employees of an Irvine-based medical technology company opened its doors Tuesday and will be fully operational next month.

The center is the fifth of what St. Joseph Hoag, one of Orange County’s largest hospital and physician group chains, calls “wellness corners.” They have all opened within the past year in Orange County, according to the health care system.

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Howard Memorial one step closer to opening
Ukiah Daily Journal

In keeping with the history of Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital’s legacy, it’s ‘off to the races’ to move into the new hospital.

HMH officially received Staff & Stock Certificate of Occupancy from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development on August 11, 2015. OSHPD is required by the state to review all new hospital plans and designs to ensure that they meet all special building code requirements. The agency also oversees all aspects of hospital construction.

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Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital opens comprehensive urology and nephrology center
Long Beach Press-Telegram

Long Beach’s Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital combined its urology and nephrology programs to create the Larry and Helen Hoag Pediatric Urology and Nephrology Center on Wednesday.

The new center will allow patients with urologic or renal conditions to receive treatment from specialists within the same area.

Combining the two centers allows physicians within urologic and nephrology departments to consult with one another while also allowing patients to stay within the same area, according to a Miller press release.

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Residents say three-story Samaritan Medical Center too big for neighborhood
The Mercury News

Plans to build a three-story medical center and three-level garage near the Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose are getting some pushback from residents who say the project is too large and will increase traffic.

Samaritan Medical Center filed a proposal with the city in late June seeking to rezone 13 acres of its campus on the south side of Samaritan Court between National Avenue and Samaritan Drive from commercial office to planned development.