News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Marketplace Customers Could See Higher Premiums, No Coverage For Out-Of-Network Care
Kaiser Health News

When the health insurance marketplaces open on Sunday, consumers shopping for 2016 coverage may encounter steeper premium increases than last year and more plans that offer no out-of-network coverage.

According to an analysis released Monday evening by the Health and Human Services Department, the cost of the second-lowest silver plan in states using the federal marketplace will rise an average of 7.5 percent for 2016 coverage. Silver plans are the most popular type of marketplace plan. They pay 70 percent of medical costs, on average, leaving consumers to cover 30 percent. And premium tax credits that are available to people with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level — about $47,000 for one person — are benchmarked to the second-cheapest silver plan.

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Fetal Cells May Protect Mom From Disease Long After The Baby’s Born
National Public Radio

This is a story about two people sharing one body. Maybe even three people. Or four.

Back in the late 19th century, a German scientist named Georg Schmorl made a remarkable discovery: Cells from a baby can hide out in a mother’s body, after birth.

More than a hundred years later, scientists are just beginning to figure out what these cells are doing. And their findings may have implications for how cancer and autoimmune diseases affect women.

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3 Ways to Boost Hospital Security
HealthLeaders Media

So far, 2015 has proven to be a violent year, with more than 300 known mass shootings as of this writing. Since January 1, there have been shootings on college campuses, in movie theaters, and in churches.

It probably comes as no surprise, but hospitals are not immune from violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 63% of all nonfatal assaults and violent acts in the workplace occur within the healthcare and social assistance industry.

Everyone in a hospital needs to be prepared for the worst, says Jason Berenstein, director of hospital security at Oakland Regional Hospital in Southfield, MI. “Unfortunately, it’s a sign of the times. We have to train hospital staff to be ready for anything,” he says.

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Revamped HealthCare.Gov Opens With New Tools for Gauging True Cost of Insurance
New York Times

Consumers on Monday began shopping online for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act on a newly remodeled version of that worked more or less as promised by the government.

Entering the health act’s third open enrollment season, the site offered consumers a relatively easy way to renew coverage they had this year through the marketplace established by President Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

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Premiums for Health Insurance Bought on Exchanges to Climb in 2016
The Wall Street Journal

The Obama administration said many consumers will see noticeable premium increases when buying health coverage on insurance exchanges in 2016, acknowledging for the first time what many health-care experts had predicted.

Federal officials said Monday that the price of the second-lowest-cost midrange “silver plan”—a key metric for premiums around the country—will increase by 7.5% on average across the three-dozen states that rely on Washington to administer the health law for them.

News Headlines Article premiums have bigger increase for 2016
USA Today

About 70% of those who return to the federal insurance exchange when open enrollment starts Nov. 1 will pay less than $75 a month after they receive tax credits, a government analysis released Monday shows.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also reported that for this third open enrollment about 80% of consumers shopping again on will be able to pay less than $100 a month after tax credits. covers the 38 states that don’t have their own exchanges selling individual policies for next year.

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2016 Affordable Care Act insurance rates are climbing
Washington Post

The prices for a popular and important group of health plans sold through the federal insurance exchange will climb by an average of 7.5 percent for the coming year, a jump nearly four times bigger than a year ago, according to new government figures.

The rate increase for 2016 compares with average growth of 2 percent, from 2014 to this year, in the monthly premiums for a level of coverage that serves as the benchmark for federal subsidies that help most consumers buying coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

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Average premiums to rise 7.5 percent on key ObamaCare plan
The Hill

The price of the benchmark ObamaCare plan will jump by 7.5 percent on average next year, according to data released Monday.

The premium increase is far more than last year’s 2 percent jump among benchmark silver plans. Those plans, the second-lowest cost option among silver plans, are important because they determine healthcare subsidies for people living in that area, even if they pick a different tiered plan.

The Obama administration touted that the increase was in the single digits — something it said was harder to achieve before the Affordable Care Act.

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Obamacare Benchmark Health Premiums Climb 7.5% on Average

Mid-level Obamacare health policies are going to be more expensive next year, a challenge for the administration as it seeks to boost enrollment. Premiums for the second-lowest-cost silver plans are going up by an average of 7.5 percent next year in the 37 states that use a U.S.-run website, the Department of Health and Human Services said Monday. Last year, those plans got 2 percent more expensive on average in 35 states. Those plans are used to calculate the government subsidies that most people get to help them buy coverage on the website.

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Obamacare rates to rise 7.5 percent next year

Obamacare customers are facing an average 7.5 percent price increase for a key benchmark health plan next year, according to limited data the Obama administration released just days before the start of a challenging enrollment season. But the average rate hikes will vary dramatically from state to state — skyrocketing more than 30 percent in Alaska, Montana and Oklahoma while dropping 12.6 percent in Indiana.

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Health Insurance Prices Up 7.5 Percent for Benchmark Plans
New York Times

The federal government says the cost of a benchmark plan on will increase 7.5 percent for 2016 coverage, but most people will still be able to buy a plan for less than $100 a month, after tax credits.

Monday was the first day people could see 2016 prices on the website established under President Barack Obama’s health care law. A new sign-up season starts Sunday, and consumers can start browsing now as they prepare to buy.

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Premiums For Key Marketplace Silver Plans Rising An Average Of 7.5 Percent, HHS Says
Kaiser Health News

Premiums will increase an average of 7.5 percent for the second-lowest-cost silver insurance plan to be offered next year in the 37 states where the federal government operates health marketplaces, according to an analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The HHS report, released late Monday, focuses on the monthly premiums for the second-lowest silver plan, also called the benchmark, which is used by the Internal Revenue Service to calculate tax credits to help pay for the premiums. The credits are available to people with incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line ($11,770 to $47,080 for an individual) who purchase coverage on the federal or state-based online marketplaces, or exchanges.

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Budget deal includes proposed cuts to Medicare payments
Modern Healthcare

A two-year $80 billion federal budget deal that could be announced as early as Tuesday would include continuing sequester spending cuts and limiting future hospital off-campus outpatient rates, a healthcare lobbyist said Monday.The deal, not yet finalized, would also reportedly raise the federal borrowing limit and prevent a looming spike in premiums for about 30% of Medicare Part B beneficiaries.

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1,800 hospitals will see value-based purchasing bonuses in fiscal 2016
Modern Healthcare

Medicare will reward more hospitals than it will penalize in fiscal 2016 under its value-based purchasing program, the CMS said Monday.About 1,800 hospitals will see positive payment adjustments the CMS said. The changes in base DRG payments will be very small—between -0.4% and 0.4%, for about half of the more than 3,000 hospitals that are subject to the program. Under the value-based purchasing program, the CMS imposed an across-the-board 1.75% reduction in Medicare payments (up from 1.5% for fiscal 2015) for most inpatient acute-care hospitals.

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Task Force Urges Screening Of Overweight Adults For High Blood Sugar
National Public Radio

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now says all overweight and obese Americans between 40 and 70 years old should get their blood sugar levels tested.

The advisory group’s previous recommendation, drafted in 2008, made no mention of weight, instead suggesting that doctors routinely test the blood sugar of patients who have high blood pressure, another risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.

But the latest guidelines, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, expanded that recommendation, largely because of evidence that as Americans have gotten heavier over the years, the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes has rapidly increased.

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Latest prenatal technology enhances screenings
San Diego Union-Tribune

In the years since Dr. Dale Mitchell started his career, there have been major advances in prenatal diagnosis.

Today, he’s the OB-GYN chairman at Scripps Clinic Medical Group. But when he began in medicine, non-invasive screening tests didn’t exist, and ultrasound for expectant mothers was in its infancy.

As a result, he said, most genetic problems and birth defects were determined after birth — not before, as they commonly are today.

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Medication Errors Occur in Half of All Surgeries

Even at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, one of the best hospitals in the nation, medication errors occur in half of all surgeries, according to a study published Sunday in the journal Anesthesiology.

Previous estimates of medication errors in the operating room have relied doctors’ own estimates. When self-reporting, physicians reported errors in just 1 in every 133 operations.

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Out-of-pocket health costs of dementia soar at the end of life
Yahoo! News

Families may spend almost twice as much caring for dementia patients at the end of life than they might if their loved one suffered from a different disease, a U.S. study suggests.

Costs paid by Medicare, the U.S. health insurance program for the elderly, were similar over the final five years of life for patients with dementia, heart disease, cancer and other conditions, according to the study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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San Francisco Set to Implement Laura’s Law, Compels Treatment for Mentally Ill
KQED Radio

Starting next week, San Francisco will be the fifth county in the state to implement Laura’s Law, the measure that allows judges to force severely mentally ill people to get treatment.

The measure is targeted toward people who are resisting care and have a history of hospitalization, incarceration or violence. Family members, mental health providers or police officers can petition the court to compel patients into outpatient treatment, though patients cannot be forced to take medication.

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Did Blue Shield dump Stanford over high costs, then raise theirs?
San Francisco Business Times

Some Blue Shield of California customers on the Peninsula say their premium rates will jump significantly in January even after Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital are booted out of Blue Shield’s individual and family plan networks.

Early this month, as first reported by the Business Times, Blue Shield said it’s kicking the two Stanford hospitals out of the PPO network because of high costs, effective Jan. 1.

Entities affected include Stanford Health Care, Stanford Medical Center, Lucile Packard, Stanford Medical Group, Lucile Packard Medical Group, and Stanford’s University Health Alliance.

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Gov. Jerry Brown at Children’s Hospital Oakland expansion event
Contra Costa Times

Gov. Jerry Brown joined local leaders Monday to break ground for an outpatient center at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.

The six-story, 89,000-square-foot building will be the first step in a 10-year expansion to rebuild and upgrade the health center to meet state seismic standards.

“This is the confluence of so many different minds, investment streams, imaginations; that’s what it takes,” Brown said.

The governor noted that the hospital represents a connection of the University of California, Oakland, San Francisco, and philanthropists Marc and Lynne Benioff.

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Native American health clinic in midtown begins $3.8M expansion
Sacramento Business Journal

Demolition is done, construction on a $3.8 million expansion of the Sacramento Native American Health Center is underway — and most of the money to pay for it has been raised. The expansion will more than double clinic space to 36,000 square feet. It will allow the center at 2020 J St. to serve up to 20,000 patients when it opens in mid-January. The nonprofit currently serves about 12,000.