News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California Counties Add Health Care For Immigrant Adults
National Public Radio

A California county voted Tuesday to restore primary health care services to undocumented adults living in the county.

Contra Costa County, east of San Francisco, joins 46 other California counties that have agreed to provide non-emergency care to immigrants who entered the country illegally.

“Providing health care coverage to all is not only about the human morality issue that we should address, but also from a cost-effective point of view … this is absolutely the right thing,” said Jane Garcia, CEO of La Clínica de la Raza, which serves 25,000 patients in Contra Costa, many of them low-income Latinos.

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Kaiser report shows decline in childhood obesity in Southern California
Orange County Register

The number of Southern California children who are overweight or obese declined over five years, offering a hopeful sign that public health efforts are working, according to new research from Kaiser Permanente.

From 2008 to 2013, researchers at the HMO tracked the body mass index of 1.3 million members ages 2 to 19 using electronic medical records. The study found obesity rates dropped by 1.6 percent while the number of overweight children fell 2.2 percent.

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Seniors Tell Medical Students What They Need From Doctors
Kaiser Health News

When doctors told Robert Madison his wife had dementia, they didn’t explain very much. His successful career as an architect hardly prepared him for what came next.

“A week before she passed away her behavior was different, and I was angry because I thought she was deliberately not doing things,” Madison, now 92, told a group of nearly 200 students at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine here. “You are knowledgeable in treating patients, but I’m the patient, too, and if someone had said she can’t control anything, I would have been better able to understand what was taking place.”

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HealthCare.gov faulted for weak cybersecurity
The Hill

The federal government stored the sensitive personal data of millions of people who purchased insurance through ObamaCare on a network with basic cybersecurity flaws, a federal audit revealed Thursday.

HealthCare.gov, the much-maligned federal exchange for healthcare coverage, suffered from a number of security issues, according to the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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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 on 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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Clinton Seeks To Build On Health Law, But Does She Have The Rx For Rising Health Costs?
Kaiser Health News

While the Republicans running for president are united in their desire to repeal the federal health law, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton is fashioning her own health care agenda to tackle out-of-pocket costs – but industry experts question whether her proposals would solve the problem.

In addition to defending the Affordable Care Act, Clinton released two separate proposals this week. One would seek to protect people with insurance from having to pay thousands of dollars in addition to their premiums for prescription drugs; the other would set overall limits on out-of-pocket health spending for those with insurance.

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California, Sacramento sees spikes in those with health insurance
Sacramento Business Journal

Just over 9 percent of people in the Sacramento region lacked health care insurance in 2014. That’s down from more than 14 percent the year before, according to data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. The 5-point drop was mirrored across the state of California, where the number of uninsured people dropped by 1.7 million from 2013 to 2014.

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Will lawmakers strike a last-minute deal on plugging Medi-Cal’s huge funding gap?
Sacramento Business Journal

Efforts are underway to jump-start negotiations to come up with an equitable tax on health plans that will fill a $1.1 billion gap in the Medi-Cal budget. Legislative leaders announced conference committee appointments Wednesday, after lawmakers failed to come up with a fix before the regular legislative session ended Sept. 11. That wasn’t a formal deadline on the issue because Gov. Jerry Brown called a special session on health care financing that doesn’t follow normal rules. The current method for generating the money doesn’t expire until June 30, 2016.

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The Breast Cancer Gene and Me
New York Times

I did not know I have the BRCA mutation. I did not know I would likely get breast cancer when I was still young, when the disease is a wild animal. I caught it fast and I acted fast, but I must have looked away: By the time of my double mastectomy, the cancer had spread to five lymph nodes.

I had eight rounds of the strongest chemotherapy there is for breast cancer. Two months later, my body still tingles from the blast. My insides are shimmering. I am reconfigured.

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Best breast cancer weapon is early detection
KERO

The best chance to beat breast cancer is by receiving an early diagnosis. More than 90 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stage survive for at least five years, compared to nearly 15 percent for those diagnosed with the most advanced stage of the disease. Many patients worry about what’s involved in a breast cancer screening; they may not understand what happens or are simply too afraid of the possibility of what the tests may find.

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Surgical robotics startup backed by Peter Thiel raises $150M
San Francisco Business Times

Stealthy startup Auris Surgical Robotics disclosed in a regulatory filing Wednesday that it has raised $150 million in funding.

The San Carlos company didn’t say where the money came from but investors in its Series A round in March 2014 included Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management, Lux Capital, NaviMed Capital and Highland Capital Partners.

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Omada Health expects to tip the scale at “hundreds of thousands” of individual users by 2016
San Francisco Business Times

Omada Health, which just nabbed $48 million in new funding, expects to have “hundreds of thousands” of health plan enrollees using its digital health services by next year, CEO Sean Duffy says.

The San Francisco-based startup helps people with obesity-related chronic diseases get healthier. But it sells its services to health insurers and big employers, who benefit when their enrollees or employees make healthier choices.

About 20,000 patients use its platform currently, a number that’s expected to jump by an additional 10,000 by year-end, Duffy told me this week. But by next year, he projects that “hundreds of thousands” of individuals will be using Omada Health to deal with chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes, in many cases before they reach the “tipping point” where they topple into experiencing the full-fledged medical condition.

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Dignity sees return from higher patient volume, new care models
Modern Healthcare

An increase in patient volume boosted Dignity Health’s operating margin in its fiscal 2015.

The San Francisco-based system also continued to benefit from the return of California’s provider fee program, which supplements Medicaid payments to providers. The program had been on hold in 2014 while the state waited for the CMS to approve its extension.

Dignity’s operating margin increased to 3.4% for the year ended June 30, up from 2.7% in fiscal 2014.

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Peterson Foundation gives $2.5 million to Children’s Hospital vision center
Los Angeles Business Journal

The Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation is donating $2.5 million to support The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The five-year gift will help the center advance medical teaching techniques, increase infrastructure for groundbreaking research and use cutting-edge video technology to reach more patients in less time, the hospital said. The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital is an international referral center for children with complex eye diseases. It comprises leading experts in virtually every pediatric ophthalmologic subspecialty.

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Rideout Memorial Hospital tower nears completion
The Appeal-Democrat

For all the hard-hatted workers still sawing, drilling or running wires inside the new six-story Rideout Memorial Hospital tower, it’s hard to imagine it will be finished soon. Sure, it likely won’t be until next spring when patients will occupy the rooms, dine at the brand-new first-floor cafeteria or reflect in the outside garden off the third floor. But, from the scurrying workers to the ductwork still visible in hallway ceilings to dusty floors and railings, it still seems like a long way from today to next spring.

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