News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California governor signs bill protecting 12-hour shifts
Modern Healthcare

A recently passed amendment to the California Labor Code protects the 12-hour workday favored by many healthcare workers and facilities. Senate Bill 327, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this month, affirms a long-standing state rule drafted by the Industrial Welfare Commission that allows healthcare workers to voluntarily waive their right to one of two required meal periods on shifts longer than eight hours.

Lawmakers introduced the bill after unions and providers expressed concern about an appellate court ruling that said California hospitals were in violation of state law when they allowed workers to waive meal breaks during shifts that go even a minute over 12 hours.

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Can A Cancer Drug Reverse Parkinson’s Disease And Dementia?
National Public Radio

A drug that’s already approved for treating leukemia appears to dramatically reduce symptoms in people who have Parkinson’s disease with dementia, or a related condition called Lewy body dementia. A pilot study of 12 patients given small doses of nilotinib found that movement and mental function improved in all of the 11 people who completed the six-month trial, researchers reported Saturday at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago.

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No Ready-Made Rx for Rising Drug Costs
Kaiser Family Foundation

When Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of an older generic drug by more than 5,000 percent last month, the move sparked a public outcry. How, critics wondered, could a firm charge $13.50 a pill for a treatment for a parasitic infection one day and $750 the next?

The criticism led Turing’s unapologetic CEO to say he’d pare back the increase – although no new price has yet been named – and the New York attorney general has launched an antitrust investigation.

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Nursing Homes’ Residents Face Health Risks From Antibiotics’ Misuse
Kaiser Health News

Antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly to ailing nursing home residents up to 75 percent of the time, the nation’s public health watchdog says. The reasons vary — wrong drug, wrong dose, wrong duration or just unnecessarily – but the consequences are scary, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overused antibiotics over time lose their effectiveness against the infections they were designed to treat. Some already have. And some antibiotics actually cause life-threatening illnesses on their own.

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Bigger bite for health law penalty on uninsured
Yahoo! News

The math is harsh: The federal penalty for having no health insurance is set to jump to $695, and the Obama administration is being urged to highlight that cold fact to help drive its new pitch for health law sign-ups.

That means the 2016 sign-up season starting Nov. 1 could see penalties become a bigger focus to motivate millions of people who have remained eligible for coverage, but uninsured. They’re said to be more skeptical about the value of health insurance.

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Two more Obamacare health insurance plans collapse
Washington Post

Nearly a third of the innovative health insurance plans created under the Affordable Care Act will be out of business at the end of 2015, following announcements Friday that plans in Oregon and Colorado are folding.

In just the past week, four co-ops, as the nonprofit plans are known, have decided or been ordered to shut down. Their demise means that eight of the 23 co-ops in existence a year ago will be unavailable to consumers shopping for 2016 coverage through insurance marketplaces created under the ACA.

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What employers can do to accelerate healthcare reform
Health Leaders Media

To move from a reactive posture to a proactive leadership position in driving health care reform, large employers have a lever at their fingertips that they have not often deployed in procuring health care: their purchasing power. Providers and health plans are service suppliers paid by employers. Employers can readily apply market forces and supply-chain tools to improve the performance of both.

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Historic Medicare premium hike looms
San Diego Union-Tribune

Medicare’s open enrollment season has arrived this year with a hint of desperation in the air.

While all of the nation’s 55 million enrollees will have until Dec. 7 to make changes to their coverage, nearly a third also face the distinct possibility of an unprecedented 52 percent premium hike next year. Even though the increase is likely to be short-lived and members of Congress are working to avert or lessen its effects, the potential price jump nonetheless complicates the annual open enrollment process for millions of seniors nationwide.

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Medicare ACOs lost $41 million to poor quality performance
Modern Healthcare

Keeping people out of the hospital is a primary goal of Medicare accountable care. For the most financially successful ACOs, however, that proved difficult last year, even with money on the line.That weak performance, policy experts say, raises questions about the accuracy of quality measures in the rapidly expanding program.

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Medicare spending for hepatitis C cures surges
Washington Post

Medicare’s prescription drug program spent nearly $4.6 billion in the first half of this year on expensive new cures for the liver disease hepatitis C — almost as much as it paid for all of 2014.

Rebates from pharmaceutical companies — the amounts of which are confidential — will reduce Medicare’s final tab for the drugs, by up to half. Even so, the program’s spending will likely continue to rise, in part because of strong demand.

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Will California’s end-of-life law push lethal drugs over costlier care?
Los Angeles Times

Terminally ill cancer patient Barbara Wagner’s doctor wrote a prescription several years ago intended to extend her life a few extra months. But Oregon’s government-run healthcare program declined to pay for the pricey drug, saying the projected odds of the medicine’s keeping her alive were too low.

Adding to the distress of the rejection, Wagner later complained publicly, was what else was included in the denial letter she received. The state listed doctor-aided death as one of the treatment options that would be completely covered.

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California governor, lawmakers punt difficult tax questions
San Luis Obispo Tribune

While Gov. Jerry Brown approved high-profile legislation addressing social issues such as aid-in-dying, animal antibiotics and the gender wage gap this year, he kept a tight grip on California’s pocketbook by rejecting more than a dozen bills that sought to increase health care benefits and tax credits for the poor.

In exercising his veto pen, the Democratic governor expressed frustration with lawmakers who failed to address a funding shortfall in Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for the poor.

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Deals puts Big Pharma, UCSF researchers side by side targeting cancer, obesity and more
San Francisco Business Times

Researchers from drug giant GlaxoSmithKline and the University of California, San Francisco, will work together to accelerate promising basic science in cancer, obesity and infectious diseases toward new drugs. Specific financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) will give early-stage funding for academic discoveries that struggle to receive money via traditional grants.

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Tri-City buries its past with partnership
San Diego Union-Tribune

In nearly 30 years of covering North County, I never thought I would write these words: I’m proud of Tri-City. Don’t get me wrong. There’s never been any doubt that Oceanside’s public hospital has provided good, even excellent, care to its patients. There’s never been any doubt that Tri-City Medical Center doctors, nurses, support staff and volunteers have deserved roses every day.

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