News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Hospitals Could Save $9 Billion Under EFT Rules, HHS Says
Health Leaders Media

New federal rules for electronic claims payments will cut red tape and could save healthcare providers and plans as much as $9 billion over the next decade, the Department of Health and Human Services says. The interim final rules, announced this week, use the healthcare electronic fund transfer standards that the federal government adopted in January.

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A Medicaid opportunity
Los Angeles Times

The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that 30 million Americans still will be left without health insurance in 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Courtruling that largely upheld President Obama’s healthcare plan. The part of the plan that was not upheld by the high court, however, contains the key to lowering that number. The issue revolves around what it means to be covered by health insurance, and who decides.

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CMS says new rules will cut red tape
Modern Physician

The CMS issued new financial transaction rules for hospitals and other HIPAA-covered providers Tuesday that federal officials expect will cost up to $2.7 billion over 10 years but save as much as $4.5 billion. The interim final rule, with which providers must comply by Jan. 1, 2014, will establish new operating standards both for electronic fund transfers in healthcare and for describing adjustments to claim payments.

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Obama’s health-care law: The fitness and wellness provisions you may have missed
Washington Post

Perhaps you’ve had a mammogram recently, or taken a child for an immunization or consulted with a specialist about a weight problem. Since late 2010, those visits to health-care providers have carried an additional benefit: They’re free. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law 28 months ago and largely upheld in June by the Supreme Court, it’s illegal for insurers to charge consumers a co-payment for a long list of health care services designed to prevent disease.

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Embattled HCA reaps strong profits from California hospitals
Los Angeles Times

Hospital chain HCA Holdings Inc., under government scrutiny for allegedly performing unnecessary surgeries and other medical procedures on some Florida patients, has posted healthy profits at its three hospitals in Southern California.

The Nashville, Tenn., company said in a securities filing Monday that officials with the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami had requested information about medical necessity reviews for certain “cardiology services.”

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HCA probe shines light on chest pain overtreatment
San Francisco Chronicle

An investigation into one of the nation’s biggest hospital chains is refocusing attention on concerns about overtreatment for chest pain. Many doctors are unclogging arteries to treat the pain, providing quick relief. However, studies have shown medicine is a safer and cheaper alternative for patients whose heart disease isn’t life-threatening.

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Minorities bear brunt of ER overcrowding: study
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals that serve large numbers of minority patients are more likely to struggle with emergency-department overcrowding and, as a result, are more likely to reroute ambulances to other hospitals—a practice that can exacerbate existing health disparities, according to research published in the August issue of Health Affairs.

Led by Dr. Renee Hsia, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, researchers examined ambulance diversion rates at 202 California hospitals during 2007.

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Why Pfizer pulled plug on failed Alzheimer’s drug trial
USA Today

Pfizer Inc.’s decision to pull the plug this week on an experimental drug for Alzheimer’s disease was a disappointment, but not a big surprise, say medical experts eager for a breakthrough. The company said Monday that the trial of bapineuzumab is being stopped in patients with mild to moderate symptoms after it failed to change cognitive and functional performances.

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Kids’ cholesterol down; fewer trans fats cited
The Mercury News

Finally some good news about cholesterol and kids: A big government study shows that in the past decade, the proportion of children who have high cholesterol has fallen. The results are surprising, given that the childhood obesity rate didn’t budge. How can that be? Some experts think that while most kids may not be eating less or exercising more, they may be getting fewer trans fats.

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HIV/AIDS regional clinic gets $350,000 to expand its services
Sacramento Bee

The Sacramento region’s largest HIV/AIDS nonprofit clinic, the Center for AIDS Research, Education and Services, received a federal grant of $350,000 on Tuesday to expand the reach of its services.

The infusion in funds will help boost focused care for youths, children and women with HIV, said Bob Kam-rath, executive director of CARES.

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Autism rates jump again in Sacramento region
Sacramento Bee

More than one of every 100 local students have autism, a rate that has more than tripled during the last decade, according to new figures from the California Department of Education.

About 3,830 students in the four-county area were autistic in December 2011, up by 450, or 13 percent, from 2010. The rise occurred even as total enrollment in the region stayed flat.

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Marin breast cancer linked to vitamin D?
San Francisco Chronicle

New research may start to shed light on why Marin County has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world, and the answer may be related to vitamin D. A small pilot study of Marin County women determined through testing to be at high risk for breast cancer found them to be almost twice as likely to have a variant of a vitamin D receptor as the overall population of 338 in the study.

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Agency offers in-home, palliative care to children
HealthyCal.org

While there are many agencies that provide in-home help for adults with temporary, chronic and terminal illnesses, Margy Mayfield saw a gap in those services for children on the Central Coast. In the seven years since Coastal Kids Home Care was founded in Salinas, Mayfield said she still sees a too few services for children. “You are making such a difference and impact,” she said. “The relationship with families is so intense and really close.”

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UC Merced Connect Fellow studies midwifery
Sacramento Bee

Catalina Hernandez, UC Merced’s first Human Rights Center fellow, is spending this summer exploring how women decide to seek help from a midwife for childbirth instead of an obstetrician.

A proponent of midwifery, Hernandez said allowing women to choose their maternity care is a human-rights issue that goes beyond race or class.

The pop-culture image of childbirth — a screaming mother in a hospital — distorts people’s perspectives, she said.

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Universal Healthcare – One expert’s opinion
Elk Grove Citizen

Margaret Kapasi, an administrator for the local Calvine Urgent Care medical facility, lived in Canada most of her life. Canadians have access to universal healthcare that’s similar to the recently passed “Obamacare” bill.

Kapasi described the new laws as a way to provide affordable insurance to those without private insurance.

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10 Ways to Make the EMR Meaningful and Useful
The Health Care Blog

I am an EMR geek who isn’t so thrilled with the direction of EMR. So what, I have been asked, would make EMR something that is really meaningful? What would be the things that would truly help, and not just make more hoops for me to jump through? A lot of this is not in the hands of the gods of MU, but in the realm of the demons of reimbursement, but I will give it a try anyhow. Here’s my list:

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