News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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High tech health gives hope to sick and injured
San Diego Union-Tribune

A doctor named McCoy dazzled viewers when “Star Trek” debuted on TV in the 1960s. In mere seconds, the medical officer of the starship Enterprise could diagnose illnesses with a device known as a tricorder.

People began to wonder: Will such technology ever become real?

The answer appears to be yes. Scientists in San Diego are evaluating a tricorder that reflects the extraordinary advances made in computing, electronics and telecommunications since “Star Trek” first hit the airwaves.

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Telemedicine Expands Despite Uncertain Financial Prospects
Kaiser Health News

Say you’re a rural Midwestern farmer in bed recovering from a major illness at your local hospital. It’s time for nurse’s check in, but there’s no knock on the door.

At Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, just over the foot of the bed, a camera whirls around and a monitor lights up to show a smiling face with a headset on.

“Good afternoon, this is Jeff with SafeWatch. Just doing my afternoon rounds,” he said in this training exercise.

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Congress changes Obamacare for larger small businesses
San Francisco Business Times

Congress just gave mid-sized businesses a break: Companies with 51 to 100 employees won’t be thrown into the small group market for health insurance next year under legislation that passed both the House and Senate this week. Many business groups and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners supported the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, which restores the 50-employee threshold for the small group market. The legislation gives states the option, however, to expand it to 100 employees.

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California lawmakers, activists anxiously await Gov. Jerry Brown action on legislation
Contra Costa Times

With less than a week to go before Sunday’s deadline for Gov.

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Drug pricing controversy lights up California ballot measure
San Francisco Business Times

A 5,455 percent overnight increase in the cost of a parasitic infection-fighting drug has fed signature gathering efforts to put a California price-control initiative on the November 2016 ballot. The California Drug Price Relief Initiative, sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, would tie the cost that state programs pay for drugs to that paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Why More Physicians Will Adopt Electronic Health Records
The Health Care Blog

When President George W. Bush issued an executive order in April 2004 to establish the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, he had a clear vision in mind: to create a secure, nationwide interoperable network that allows authorized users to access medical records of anyone at anytime and anywhere in the U.S. President Barack Obama knew very well that his plan for providing health insurance to all Americans would not be successful unless it was paired with a plan for controlling the quality and cost of health care services.

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7 Questions To Ask Your Boss About Wellness Privacy
National Public Radio

If your company hasn’t launched a wellness program, this might be the year.

As benefits enrollment for 2016 approaches, more employers than ever are expected to nudge workers toward plans that screen them for risks, monitor their activity and encourage them to take the right pills, food and exercise.

This involves a huge collection of health data outside the established medical system, not only by wellness vendors such as Redbrick, Audax and Vitality but also by companies offering gym services, smartphone apps and devices that track steps and heartbeats.

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Children in crisis wait for days in local ERs for transfer to mental health facilities
Modesto Bee

When Jessica’s 7-year-old son went into an uncontrolled rage in February, punching his mother and trying to break the windows in their home, he was taken to the emergency department at Modesto’s Doctors Medical Center for an evaluation.

Rather than getting prompt treatment for his mood disorder, the boy spent four days in the ER waiting for a bed to open in a psychiatric facility far outside Stanislaus County. Only a curtain separated the boy from eight adults who had been placed on psychiatric holds.

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Women Find A Fertility Test Isn’t As Reliable As They’d Like
National Public Radio

Women concerned about their fertility can use a test to help decide whether they should freeze their eggs now or still have time to have a baby.

But this test, called an ovarian reserve test, is often ambiguous and can be misinterpreted. Some fertility specialists worry that many women will be misled by their results, leading some to feel pressured to freeze their eggs when they don’t need to and others to miss their best window to do so.

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Workplace Wellness Programs: Early Alarm For Workers’ Health Or A Recipe For Over-Testing?
Kaiser Health News

As health insurance open season heats up for businesses across the country, many employees will discover that participating in their company’s wellness program includes rolling up their sleeves for blood tests.

Half of large employers offering health benefits have wellness programs that ask workers to submit to medical tests, often dubbed “biometrics,” that can involve a trip to a doctor’s office, lab or workplace health fair.

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SF reaches $400K settlement proposal in Nevada patient-dumping case
San Francisco Examiner

San Francisco’s more than two-year legal battle with Nevada over the state’s practice of sending psychiatric patients to The City has reached a conclusion in a $400,000 settlement pending approval by the Board of Supervisors and the state of Nevada. City Attorney Dennis Herrera launched an investigation and subsequently filed a lawsuit over the dumping of patients after the Sacramento Bee exposed the practice by a Las Vegas-based psychiatric hospital in 2013.

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Anthem and Cigna: A Love Story
The Health Care Blog

Even before the first date, Anthem Inc. CEO Joe Swedish was smitten with Cigna Corp.

But as in any love story, there would be plenty of drama between then and the July 24 announcement of the two health insurance giants’ $54 billion engagement.

At one point, the Anthem board made Swedish break up with Cigna, but then three months later sent Swedish swooping back in with pleasantries and ultimately a bear hug that Cigna couldn’t refuse.

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Santa Rosa trauma surgeons beat survival odds
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

On Aug. 21, a former 49ers offensive lineman drove alone midday on Highway 12 from his Sonoma home to volunteer with fundraising at a Santa Rosa school. His Chevy Suburban, loaded with prizes, careened into oncoming traffic and slammed into a taco truck. John Taylor, age 62 this month, who played part of a season for the 49ers as well as for the New York Jets and three years in the Canadian football league during the 1970s, suffered massive injuries.

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