News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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For California, Last Year’s West Nile Season Was Most Severe Ever
Kaiser Health News

West Nile virus hit California harder than ever last year, with a record 561 cases of neuroinvasive disease – the most serious types of the illness – reported from the mosquito-borne virus, according to federal health data released Thursday. The number of these serious California cases was 83 percent higher than the previous record number reported in the state in 2005, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of those cases — 70 percent — were reported from Los Angeles and Orange counties, which recorded 15 West Nile deaths last year. Statewide, 31 people died of West Nile disease in 2014.

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Federal Reserve interest rate hike could spur more healthcare borrowing
Modern Healthcare

A Federal Reserve interest rate hike could come as soon as the panel’s next meeting this month, but the move isn’t likely to deter healthcare borrowing. It may even encourage providers to accelerate spending plans to stay ahead of rising rates.

Not-for-profit healthcare organizations have returned to the bond market this year to fund new projects and refinance older debt after a significant pullback in 2014. An improving economy, higher patient volume and benefits from the Affordable Care Act are boosting optimism across the sector.

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Health Care Rules Proposed to Shield Transgender Patients From Bias
New York Times

The Obama administration proposed a rule Thursday that would forbid most health insurers and medical providers to discriminate against transgender patients, including by prohibiting insurers from categorically denying coverage of care related to gender transition. The proposal clarifies a civil rights provision of the Affordable Care Act that bans “any health program or activity” that receives federal funds from discriminating based on race, national origin, sex, age or disability.

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HHS Unveils Civil Rights Protections For Transgender Patients’ Health Services
Kaiser Health News

The Obama administration issued a sweeping proposal Thursday to bolster civil rights protections in health care, barring medical providers and insurers from discriminating based on gender, whether in treatments or access to facilities or services.

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U.S. moves to protect women, transgender people in health care
Washington Post

The government moved Thursday to strengthen protections against discrimination for women, transgender people, the disabled and others who receive care throughout the health-care system, including those who buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act and providers that receive federal funding.

The ACA already bars discrimination based on sex and other factors, but the long-delayed proposed regulation issued Thursday explains how the protections will be applied to insurers and health-care providers, such as hospitals and doctors who receive Medicare and Medicaid payments, and it clari

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Health plans come out against tax bills
Sacramento Bee

California’s largest health plan group this week declared its opposition to both of the healthcare special session bills that would impose new taxes on managed-care organizations, the latest sign that a replacement for a soon-to-expire health plan tax is unlikely to emerge before lawmakers adjourn next week.

Health plan taxation is the focus of the special session called by Gov. Jerry Brown. He wants the Legislature to approve an expansion of the existing tax on managed-care organizations to generate about $1.3 billion for Medi-Cal and home-care services.

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Healthcare watch: How to avoid becoming a victim of Medicare fraud
Los Angeles Times

When Marsha Kelly saw an ad in her local newspaper for a free back brace that helps seniors “reclaim their youth,” she decided to call the 800 number.

A customer service representative answered her call and asked Kelly to share her Medicare number and the name of her doctor. Then the representative asked for permission to initiate a three-way call with her doctor’s office.

“She said it looks like you qualify for the back brace, let’s call your doctor while you’re on the line,” recalled Kelly, a 72-year-old retired school administrator from Monterey, Calif.

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Consumers With COBRA Coverage Should Weigh Moving To Health Law Plans
Kaiser Health News

As the open enrollment season for employer-sponsored health insurance gets underway this fall, experts say there’s one group that should definitely consider changing plans: people who have coverage through their former employer under the federal law known as COBRA.

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Jury finds UCLA not responsible for employee’s rival accessing her health records
mynewsLA.com

A jury Thursday rejected a claim by a UCLA medical assistant that her employer was liable after a romantic rival accessed her private health records.

The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for less than a day before finding in favor of the University of California Board of Regents and UCLA in a lawsuit brought by Norma Lozano, whose lawyers recommended an award of $1.25 million to compensate her for her emotional distress.

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In new study, HIV prevention pill Truvada is startlingly 100 percent effective
Washington Post

As far as emotions go, AIDS researchers tend to be a staid bunch who look skeptically at every new finding. But the results of a study released this week on the HIV prevention drug have many cheering from the rooftops.

The study conducted at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco involved more than 600 high-risk individuals including gay and bisexual men, as well as heterosexuals and injection-drug users.

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Kirk Adams leaving longtime SEIU post
Modern Healthcare

Kirk Adams, the longtime healthcare chief for the Service Employees International Union, is leaving that role to join the Healthcare Education Project, a joint effort of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Greater New York Hospital Association.

Adams, 65, will help the Healthcare Education Project address national healthcare issues and protect federal healthcare funding for New York’s hospitals, nursing homes, home-care providers and medical schools, the organization said in a news release.

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New CEO named at Rideout
The Appeal-Democrat

Rideout Health’s Gino Patrizio — the nonprofit corporation’s chief operating officer for just over a year — will be elevated to the CEO post this fall, the board of directors announced Thursday. Patrizio, 44, is the eventual replacement for current CEO Robert Chason, who will resume his retirement once Patrizio takes over, likely sometime next month.

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Top CalPERS exec moves to UC Davis Medical Center
Sacramento Business Journal

The former chief executive in charge of the health benefits program at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System started a new job at the UC Davis Medical Center on Monday. Ann Boynton will work with medical center CEO Ann Madden Rice on strategies for dealing with health plan contracts and reimbursement in the changing health care market. It’s a new position for the university health system.

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UCSF lures top pediatric heart surgeon from Stanford’s Lucile Packard hospital
San Francisco Business Times

UC San Francisco has lured Dr. Mohan Reddy, a top pediatric heart specialist, from Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital — returning the favor, after Stanford recruited him to Palo Alto 14 years earlier. UCSF confirmed to me late Thursday that Reddy — who has headed Lucile Packard’s division of pediatric cardiac surgery since late 2002, and served on the faculty of Stanford’s School of Medicine since 2001 — has been hired away, effective Sept. 16.

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Why the State’s Seizure of a Local Health Plan May Have Rescued It
California Healthline

It’s an unusual move, to lock out the people running a local health plan serving about 204,000 people, and to assume state stewardship of that plan. But that’s what the California Department of Managed Health Care and its director Shelley Rouillard did, just over one year ago in Alameda County in the East Bay. “We had to take it over in order to save it,” Rouillard said at the time.

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What Medicare’s value-based insurance test could mean for commercial plans
Modern Healthcare

A new test within the Medicare Advantage program will lower out-of-pocket costs for chronically ill patients who seek high-value services and providers. Supporters hope the project will lead to changes in federal law and become a template for all health plans with sizable cost-sharing, which have become the standard offering from employers and insurers.

But as health insurers eyeball the federal project, policy experts say it needs to have both carrots and sticks to lower unnecessary spending and improve people’s health.

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For Health Insurance Startup Oscar, Cute Ads Only Go So Far
Bloomberg.com

Health insurance hasn’t attracted much money from Silicon Valley investors. The industry is highly regulated and fiercely competitive, and turning a profit depends on signing up healthy customers and getting favorable prices from hospitals and doctors. Still, investors, including some Facebook backers, put hundreds of millions of dollars into health insurance startup Oscar.

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How to Rescue Revenue Cycle with Medicare Appeals Pending
RevCycle Intelligence

The rehabilitation needs of Medicare beneficiaries within the state of California may be in jeopardy. Payment for hundreds of thousands of claims for services is being denied. Most of these denials are reportedly invalid, confirms past appeal reports.

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