News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Obama Orders Federal Contractors to Provide Workers Paid Sick Leave
New York Times

President Obama signed an executive order on Monday requiring federal contractors to provide up to seven days of paid sick leave a year, even as he accused Republican congressional leaders of endangering the economy and Republican presidential candidates of undercutting American workers.

Addressing a union audience gathered here for Labor Day, Mr. Obama said he was glad not to be on the ballot but then sounded like a candidate himself as he went after the Republicans who hope to succeed him in the White House.

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Health Jobs Hit U.S. Record, Driven by Economy and Obamacare

Health-care jobs hit a record as a percentage of total non-farm employment in the most recent U.S. payrolls report, fueled by an improving economy and President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul. Health jobs made up 10.7 percent of all jobs in August. That’s 15.2 million people employed in doctors’ offices, hospitals and home care on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Labor Department said Friday, up from 14.7 million a year earlier.

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Doctors’ Association Sees Harm in Insurance Mergers
New York Times

Doctors and hospitals are stepping up their criticism of proposed health insurance company mergers.

In a new study to be released on Tuesday, the American Medical Association says that most insurance markets in the United States are dominated by a few companies and would become even more concentrated with a plan by Anthem to acquire Cigna and a proposal by Aetna to buy Humana. The American Hospital Association raised similar concerns last week in a letter to the Justice Department that said the proposed Aetna-Humana deal “threatens serious and widespread competitive harm” to Medicare beneficiaries because it would reduce options in the market for private Medicare Advantage plans.

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Why the FDA approved OxyContin for kids as young as 11
Washington Post

After Lynn Brown’s daughter, Amanda, was diagnosed in 1999 with a childhood form of brain cancer, the 16-year-old endured multiple surgeries, weeks of radiation, months of chemotherapy and numerous blood transfusions — not to mention intense pain.

Doctors initially prescribed morphine, and when that stopped working they switched to a relatively new drug: OxyContin.

“It made her treatments bearable,” said Brown, who lives in Miami. “I knew it was a powerful drug. . . . But you have to weigh the circumstances. You have to deal with the situation you’re given.”

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White House sought safeguards to reduce ObamaCare fraud
The Hill

The White House is calling for a “more aggressive strategy” to reduce improper payments made by Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a letter made public to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Center for Public Integrity obtained the February letter — written by Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan and addressed to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell — after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

In the letter, Donovan directs HHS to develop plans to reduce improper payments made by Medicare and the ACA.

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In Boston speech, Obama unveils executive order for more paid sick leave
Washington Post

President Obama rallied union workers here Monday, unveiling a new executive order that will require federal contractors to offer employees up to seven days of paid sick leave, a move he sought to contrast with Republican economic policies.

Obama announced the new directive, which the White House said could benefit more than 300,000 workers, during a Labor Day speech in Boston. It was the latest in the White House’s year-long effort to pressure Congress to approve legislation that would provide similar benefits for millions of private-sector workers.

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Getting The Word Out: Obamacare Is For Native Americans Too
Kaiser Health News

As a member of the Navajo tribe, Rochelle Jake has received free care through the Indian Health Service (IHS) her entire life. The 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 it, he urged her to sign up for private insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

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Most Americans View Access to Health Care as a Moral Issue…
US News

An overwhelming majority of Americans believes that access to health care is a moral issue, and that the United States should be able to afford universal health care if other developed nations can do the same.

But after that, Americans are still deeply divided over many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than five years after President Barack Obama signed the controversial health-reform legislation into law, a new HealthDay/Harris Poll found.

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Plan targets health care bias against transgender people
San Mateo Daily Journal

Mirroring a shift in society, the Obama administration proposed to ban discrimination against transgender people throughout the health care system.

Once the proposed regulations are final, they should expand insurance coverage for gender transition and prohibit health care facilities from denying transgender people access to restrooms that match their individual gender identity.

The new protections are part of a broader rule from the Department of Health and Human Services to carry out anti-bias provisions of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

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California Association of Health Plans Opposes Two Tax Bills
California Healthline

The California Association of Health Plans is officially opposing two bills (ABX2-4, ABX2-17) that aim to generate additional funding for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, by expanding taxes on some health insurance plans, the Sacramento Bee’s “Capitol Alert” reports.

ABX2-4, by Assembly member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), would impose a $7.88 monthly flat tax per enrollee on all California managed care plans in an effort to raise nearly $2 billion annually for Medi-Cal, In-Home Supportive Services and other health care programs (Miller, “Capitol Alert,” Sacramento Bee, 9/3).

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Reproductive Rights Battle Continues
California Healthline

California’s laws and policies dealing with reproductive health care are considered some of the most consumer-friendly in the country. They might have played a role in the ultimate solution to a disagreement between a patient and her hospital last month in Redding. But the issues raised in the conflict between a Catholic-owned hospital and a pregnant woman seeking a tubal ligation will continue to generate controversy and present problems for women seeking reproductive choices, according to consumer advocates.

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Rally, walk for better maternity care
San Diego Union-Tribune

Every day, women around the country report being ignored, bullied and traumatized during the process of giving birth, according Dawn Thompson, founder and president of

On Monday, the group held its fourth annual rally nationwide to call attention to the issue. About 80 people — including moms, dads and kids — gathered in Balboa Park for the San Diego version of the event.

Thompson said the goal of Improving Birth is to inform and empower women so they aren’t forced into fear-motivated choices and unnecessary C-sections.

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Stanford scientists raise hope, concern with synthetic narcotics
San Francisco Chronicle

Stanford researchers working in the new field called synthetic biology have engineered the genes of yeast and a mix of plant and animal genes to create powerful narcotic drugs that until now could be derived only from opium poppies.

The groundbreaking achievement has attracted the attention of law enforcement agencies and recalls the widespread controversies of 40 years ago when people feared that new test tube experiments in genetic engineering might create “Andromeda strains” of deadly new microbes.

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Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Project Workers Wonder What Happens If Construction Is Halted
NBC Bay Area

There is still a lot of labor to be done on the $300 million Santa Clara Valley Medical Center project, but the main work is going on behind the scenes as the county and Turner construction get ready for a showdown meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

In a story NBC Bay Area first broke, Santa Clara County set a Tuesday deadline for the Turner Construction Company to show it can complete a hospital bed building in a timely manner – or be fired. Turner was supposed to have the medical facility ready for a Sept. 19, but the building is not even close to being finished, despite years of construction.