News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Report finds slowdown in growth of imaging use
Modern Healthcare

An analysis of claims for Medicare and three commercial insurers found imaging use cooled in 2006 after a boom earlier that decade and continued to flag through 2009, a newly released study found. Growth of magnetic resonance imaging use by Medicare enrollees plunged to 2.6% per year, on average, between 2006 and 2009 after climbing 14% per year during the first half of the decade, according to the research, published online by the journal Health Affairs. Computerized tomography use by Medicare also fell, as did MRI and CT use among privately insured patients, the report said.

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CMS to raise inpatient rehab payments
Modern Healthcare

The CMS will increase payment rates to inpatient rehabilitation facilities by 2.1% for fiscal 2013. The rates reflect a marketbasket—or inflation-adjusted—update of 2.7% minus a 0.7 percentage point reduction for productivity and 0.1 percentage point reduction under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a news release. They also include by a 0.2 percentage point boost due to an update to the outlier threshold amount.

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Medicaid Expansion May Lower Death Rates, Study Says
New York Times

Into the maelstrom of debate over whether Medicaid should cover more people comes a new study by Harvard researchers who found that when states expanded their Medicaid programs and gave more poor people health insurance, fewer people died. The study, published online Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, comes as states are deciding whether to expand Medicaid by 2014 under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration’s health care law.

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CT scans of heart may not help patients
San Francisco Chronicle

An advanced type of CT scan can quickly rule out a heart attack. But new research suggests this might not be good for patients. There is no evidence that adding these tests saved lives or found more heart attacks, wrote Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist at UCSF, in an editorial. Her commentary accompanied the study in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

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Health Care Reform and the Laws of Unintended Consequences
The Health Care Blog

When the Supreme Court ruled that President Obama’s sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system was constitutional, about the only thing critics and supporters could agree on was the historic importance of the legislation itself. But if history is any guide, there will be one other inescapable truth: The Affordable Health Care for America Act of 2010 will generate the same unintended consequences that have shaped, distorted, and even perverted so many other important pieces of legislation in our nation’s history.

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CMS announces hospice payment increase
Modern Healthcare

The CMS issued a notice that hospice Medicare payments will rise about 0.9% in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. Because the reimbursement change is based on existing policies, there will not be a proposed or final rule issued, a CMS spokeswoman said. The CMS came up with the number by applying a 1.6% inflation increase and a reduction of 0.7% that is based on updated wage-index data and a phaseout of a wage-index budget-neutrality adjustment factor.

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Study: New Medicaid expansion could be a lifesaver
San Francisco Chronicle

States that expand their Medicaid programs under President Barack Obama’s health care law may end up saving thousands of lives, a medical journal report released Wednesday indicates.

Until now, the Medicaid debate has been about budgets and states’ rights. But a statistical study by Harvard researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine found a 6 percent drop in the adult death rate in Arizona, Maine and New York, three states that have recently expanded coverage for low-income residents along the general lines of the federal health care law.

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Healthcare M&A Activity Surges in Q2
Health Leaders Media

Buoyed by the addition of two blockbuster deals, the dollar value of healthcare services mergers and acquisitions tripled during the second quarter of 2012 compared with M&A activity during the comparable quarter in 2011, according to Norwalk, CT-based Irving Levin Associates Inc., which publishes a quarterly report on M&A activity in the healthcare industry.

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Gov’t stepping up fight against health care fraud
San Francisco Chronicle

The Obama administration is upping the ante in the fight against health care fraud, joining forces with private insurers and state investigators on a scale not previously seen in an attempt to stanch tens of billions of dollars in losses.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement Thursday that the new public-private partnership “puts criminals on notice that we will find them and stop them,” while Attorney General Eric Holder called it “a critical step forward” against fraud, an endemic problem plaguing programs like Medicare and Medicare as well as p

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NAPH Chief Warns of ‘Disaster’ if States Don’t Expand Medicaid
Health Leaders Media

Of all the healthcare providers most severely impacted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ruling last month, public safety net hospitals, of which there are 1,000 in this country, are at the top of the list. These are the hospitals caring millions of the underserved. They are the sickest and most difficult patients. The biggest hospitals often can be found in the poorest parts of town.

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Blue Shield of Calif. names Levine quality VP
Modern Physician

Dr. Stuart Levine has been named to the newly created position of vice president of quality and vendor management of external clinical programs at Blue Shield of California.

In this position, Levine will be responsible for developing and executing a program focused on improved healthcare processes and delivery, and he will oversee establishment of vendor performance criteria, according to a Blue Shield of California news release.

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UCLA doctors to oversee 11 CVS MinuteClinics
Los Angeles Business Journal

Under a collaborative agreement with CVS Caremark, UCLA Health System physicians will serve as medical directors for 11 MinuteClinic walk-in medical clinics inside select CVS pharmacies in Los Angeles County. UCLA Health System will provide services to patients who need a level of care that is not provided among MinuteClinic standard services, said MinuteClinic, a division of CVS Caremark Corp. (NYSE: CVS). Signage at MinuteClinic locations will inform patients that each site has a clinical affiliation with UCLA.

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Dr. Stuart Levin Named VP of Quality for Blue Shield of California
Becker's Hospital Review

Blue Shield of California has named Stuart Levine, MD, vice president of quality and vendor management of external clinical programs.

Dr. Levine will be responsible for developing and executing Blue Shield’s quality program, which focuses on improved healthcare processes and delivery. He will also oversee strategic sourcing, vendor qualification and establishment of vendor performance criteria.

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Leading the way in health reform implementation
San Mateo Daily Journal

Health insurance is not broccoli. That is the essence of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement to date. Here’s the good news for San Mateo County: 57,000 uninsured residents will receive affordable health coverage, young adults can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 and individuals can no longer be discriminated against by insurance companies because of pre-existing conditions such as cancer, depression or even womanhood.

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Head to Head: Should states opt out of Medicaid expansion in health care reform?
Sacramento Bee

THE ISSUE: The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, but overturned a provision that would require states to expand Medicaid coverage to childless adults or lose all of their existing federal Medicaid funds. That opened the door for states to opt out of the expansion. So far six Republican governors have chosen not to expand their states’ programs, including Texas and Florida.

Should states opt out of Medicaid expansion in health care reform?

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