News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Hospital’s fresh outlook
RecordNet

The folks at St. Joseph’s Medical Center have a new prescription to cure what ails you. It’s not medicine. It’s not bed rest. It’s a ripe cherry tomato, a crooked-neck squash or a spicy green pepper that’ll bite you right back. Volunteers with the hospital are harvesting fruits and vegetables from St. Joseph’s new garden, on a hidden 3,800-square-foot wedge of land that once yielded only tall brush and grass.

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CMS to raise payment rates for inpatient services
Modern Healthcare

Medicare payment rates to acute-care hospitals will increase by about 2.8% in 2013, while the program’s total spending on inpatient hospital services will rise by about $2 billion compared with 2012, the CMS announced after releasing a final payment rule. The CMS expects the combination of the rate hike and other policies in the rule to increase Medicare’s operating payments to the nation’s general acute-care hospitals by about 2.3% next year.

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Mobile Health Vans Care for Alameda’s Homeless
KQED Radio

The walking wounded wander the streets of Alameda County. They are people who are homeless and live day to day in public parks and shelters. They are people in need of support for mental health issues and drug and alcohol addiction. And says Addie Brown, they are also one of the most difficult groups of patients to treat.

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The Clatter of the Hospital Room
New York Times

Clasping her chest and struggling to breathe, the small, birdlike woman had landed once again in the hospital for complications of kidney failure. It was her third visit in the last year and now, with fluid building up around her heart, she had come back in, but only after her family had pleaded with her for a day to do so. “Oh, it’s not because I don’t want to feel better,” she fumed as she lay gasping on her hospital bed.

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Medicare card ID protections overdue
San Francisco Chronicle

Despite deep ideological divisions, Democrats and Republicans in Congress still can find common ground on one thing: their frustration with Medicare. Five years after being told to look at taking Social Security numbers off Medicare cards, Medicare officials told lawmakers at a sometimes-tense House hearing Wednesday that they still need six more months to figure out how much it will cost.

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From brain to mouth: The psychology of obesity
USA Today

Everyone knows that people put on weight because they consume more calories than they burn. But as the medical community struggles to get a handle on obesity in the USA, a growing body of research is delving deeper to find out more about the psychology behind the numbers. Although people might be inclined to think of nutritionists or dietitians, obesity is “one of the big common public health issues that falls right in the heart of psychology,” says psychologist Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

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Yearly gynecologist exam recommended, even without Pap smear
USA Today

If healthy women no longer need Pap smears every year — and all major health groups now agree they don’t — is there any reason to see obstetrician/gynecologists every year? The country’s leading group of such doctors, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, says yes. In newly updated guidelines, the doctors encourage women to keep coming annually for “well woman” exams.

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Health insurers owe nearly $74 million in rebates to Californians
Los Angeles Times

Nearly 2 million Californians will receive $73.9 million in rebates from health insurers as part of the federal healthcare law, according to state officials.

Insurers notified government regulators in June of how much they owed customers in rebates or premium credits because they didn’t spend at least 80% or more of 2011 premiums on medical care. The minimum threshold is 85% for employers with more than 51 workers.

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Small Firms See Pain in Health Law
The Wall Street Journal

Randall Tabor, who owns two Quiznos sandwich restaurants in Virginia Beach, Va., once aspired to triple the number of outlets he owns.

But after the federal health-care overhaul passed in 2010, Mr. Tabor says, he shelved those plans. The law requires that employers with 50 or more full-time workers provide health insurance to employees by 2014 or pay a penalty. Mr. Tabor, who employs 36 people at his two Quiznos shops and another restaurant, wants to stay small so he doesn’t trigger the requirement.

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States see increased costs in Medicaid expansion: survey
Modern Healthcare

Most states expect the Medicaid eligibility expansion to increase their costs, even during the three years that the federal government provides a 100% reimbursement for the expanded enrollment, a government survey found.

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Hospital Infections Linked to Burned Out Nurses
Health Leaders Media

Hospitals where higher numbers of nurses report burn out, as measured by the Maslach survey, also had higher rates of surgical site and urinary tract infections than hospitals with fewer burned out nurses, according to a report in the American Journal of Infection Control. “When nurses feel high levels of burnout, they emotionally, psychologically, or cognitively detach from their work and from their patients,” and lapses in infection control occur, said lead author Jeannie P.

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Sleep linked to vaccine effectiveness, study says
California Watch

Lack of sleep won’t just saddle you with unsightly bags and dark circles under your eyes: It also can make you more susceptible to disease.

New research from a team of California and Pennsylvania scientists has found a direct link between sleep and the effectiveness of vaccines.

Healthy adults who get less than six hours of sleep a night don’t get protection from vaccines, the researchers found.

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Large medical-records breaches affect nearly 21 million: OCR
Modern Healthcare

Nearly 21 million individuals have had their medical records compromised in breaches large enough to require public reporting to the Office for Civil Rights at HHS. Since September 2009, there have been 477 breaches reported to the Office for Civil Rights affecting 500 or more people, according to a publicly viewable list on the office’s website.

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GAO: New tech calls for privacy-law changes
Modern Healthcare

Radical changes in information-gathering methods and information-sharing technologies have created loopholes that can render key federal data privacy protection laws ineffective, according to a Government Accountability Office security expert.

That assessment was contained in the written testimony of Gregory Wilshusen, the GAO’s information security issues director, before a subcommittee of the Senate Committee of Homeland Security and Government Affairs.

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New benefits from health care law kick in
ABC News

New benefits from President Barack Obama’s controversial health care law kick in on Wednesday, while Republicans are still vowing to change the law if they can. The women’s preventative health care amendment officially goes into effect. It includes eight preventive health benefits: access to free contraceptives, breast-feeding supplies, screenings for sexually transmitted infections, counseling for domestic violence and routine check-ups for breast and pelvic exams, Pap tests and prenatal care.

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Is rebate for real?
Napa Valley Register

Dear Tom and Alan: I recently received a “rebate” check in the mail on my individual health plan from Blue Shield. Should I cash it? Is it a mistake? I first thought they canceled my policy until I read the letter (which was not too explanatory). Will I receive a rebate every month, year, decade? – Napa Skeptic Tom: Congratulations, Skeptic. This is part of federal health reform also known as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires insurers to spend 80 percent of each health care premium dollar you pay on health care claims.

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Researchers: Medivation’s failed Alzheimer’s drug deserves another shot
San Francisco Business Times

Medivation Inc.’s failed Alzheimer’s drug Dimebon deserves a second chance, a group of researchers say. Dimebon in March 2010 flamed out in a Phase III trial that disappointed Alzheimer’s disease patients and their advocates, leading San Francisco-based Medivation (NASDAQ: MDVN) to squash a planned space expansion and lay off employees.

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Why Medical Management Will Re-Emerge
The Health Care Blog

Several years ago I had dinner with a woman who had served in the late 1990s as the national Chief Medical Officer of a major health plan. At the time, she said, she had developed a strategic initiative that called for abandoning the plan’s utilization review and medical management efforts, which had produced heartburn and a backlash among both physicians and patients. Instead, the idea was to retrospectively analyze utilization to identify unnecessary care.

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Latest CBO Report on Health Law Adds to Business Uncertainty
The Health Care Blog

The Congressional Budget Office’s new estimates of the budgetary impact of the Affordable Care Act, made in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling last month, glides right by one obvious fact: the budget analysts really have no idea how the court ruling will affect their previous estimates.

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