News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Lifetime Health Records For Patients?
The Health Care Blog

Leonard Kish and Eric Topol recently argued eloquently for patient control of a lifetime health record, adding their voices to the calls for patient ownership of health records, building on the foundational notion that ownership is necessary in order to assert control because “possession is nine-tenths of the law.”

I certainly agree that patient control of data is of paramount importance, but I am not convinced that we need to take the leap to patient “ownership” of data, and I am not quite sure what that even means in this day and age — or how it really differs from the status quo.

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Health Care Gains, but Income Remains Stagnant, the White House Reports
New York Times

Nearly nine million people gained health insurance last year, lowering the ranks of the uninsured to 10.4 percent of the population. But there was no statistically significant change in income for the typical American household in 2014, the Obama administration said on Wednesday.

Median household income in the United States was $53,660 last year, the Census Bureau reported, and the poverty rate — 14.8 percent — also saw no improvement.

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Poverty persists but more have healthcare
Los Angeles Times

A steadily growing job market and higher minimum-wage laws in pockets of the country failed to reduce the nation’s poverty rate last year or reverse the long-running trend of stagnating incomes for most American households.

The Census Bureau’s annual figures on income and poverty, released Wednesday, came as a disappointing surprise to experts.

Many analysts had expected that the improving economy would reduce the poverty level for a second straight year. But the share of people in the U.S. living in poverty was 14.8% last year, essentially unchanged from 2013.

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Percentage of Uninsured in U.S. Dropped in First Year of Obama’s Health-Care Plan
The Wall Street Journal

Some 10.4% of people in the U.S. were uninsured for the whole of 2014, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday, in a significant drop from the year before that shows the gains and the limits of the sweeping federal health law’s first full year in effect.

In all, around 33 million people were without health insurance for 2014, down from 41.8 million in 2013. That marks a shift after years of steady rates on the number of Americans lacking health insurance between 2008 and 2013.

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Many More Americans Now Have Health Insurance
The Wall Street Journal

A comprehensive look at U.S. households found the number of Americans without health insurance dropped sharply last year, while economic growth did little to dent poverty rates or raise incomes.

The share of uninsured fell to 10.4% in 2014, the first year in which key provisions of the Affordable Care Act aimed at extending coverage took effect, according to annual Census Bureau figures released Wednesday. The uninsured rate in 2013 was 13.3%.

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Nearly 9 Million People Gained Insurance In Health Marketplace’s First Year
Kaiser Health News

The percentage of Americans without health insurance dropped by nearly three percentage points between 2013 and 2014, according the U.S. Census Bureau, from 13.3 to 10.4 percent. Put another way, 8.8 million more people were insured in 2014 than the year before.

The annual study from Census is considered the definitive measure of health insurance, although a change in the way health insurance questions are asked make this year’s report comparable to 2013 but not earlier years.

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Proportion of Americans without health insurance dropped in 2014
Washington Post

The proportion of Americans who lack health insurance fell markedly last year, according to new federal figures that provide the strongest evidence to date of how the Affordable Care Act is driving changes in health coverage across the country.

The figures, released Wednesday from a large annual Census Bureau survey that measures Americans’ well-being in several ways, found that nearly 9 million more people had coverage in 2014 than the year before. The share of people uninsured throughout the year fell to 10.4 percent, from 13.3 percent in 2013.

Most of the more than 200 million Americans with private health plans still get coverage through their jobs. But of all categories of health insurance, the sharpest increase last year was among people who bought a plan on their own — including the kind of insurance policies sold through federal and state marketplaces created under the health law.

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Evidence that Obamacare is working
CBS News

The Affordable Care Act, love it or hate it, is doing one thing right: It’s reducing the ranks of Americans going without health insurance.

The health care law is credited with helping to lower the share of Americans without health insurance to 10.4 percent last year, a decline of almost three percentage points from 2013, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. That drop is the largest recorded since 2008, the bureau said.

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California among states with biggest drop in uninsured
Sacramento Bee

In a significant yardstick of how health care coverage has blanketed the country under the Affordable Care Act, California ranked among states recording the biggest drop – 4.7 percent – in uninsured residents from 2013 to 2014, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Wednesday.

The new data confirm California has seen “one of the largest impacts in the nation” in reducing the number of uninsured, said Peter Lee, director of Covered California, the state’s marketplace for health care insurance plans established by the reform.

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Insurers Work To Ensure Access to Care for Displaced Californians
California Healthline

California insurers are taking steps to ensure that policyholders who have been evacuated from their homes in the wake of two large wildfires will have uninterrupted access to health care and prescription medications, Payers & Providers reports (Payers & Providers, 9/16).

Background on Fires
More than 23,000 Californians have been displaced by the wildfires burning south of Sacramento and north of San Francisco. As of Tuesday, about 138,660 acres were consumed by the two fires.

Mark Bove, senior research meteorologist at reinsurance firm Munich Reinsurance America, said the fire near San Francisco is on track to be the most destructive in the state — when measured by insurance costs — since 1991 (California Healthline, 9/16).

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Hispanic Cancer Rates Show How It Matters Where You Come From
National Public Radio

Hispanic people much are less likely to get cancer than non-Hispanic whites, but it’s also their leading cause of death.

Beneath that puzzling fact lie the complexities and contradictions of the Hispanic health experience in the United States. Since we’re talking about 17 percent of the U.S. population, it has ramifications for health care and the economy.

Here’s what caught our eye in Wednesday’s report on cancer and Hispanics from the American Cancer Society:

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Breast cancer awareness event offers entertainment, information
Union Democrat

Sonora Regional Medical Center will host its third annual Ladies Night Out in downtown Sonora on Oct. 1 to promote breast health awareness.

Ladies Night Out activities will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. throughout downtown Sonora. It’s a really fun evening, said Karen O’Brien, marketing coordinator for Sonora Regional Medical Center. About 500 people attended the 2014 event.

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Symptoms of Unknown Origin – The Prevalence of False Diagnosis of Disease
The Health Care Blog

Early in my career in the 1960s, I developed an interest in patients who had physical symptoms but no definable medical disease. I began to see a number of these patients referred from my colleagues. I asked myself, “If these patients do not have a medical disease, then what do they have?”

I defined “symptoms of unknown origin” as occurring when a patient had two or more symptoms for over a month, and whose symptoms remained unexplained after a thorough medical workup.  I intended to study and follow these patients, hoping to uncover the underlying cause for their symptoms whatever they might be. I was surprised to discover that many such patients carried diagnoses of non-existent diseases – that is false diagnoses. I soon found that the presence of a false diagnosis created a barrier to uncovering the real cause for the symptoms.

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Sutter Health, Anthem Blue Cross offer help to fire evacuees
The Mercury News

As fires rage across several Northern California communities, Sutter Health is stepping up with donations to help fire relief efforts, while Anthem Blue Cross of California said it is temporarily adjusting medical and pharmacy guidelines for fire evacuees.

Meanwhile, the California Department of Insurance is reminding all evacuees that their home or rental insurance policy may cover additional living expenses associated with mandatory evacuations.

On Wednesday, Sacramento-based Sutter Health announced it is donating $300,000 to organizations helping those affected by the massive Valley Fire in Lake County and the Butte Fire still burning in Amador and Calaveras counties.

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UCSF, John Muir joint venture recruits former Sutter executive as CEO
San Francisco Business Times

UCSF Medical Center and Walnut Creek’s John Muir Health have named former Sutter Health executive Chris Willrich as CEO for their joint-venture development company, called Bay Health. The development company is distinct from a related health network that the two organizations are forming and that got its inaugural boss a few months ago. The two hospital and health care organizations announced a strategic affiliation in mid-March, as reported first by the Business Times. But each remains independent in terms of ownership.

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CRMC Plans To Expand Medical Care For Children
ABC News

Community Regional Medical Center seeks to expand specialized medical care for Valley families and their kids. That would include building an in-patient pediatric intensive care unit.

The expansion of children’s care at Community Regional was greeted with applause. They have begun the process of recruiting sub-specialists so fewer families will have to leave the Valley to seek specialized treatment.

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Community Medical Centers to partner with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals
Fresno Bee

Community Medical Centers announced Wednesday it is joining with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals to expand specialty services for children in Fresno.

The agreement places Community in more head-to-head competition with Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera County.

Community has had an agreement for 40 years with the University of California at San Francisco-Fresno Medical Education Program, and the two have collaborated to run a pediatric residency program.

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Children’s Hospital Los Angeles installs supergerm-zapping robots
Los Angeles Business Journal

They may be capped by a R2D2-like dome, but Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ new housekeeping robots are more like The Terminator with their germ-killing skills. As hospitals across the country look for innovative ways to battle pathogens and multi-drug resistant organisms that put patients at risk — and as flu season draws closer — Children’s Hospital has enlisted non-human help that can annihilate potentially lethal germs and bacteria lurking in hard-to-reach places.

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New hospital welcomes community
Willits News

With the cutting of a ribbon, Willits gained a new community hospital. The long-awaited new Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital was open to all Sunday, Sept. 13, for an open-house ceremony. The entire community was invited to tour their new hospital.

Willits residents, leaders, hospital staff and many others gathered at the grounds on One Marcela Drive off East Hill Road for the celebration.

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