News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California health care reform goes into overdrive
Sacramento Business Journal

The U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act hasn’t changed much in California — except to put the reform effort into overdrive. While the National Federation of Independent Business remains undeterred from efforts to unwind the law, health industry experts who spoke on a Business Journal panel Thursday see the court decision as a catalyst that will escalate change.

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UCSF, Dignity discuss linking San Francisco hospitals
San Francisco Business Times

The University of California, San Francisco Medical Center and Dignity Health intend to create an integrated health-care system that links the academic medical center with Dignity’s St. Mary’s and Saint Francis hospitals. The two organizations have signed a memorandum of understanding to integrate their San Francisco hospitals. Their tentative timetable is to have a firmer agreement in place by the end of 2012, according to Tricia Griffin, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Dignity, which has 40 hospitals in California, Arizona and Nevada.

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Nurses’ union gives $1 million to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure
Contra Costa Times

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday collected the California Nurses Association’s endorsement, a $1 million contribution and a pledge of boots on the street to support his tax-hike measure on November’s ballot. Flanked by the leadership of the CNA and National Nurses United’s leadership and a phalanx of red-shirted nurses, Brown called it “a generous contribution and one sorely needed to present the choice to the people of California.”

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Senators urge crackdown on Medicaid providers who cheat on taxes
Modern Healthcare

Senior senators from both parties urged stepped up enforcement by the Obama administration and new laws after some Medicaid providers were recently found to owe large amounts of unpaid federal taxes. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, urged both steps after a recent Government Accountability Office report that he requested found about 7,000 providers reimbursed $6.6 billion for treating Medicaid patients owed at least $791 million in federal taxes from 2009 or earlier.

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CMS to increase payment rates for inpatient psych facilities
Modern Healthcare

The CMS will increase Medicare payments to inpatient psychiatric facilities by 1.9% for fiscal 2013 beginning Oct. 1, for a total estimated increase of about $36 million, according to a notice from the CMS. The CMS arrived at that change by taking the Rehabilitation Psychiatric and Long-Term Care market basket rate of 2.7% and reducing it by 0.8% because of technical adjustments mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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CMS Releases 2013 IPPS Final Rule
Health Leaders Media

Inpatient facilities received mixed news on proposed changes to the list of complications and comorbidities (CC) and major CCs (MCC) in the fiscal year (FY) 2013 Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) final rule, released August 1. In addition, CMS added two conditions to the list of hospital-acquired conditions (HAC), finalized operational details for the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program, and made changes to the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program.

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CMS debuts provider compliance map
Modern Healthcare

The CMS unveiled a compliance map on its website that is geared toward giving providers easier access to the appropriate contact information for such federal groups as fiscal intermediaries, carriers and recovery audit contractors. Providers can click on their state or U.S. territory to see a listing of related contacts for Medicare Parts A and B, and for other selected provider classifications.

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Nurses union pledges $1 million to Jerry Brown’s tax initiative
Los Angeles Times

California’s biggest nurses union endorsed Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative Thursday and committed $1 million toward the effort. “At a time when too many politicians respond to the budget crisis solely with budget cuts and harsh austerity measures, we congratulate Jerry Brown for the political courage to propose increased revenue,” said DeAnn McEwen, a co-president of the California Nurses Assn., at a news conference at the organization’s Oakland headquarters.

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Healthcare adds 12,000 jobs in July
Modern Healthcare

Healthcare employers added 12,000 jobs in July in the second straight month of slow employment gains in the industry as unemployment in the wider economy edged up slightly.

Healthcare employment grew by 0.01% in the month, about half the average growth rate since July 2011, according to seasonally adjusted estimates released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Sutter, state ISO top area’s 401(k) rankings
Sacramento Bee

Sutter Medical Group Inc. and the Folsom-based California Independent System Operator Corp. retained the No. 1 and 2 positions, respectively, on a list of Sacramento-area companies with the highest ranking 401(k) plans.

The top 10 list is compiled annually by BrightScope, a San Diego-based financial information and investment research firm.

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Novato hospital consultant promotes sister hospital relationships to boost access to care
Marin Independent Journal

When Jeff Hardy, a Novato-based hospital consultant, was helping design a new hospital in Port Harcourt, Nigera, in 2008, it struck him that even after the new hospital opened, most of the city’s residents would continue to receive their medical treatment at a woefully inadequate medical clinic.

“There wasn’t even a refrigerator in this clinic,” Hardy said. “I’m thinking: This isn’t right.”

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Medicaid expansion refusal hurts hospitals
San Francisco Chronicle

Medical care for which U.S. hospitals receive no payment is at an all-time high, as governors in states including Texas and Mississippi reject funds under the Affordable Care Act that would alleviate the industry’s burden.

Bloomberg’s BGOV Barometer shows that hospitals’ uncompensated care has risen 82 percent since 2000, to $39.3 billion in 2010, the most recent figure available. Uncompensated care, including charity and unpaid bills, made up about 5.8 percent of hospitals’ expenses for the year, according to the American Hospital Association, which reports the data annually.

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Audit finds $5 million in wrongful home health payments
Modern Healthcare

Medicare paid $5 million for the home healthcare of beneficiaries in 2010 who were either already inpatients or dead, government auditors found. HHS‘ inspector general reported Thursday that it reviewed the $19.5 billion in CMS payments that year to 11,203 home health agencies specifically to identify such obvious unnecessary payments as those that overlapped with hospital or skilled-nursing facility stays.

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Insurance Rebates For Californians
MyMotherLode.com

This month the state Insurance Commissioner says several people will receive rebates from insurance providers.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says part of the President’s Affordable Care Act is a mandate that insurance companies in the individual and small group markets spend at least 80 percent of their revenue on actual medical costs, rather than non-medical expenses.

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Sacramento health experts discuss SCOTUS ruling on Affordable Care Act
Examiner

A group of local healthcare experts convened this morning to discuss the implications of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The health reform summit – titled “Health Care Reform-What Now?” – was sponsored by the Sacramento Business Journal and featured a panel of executives, attorneys, and policy experts.

Panel members were:

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Patient data outage exposes risks of electronic medical records
Los Angeles Times

Dozens of hospitals across the country lost access to crucial electronic medical records for about five hours during a major computer outage last week, raising fresh concerns about whether poorly designed technology can compromise patient care.

Cerner Corp., a leading supplier of electronic health records to hospitals and doctors, said “human error” caused the outage July 23 that it said affected an unspecified number of hospitals that rely on the Kansas City, Mo., company to remotely store their medical information.

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Your Health: The patient protection and affordable care act
Press-Banner

I would like to offer my interpretation of the federal government’s Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. First of all, insurance companies will be regulated. There will be coverage under the parent’s policy for children up to age 26. There will be no maximum limit on what an insurance company will pay for an individual’s lifetime of health care coverage, and preexisting illness cannot prevent one from obtaining health insurance.

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Marin Voice: Don’t discontinue prostate screening
Marin Independent Journal

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in U.S. men, with 240,000 new cases and 33,720 deaths in 2011. The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer is 16 percent, and about 3 percent of men will die of it.

That’s why we strongly disagree with the recent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation against the use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening, regardless of age, race, or family history.

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Why Should You Care Whether or Not Your State Decides to Expand Medicaid Coverage?
The Health Care Blog

By expanding Medicaid, the state-federal partnership that offers health insurance to low-income Americans, the Affordable Care Act set out to cover some 17 million uninsured – or roughly half of the 34 million who are expected to gain coverage under reform. But when the Supreme Court ruled on the Affordable Care Act in June, it struck down a key provision which threatened that if a state refused to co-operate in extending Medicaid to more of its citizens, it could lose the federal funding it now receives for its current Medicaid enrollees.

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