News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Senate advances stopgap spending bill to avoid shutdown
Modern Healthcare

The Senate on Monday delivered a strong vote of confidence to a bipartisan spending bill that’s needed to head off a government shutdown at midnight Wednesday.

The 77-19 vote powers the measure past a filibuster by some of the chamber’s most ardent conservatives, who were angered that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stripped a provision that would cancel federal funding of Planned Parenthood in exchange for keeping the government open.

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Flu Triggers ‘Vaccinate Or Mask’ Rules At Hospitals
KPBS

To protect patients, more than 100,000 health care workers in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and ambulances are required to be vaccinated against the flu or wear a surgical mask. But in hospital settings alone, roughly 9 percent declined the vaccine during the flu season that ended March 31, according to an inewsource survey.

San Diego County health officials issued that order last November as some local hospitals were reporting as many as 33 percent of workers declined to get vaccinated during the 2013-2014 season.

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Hundreds of hospitals said to settle in federal probe of cardiac procedures
Modern Healthcare

Hundreds of hospitals are believed to have settled with the government as part of a yearslong, nationwide investigation into the suspected overuse of implantable cardioverter defibrillators, or ICDs, according to lawyers with knowledge of the cases.The vast majority have not been made public—a handful have been disclosed in financial reports. The U.S. Justice Department may announce in the coming weeks what may be the largest False Claims Act investigation and recovery ever in terms of the number of hospitals involved.

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Medicare’s $30M ambulance-ride mystery
Modern Healthcare

Medicare paid $30 million for ambulance rides for which no record exists that patients got medical care at their destination, the place where they were picked up or other critical information.

The mystery ambulance rides are part of a bigger problem with Medicare payments for transporting patients, according to a federal audit being released Tuesday.

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CMS tests model to increase drug adherence on Part D plans
Modern Healthcare

The CMS is launching an experiment to increase medication adherence for Medicare beneficiaries on Part D plans. The initiative, known as the medication therapy management model, will offer insurance companies incentives to boost adherence. The initiative explicitly targets stand-alone Part D plans, versus Medicare Advantage Plans with Part D offerings.The focused approach is critical, experts say.

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Mexican Indigenous Immigrants’ Dire Need for Medical Interpreters
KQED Radio

Imagine you are rushed to the hospital as pain radiates through your chest. Doctors whirl around you, but you don’t know what’s happening because everyone is speaking a foreign language.

That’s what happened to farmworker Angelina Diaz-Ramirez, 50, after she had a heart attack in a Monterey County green bean field in 2012.

The foreman of her work crew took her to the main road and put her in an ambulance, alone.

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Amid Controversy, Head Of Planned Parenthood Testifies Before Lawmakers
National Public Radio

A House panel is investigating secretly recorded videos by a group that accuses Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. Here’s a rundown of the issues ahead of today’s hearing.

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Prisons And Jails Forcing Inmates To Cover Some Medical Care Costs
Kaiser Health News

Correctional facilities are responsible for providing health services to people who are jailed, but that doesn’t mean that prisoners don’t face financial charges for care. In most states they may be on the hook for copayments ranging from a few dollars to as much as $100 for medical care, according to a recent study.

At least 35 states authorize copayments and other fees for medical services at state prisons or county jails, the analysis by the Brennan Center for Criminal Justice at New York University School of Law found. The Federal Bureau Of Prisons also permits inmates to be charged copayments for medical services. Some states and local governments require copayments for emergency treatment and hospitalizations in addition to routine care, says Lauren-Brooke Eisen, senior counsel at the Brennan Center’s justice program who authored the study.

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Coping with Autism and Puberty
Kaiser Health News

Alexander Brown swings back and forth on a makeshift hammock bolted to a wooden beam in his living room. The swaying seems to soothe the otherwise uneasy 14-year-old. His mother gazes at him from the couch and their eyes briefly connect.

“I would love to be in Alexander’s head just for a few hours,” said Diane Brown, her head slumped against her hand. “He’s having a hard time going through puberty right now.”

Alexander is confused, moody and frustrated – all very typical for a teen during adolescence.

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Children In Foster Care Aren’t Getting To See The Doctor
National Public Radio

On any given day, about half a million children are living in foster care. They’ve been removed from violent or abusive households; many suffer physical and mental health problems that have gone untreated.

Their need is acute but the response is often dangerously slow, according to a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The recommendations, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, are intended as a wake-up call for pediatricians who care for foster kids.

According to the report, more than 70 percent of these children have a documented history of child abuse or neglect, and 80 percent have been exposed to significant violence, including domestic violence. Almost all are further traumatized by being removed from their families, says author Moira Szilagyi, a professor of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Health Care Is Increasingly Moving to the Cloud, but How Does Security Stack Up?
iHealthBeat

Like many hospital CIOs, John Halamka is obsessed with patient data security. For the last seven years, Halamka, who is CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has shied away from embracing cloud service providers offering to host the hospital’s mission-critical applications on their cloud computing platforms. To ensure security, Halamka built a private cloud that stores and distributes critical information across multiple data centers — but that model is about to change.

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Doctors prepare for new codes to catalog illnesses
Marketplace

The nation’s healthcare system is preparing for a big transition on October 1, when all healthcare providers and insurers will switch to a new coding system for cataloging various diagnoses.

The change is mandated by the Medicare system, and Sean Cavanaugh, the director of the Center for Medicare, said it’s overdue.

“The medical codes we use for diagnosis and billing haven’t been updated for over 35 years,” Cavanaugh said.

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Breast Cancer Gene Test Helps Predict Who Can Skip Chemo
National Public Radio

For the past 10 years, doctors have used a genetic test to decide which patients may be able to skip chemotherapy after surgery for breast cancer.

Now a study confirms that this test, called Oncotype DX, works well for a small group of patients. But a longer, follow-up study is needed to draw conclusions for a fuller range of patients with riskier tumors.

Oncotype DX analyzes 21 genes in the tumor to estimate a woman’s risk of the cancer coming back after surgery.

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New law expanding midwife services could save California money
San Francisco Business Times

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill this week that allows licensed midwives to provide comprehensive services to Medi-Cal patients. Senate Bill 407 by Republican Sen. Mike Morell from Rancho Cucamonga is expected to expand access to care by giving low-income women more provider choices. The move could save the state money, too. A home or “birth center” birth with a licensed midwife is up to 80 percent cheaper than a hospital birth, according to an analysis of the bill.

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Irvine cancer-diagnostics company names new CEO
Los Angeles Business Journal

Cancer diagnostics-services company Agendia Inc. has named veteran industry leader Mark R. Straley as its chief executive officer. He succeeds Jan Egberts, who stepped in as interim CEO last October after CEO David Macdonald left the company. Irvine-based Agendia said Straley brings more than 25 years of international experience developing and commercializing clinical diagnostics and laboratory services.

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Dignity Health signs huge lease for new office space
Sacramento Business Journal

Dignity Health has signed a 10-year lease for almost 51,000 square feet of new office space in Rancho Cordova. The new location at 10901 Gold Center Drive location will house about 200 Sacramento service area employees in finance, information technology and case management. Many of those employees currently work about a mile and a half away at the longtime Dignity Health headquarters building at 3400 Data Drive. They will move out next month to make room for the burgeoning Dignity Health Medical Foundation.

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Hoag addresses changes in health care with massive fundraising campaign
Orange County Register

Hoag Hospital has begun the public phase of a $627 million fundraising campaign for projects and programs that officials said will touch every aspect of patient care.

Since the “Hoag Promise” campaign quietly began five years ago, the nonprofit Hoag Hospital Foundation has raised $328 million so far, said Flynn Andrizzi, president of the foundation and a senior vice president at the hospital. The goal is to bring in the roughly $300 million balance by 2020.

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Western Sierra Medical Clinic to open new branch in Penn Valley
The Union

Western Sierra Medical Clinic will be opening a new branch in Penn Valley by the end of the year to provide a closer to home option for patients of the health center who live in that area of the community, officials said.

The new facility is located on 10544 Spenceville Road and is slated to open by the end of the year. Scott McFarland, chief executive officer of Western Sierra Medical Clinic, said an incentive for his decision is the large senior population in Penn Valley that often has to drive to Grass Valley for medical assistance.

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Stanford Health Care CEO to leave at end of year
The Stanford Daily

Stanford Health Care announced that its CEO and president, Amir Dan Rubin, will be leaving the organization at the end of the year to join UnitedHealth Group’s Optum health service platform as executive vice president.

“I wish to share my heartfelt appreciation for the honor of having served Stanford Health Care as President and CEO,” Rubin said, according to a Stanford Health Care press release. “It has been the privilege of a lifetime to work with such spectacular people dedicated to healing humanity, through science and compassion, one patient at a time. Words cannot express how incredible it has been to engage with colleagues and supporters who [over] these past years have received Nobel prizes, achieved nursing Magnet status and won numerous accolades.”

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