News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California Moves To Stop Misuse Of Psychiatric Meds In Foster Care
National Public Radio

By the time DeAngelo Cortijo was 14, he had been in more than a dozen foster homes. He had run away and lived on the streets for months, and he had been diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders, attachment disorder, intermittent explosive disorder or posttraumatic stress disorder. He had been in and out of mental hospitals and heavily medicated.

Cortijo, who was born in San Francisco, was taken from his mother after she attempted suicide when he was 3.

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World’s largest public stem cell bank inaugurated in California
Sacramento Bee

California researchers opened the world’s largest publicly available stem cell bank Tuesday, which will aid in the search for cures for genetic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and autism.

Universities from around the state will contribute adult skin samples to the bank, while the Buck Institute for Research in Novato will store the material.

The Stem Cell Bank is funded through a $32 million grant awarded in 2013 by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which itself was established in 2004 through voter approval of Proposition 71.

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Rules protecting human research subjects undergoing overhaul
Modern Healthcare

HHS and 15 other agencies issued proposed updates Wednesday to what’s known as the Common Rule, which aims to protect human research subjects. The changes, which come on the eve of the ambitious White House precision-medicine initiative that could involve 1 million volunteer subjects, include clearer consent rules for the reuse of stored blood or tissue in new research unrelated to the original studies.

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White House Takes Aim At Medicare And Medicaid Billing Errors
National Public Radio

White House budget director Shaun Donovan called for a “more aggressive strategy” to thwart improper government payments to doctors, hospitals and insurance companies in a previously undisclosed letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell earlier this year. Government health care programs covering millions of Americans waste billions of tax dollars every year through these improper payments, Donovan said in the Feb. 26, 2015 letter.

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Double mastectomy is on the rise in men with breast cancer — and it’s worrying some doctors
Washington Post

Most people assume breast cancer is just a female thing. All those public service posters, fundraising walkathon T-shirts and stuffed animals marketed to raise awareness of the disease are typically saturated in pink, after all.

But about 1 percent of cases in the United States are actually in men — and it turns out a growing number of them are choosing to do what Angelina Jolie did and remove both breasts to reduce the risk of any recurrence.

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Spreading The Word: Obamacare Is For Native Americans, Too
National Public Radio

As a member of the Navajo tribe, Rochelle Jake has received free care through the Indian Health Service her entire life. The IHS clinics took care of her asthma, allergies and eczema — chronic problems, nothing urgent.

Recently, though, she felt sharp pains in her side. Her doctor recommended an MRI and other tests she couldn’t get through IHS. To pay for them, he urged her to sign up for private insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

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5 natural disasters that caused serious trouble for healthcare providers
Healthcare Finance News

Within the last 10 years, at least two hurricanes have closed hospitals, and the St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Missouri, took a direct hit from a tornado, forcing it to rebuild.

But even when a natural disaster doesn’t force a hospital to shut its doors, unexpected catastrophes can disrupt operations and finances.

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Most Health Savings Account Owners Stick With Conservative Options
National Public Radio

Only a tiny fraction of the growing number of people with health savings accounts invests the money in their accounts in the financial markets, a recent study finds.

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Doctor-Owned Hospitals Are Not Cherry-Picking Patients, Study Finds
Kaiser Health News

Physician-owned hospitals are often vilified in America’s health care system, accused of siphoning the most profitable operations away from other hospitals while leaving them with the sicker and poorer patients. Congress has banned new ones from opening.

But an independent study released Wednesday argues physician-owned hospitals have gotten a bad rap. The study, published online by the British medical journal, The BMJ, concluded that overall, physician-owned hospitals are not cherry-picking patients or limiting themselves to the most lucrative types of procedures and operations.

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California’s stem-cell bank is open for business
Sacramento Business Journal

The stem-cell agency approved by California voters in 2004 has handed out about $2 billion in grants to academic and other researchers so far to find new treatments. Now the California Institute for Regenerative Cures has launched the world’s largest public stem-cell bank. The bank is offering the first 300 different stem cell lines to researchers interested in gaining a deeper understanding of — and developing treatments for — 11 common diseases and disorders.

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HIV-preventing drug holds up under study
San Francisco Chronicle

Truvada, a daily pill that holds the hope of eliminating the risk of contracting HIV, appears to be living up to its promise.

In the first real-world study of the prescription drug, Kaiser researchers found no new HIV infections among the more than 650 people they followed over nearly three years, beginning just after the drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012.

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HIV Drug Appears to Prevent Infection Even in High-Risk Settings

An HIV drug appears to prevent infection, even in high-risk settings, according to the results of a new study. Despite often not using condoms, none of the 657 patients taking the medication in the study had a new HIV infection during two-and-a-half years of observation by researchers at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center. The results were published online Tuesday by the peer-reviewed journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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Kaiser Permanente Study Shows Drug Effective In Preventing HIV
ABC News

More than 30 years after the AIDS virus was first discovered, a new study by Kaiser Permanente shows there may finally be an actual HIV vaccine.

More than 600 patients have been on the drug Truvada for about three years and none has tested positive for HIV.

The results of those clinical trials showed that Truvada was effective in more than 90 percent of patients. Since then, Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco has been giving the drug to its patients for more than two years with even better results.

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Scripps Health offers free prostate screenings
San Diego Union-Tribune

Scripps Health will team up with Ed Randall’s Fans for the Cure to offer baseball fans free prostate cancer screenings during the San Diego Padres’ Sept. 3 game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park.

Testing will be available to male ticket holders who are age 50 and older (or age 40 and up for those with a family history of prostate cancer).

The screenings will start at 4:30 p.m. and continue until the seventh inning at the Scripps Mobile Medical Unit, which will be set up for the day at the Park beyond the right-field fence.

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Hospital district to appoint board member

The Petaluma Health Care District is scheduled to appoint a board member to the seat vacated by Kathie Powell, the CEO of Petaluma Health Center.

The board will meet on Thursday at 7:30 a.m. at the district office, 1425 N. McDowell Blvd. in the main lobby conference room. They will take public comments before making the appointment, according to the meeting agenda sent out Tuesday.

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Health care pilot programs in Glendale aim to keep patients and savings in mind

Local hospital officials are hoping two pilot programs kicking off this year will reduce the number of return visits to the emergency room as well as ease the bottleneck in ERs by diverting some patients to local urgent-care centers.

Starting Sept. 15, Glendale Adventist Medical Center and the Glendale Fire Department will be among the few facilities and agencies to start making in-house visits to check up on patients who’ve been discharged after suffering heart failure.

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Dignity Health joins Obamacare-inspired joint venture to help run hospitals in Arizona
San Francisco Business Times

Dignity Health, which already operates 39 hospitals in California, Nevada and Arizona, has joined a joint venture to own and run the three-hospital Carondelet Health System in Tuscon. The Tucson system had been run by Ascension. Now it will be operated by a for-profit joint venture headed by Tenet Healthcare (NYSE: THC), which owns a majority stake. Dignity and Ascension each will hold a minority interest of unknown size in the venture.

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Majority stake in East Bay’s MedeAnalytics being sold to big private equity firm
San Francisco Business Times

Thomas Bravo LLC has agreed to buy a majority stake in MedeAnalytics Inc., an Emeryville-based health care software and consulting firm, for an undisclosed price. Bain Capital Integral Investors LLC and Emergence Capital Partners will remain as minority shareholders, officials said. They earlier invested $57 million. The deal is expected to close within 30 days. Thomas Bravo manages private equity funds totaling $8.5 billion in commitments.

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Blue Shield of California executive pay increased by $24 million in 2012
Becker's Hospital Review

San Francisco-based Blue Shield of California boosted executive compensation by $24 million in 2012, according to a confidential California Franchise Tax Board audit reviewed by the Los Angeles Times. The increase, which includes figures for nearly 60 top officers, is 64 percent greater than the 2011 compensation increase. Blue Shield paid $61 million to its top executives in 2012 and $37 million to the same group in 2011.

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Big pay raise at California insurer draws questions

If large nonprofit health insurer Blue Shield of California thought it was a good idea not to tell state regulators the identifies of some of the executives who received an eye-popping 64 percent compensation hike in 2012, it might want to think again.