News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Judge Rules House Can Sue Obama Administration on Health Care Spending
New York Times

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the House had the right to sue the Obama administration over billions of dollars in health care spending, a decision that poses a new legal threat to the health care law and gave congressional Republicans a victory in their claims of executive overreach by the White House. In a significant defeat for the administration, United States District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer found that the House had made a compelling case that suing the White House was the only way to preserve its constitutional power to control federal spending and stop the administration from distributing $136 billion in insurance company subsidies that Republicans say Congress never approved.

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Targeting breast cancer
San Diego Union-Tribune

Salk Institute researcher Geoffey M. Wahl has taken part in the fight against cancer for four decades. He is now researching the roots of breast cancer, including how stem-like cells can become malignant. He has helped develop a new way to visualize previously undetectable cellular protein interactions, giving biotech companies many more leads to fight the disease.

In August, Wahl received a $7.9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, paid over seven years, that will allow him to pursue more speculative areas of research that don’t promise an immediate payback.

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Doctors’ group will scrap 10-year re-certification exam
Washington Post

The professional group that represents anesthesiologists will become the first medical board to scrap a widely criticized test that most physicians take every 10 years to demonstrate that they are up to date in their specialties, officials said Wednesday.

Beginning next year, the American Board of Anesthesiology instead will offer its 50,000 “board-certified” members the opportunity to show their mastery — and brush up if they fall short — through weekly online quizzes that they can take at will, coupled with educational material.

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Use of holistic medicine continues to rise
San Diego Union-Tribune

The acceptance and use of holistic medicine has been on the rise since the early 1990s, with more Americans reporting they are open to alternative medicine therapies.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the National Center for Health Statistics, four out of every 10 adults and one out of every nine children use complementary or alternative medicine.

Hospitals, health maintenance organizations and a growing number of physicians also have discovered the benefit of mixing conventional medicine with holistic approaches.

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Judge greenlights Obamacare challenge

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that a case challenging the Affordable Care Act brought by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives can go forward.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, allowed the case to proceed on claims concerning whether public monies were properly approved by Congress.

“The House of Representatives as an institution would suffer a concrete, particularized injury if the Executive were able to draw funds from the Treasury without a valid appropriation,” Collyer wrote.

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House GOP can pursue part of health care lawsuit, judge rules
Washington Post

House Republicans can proceed with part of their lawsuit challenging how the Obama administration has carried out aspects of the president’s signature 2010 health care law, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

The decision from U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer represents a partial win for Republicans who have turned to the courts to try and rollback parts of Obamacare having failed to get enough votes to change the law through the legislative process.

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U.S. judge rules Republicans can pursue Obamacare lawsuit

A U.S. judge said on Wednesday congressional Republicans could move forward with parts of a lawsuit that alleges executive overreach by President Barack Obama’s administration in implementing his signature healthcare law.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, appointed by former President George W. Bush, a Republican, said the House of Representatives has standing to pursue claims that the secretaries of health and human services and of the Treasury violated the Constitution by spending funds Congress did not appropriate.

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Federal judge lets House Republicans’ lawsuit against Obamacare advance
USA Today

House Republicans won an early round Wednesday in their legal battle against President Obama’s health care law — and, by extension, his use of executive power.

A federal district judge in the nation’s capital ruled that the GOP-controlled House has the right to challenge the law’s use of subsidies to help low-income people afford insurance coverage. That assures yet another case against Obamacare will proceed in the courts following two near-death experiences at the Supreme Court.

Republicans argued that the spending provision needed congressional approval. Without it, they said, the funds could not be spent.

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Judge clears way for House lawsuit challenging health law
Yahoo! News

A federal judge cleared the way Wednesday for a legal challenge by congressional Republicans to President Obama’s health care law to proceed.

U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ruled the House can pursue its claim that the administration violated the Constitution when it spent public money that was not appropriated by Congress. At issue is the more than $175 billion the government is paying health insurance companies over a decade to reimburse them for offering reduced health care co-payments for lower-income people.

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Implementing Health Reform: House Can Sue Administration Over ACA Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments
Health Affairs Blog

On September 9, 215 Judge Rosemary Collyer of the federal district court for the District of Columbia entered an order refusing to dismiss the complaint of the House of Representatives in House v. Burwell. While Judge Collyer dismissed several of the claims in the House’s case, she refused to dismiss the central claim — that the administration is illegally, indeed unconstitutionally, paying out billions of dollars to insurance companies that are reducing cost-sharing for low-income marketplace plan enrollees, as the insurers are required to do under the Affordable Care Act.

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Mid-sized businesses urge Congress to block Obamacare’s expansion of small group market
San Francisco Business Times

Momentum is building in Congress for legislation that would block Obamacare’s expansion of the small group health insurance market to include employers with 51 to 100 employees. This expansion, which is scheduled to go into effect in 2016, was designed to help small businesses get a better deal on insurance by broadening the risk pool in the small group market.

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Medicare Provides Few Respite Coverage Options For Caregivers
National Public Radio

There’s never a shortage of questions about Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older and some who are disabled. Here are answers to two about respite care and the so-called doughnut hole that limits payments for drugs in Medicare Part D.

My 85-year-old husband has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. He had a stroke last year and now spends most of his time in bed. His mind is failing and he’s frequently confused. Taking care of him is exhausting, but I’m concerned that unless the doctor gives him a diagnosis of dementia I can’t qualify for respite care. What are the criteria?

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2-Assisted-suicide bill approved by California Assembly

A hard-fought measure to allow physician-assisted suicide in California passed the state Assembly on Wednesday despite opposition from religious groups and advocates for the disabled, moving to the state Senate where it is widely expected to pass.

The measure, which would allow doctors to prescribe medication to some terminally ill patients to end their lives if taken, passed 43-34 after weeks of hearings and passionate debate.

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California Assembly approves right-to-die legislation
Los Angeles Times

After nearly a quarter-century of efforts in California to afford terminally ill patients the right to end their lives with a doctor’s help, state lawmakers and the governor may be on the verge of granting the dying that authority.

The state Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to the terminally sick. The End of Life Option Act, which the Catholic Church and others oppose, awaits final approval by the Senate — three months after that chamber passed a similar bill by a thin margin.

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Physician-Assisted Suicide Bill One Step from Governor’s Desk
KQED Radio

Supporters of a controversial bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide in California have two more days to get their legislation to the Governor’s desk.

The bill cleared one of its last major hurdles in the Assembly on Wednesday, with members voting 42 to 33 to allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients who request it.

Authors were able to convert several opponents in recent weeks by adding more patient protections to the legislation, including a sunset clause that would end the law after 10 years, and a requirement for patients who have been prescribed the fatal drugs to sign a form two days before taking them.

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Right-to-die measure clears California Assembly on 43-34 vote
The Mercury News

Legislation that would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients cleared a major hurdle Wednesday when the state Assembly narrowly passed the measure on a 43-34 vote after an emotionally wrenching debate that left many legislators in tears.

Lawmakers testified passionately for and against the issue on the Assembly floor for almost two hours before casting their votes. Many talked about their personal experiences dealing with dying relatives and friends.

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County joins pilot program for seniors, disabled patients covered by both Medicare and Medi-Cal
Orange County Register

Orange County is the last of seven California counties to begin automatically enrolling low-income seniors and disabled patients in a new health plan offering extra benefits, such as free taxi rides to doctor’s appointments, at no cost.

The three-year pilot program is for so-called “dual eligibles,” who are covered by both Medicare and Medi-Cal. They often have complex and costly health care needs, research has shown.

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County Stashing Mental Health Cash While Needs Go Unmet
Voice of OC

As many mental health services in Orange County suffer the consequences of chronic underfunding – such as shortages of psychiatric beds and wait times for psychiatrists stretching into months – the county has built up about $220 million in unspent taxpayer money that California voters specifically earmarked for expanding mental health services.

The funds come from the Mental Health Services Act, a 1 percent tax on millionaires’ income that was approved by voters in 2004. It injects more a billion dollars each year into mental health programs overseen by county governments, including about $119 million in Orange County this fiscal year.

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Hospital board OKs bond refinance
The Reedley Exponent

The Sierra Kings Health Care District opted for a plan to re-fund general obligation bonds it issued in 2002, 2007 and 2009.

The action, taken at the district’s Board of Directors meeting on Aug. 25 in Reedley, would amount to an overall cost savings of nearly $2.3 million, based on net present interest value.

The bond refinancing will reduce the district’s average interest rate from 5.57 percent to 4.15 percent. The net cost savings would be $2.287,000, or 9.13 percent of the bonds being re-funded.

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Cedars-Sinai teams with Johns Hopkins, Massachsettes General on ALS research
Los Angeles Business Journal

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has partnered with Johns Hopkins University and Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital on an ALS research project that uses “big data” technology to find causes and treatment for the neurodegenerative disease. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Regenerative Medicine Institute, the Johns Hopkins University’s Robert Packard Center for ALS Research and the Mass General’s Neurological Clinical Research Institute said they will coordinate on the Answer ALS program to find the causes of ALS, develop drug and cellular therapies, and gather information for free use by

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Valley Children’s gets $1.5 million gift from Fowler family
Fresno Bee

Valley Children’s Healthcare said Wednesday it has received a $1.5 million gift from the Parnagian family, owners of Fowler Packing Company, one of the largest packers and shippers of fresh produce in the United States.

About $1 million of the gift will support Valley Children’s Life program, which helps patients and families understand medical diagnoses, procedures and treatments through education and play.