News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Obamacare’s impact on employment: An early look
CBS News

Before the Affordable Care Act went into effect last year, critics claimed it would lead to job losses and cuts in employee hours. But how is it really playing out?

The dire predictions have so far proved to be unfounded, according to a new research paper from Federal Reserve Bank of New York economist Maxim Pinkovskiy. The fear was that employers who were newly required to provide health insurance to their workers would opt instead to cut hours or fire employees. But early numbers show that locations with a high percentage of uninsured Americans, such as Texas, ended up experiencing a rise in employment, salaries and output in comparison to areas with less exposure to the health care law, Pinkovskiy noted.

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Drugs, insurance costs drive healthcare spending higher
Modern Healthcare

The latest report from private forecasters at the Altarum Institute shows healthcare spending surged to 18.2% of the gross domestic product in July, the second time it’s reached that high watermark this year.

Out-of-control spending on prescriptions drugs and the soaring cost of health insurance administration continue to be the two major drivers behind rising healthcare costs. Though small as a share of overall spending, fast-rising drug prices and higher insurance overhead have set the stage for healthcare to increase its share of the overall economy at the fastest clip since the onset of the Great Recession.

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Insurance Dropouts Present a Challenge for Health Law
New York Times

Stephanie Douglas signed up for health insurance in January with the best intentions. She had suffered a stroke and needed help paying for her medicines and care. The plan she chose from the federal insurance exchange sounded affordable — $58.17 a month after the subsidy she received under the Affordable Care Act.

But Ms. Douglas, 50, who was working about 30 hours a week as a dollar store cashier and a services coordinator at an apartment complex for older adults, soon realized that her insurance did not fit in her tight monthly budget. She stopped paying her premiums in April and lost her coverage a few months later.

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Covered California Surpasses Two Million Consumers Served in New Era of Health Care
Sierra Sun Times

As Covered California gears up for its renewal and open-enrollment periods, the exchange announced that it has served more than 2 million consumers since it began offering health care coverage in January 2014. The milestone occurred as Covered California released its first-ever comprehensive report on its consumers.

The “Covered California Active Member Profile” looks at the exchange’s 1.3 million current consumers based on ethnicity, age, income, region, county, ZIP code, carrier and metal tier.

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Most Who Leave California Exchange Get Other Insurance Coverage
Kaiser Health News

About one-third of the 2 million consumers who bought health insurance through Covered California later left the state’s insurance marketplace – most for other coverage, according to new data released Thursday.

The vast majority of those who left – nearly 85 percent — stayed insured, according to the release by Covered California.

The data highlight the on-again-off-again nature of the individual insurance market, with many people leaving because of common life changes such as getting a job or getting married.

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Is Covered California’s lower enrollment good news?
San Francisco Business Times

Covered California has 1.3 million actively enrolled customers, slightly lower than previous estimates. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, says executive director Peter Lee – it may be a sign of the recovering economy. One explanation relates to churn: About a third of people who get coverage move out of the program. Of those who leave, almost 85 percent are still insured, the state health benefit exchange found in a survey.

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Jerry Brown vetoes ‘right to try’ bill for experimental drugs
Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed legislation that would have allowed terminally ill people in California to petition pharmaceutical companies for access to experimental drugs before they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The so-called “right-to-try” legislation had gained support in more than a dozen states, and it sailed through the California Legislature with nearly unanimous support.

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‘Right To Try’ bill: Brown rejects proposal to let terminal patients use unapproved drugs and device
The Mercury News

Despite his landmark decision last week to grant terminally ill patients the right to end their lives with a doctor’s help, Gov. Jerry Brown took a different course on Sunday and rejected Assembly Bill 159, the so-called “Right To Try” bill. The latter measure sought to allow terminally ill patients who have exhausted all other options to access experimental drugs, products or devices that have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Bill extends Medi-Cal health coverage to undocumented immigrant children
Daily Democrat

California will become the largest state in the nation to provide health care to all children, regardless of their immigration status, under a new law signed Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The Health for All Kids Act, Senate Bill 4, was sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach. It opens up health coverage to undocumented immigrants by expanding Medi-Cal coverage, making California the state with the largest immigrant population to implement such a policy.

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Health clinics run by anti-abortion groups sue attorney general over AB 775
Sacramento Bee

Reproductive health clinics run by abortion opponents moved immediately to head off enforcement of a bill signed Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown that would require the clinics to inform patients that abortion services are available elsewhere.

On Saturday in Sacramento federal court, religiously affiliated clinics in Marysville and Redding that don’t offer abortions sued California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a sponsor of the new law, asking for an injunction preventing it from taking effect Jan. 1.

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Birth Centers Boost Deliveries While Easing Labor Pains
Kaiser Health News

Kristen Shorey gave birth to her second baby this summer in a marble-lined bathtub surrounded by LED candles and rested afterward on a queen-size mahogany bed. She received no pain killers, never saw a doctor and was home with her newborn son, Rowan, seven hours after birth.

It was nothing like the hospital experience where she had her first son two years ago, she said. In fact, the June birth wasn’t in a hospital at all but at the Greenville Midwifery Care & Birth Center. She delivered with help from a midwife instead of an obstetrician. Shorey, 25, labored in a water-filled tub rather than a small bed while hooked up to intravenous tubes and a fetal heart monitor — her 27-year-old husband, Taylor, by her side.

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California approves Blue Shield, Care1st merger over consumer group objections
Modern Healthcare

The state of California approved Blue Shield of California’s acquisition of a Los Angeles managed-care company on Thursday in a $1.2 billion deal that cost the combined entity its state tax-exempt status.

The news that Blue Shield may complete its acquisition of Care1st Health Plan follows a lengthy regulatory approval process where consumer groups such as Health Access California vigorously opposed the plan, fearing it would lead to large rate increases.

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Blue Shield boots Stanford hospitals from a key PPO network
San Francisco Business Times

Blue Shield of California, one of the state’s largest health insurers, confirmed Friday that it is removing Stanford Health Care facilities from a PPO that serves individual and family plan members in the region. The San Francisco-based insurer told some plan members Oct. 5 that Stanford’s rates “are among the most expensive in California,” in explaining the decision.

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SLO County residents struggle to find treatment for mental illness
San Luis Obispo Tribune

It was more than a decade ago when San Luis Obispo resident Sherrie Medinger admitted her 13-year-old daughter, who attempted suicide, into a Ventura psychiatric facility where she was treated for what would later be diagnosed as bipolar disorder.

“I remember driving up and down the coast crying my eyes out and not knowing what to do, worrying my daughter is going to die.

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