News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Medicaid could be scaled back sharply under GOP plans
Los Angeles Times

Nearly half a century after President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicaid into law, conservative critics of the massive government health insurance program for the poor are readying a new push to dramatically scale it back if Republicans control the White House and Congress next year.

GOP governors, emboldened by the Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s healthcare law, are already balking at expanding Medicaid to meet the goals of the Affordable Care Act. Some are rolling back coverage now, arguing that the program is ineffective and unaffordable.

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In Nursing, Accountability Fosters Quality
Health Leaders Media

In northeastern Indiana, about 15 miles west of Fort Wayne, sits the 30-bed community hospital Parkview Whitley in Columbia City. Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colo., has 241 beds and more than a dozen patient-care units. And New Jersey’s Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, a 600-bed academic medical center in New Brunswick, has 32 nursing units that vary in size from eight to 47 beds.

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Kaiser finds PHR users more likely to stay members
Modern Healthcare

A study of nearly 400,000 Kaiser Permanente members found that those who used a personal health record were more than twice as likely to stick with the integrated-delivery network as members who did not.

The study, funded by Kaiser Permanente and conducted by Kaiser researchers, analyzed the records of 394,215 members of Kaiser Permanente Northwest between the fourth quarter of 2005 and the third quarter of 2008.

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Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center Names New Chief Executive
San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center’s 70th year will usher in a new president and CEO. Michael A. Rembis, 58, was named the new head of the Burbank hospital, the hospital announced Monday. He will begin work in mid-September.

“Healthcare reform will bring significant change to the delivery of health care services,” Rembis said, in a prepared statement.

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Emotional needs of young cancer patients unmet
HealthyCal.org

About 70,000 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 39 are diagnosed with cancer each year. While the disease can be a physical and emotional blow to anyone at any age, a recent study determined that younger patients have a vast set of unmet social and psychological needs. Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center surveyed 215 newly diagnosed cancer patients between the ages of 14 and 39.

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CMS sees states’ Medicaid decisions taking ’several months,’ official says
Modern Healthcare

The CMS expects many states will take “several months” more to decide whether to expand their Medicaid programs, according to a senior HHS official.

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Insurance Rebates Seen as Selling Point for Health Law
New York Times

Lucia Harkenreader’s check landed in her mailbox last week: a rebate of $456.15 from her health insurance company, with a letter dryly explaining that the money came courtesy of the federal health care law. “It almost looked like junk mail,” said Ms. Harkenreader, a tax accountant in Mountain Top, Pa., who said she did not love the overall law but was pleased at the unexpected windfall. “If this is part of Obamacare, I’m happy that somebody is finally coming down on the insurance companies and saying, ‘Look, let’s be fair here.’ ”

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Nurse staffing levels, burnout tied to infection rates, study finds
Modern Healthcare

Targeting nurse staffing levels and burnout may help hospitals reduce their rates of certain types of healthcare-associated infections, a study says.

Large patient loads and high levels of exhaustion among nurses were associated with greater rates of urinary-tract and surgical-site infections among patients, according to the study, published in the August issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

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Calif. group issues guide to health privacy laws
Modern Healthcare

The San Diego-based Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has released a six-part consumer guide to California and federal medical records privacy laws that informs patients that their records are not as private as they probably think they are. The guide, posted on the not-for-profit organization’s website, is a series of six fact sheets explaining in detail relevant state and federal laws, how they overlap and their real-world applications.

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HHS Launches $200M APRN Training Demo
Health Leaders Media

Five hospitals will share as estimated $200 million in federal funding to help train additional advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Monday.

The announcement comes amid growing concern that the demands of healthcare reform will exceed the ability of primary care practitioners to meet those needs.

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$200 million marked for advanced-practice nurse training
Modern Healthcare

Five U.S. hospitals collectively will receive as much as $200 million in federal funding to train advanced-practice registered nurses during the next four years, HHS announced Monday.

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Views closely divided on Medicaid expansion, Kaiser poll finds
Modern Healthcare

Public support for Medicaid expansion is closely divided in a monthly poll that asked respondents about broadening the safety net in their home states. Forty-nine percent said they would prefer their own state to expand Medicaid and 43% said they would not change eligibility, the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows states to expand Medicaid coverage, but June’s U.S.

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Insurance brokers face uncertainty over health care reform
Victorville Daily Press

Few children grow up dreaming to be an insurance agent. Neither did Casey Armstrong.

The Apple Valley native suffered a major stroke when she was 21 and spent six weeks in the hospital. Health insurance was the last thing on her mind.

But when she got out of the hospital, she watched her father, who ran his own insurance agency, coordinate her physical and speech therapies.

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Health insurer Aetna’s 2Q profit falls 15 percent
San Francisco Chronicle

Aetna Inc.’s second-quarter net income tumbled almost 15 percent compared to last year when slower-than-expected growth in health care use helped earnings. The health insurer’s latest results still beat analyst expectations, and it raised its 2012 earnings forecast.

The Hartford, Conn., company said Tuesday that its net income fell to $457.6 million, or $1.32 per share, in the three months that ended June 30, down from $536.7 million, or $1.39 per share, a year ago.

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Internship shows students the ropes of the health care profession
San Francisco Chronicle

On Friday, 16 West County high school students completed a paid summer internship program at Doctors Medical Center and were awarded certificates of proficiency by the Contra Costa County Office of Education. The five-week Summer Youth Employment Program acquainted students with the kind of work done in different hospital departments such as human resources, food and nutrition, the sleep lab and the cancer center.

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Pfizer 2Q net income rises 25 pct on lower costs
San Francisco Chronicle

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc.’s second-quarter net income jumped 25 percent as sharply lower costs for production, marketing and restructuring more than offset a plunge in revenue from cholesterol fighter Lipitor due to increasing generic competition.

The world’s biggest drugmaker easily beat Wall Street expectations. Pfizer’s stock rose 19 cents to $23.90 in premarket trading.

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To manage your health-care bills, know your coverage and negotiate discounts
Washington Post

If gas stations worked like health care, you wouldn’t find out until the pump switched off whether you were paying $3 or $30 a gallon, notes Consumer Reports. If clothes shopping worked like health care, you might pay $80 for a pair of jeans at your local boutique and $400 for the identical pair at the nearest department store — and the clothes wouldn’t have price tags on them.

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