News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

 

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Subsidized health insurance ‘marketplace’ takes shape
The Mercury News

It has been described as a cross between Amazon and Expedia, but for health insurance, instead of books or travel. Imagine comparing insurance policies through an easily navigated online store. That’s the promise of the California Health Benefit Exchange, set to open in 2014 as a key element of the national health reform law. Several million people and thousands of small businesses will be able to weigh competing plans, buy the one best for them and see if they qualify for subsidies to offset premium costs.

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Medicare fraud busters unveil command center
San Francisco Chronicle

Medicare’s war on fraud is going high-tech with the opening of a $3.6 million command center that features a giant screen and the latest computer and communications gear. That’s raising expectations, as well as some misgivings.

The carpeting stills smells new at the facility, which went live a week ago in a nondescript commercial office park on Baltimore’s outskirts. A couple dozen computer workstations are arrayed in concentric semicircles in front of a giant screen that can display data and photos, and also enable face-to-face communication with investigators around the country.

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California builds the nation’s largest prison medical facility
Southern California Public Radio

California is building the largest prison medical facility in the nation — and it’s doing it a record clip. That’s because the state has to comply with a federal court order to improve health care for inmates. A cluster of a warehouses, bungalows and two-story-high mounds of dirt mark the future home of the California Health Care Facility, just outside of Stockton. Even though the word “prison” isn’t in its name, the 144-acre facility definitely fits the description.

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Healthcare’s Big Data Problem
Health Leaders Media

Decision-making in healthcare can be painfully slow, as any physician will tell you, because of complexity. Patient discharge, for example, can involve a coordination of gears that could make a clockmaker sweat, because of all the information that must be processed to coordinate care outside the walls of the hospital. But thanks to a flurry of innovation in real-time processing of data, many healthcare organizations, including physician group practices, are getting better—and quicker—at dealing with data.

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Nearly 2 million Californians to receive health insurance rebates
Orange County Register

The state insurance commissioner announced Tuesday that roughly 1.9 million Californians will receive $73.9 million in health insurance rebates, a new requirement of the federal Affordable Care Act. The average refund totals $65 per family and must be issued by Wednesday, according to Commissioner Dave Jones. Employers, however, can choose to apply the refund to future premiums rather than distribute a share to employees.

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California lays out health insurance rebates
Sacramento Bee

The state Department of Insurance issued detailed breakdowns Tuesday of health insurance rebates going out to some employers and employees this week.

The average rebate is about $65 per family.

Under the new federal health care overhaul, major health insurers across the country must give rebates to consumers if they don’t spend at least 80 percent to 85 percent of premiums on health care costs.

Here’s the rebate breakdown by California insurers:

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Health insurance marketplace Q-and-A: The money behind the coverage
The Mercury News

Beginning in 2014, many Californians who do not have health insurance coverage through a job will be able to buy it through the online California Health Benefit Exchange. At that time, nearly everyone will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty. Here are answers to questions about how the exchange will work:

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HHS touts free preventive services for women
Modern Healthcare

HHS estimates that about 47 million U.S. women are in health insurance plans that must begin to cover eight preventive services for women without any out-of-pocket costs as part of the healthcare reform law.

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No co-pay on some women’s health services
San Francisco Chronicle

As part of the federal health care legislation, insurers will now have to cover eight kinds of women’s services – everything from contraception to domestic violence counseling – without charging co-payments, deductibles or any other cost to the patient.

But don’t put the wallet away yet. Because the change applies only to plans issued on or after Wednesday, most women will not immediately be able to go to their local drugstore to pick up their birth control or go to a doctor for a checkup without having to pay.

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GOP lawmakers question anti-fraud efforts
Modern Healthcare

Republican Senate Finance Committee members are demanding answers about what they see as the CMS‘ slow implementation and lack of transparency in healthcare fraud-fighting programs as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gets a tour of the agency’s secret new command center for operations.

Sebelius on Tuesday was scheduled to tour the HHS’ new command center for healthcare fraud and detection and investigation, which was built at an undisclosed location in Baltimore.

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3 Ways to Address Nursing Underperformance
Health Leaders Media

You’ve selected the standards against which you’ll measure your nurses. What happens if an individual or a unit misses the mark? Terri Veneziano, MSN, RN, former CNO at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital; Donna Poduska, MS, RN, Poudre Valley Hospital CNO; and Bridget Johnson, vice president of patient services at Parkview Whitley Hospital, offer three pointers.

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Supervisors put CPMC on slow track
San Francisco Chronicle

Nothing will happen quickly in the dispute over the $2.5 billion plan by California Pacific Medical Center to build a huge state-of-the art hospital on Cathedral Hill and upgrade its other medical facilities in the city.

Facing a continuing dispute over the project, including the fate of St. Luke’s Hospital in the Mission District, the Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to delay any decision on the final environmental impact report until at least Nov. 20.

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Brown’s tax initiative committee raises $7.82 million
Capitol Weekly

Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative campaign committee has raised more than $7.82 million through the final week of July, with donations coming from a broad array of business, labor, health, and communications interests.

Financial disclosure documents on file with the state showed the largest contributions were a $500,000 donation from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and another $500,000 from the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.

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Mercy San Juan, Sutter ranked as top hospitals for bariatric surgeries
Sacramento Business Journal

Mercy San Juan Medical Center and Sutter Medical Center Sacramento ranked among the top 10 percent of hospitals in the nation that perform a minimum volume of bariatric surgeries, according to a report released Tuesday by Healthgrades, a leading provider of information on doctors and hospitals. Complication rates nationwide are relatively low — 5.87 percent — but vary widely from hospital to hospital, the report shows.

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Deal with Glenn Medical Center paves way for future new hospital
Chico Enterprise Record

Patients at Glenn County Medical Center won’t notice any changes right away, but a deal with the Glenn County Board of Supervisors Tuesday may lead to construction of a new hospital in the future. The nonprofit medical facility purchased its site from the county for $300,000. The total purchase price was $750,000. However, the county currently pays a subsidy to the medical center, and will stop doing so in the future for the remainder of the purchase price.

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Federal budget agreement contains no SGR adjustment
Modern Healthcare

Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama announced an agreement that will keep the federal government operating through the first quarter of 2013, but the agreement does not include adjusting or repealing the sustainable growth-rate Medicare payment formula—which a new Congressional Budget Office analysis says will require a 27% cut in physician payments next year.

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Hospital celebrates healthy balance sheet
Plumas County News

The year-end figures are in and Eastern Plumas Health Care administrators are pleased with what they see.

“I’m really proud of this; we did it,” said Jeri Nelson, the district’s chief financial officer.

This is a strong balance sheet that shows $1.6 million in combined savings and 34 days cash on hand.

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A new day for women’s preventive care
USA Today

Starting Wednesday, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all new insurance policies will be required to cover the vital care women need to stay healthy without charging a fee to the patient. As a result, millions of women will soon be able to walk into their doctor’s office and get preventive services such as an annual well-woman visit without paying a dollar out of pocket.

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Recap: Health Care Summit 2012
San Jose Business Journal

About 300 people joined the Silicon Valley Business Journal on Tuesday morning at the publication’s annual Health Care Summit, held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. This year, the Business Journal asked people from different facets of health care for their take on health reform and the state of Silicon Valley health care: Diana S. Dooley, Secretary, California Health and Human Services Agency, is helping the state oversee the California Health Benefit Exchange.

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