News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Lawmakers enlist researchers and patient advocates to support 21st Century Cures bill
Modern Healthcare

Congressman Bob Dold of Illinois on Monday tapped researchers and patient advocates in Chicago to help support the 21st Century Cures Act. Nearly $9 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health is meant to advance medical innovations.The GOP member of the House Ways and Means Committee is just one of many lawmakers who recently have held events to raise awareness of the bill. The gathering of constituents has also served as a reminder of the bipartisan effort to get the bill through the body.

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Some gynecological cancers in decline, thanks to vaccines, exams
San Diego Union-Tribune

Through a combination of vaccines, regular screenings and improved technology, the rates for some forms of gynecological cancer have decreased over the years.

But doctors say vaccinations and lifestyle changes must increase among some women to continue making strides.

Gynecological cancers strike the female genital and reproductive tract. The most common forms are uterine, ovarian, fallopian-tube and cervical cancers, followed by vaginal and vulvar cancers.

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Google making moves to disrupt diabetes
The Mercury News

Instead of pricking a finger before each meal or injecting themselves with insulin, diabetics could one day use tiny gizmos to manage their disease — testing blood sugar levels with an Internet-connected contact lens or a coin-size skin patch that transmits glucose readings to a doctor.

That’s the vision of the co-founders of Google, who plan to tackle the global epidemic affecting hundreds of millions of people with the same technological wizardry they used to conquer the Internet.

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Fewer Americans Go Without Medical Care Due To Cost, Survey Says
The Huffington Post

More than 15 years have passed since this small a share of Americans didn’t get medical care they needed because of the cost, a new federal government report reveals.

During the first three months of 2015, 4.4 percent of Americans surveyed said they went without health care at some point in the past 12 months because they couldn’t afford it, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchreleased on Tuesday.

That’s the lowest percentage of Americans forgoing health care since 1999, when 4.3 percent of respondents said they abstained from medical care because they couldn’t afford it. It’s also the first time since 2002 that the number dropped below 5 percent.

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Public or Private, Health Benefits Face Strategic Pruning
The Wall Street Journal

Finance chiefs at companies ranging from Cisco Systems Inc. to Westmoreland Coal Co. are scrutinizing employee health benefits as they face the Affordable Care Act’s looming “Cadillac tax” on generous health plans.

They aren’t the only ones.

Across the country, cities and states are also scrambling to figure out how many millions the tax will cost them.

The ferment underscores how all employers stand to be pinched if they can’t reduce employee health-care costs below government-set thresholds.

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Covered California releases bid for peak-time call center contractor in Sacramento
Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California is shopping for a contractor to provide peak-time call center support staff in the Sacramento region for its upcoming open enrollment period.

The state health benefits exchange wants the equivalent of up to 600 full-time staff for about six months — and will pay the contractor up to $12 million, according to a request for proposals released last week.

This is the deal In-Sync Consulting Services in Roseville and Virginia-based call center operator Faneuil have been waiting for. Faneuil had a $14 million contract for this business last year and partnered with In-Sync, a national provider of IT staffing and consulting services. More than 1,000 people were hired to work in a Greenhaven call center until the contract ended June 30.

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How Medicare is trying to start a healthier national conversation about dying
The Signal

Diane Carbo has spent countless hours considering how she would like to die.

She doesn’t have a death wish or an obsession with life’s most morbid aspects. Instead, the nurse and elder care advocate reflects on her end because she thinks it helps her live more fully.

“An end-of-life plan should always be in place,” said Carbo, 62. “It’s empowering to have the decision settled in your mind.”

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Don’t Repeal the Cadillac Plan Tax – Replace It
The Health Care Blog

Beginning in 2018, high-cost, private sector health plans will be subject to a special levy, popularly known as the “Cadillac plan” tax. Under a provision of the Affordable Care Act, health plans must pay a tax equal to 40 percent of each employee’s health benefits to the extent they exceed $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage

In many ways, the Cadillac Plan tax is a stealth tax. It doesn’t even become effective until eight years after the Affordable Care Act passed Congress.

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Religion rarely part of ICU conversation
Yahoo! News

In less than 20 percent of family meetings in the intensive care unit do doctors and other health care providers discuss religion or spirituality a new study finds.

For many patients and families, religion and spirituality are important near the end of life, and understanding these beliefs may be “important to delivering care that is respectful of the patient as an individual,” said senior author Dr. Douglas B. White of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, in email to Reuters Health.

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For-profit hospitals making more money, with a stable forecast
Modern Healthcare

As hospitals around the country continue to consolidate and streamline operations, a leaner healthcare industry is also becoming a more profitable one.

Moody’s Investors Service Monday said there’s a stable outlook for the future of the U.S. for-profit hospital sector.

The industry is benefiting from the expansion of insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and overall, expects growth of about 3% to 3.5% over the next 12 to 18 months, Moody’s said in their report.

Lower bad-debt expenses will continue to benefit hospitals’ operating results, the report stated, and the number of uninsured individuals will decrease as insurance coverage expands under the ACA.  According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released this month, the percentage of uninsured people in the U.S. dropped below 10% this year for the first time in decades. The 31 states including the District of Columbia that have already expanded their Medicaid programs have seen the greatest reductions in bad debt expense, and other states will keep benefiting from increased awareness of coverage options, Moody’s said.

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5 types of gynecological cancer
San Diego Union-Tribune

Gynecologic cancer starts in a woman’s reproductive organs and begins in different places in a woman’s pelvis — the area under the stomach and between the hip bones. Here are five types:

Cervical cancer. This type begins in the cervix, the lower, narrow end of the uterus. This type of cancer is very preventable in most Western countries thanks to tests and a vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus infections.

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How our healthcare system can be deadly to the elderly
Los Angeles Times

The nation’s healthcare system is endangering the elderly. But few outside the geriatric medical community seem to notice.

I learned about this problem the hard way — when caring for an aging parent. My father, a highly regarded orthopedic surgeon, developed Alzheimer’s when he turned 78. As his disease worsened, so did the stress of trying to navigate the healthcare system.

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Heart failure in women still No. 1 killer
San Diego Union-Tribune

In recent years, the message that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women has reached the public loud and clear.

One in three women succumb to heart disease each year, and while public education has largely focused on heart attacks and strokes, heart failure also has a sizable impact, affecting more than 2.5 million women and serving as the leading reason for hospitalization in women over 65.

Its prevalence is rising as women live longer and more often survive the precursors to heart failure.

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Watch out for surprise medical bills when you’re in the hospital
Washington Post

Many people with health insurance know a good way to avoid surprise medical bills is to go to a doctor or hospital in their plan’s provider network. Those doctors and hospitals have contracted with the health plan to provide health services at a negotiated rate, which is typically lower than out-of-network providers.

But as more health plans limit the physicians and hospitals in these networks (to keep premium costs low), consumers are increasingly getting hit with surprise bills from out-of-network providers.

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Athena medical group: Providing access, offering quality medical care, and creating trusting relationships
Monterey Herald

Established to provide excellent care throughout Monterey County wherever and whenever needed, Athena Medical Group is a primary care medical organization specializing in women’s health and focusing on family health care. Athena understands that the first step to quality care is access to service; for this reason, it is dedicated to reaching out to patients wherever they may live, rendering obsolete the need to leave communities for quality service.

Thirty years ago, Dr. William Khieu, MD, MBA was a Vietnamese refugee, looking to establish his medical practice in an environment of perceived inequity for access to care. Insurance hurdles, scheduling difficulties, and crowded waiting rooms served as serious impediments to urgent and even customary care.

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Executive pay at Blue Shield of California shot up $24 million, audit reveals
Los Angeles Times

Nonprofit insurer Blue Shield of California boosted executive compensation by $24 million in 2012 — a 64% jump over the previous year — according to a confidential state audit reviewed by The Times.

The health insurance giant won’t say who got the money or why. But Blue Shield’s former public policy director, Michael Johnson, who left this year and is now a company critic, said senior officials at the insurer told him that former Chief Executive Bruce Bodaken received about $20 million as part of his 2012 retirement package, on top of his annual pay.

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Breaking Away Award of Excellence: Beverly Weurding

KUSI News and Torrey Pines Bank (TPB) are proud to present the first Breaking Away Award of Excellence to Beverly Weurding the founder of The Wheelchair Dancers Organization (WDO), Social Dancing for people with disabilities. Don Rickman, VP/Relationship Manager for Torrey Pines Bank was on hand to present the award: “Beverly is more than worthy of this recognition. The passion and enthusiasm she brings is the driving force behind all of the dancers smiles and joy.”

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Long Beach council wants info on paramedic changes
Long Beach Press-Telegram

Three Long Beach council members are formally asking for information on how City Hall and the Fire Department will cope with a county agency’s demand to cancel a program in which the city sought to save funds by replacing some highly trained paramedics with emergency medical technicians.

Councilmen Al Austin, Daryl Supernaw and Roberto Uranga are requesting a City Manager Patrick West, Fire Chief Michael DuRee and city financial staffers report on how the Los Angeles County Emergency Services Agency’s decision to end support for the program will affect emergency services and the city’s budget.

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Family HealthCare opens west Tulare clinic
Visialia Times-Delta

The second of three health clinics planned for Tulare’s west side is now opened.

The Family HealthCare Network opened its newest location on Monday, offering comprehensive family medicine that includes annual wellness and physical exams, immunizations, chronic disease management, acute care, dental, behavioral health, and patient health education, among others.

“Family HealthCare Network is proud to be a new health partner located in the City of Tulare,” said Kerry Hydash, Family HealthCare Network president and CEO.

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Doctors Hospital of Manteca gets new CEO
Manteca Bulletin

Ikenna ‘Ike’ Mmeje is taking over the reins of Doctors Hospital of Manteca coming from Tenet’s Sierra Vista Hospital in San Luis Obispo. Mmeje pronounces his name as “May-jay” and is succeeding Nicholas Tejeda who transferred on to Houston, Texas. The hospital’s new chief executive officer is expected to be in his office by the last week of September.

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New tool at SNMH alerts doctors to potential sepsis cases
The Union

Local physicians have a new tool that will alert them if one of their patients may be in danger of sepsis, a severe and progressive infection that can be deadly.

Made possible by the new electronic medical record system at Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH), the new tool is officially known as the Cerner Sepsis Biosurveillance Program.

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Santa Clara County to sever $300 million contract over Valley Med hospital upgrade
The Mercury News

Santa Clara County’s $300 million expansion and seismic upgrade at Valley Medical Center is already two years behind schedule — with no hope of opening next month in time for its latest deadline.

Now, in an increasingly bitter dispute that played out Monday at the construction site, the county declared it intends to fire Turner Construction, the company overseeing the project and one of the country’s biggest builders, whom county officials blame for falling woefully behind on the job.