News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

California coroners have issues with new assisted death law
Los Angeles Times

A group representing county coroners in California says several problems need to be addressed in the new assisted-death law signed this week by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The measure allows physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients diagnosed with fewer than six months to live. “We have a lot of concerns about the language,” said Rocky Shaw, a supervising investigator for San Bernardino County and president of the California State Coroners Assn. “There are a lot of details to be worked out.”

News Headlines Article

Medicare primary care initiative yields mixed results
Modern Healthcare

The CMS Innovation Center says the 483 medical practices participating in its Comprehensive Primary Care initiative achieved $24 million in gross Medicare savings, but few saved more than what the government paid them to coordinate patients’ care.

The initiative was authorized by the Affordable Care Act and launched in October 2012 to improve primary care by paying clinicians bonuses of about $20 a month per patient for providing care management. The results released Wednesday reflect the work of 483 practices that cared for about 2.7 million patients, including 377,000 enrolled in Medicare.

News Headlines Article

Heart attack test can reduce hospital admission: study
Yahoo! News

A simple blood test can reduce unnecessary hospital admissions by pinpointing people seeking medical help for chest pain caused by something other than a heart attack, a study said Thursday.

Researchers said they had identified the optimal level of a protein called troponin in the blood below which a heart attack can be all but ruled out as the cause of chest pain.

In a trial of about 6,300 people who went to the emergency room with chest pain at four hospitals in Scotland and the United States, the test correctly identified about two-thirds of those who were not having a heart attack — all had a troponin level under five nanogrammes (billionths of a gram) per decilitre (a tenth of a litre).

News Headlines Article

Children’s hospital to tap sustainable water practices
Stanford University News

Hospitals by their very nature require massive amounts of water to maintain complex medical systems and equipment critical to patient care. Heating and cooling systems, and specialty services such as laundry, sterilization, sanitation, food service and integrated computer systems, call for an ongoing source of water. And lots of it.

In fact, hospitals today are the third most water-intensive public buildings, behind senior care facilities and hotels, using an average of 570 gallons of water per staffed bed per day, according to Healthcare Design magazine.

News Headlines Article

Obama signs law preventing premium hikes under health law
Sacramento Bee

President Barack Obama has signed legislation aimed at preventing premium increases that some smaller businesses were expecting next year under his signature health care law.

The White House says Obama signed the bill into law Wednesday. It represents an uncommon instance in which both parties rallied behind an effort to revamp part of the Affordable Care Act.

Under Obama’s health care law, companies considered small businesses must offer certain required benefits.

News Headlines Article

Hillary Clinton’s Health Care Proposals, Focused on Cost, Go Well Beyond Obama’s
New York Times

Hillary Rodham Clinton, as she offered up a sheaf of new health care proposals, said she was “building on the Affordable Care Act.” But lurking in those proposals was a veiled criticism of President Obama’s signature domestic achievement: For many families, the Affordable Care Act has not made health care affordable.

Mr. Obama has spent five years minimizing cost issues still confronting many health care consumers. Mrs. Clinton is taking those on without apologies. She would go beyond the president’s 2010 law, capping a patient’s share of the bill for doctor visits and prescription drugs. She would repeal the law’s planned tax on high-cost employer-sponsored insurance — a tax the White House says is needed to constrain the growth of health spending.

News Headlines Article

Legislation would bar Medicare Advantage plans from dropping doctors midyear
Modern Healthcare

Veva Vesper sees her skin cancer surgeon, Dr. Brett Coldiron, at least twice a month to manage her delicate health condition. Coldiron was an in-network physician when Vesper enrolled in her UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plan last year, but she says that changed, much to her surprise.

Vesper said UnitedHealthcare dropped her physician from its network, which would have forced her to pay higher out-of-network rates for care.

News Headlines Article

Despite Sweeping Death-With-Dignity Law, Few Will Have That Option
National Public Radio

The death-with-dignity movement took a giant step forward this week, with 38 million people coming under its umbrella in a single swoop when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the End of Life Option Act on Monday.

But the law still leaves out a wide range of people who might want to be covered: people with progressive debilitating diseases that don’t have an obvious six-months-to-live prognosis and people with dementia, the fastest-growing health threat in the U.S. That’s also true of similar laws in Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.

News Headlines Article

California’s Right-To-Die Law Sparks Reaction
Kaiser Health News

Scott Shafer of KQED and The California Report hosted a special radio broadcast on California’s landmark aid-in-dying law. The issue gained national attention last year after Brittany Maynard, who suffered from terminal brain cancer, moved from California to Oregon in order to be able to end her life legally with drugs prescribed by a physician.

Shafer interviewed KQED health reporter April Dembosky, advocates and opponents of the law, and Dan Diaz, the husband of Maynard.

News Headlines Article

California’s new right-to-die law comes with questions. Here are some answers
Orange County Register

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a measure this week that makes it legal for physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients.

The End of Life Option Act makes California the fifth right-to-die state in the nation, after Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Montana, where it was allowed by court decision. California’s right-to-die law was modeled after landmark legislation passed in Oregon in 1997.

Here is how California’s law is expected to work:

News Headlines Article

How U.S. Supreme Court Just Made It Tougher to Challenge California Vaccine Law
KQED Radio

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to a requirement in New York state that all children be vaccinated before they can attend public school. The justices on Monday let stand lower court rulings that the policy does not violate the constitution.

This decision matters in California, where a new law passed this summer requires virtually all schoolchildren to be vaccinated against a range of diseases in order to attend school.

News Headlines Article

Tim Donnelly-led repeal effort of vaccine law fails
Los Angeles Daily News

The fight to repeal California’s controversial new mandatory vaccine law — led by former assemblyman and radio talk show host Tim Donnelly — officially ended this week before it even got to the ballot box, as opponents on Wednesday conceded an ill-fated petition drive fell woefully short on signatures.

The group’s petition drive requires 365,880 signatures by Thursday to qualify a referendum to repeal the law for the November 2016 ballot, a target Donnelly conceded they will miss by a wide margin.

News Headlines Article

Strong Regulations for Professionals Treating Ebola Patients in California
Voice Chronicle

As the present condition marks the worst Ebola outbreak of the world till date, some very strong regulations have been adopted by the authorities in California. The regulations are specifically directed towards the doctors, nurses and health workers who are dealing with the Ebola patients and are elaborations of the general guidelines which were issued in October.

News Headlines Article

Buyer Beware: A Mammogram’s Price Can Vary By Nearly $1,000, Study Finds
Kaiser Health News

Thinking about getting a mammogram in the Dallas-Fort Worth area? You might check carefully because the cost can vary from $50 to as much as $1,045.

How about an initial routine gynecological exam? Around Phoenix, those prices can range from $72 to $388.

According to an analysis released Wednesday, it can pay for women to shop around for health care, with mammograms and other routine services often costing far more in one office than in another. Researchers at Castlight Health, a company that helps businesses analyze health care prices, looked at 179 metropolitan areas and found that mammogram prices varied four-fold or more in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia and Seattle, among others.

News Headlines Article

The wild price variation for women’s health services
Modern Healthcare

Studies have shown that irrational prices exist in a variety of healthcare procedures—from MRIs and cholesterol tests to knee replacement surgeries and angioplasties. Now, we can add an array of women’s health services to the list.

Women with employer-sponsored health insurance living in Dallas pay from $50 to $1,045 for a mammogram, according to an analysis from Castlight Health, a publicly traded company that helps employers manage health benefits and examine healthcare prices. Dallas has the largest variation of the 179 metropolitan markets studied.

News Headlines Article

Unhappy With Your Company’s Health Savings Account? Move It
National Public Radio

When it comes to health savings accounts and the so-called Cadillac tax on expensive health plans, the questions just keep coming. And what do you do about adding grandchildren to a health plan? Let’s tackle that one, too.

Last year, my wife and I opened a health savings account. Since then, my account has been moved twice, and we have no choice as to who manages it. We can’t shop around for someone with lower fees. I think that is a big flaw in the system. Why can’t I choose to have my HSA with the same company I have my brokerage account?

News Headlines Article

Molina Healthcare leases space in downtown Long Beach
Los Angeles Business Journal

Molina Healthcare has signed a lease for 73,486 square feet of office space at One World Trade Center in downtown Long Beach. The new space will serve as an expansion of Molina’s corporate headquarters, which are across the street from One World Trade Center. JLL, formerly known as Jones Lang LaSalle, said its team members Steve Solomon, Jason Fine, and Kristen Bowman along with Dave Smith from CBRE represented the owners, Greenlaw Partners, Walton St. Capital and Stillwater Investment Group.

News Headlines Article

Customer-friendly upgrades for gov’t health insurance site
Monterey Herald

The government’s health insurance website is getting long-awaited upgrades that should help consumers find out whether their doctors and medications are covered, and get a better estimate of costs.

Detailed in an internal document, the customer-friendly changes to are still being tested.

News Headlines Article

Breast cancer patients can get free ‘chauffeurs’ to hospital

There is new help for breast cancer patients in San Diego — they can now get their own chauffeur!

Scripps Health tells 10News that it has partnered with “Ford Warriors in Pink” and Lyft, the ride-sharing service, to provide free rides to breast cancer patients who need to get to doctor appointments or chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“Only those who have had chemo understand – it’s exhausting,” said Beverly Mangerich, Nurse Educator at Scripps Polster Breast Care Center in La Jolla.

News Headlines Article

Why does health insurance in Santa Cruz County cost so much?
Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa Cruz County has the highest cost for employer-provided health insurance of 274 U.S. metro areas, according to a study by a consumer nonprofit in New York that concludes the reason is lack of competition.

News Headlines Article

Marin County’s Breast Cancer Rate Has Plummeted. Why?
KQED Radio

The breast cancer rate in Marin County — once called the highest in the world — is now at the lowest level since tracking started in 1988 and matches the statewide average, according to a new analysis.

The question, of course, is why. “A whole lot of people are scratching their heads over this one,” said Tina Clarke, an epidemiologist with the Cancer Prevention Institute of California and the study’s lead author.