News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Obesity Maps Put Racial Differences On Stark Display
National Public Radio

Take a look at the latest obesity data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and you can see that the country’s obesity epidemic is far from over.

Even in Colorado, the state with the lowest rate, 21.3 percent of its population is obese. Arkansas tops the list with 35.9 percent.

“It is the largest epidemic of a chronic disease that we’ve ever seen in human history,” says Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the department of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Click on the CDC’s obesity prevalence maps and you’ll see something even more startling — the disparity among different ethnic groups. It’s not new that the obesity epidemic is hitting African-Americans the hardest, followed by Hispanics, but the maps highlight this worrying trend.

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Health systems eye new projects as confidence increases
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare providers plan to increase the amount they’re spending on new infrastructure, information technology and other projects as the economy and their finances improve. But the scope of these projects likely will remain small and will be funded by cash and investments rather than new debt, a new report found.

A total of 53% of healthcare providers surveyed by credit rating agency Fitch Ratings indicated that they plan to increase capital spending over the next five years, up from 45% in 2012. Moreover, only 17% of survey respondents expected their capital expenditures to decrease compared with 19% in 2012.

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Obamacare enrollment increases up to nearly 18 million
MSNBC

Roughly 17.6 million Americans have gained health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration said Tuesday, with minorities and young adults seeing the largest increase in health insurance.

The latest figures also show that an estimated 10.5 million uninsured people are eligible to sign up for plans on state and federal exchanges, during the upcoming open enrollment season that starts on Nov. 1.

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Clinton pivots to health care affordability
POLITICO

Hillary Clinton touted a plan Wednesday to address a growing concern among strapped middle-class voters: fast-rising out-of-pocket costs for those who have health coverage. The plan is part of a broad package of changes she is rolling out this week that amount to Obamacare 2.0, pivoting from the divisive debate over expanding health care coverage to concerns about affordability and economic security uppermost in the minds of middle-class voters.

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Pharmaceutical industry blasts Hillary Clinton’s plan to regulate drug prices
Sacramento Business Journal

The pharmaceutical industry, health insurers and even marketers pushed back against Hillary Clinton’s proposals to limit patients’ costs for prescriptions and end a tax credit for advertising drugs to consumers.

The Democratic presidential candidate called large drug companies “profiteers” in a speech in Iowa Tuesday as she outlined her proposal to make prescriptions more affordable for consumers. That label may resonate, especially this week, thanks to Turing Pharmaceuticals, which raised the price of a drug, Daraprim, that it had acquired from $13.50 a pill to $750. The anger sparked by this move forced the company to announce it would lower the price.

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How the national drug debate is changing the pharmacy benefit business
Modern Healthcare

The pharmacy benefit management industry is experiencing subtle changes, and a leadership shuffle at the country’s largest PBM has experts speculating about whether PBMs will remain stand-alone companies.More healthcare organizations view prescription drug use as a critical element of keeping patients healthy and reducing costs, and controlling a PBM could help with a population health strategy. “You could see a pathway forward where the PBMs become more integrated with the payers,” said Jon Kaplan, managing director at Boston Consulting Group.

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How just $150K could shape the future of Alzheimer’s drug development
San Francisco Business Times

In the grand scheme of drug development, $150,000 is a blip. After all, pushing a drug from lab bench to patient bedside can take a decade or longer and cost foundations, the National Institutes of Health and venture-backed companies upward of $1 billion. But when it comes to Alzheimer’s Disease — the age-related, memory-stealing illness affecting more than 5 million Americans and drawing in more baby boomers daily — relatively small amounts of cash can do big things.

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Generic drugs are potentially high-priced apples, ripe for the picking
Modern Healthcare

A pharmaceutical company’s move to raise the price of a generic drug by more than 5,000% has some pointing to the lack of regulatory controls over the market system. Turing Pharmaceuticals faced backlash after it announced it would raise the price of the drug Daraprim, a generic medication that treats toxoplasmosis, from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill. The move came shortly after acquiring the rights to market the medication.The company, however, is now backing off the over 5,000% price hike after the move provoked outrage, according to news reports.

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Nurse anesthetists association gets new president
Modern Healthcare

Juan Quintana is the new board president of the Park Ridge, Ill.-based American Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

Quintana, 52, has been a certified registered nurse anesthetist for 15 year, most recently in Winnsboro, Texas. He began his new role this month and will serve for a one-year term, replacing Sharon Pearce, the immediate past president. Quintana owns Sleepy Anesthesia Associates in Winnsboro, a CRNA practice that provides anesthesia services for rural hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers.

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Amgen, Allergan say their Avastin biosimilar showing positive results
Los Angeles Business Journal

Amgen Inc. and Allergan plc said their biosimilar candidate to treat lung cancer has shown positive results in a late-stage study that brings it one step towards coming to market as a competitor to Roche AG’s Avastin. Thousand Oaks-based Amgen(Nasdaq: AMGN) and Irvine-based Allergan(NYSE: AGN) said their drug candidate, ABP 215, has shown to be as effective as Avastin in shrinking tumors and improving survival rates among patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

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Profits tumble 37 percent at Dignity Health, but margins remain healthy
Sacramento Business Journal

Net income at Dignity Health, parent company to local Mercy hospitals, dropped 37 percent in the fiscal 2015, according to new financial documents released Wednesday. The San Francisco-based health system generated a bottom line of $558 million for the year that ended June 30, down from $885 million in fiscal 2014. Revenue climbed 16 percent, to $12.4 billion from $10.7 billion.

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Patients win as larger insurers seek to cut costs with better service
San Luis Obispo Tribune

The planned mergers of several of America’s largest health insurers – Aetna combining with Humana, and Anthem with Cigna – is almost certain to be good for the insurers, reducing overhead and improving their bargaining position as they attempt to negotiate better rates with providers.

But what’s in it for you and me? The answer may surprise you: In all likelihood, the mergers will lead to better medical care at lower costs.

There is little doubt that consolidation will reduce the insurers’ administrative overhead.

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Willits hospital set to open in October
North Bay Business Journal

The central Mendocino County town of Willits is set to get a new hospital in October. About 1,500 people gathered Sept. 13 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital. The 74,000-square-foot facility, expected to open mid-October, features 25 private inpatient rooms in a setting designed to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. The $64 million facility was built from the ground up to incorporate the latest technology in health care design.

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Kern Medical to open neuro ICU unit
Bakersfield Californian

Specialized care is the name of the game for Kern Medical Center’s new neurological intensive care unit.

The center, reputed to be the first of its kind in Kern County, brings together doctors, staff and equipment specifically for the purpose of treating brain or spinal cord injuries, infections of the brain and other neurological diseases.

“We tried to look for something unique that there’s a gap for in the community,” said Erica Easton, executive director of the Kern Medical Center Foundation.

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After Hours: Physicians and local leaders celebrate new medical school (slide show)
Sacramento Business Journal

The new College of Medicine at the California Northstate University in Elk Grove officially opened with a gala on Sept. 19. Several hundred doctors and community officials attended to celebrate the program’s inaugural semester, which starts with 60 students this fall. Luminaries attending the event included U.S. Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Don Nottoli of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, and several members of the Elk Grove City Council.

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