News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Brown signs fix for 12-hour hospital shifts
Sacramento Business Journal

Gov. Jerry Brown preserved the tradition of 12-hour hospital shifts for health-care workers with the stoke of his pen.

Brown quietly signed Senate Bill 327 by Democratic Sen. Ed Hernandez from Azusa on Oct. 5. The bill confirms a long-standing agreement between organized labor and hospitals over meal periods when employees work long shifts. A February 2015 decision by the California Court of Appeals invalidated a state wage order that governs meal periods for the health-care industry.

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Breast cancer drug tamoxifen may offer powerful punch against killer superbugs: Study
Washington Post

For humans, the superbug MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, is one of the most terrifying creatures that share our Earth.

A bacterium that is resistant to most antibiotics, it is estimated to have contributed to the death of 5,000 Americans in 2013. Many more develop invasive infections that can lead to complications like losing a limb.

Public health officials have been hunting for an effective treatment for decades but have mostly run into dead-ends. Now, a study published in Nature Communications raises the possibility that a promising new weapon for MRSA may have been right under our noses: tamoxifen.

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Bush ACA replacement plan offers tax credits, more state control
Modern Healthcare

Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush laid out a familiar plan Tuesday for replacing the Affordable Care Act. His plan focuses on catastrophic coverage policies that can be purchased with tax credits for those without employer-sponsored insurance.

He joins Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with a somewhat fleshed-out plan, although neither of them are specific about costs or how many people would be covered.

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Bipartisan Effort Revises Health Rule For Small Businesses
National Public Radio

President Obama signed legislation last Wednesday that makes a significant change in the health law’s small business rules, following a rare bipartisan effort to amend the Affordable Care Act.

The revision updates the definition of what constitutes a small employer so that companies with 51 to 100 workers won’t become subject to the small group insurance reform provisions next year. Instead, the law allows those companies to continue as large group plans, unless states step in to define them differently.

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Seniors beware: Medicare scams heat up during open enrollment
Sacramento Bee

As Medicare’s open enrollment season starts this week, the California attorney general’s office is warning seniors to be alert for scammers and dishonest insurance brokers attempting to steal personal information or pocket commissions on high-priced Medicare plans.

Medicare scams can take many forms, from callers trying to dupe seniors into giving up their Social Security numbers to “free lunch” and other enticements offered by unscrupulous insurance agents, who try to rack up commissions.

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Gov. signs legislation to cap out-of-pocket costs on prescription drugs
Sacramento Business Journal

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that requires insurers to cover medically necessary prescription drugs and caps consumer out-of-pocket costs. Assembly Bill 339 by Democratic Assemblymember Richard Gordon from Menlo Park caps a single 30-day outpatient prescription at $250, except for consumers with high-deductible plans, who would have pay $500. The new drug rules and limits are consistent with rules adopted by Covered California in May — but apply them to health plans in the private sector.

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California Doctors Get Advice On How To Provide Aid In Dying
National Public Radio

Now that California has legalized aid in dying, advocacy groups are planning statewide education campaigns so doctors know what to do when patients ask for lethal medication to end their lives.

One of the first stops for doctors new to the practice is a doctor-to-doctor toll-free helpline. It’s staffed by physicians from states where the practice is legal, who have experience writing prescriptions for lethal medication.

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Medical community is bracing for ‘right to die’ law to go into effect
Orange County Register

It’s been just over a week since Gov. Jerry Brown signed off on the End of Life Option Act, making California only the fifth “right-to-die” state in the nation. Doctors and other medical professionals have already begun grappling with how this new law will change medicine and their particular areas of specialty when it goes into effect in 2016. Health care advocates say they are concerned about how the option to die is going to play into people’s socio-economic status, their disabilities and access to quality care.

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Nevada OKs payment in patient-dumping suit from California
Merced Sun-Star

Nevada officials approved a $400,000 payment to San Francisco to settle allegations that psychiatric patients were wrongly bused to California upon discharge.

The Nevada Board of Examiners voted Tuesday on the settlement, which still needs to be approved by a court and the board of supervisors in San Francisco. Nevada didn’t admit any wrongdoing, and Gov. Brian Sandoval, a member of the board, said San Francisco had a similar program called “Homeward Bound” to give patients bus tickets after their discharge.

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Health workers frequently contaminate skin, clothing while removing protective equipment
Washington Post

In an alarming study about how germs spread in health-care settings, researchers set up a simulation that involved asking doctors, nurses and other health-care personnel at four hospitals to put on their standard gowns, gloves and masks and smear themselves with a fluorescent lotion that was supposed to be a stand-in for germs or other dangerous matter.

After the participants carefully removed the protective equipment as they usually would the researchers searched their bodies with a black light to see whether any lotion was transferred.

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Docs are leaving behind federal dollars to pay for coordinated care
Modern Healthcare

The CMS says doctors tending to tens of millions of chronically ill Medicare patients aren’t taking advantage of federal dollars aimed at improving care and reducing hospital readmissions and overall costs.

This year, Medicare began paying an average of $42 per patient per month for non-face-to-face chronic-care management services, such as consulting with other doctors caring for the same patient who might be dealing with dementia, heart disease or arthritis.

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Physical Therapy May Help For Back Pain, But Time Works Best
National Public Radio

Most people are going to have lower-back pain at some point in their lives — roughly 70 percent of us. But what do you do when that aching back strikes? The answer is, take it slow.

Getting into physical therapy right away may help, a study finds, but so will the passage of time. The key is not to jump into expensive, invasive procedures that could make things worse.

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Fewer are abusing opioids, but deaths have risen
Modern Healthcare

Fewer U.S. adults are abusing prescription opioids and more people are getting treatment for their addictions. That’s the good news, according to one JAMA study.

The bad news is that more people are dying from their addictions and an upward blip in people getting treatment has been deemed statistically insignificant, according to another JAMA study.

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Stanford Offering New Weight Loss Option Using Balloons
ABC News

For many people who are seriously overweight, the challenge of dropping pounds is often difficult and urgent. But now, a new technology available at Stanford Hospital is offering hope.

Stacy Myers says her weight shot up after a back injury several years ago. “My highest weight was 221 pounds, and I was miserable,” she remembers.

At over 200 pounds, Stacy turned to Dr. John Morton and a new technology. It’s an alternative to gastric bypass surgery that alters the stomach not with a scalpel, but with balloons.

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New hospitalists join SNMH team
The Union

Being a patient in the hospital can sometimes feel unsettling; in addition to coping with an illness or injury, patients face the additional task of adjusting to an unfamiliar environment and the new faces caring for them. One of the ways that hospitals help to make a patient’s care more cohesive and comfortable is through the use of hospitalists — doctors who are specially trained to care for patients while they are in the hospital.

At Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH), hospitalists have been caring for patients for more than a decade.  Recently, the hospitalist team expanded with the addition of four new hospitalists, with another new member expected to start in January.

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