News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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IOM: Teamwork Key To Reducing Medical Diagnostic Errors
Kaiser Health News

Almost every American will experience a medical diagnostic error, but the problem has taken a back seat to other patient safety concerns, an influential panel said in a report out today calling for widespread changes.

Diagnostic errors — defined as inaccurate or delayed diagnoses — account for an estimated 10 percent of patient deaths, hundreds of thousands of adverse events in hospitals each year and are a leading cause of paid medical malpractice claims, a blue ribbon panel of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) said in its report.

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ALS patients get access to experimental drug — but not in U.S.
San Francisco Business Times

Neuraltus Pharmaceuticals Inc. and a U.K. company inked a deal that opens access to the Palo Alto company’s experimental drug to patients with the potentially fatal muscle-zapping disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

In theory, programs like the one set up by Neuraltus and Clinigen Group plc’s Idis managed access unit are the proverbial win-win: Patients get early access to a drug that may (or may not) help them; and a company, as Neuraltus CEO Rich Casey explained to me earlier this year, gets reimbursed by payers and gets additional data about the drug.

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100 accountable care organizations to know
Becker's Hospital Review

Becker’s Hospital Review is pleased to highlight a variety of Medicare and commercial payer ACOs, the majority of which are led by hospitals or health systems.

Accountable care organizations now cover approximately 23 million lives, according to Leavitt Partners. As the ACO movement continues to grow, this year marks some growing pains: Recent CMS data shows just one in four ACOs qualified for shared savings in 2014, 27 Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs discreetly left the program and Pioneer ACOs have dwindled to 19.

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Feds say nearly 18 million now insured through Obamacare
USA Today

Nearly 18 million people have gained health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, but 10.5 million more uninsured could sign up for plans on state and federal exchanges, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Tuesday.

Citing just-released federal data, Burwell said the 17.6 million people who gained coverage included children up to age 26 who were able to stay on their parents plans, the expansion of Medicaid and the availability of the state and federal insurance exchanges.

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Third ACA sign-up period to focus on 10.5 million uninsured Americans
Washington Post

As a third open-enrollment season nears under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration plans to focus on 10.5 million uninsured Americans, trying to persuade them to sign up for coverage that they have ignored or rejected in the past.

According to estimates released Tuesday by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, that is the size of a group — disproportionately young adults or minorities — that lacks health coverage and qualifies to buy health plans through insurance exchanges created by the law.

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U.S. Targets Four States in Effort to Enroll the Uninsured
New York Times

With the third open enrollment season under the Affordable Care Act beginning in about six weeks, Obama administration officials said Tuesday that they would focus efforts to expand health coverage to the uninsured in Dallas, Houston, northern New Jersey, Chicago and Miami.

“Over all, this open enrollment period is going to be tougher than last year,” Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, said in a speech here at Howard University Hospital.

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Health insurance premiums up only 4% – unless your business is really small
Sacramento Business Journal

Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose an average of 4 percent this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust.

For employers as a whole, that continues a 10-year trend of modest increases in premiums, compared with the 11 percent annual increases, on average, they saw between 1999 and 2005.

The news wasn’t so good for businesses with fewer than 25 employees, however. Their premiums for single coverage went up nearly 11 percent in 2015 to $6,246, and their premiums for family coverage went up nearly 10 percent to $15,663.

For all employers, the average annual premium for single coverage this year is $6,251, with workers paying $1,071 of it. The average family premium is $17,545, with workers paying $4,955 of it.

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Study: Obamacare has made Americans more conservative about health care
Washington Post

On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton issued her defense of the Affordable Care Act and proposals to change the landmark health law, signaling the next battle in a war with all the signs of a political stalemate. Americans are basically evenly split in their assessments of the law and sharply divided along partisan lines; Republican presidential candidates want to scrap the law, while Democrats support keeping it (Clinton) or expanding it (Bernie Sanders). None of this is new to anybody, nor expected to change anytime soon.

But that conclusion misses a huge part of the story, according to just-published research by Johns Hopkins University sociologists. Stephen L. Morgan and Minhyoung Kang found the ACA’s passage caused a sharp drop in support for health-care spending across party lines and might have ushered in a broader conservative “cold front” when it comes to other issues.

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HHS Vows Push To Enroll More Uninsured In Obamacare This Fall
Kaiser Health News

The health law’s upcoming enrollment period may be its toughest yet, with federal officials promising a vigorous outreach campaign to enroll millions of eligible yet hard-to-reach Americans who have yet to sign up for health insurance.

“Those who are still uninsured are going to be a bigger challenge,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Tuesday in remarks to the Howard University College of Medicine.

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HHS Secretary Says Coming Sign-up Season Will Be Toughest Yet Under Health Law
The Wall Street Journal

Top Obama administration officials said Tuesday they were anticipating their toughest sign-up season yet for insurance coverage under the health law.

Officials aim to make a dent in the number Americans still uninsured in the law’s third enrollment period. They are eyeing about 10.5 million people who could buy coverage through HealthCare.gov or state sites, often with federal subsidies to offset premiums, but who have resisted signing up as the law rolled out.

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Study shows employers shifting more medical costs to workers
Washington Post

Employers are leaving a bigger chunk of the bill for care to workers who use their health insurance, and benefits experts see few signs of this trend slowing.

Most companies now offer health coverage that requires employees to pay an annual deductible before insurance kicks in, and the size of that deductible has soared in the past decade, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust.

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Employers Shift More Health Costs To Workers, Survey Finds
Kaiser Health News

Premiums for job-based medical insurance rose moderately — 4 percent in 2015 — but employers continued to shift in expenses to workers, according to a new survey.

The average premium for single coverage rose to $6,251 while the average premium for a family plan increased to $17,545, according to a survey published Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

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Employer Health Coverage for Family Tops $17,000
The Wall Street Journal

The average cost of employer health coverage passed $17,000 for a family plan this year, despite continued muted growth on a percentage basis, according to a major survey.

The average annual cost of an employer family plan rose 4%, to $17,545, from $16,834 last year, according to the annual poll of employers performed by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation along with the Health Research & Educational Trust, a nonprofit affiliated with the American Hospital Association.

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Rising Health Deductibles Take Bigger Bite Out Of Family Budgets
National Public Radio

Health care costs continue to rise, and workers are shouldering more of the burden.

The big reason? Skyrocketing deductibles.

More companies are adding deductibles to the insurance plans they offer their employees. And for those who already had to pay deductibles, the out-of-pocket outlays are growing.

Together that means that the average worker has to pay $1,077 before their health plan will cover any medical expenses, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Health Research and Education Trust. That’s a 67 percent increase in five years.

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Report: Errors In Diagnosis Are Common And Will Take Teamwork To Fix
National Public Radio

Almost every American will experience an error in diagnosis at some point in life. But the problem has taken a back seat to other patient safety concerns, an influential panel said in a report released Tuesday.

The report from a blue-ribbon panel of the Institute of Medicine called for widespread changes in health care to improve diagnoses.

Errors in diagnosis — defined as inaccuracies or delays — account for an estimated 10 percent of patient deaths, hundreds of thousands of adverse events in hospitals each year and are a leading cause of paid medical malpractice claims, the report said.

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Study: No easy cure for sometimes fatal doctor errors
KCRA

All of us will probably get a wrong or delayed diagnosis at least once in our lives, sometimes with “devastating consequences” that include missed treatment or even death, according a report released Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine. The researchers concluded the “inattention” and “neglect” paid to these mistakes have resulted in unacceptable harm to patients, and they projected the errors will probably worsen as health care becomes more complex.

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Death in disguise: A broad campaign targets sepsis, which often mimics minor ills
Orange County Register

When he started feeling sick one Sunday last year, Stan Tkaczyk “was mad at myself” for not getting a flu shot.

It wasn’t until weeks later – after he got severe shakes and called paramedics, after a trip to the emergency room and after his wife, Barbara, told him he’d been unconscious for five days – that he learned it wasn’t flu. The 69-year-old Newport Beach resident nearly died from sepsis, a virulent response to infection.

Each year sepsis lands more than 1 million people in hospitals and kills about 150,000 of them. The annual tab exceeds $20 billion. It is the biggest, deadliest, costliest illness in U.S. hospitals.

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Most Americans will get a wrong or late diagnosis at least once in their lives
Washington Post

Most Americans who go to the doctor will get a diagnosis that is wrong or late at least once in their lives, sometimes with terrible consequences, according to a report released Tuesday by an independent panel of medical experts.

This critical type of health-care error is far more common than medication mistakes or surgery on the wrong patient or body part. But until now, diagnostic errors have been a relatively understudied and unmeasured area of patient safety. Much of patient safety is focused on errors in hospitals, not mistakes in diagnoses that take place in doctors’ offices, surgical centers and other outpatient facilities.

The new report by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, outlines a system-wide problem. The report’s authors say they don’t know how many diagnostic errors take place. But the report cited one estimate that such errors affect at  least 12 million adults each year, or about 5 percent of adults who seek outpatient care.

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Gilead’s new prescription drug can help patients fight Hepatitis C; But the price is sky-high
Benchmark Reporter

In 2014, the bio-tech giant released an even more effective drug, Harvoni, which had almost no side effects at all and a cure rate as high as 99%. The price tag was naturally higher – around $ 100,000.

The debate, whether the pharmaceutical companies are charging astronomical prices using an excuse that it is required for R&D, intensified when Amgen Inc., the Thousand Oaks Biotech giant, won the FDA approval on August 2015, of its cholesterol drug, Repatha and charged around $140,000 for it.

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Turing says it will rescind part of 5,000% price hike on toxoplasmosis drug
Los Angeles Times

The company that sparked an angry backlash after it raised the price of a drug for treating a deadly parasitic infection by more than 5,000 percent says it will roll back some of the increase.

Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli told ABC News on Tuesday that the new price would make Daraprim more accessible, although he did not say what the new price for the drug would be. A spokesman for Turing did not immediately respond to a request for details.

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Aetna, Anthem CEOs try to sell health insurance mergers to Senate
Sacramento Business Journal

The CEOs of Aetna and Anthem tried to sell the benefits of health insurance industry mergers to skeptical senators Tuesday.

The final decision on whether Aetna (NYSE: AET) will be allowed to merge with Humana (NYSE: HUM), and Anthem (NYSE: ANTM) to combine with Cigna (CI), is in the hands of the Department of Justice. But Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was a chance for the CEOs of two of these companies to make their case on why their mergers will be good for consumers and won’t drive up premiums by reducing competition. If these mergers go through, there will be only three major health insurance carriers in the U.S.

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UCSF nabs nearly $21 million to cut dental care gap between rich and poor kids
San Francisco Business Times

UC San Francisco has won nearly $21 million in funding from the federal National Insitutues of Health to help reduce disparities in dental health between rich and poor children. The funding, which goes to the UCSF School of Dentistry, is made up of three “up to five years each” research grants. They are part of a broader NIH effort to “eliminate inequities in access to care” and improve kids’ oral health, especially in poor and minority populations that often lag in access to care and quality of care.

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UCSF Fresno Marks 40 Years of Reaching Underserved Central Valley
UCSF Today

California’s Central Valley is a wide swath of agricultural lands that’s home to nearly 6.5 million people – a population that’s growing more quickly than anywhere else in the state.

With that growth has come a long-standing human problem: an acute shortage of trained primary care and specialist physicians.

In 1975, UC San Francisco started a medical training program in Fresno with one faculty member and a mission to fill this unmet need.

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Hospital to buy surgical robot
The Press-Enterprise

Riverside County Regional Medical Center is getting $25 million for new equipment, the latest big expenditure for a hospital that’s being lauded for its financial turnaround. On Monday, Sept. 21, the county Board of Supervisors approved the capital improvement package for the county-run medical center, which is being transformed from a safety-net facility into an integrated health care network that competes for patients.

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Lawmakers pledge ER solution for South County
Orange County Register

South Orange County’s cities have captured the attention of state legislators on the need to keep alive emergency medical services in San Clemente. Now the question is how to get there.

Five legislators visited Saddleback Memorial Medical Center’s San Clemente campus Monday to tour the hospital and its emergency room, which could close to fulfill the owners’ vision of converting the 72-bed hospital into an ambulatory facility offering comprehensive, less expensive outpatient services.

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