News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Groundbreaking guidelines expand population on HIV drugs by millions. But who will pay?
Washington Post

The World Health Organization on Wednesday radically revised its guidelines for those who should be on HIV anti-retrovirals, in a push for early treatment and prevention that it hopes will help end the epidemic by its target date of 2030.

The first major change involves those already infected with HIV. Previously, doctors were to wait until a patient’s viral load reached a certain severity before offering treatment.

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All Hands on Deck: Training A Geriatric Workforce
HealthyCal.org

All hands on deck. That’s how four state universities won federal grants to help train a woefully unprepared California geriatric workforce — especially in underserved communities.

The grants mark an important shift in the way older adults will be treated in the future. Instead of a single physician, teams of health professionals will offer wraparound care spanning physical and behavioral health as well as social services and referrals to community groups.

In some cases, “physician extenders” like nurses will be specially trained in geriatrics and injected into health systems facing a shortage of geriatric expertise.

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Missing Microbes Provide Clues About Asthma Risk
National Public Radio

The composition of the microbes living in babies’ guts appears to play a role in whether the children develop asthma later on, researchers reported Wednesday.

The researchers sampled the microbes living in the digestive tracts of 319 babies, and followed up on the children to see if there was a relationship between their microbes and their risk for the breathing disorder.

In the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers report Wednesday that those who had low levels of four bacteria were more likely to develop asthma by the time they were 3 years old.

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Poll: California voters support taxes on cigarettes, commercial properties
Los Angeles Daily News

The Legislature couldn’t manage to raise taxes this year, but a new Public Policy Institute of California poll to be released today shows large majorities of Californians favor some of the tax hikes Democrats wanted.

The survey found two-thirds of likely voters, including a majority of Republicans, support increasing taxes on cigarettes and more than half want to overhaul Proposition 13 and start taxing commercial properties at current market rates.

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Obamacare could shift many hundreds of millions in claims to workers’ comp insurers, especially in California
San Francisco Business Times

“Hundreds of millions of dollars” in insurance claims nationally, and possibly far more, could shift from health insurers to workers’ comp carriers due to Obamacare, according to a new study.

In California alone, a 3 percent shift of cases involving so-called “soft tissue conditions,” such as non-specific back pain, from group health insurers to workers’ compensation carriers could result in a $250 million increase in Golden State workers’ comp costs, the report said.

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Poll: 60 percent oppose ObamaCare Cadillac Tax
The Hill

The public opposes ObamaCare’s “Cadillac Tax” on high-cost health insurance plans by a wide margin, according to a new poll.

The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which does nonpartisan healthcare analysis, finds that 60 percent of the public opposes the tax, while 28 percent favor it. The tax is meant to help control healthcare spending by providing an incentive for employers to pare back their plans and shift some costs onto employees.

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Is ObamaCare debate starting to thaw?
The Hill

In a nearly empty House chamber on Monday afternoon, a little-noticed bill came up for a voice vote. The few lawmakers on the floor shouted “aye,” no one shouted “no,” and the bill was passed.

Changing ObamaCare has rarely been so drama-free.

Passage of the bill, which would adjust the healthcare law’s definition of a small employer, is raising hopes that more bipartisan tweaks to ObamaCare could be on the way.

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Some Medicaid users are inadvertently getting marketplace tax credits
Modern Healthcare

The CMS has sent letters to Medicaid consumers (PDF) who received tax credits to purchase insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace.The agency says these people will have to terminate marketplace coverage and pay back the amount of the credit they’ve received. A CMS spokeswoman declined to say how many people fall into this group only noting it was “a small number.”“We’re committed to helping consumers with their coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace and will continue to work with them to understand their options,” the spokeswoman said.

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California vaccine referendum falls short in internal count
Sacramento Bee

A referendum measure to overturn California’s new vaccine mandate will not go before voters, according to a preliminary signature count from proponents.

Adversaries of Senate Bill 277, which requires children without medical exemptions to receive all their shots before enrolling in school, hoped to repeal the law with a ballot referendum. But an internal count from the referendum organizers shows them with about 200,000 signatures, far short of the 365,880 valid signatures they need to suspend the law and place it before voters next year.

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Not enough signatures: Vaccine opponents fall short in ballot effort
Los Angeles Times

Opponents of a new child vaccination law in California have reported that they turned in some 228,000 signatures on petitions for a referendum to overturn the measure, far short of the number needed to qualify it for next year’s ballot.

Referendum supporters needed the signatures of 365,880 registered voters by Monday to place the measure before state voters in November 2016.

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4 Ways Companies May Adjust to Looming Employee Benefits Tax
ABC News

The taxman is coming to employer-sponsored health insurance, and his visit may trigger changes to your benefits.

The health care overhaul calls for a 40-percent tax starting in 2018 on the value of employer-sponsored coverage that costs more than $10,200 for single plans and $27,500 for family insurance. Employers are working to avoid this tax by cutting costs that have been rising for several years.

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Alzheimer’s association wins $ 1million grant
San Diego Union-Tribune

The Alzheimer’s Association of San Diego is one of 11 organizations nationwide to win a $1 million federal grant that will help increase training and outreach around the region’s third-leading cause of death.

The money, the association said in a statement, will be used to increase training for first-responders often called upon when residents with the neurological disease wander or become combative with caregivers.

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It Costs Nothing to Care: Why We Need to Provide Health Insurance for Undocumented US Residents
The Health Care Blog

The cost of medical service provision in the United States is one of the most palpable strains on the healthcare system, but we must not forget that cost is the sibling of quality and access—without considering the three as such, we will undoubtedly fail to navigate our country’s healthcare quandary. Low quality care inevitably results in the need for more care in the form of readmissions, while lack of access to primary care leads to increases in the utilization of expensive, emergency services.

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Doctors Using Effective New Treatment For Pancreatic Cancer Patients
ABC News

A successful treatment for one kind of tumor is showing promise for people with pancreatic cancer. Lorri and Randall Swan work as a team researching every option to fight Randall’s cancer. “It will come back and, and, and haunt you if you don’t hit it with as big a hammer as you can,” says Randall. In some ways, Randall says he’s extremely lucky, “To put it into perspective, this tumor is only about that big, it’s about the size, half the size of a small pea, not a whole lot, but it was strategically located that it caused me symptoms.”

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Kaiser coalition of unions ratifies national contract
Sacramento Business Journal

Kaiser Permanente’s coalition of national unions has ratified a new, three-year contract that takes effect Wednesday. The agreement covers 105,000 Kaiser workers in 28 local unions, making it one of the largest private-sector contracts in the nation. Almost 5,700 workers in the Sacramento region are part of the coalition. “It’s one of the best contracts we’ve negotiated so far,” said Dennis Dabney, Kaiser’s senior vice president for national labor relations.

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Elica Health Centers opens clinic in Arden-Arcade
Sacramento Business Journal

Elica Health Centers launched a third location Wednesday with the opening of a clinic in the Arden-Arcade area of Sacramento. The center, located at 1750 Wright Street, offers high-risk, low-income patients — including the homeless — access to care they haven’t had in their neighborhood before. The new site will offer primary care, pediatrics, pain management, nutrition education and behavioral health care.

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Too soon for hospital splurge
The Press-Enterprise

Zareh Sarrafian has proven a very good hire by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. When Mr. Sarrafian, the former chief administrative officer at Loma Linda University Medical Center, a year ago this week was named permanent CEO of Riverside County Regional Medical Center, he inherited a 439-bed hospital that in 2013 lost nearly $1 million a week.

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Children’s hospital names new officials
The Press-Enterprise

Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital has made two appointments to its leadership team. Scott Perryman is expected to start Oct. 12 as senior vice president and administrator. He was previously senior vice president for operations and strategic planning at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas. Dr. Richard Chinnock became chief medical officer of the 348-bed facility Aug. 25. He served as physician-in-chief at the hospital starting in 2003, the release stated.

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Dameron Hospital honored by insurance company
Central Valley Business Times

Blue Shield of California has recognized Dameron Hospital as a Blue Distinction Center in bariatric surgery. The designation is part of the Blue Distinction Centers for Specialty Care program.

The centers in the program have shown to deliver the best speicality care, based on objective measures that were developed with input from the medical community, for patient safety and better health outcomes.

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