News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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ICD-10: Feds OK Waiver for CA to Use ‘Crosswalk’ for Transition
HealthLeaders Media

California is one of four states that received a federal waiver to use a “crosswalk” coding translation system for Medi-Cal claims for the Oct. 1 transition to ICD-10 coding. The state Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) said it was granted a waiver from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to use the crosswalk for ICD-9 codes until it replaces an antiquated health information technology system. Other states that received similar waivers are Louisiana, Maryland, and Montana.

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Another Prop. 30 income tax increase now aiming for 2016
Sacramento Bee

A group of health and youth advocates on Monday introduced a ballot initiative to expand and make permanent the Proposition 30 income tax increases on the state’s highest earners. The proposal, led by the California Hospital Association, the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West and Common Sense Kids Action, is the second tax measure aiming for next year’s ballot that would extend the 2012 income tax increase.

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California’s obesity rates inch up slightly, but still ranks better than most states
Los Angeles Daily News

California’s obesity rate climbed slightly last year, although its ranking is vastly better compared to most states, according to a report released Monday. The Golden State’s obesity rate was 25 percent in 2014, compared with 24 percent in 2013. It was 19 percent in 2000. But children, especially toddlers, were more likely to be obese in California than any other state, researchers with the nonprofit group Trust for America’s Health found. The report, the State of Obesity, was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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Consumers can check medical prices, quality scores on new state website
Los Angeles Times

Lifting some of the secrecy surrounding California healthcare, state officials unveiled a website where consumers can look up average prices for common medical procedures — as well as quality scores for providers.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, consumer advocates and researchers hailed the online tool launched Monday as the first step in prying more detailed prices from insurers, hospitals and doctors so patients facing high deductibles can find the best deal.

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As open enrollment season begins, Northern California employers get a new option
Sacramento Business Journal

Insurance giant Arthur J. Gallagher now offers a private insurance exchange for large employers in the Sacramento region, Bay Area and northern San Joaquin Valley. The Gallagher NorCal Benefits Marketplace offers HMO coverage with Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health Plus and Western Health Advantage to employers with 100 or more employees. In Sacramento, this means large employers can offer workers access to care at all four local health systems at prices brokers say are the lowest in the market.

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Attention Shoppers: New Calif. Website Details Costs, Quality of Medical Procedures
Kaiser Health News

Having a baby in California?

Your average out-of-pocket costs for an uncomplicated birth could cost a lot less in San Mateo County ($920) than in Alameda County ($1,300), Santa Clara County ($1,500) or Orange County ($1,800). Thinking about a knee replacement? You’ll find a surprisingly wide variation in quality ratings among Bay Area hospitals for the procedure.

These are among the insights from a new consumer website unveiled Monday by the California Department of Insurance to help Californians better shop for health care based on both quality and price.

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Tech Options Helping Patients Wrest Control From Doctors
Kaiser Health News

In his new book, “The Patient Will See You Now,” Dr. Eric Topol envisions patients as partners in their own health care rather than petitioners to the medical establishment. Armed with smartphones equipped with apps to monitor vital signs and perform diagnostic tests, patients’ reliance on physicians will diminish, he predicts, and doctors will generally assume a consulting rather than controlling role with their patients, who will monitor and manage their own health for the most part.

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Second Initiative Filed To Extend Prop 30
Capital Public Radio

A second ballot initiative that aims to extend the Prop 30 income tax on wealthy Californians was filed today. The tax is scheduled to expire in 2019. This measure would add new tax rates for “super-earners” making more than $2 million and $10 million a year. The California Hospital Association and the Service Employees International Union- United Healthcare Workers West are part of the coalition supporting the initiative.

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County Regional Medical Center Achieves Turnaround
The Desert Independent

Riverside County’s once-struggling public teaching hospital is on sound financial footing and began the current fiscal year in July with a $54 million surplus, the hospital’s chief executive officer told Riverside County Supervisors today. The positive financial news is a stunning turnaround for Riverside County Regional Medical Center (RCRMC). Just two years ago the 439-bed hospital in Moreno Valley faced a $100 million shortfall and a rocky future in the wake of federal healthcare expansion and a changing healthcare economy.

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Sutter’s HMO expands to the Bay Area
Sacramento Business Journal

Sutter Health has received regulatory approval to offer its HMO in five Bay Area counties. The addition of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties means Sutter Health Plus is available across most of the Sutter network. A final tier of outlying areas that include Lake and Santa Cruz counties will be targeted later. The expansion includes 16 hospitals and campuses, dozens of care centers and almost 3,600 physicians.

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Taking on health care giants, Sutter Health HMO expands into Bay Area
San Francisco Business Times

Sutter Health’s new not-for-profit HMO plan, introduced in Sacramento and the Central Valley early last year, is finally expanding into the Bay Area. Its Sutter Health Plus plan is now available in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, in addition to Sonoma County, where it launched in March. The tiny health plan — 16,000 enrollees so far — is backed by one of the region’s most dominant hospital and medical group giants, so it has a higher chance of long-term success than other small insurers in a marketplace ruled by giant

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How the new King hospital hopes to put its ‘Killer King’ image ‘far behind’
Los Angeles Times

At the old King/Drew Medical Center, guards used Tasers on psychiatric patients. Trauma surgeons mistakenly slit the throat of an 18-year-old shooting victim and a woman contracted HIV after she was infused with virus-infected blood. The public facility was forced to shut down in 2007, in large part because of serious breakdowns in patient care. Now a new hospital, known as Martin Luther King Jr.

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Patient sues Blue Shield of California over denied artificial disc replacement: 5 key notes
Becker's Spine Review

A patient who underwent artificial cervical disc replacement surgery is suing Blue Shield of California for refusing to cover the procedure, according to a Courthouse News report. Here are five key notes on the case: 1. Blue Shield of California considers artificial cervical disc replacement investigational and doesn’t cover the procedure, although several discs have FDA clearance and the procedure achieved a Category I CPT code earlier this year.

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Bernie Sanders questions drug price spike
POLITICO

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is calling on a drug company to justify a dramatic spike in the price of a 62-year-old drug that was reported Sunday. One day before rival Hillary Clinton is set to propose a plan to rein in high costs for specialty drugs, Sanders in a letter to Turing Pharmaceuticals demanded an explanation for why the price of a drug used to treat dangerous parasitical infections leapt from $13.50 per tablet to $750 after the company acquired the drug from a competitor.

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Hillary Clinton previews plan to expand Obamacare and lower health costs
Los Angeles Times

Democrats facing tough elections have been running away from Obamacare in their campaigns almost since the law was passed, but Hillary Rodham Clinton is taking a different approach. She is embracing it.

On the campaign trail, Clinton is leaning into the Affordable Care Act, touting the health insurance mandate as a signature achievement of Democrats as the law — about which the public remains deeply divided — has become firmly embedded in the nation’s healthcare system and is delivering sweeping new benefits to millions of voters.

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Clinton Says She Won’t Let GOP ‘Tear Up’ Health Care Law
ABC News

Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday hailed President Barack Obama’s health care law for reducing the rate of uninsured Americans and vowed to defend it against Republican opposition if she wins the White House.

The Democratic presidential candidate kicked off a series of health care events with an embrace of the law, arguing that Republican resistance to the overhaul had hurt working families seeking to gain coverage.

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Clinton expected to break with Obama on healthcare ‘Cadillac’ tax
The Hill

Hillary Clinton will seek to align herself with ObamaCare’s successes and use it to attack the GOP on Tuesday as she begins to map out her long-awaited healthcare agenda. The effort could also lead to a public break with the Obama administration on healthcare for the first time. After months of delivering nothing but praise for ObamaCare, Clinton is expected to weigh in – and oppose – one of the law’s most controversial taxes: the  “Cadillac” tax.

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An Aging Population, Without the Doctors to Match
New York Times

We talk a lot these days about what constitutes a good way to die. There’s also much discussion about the art of healthy aging.

But largely absent from the conversation are all the people between the two. People who aren’t dying but who grow more frail. People who have significant health concerns. People who suddenly find themselves in need of care.

People who are, by and large, miserable.

We have a name for this part of life in our family. We call it “the land of pink bibs.”

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