News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Joint Commission warns hospitals on opioid risks
Modern Healthcare

The Joint Commission is warning hospitals about the risks of adverse events associated with opioid drugs and is urging providers to take action to prevent opioid-related harm or death. In an alert issued to Joint Commission-accredited organizations, the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based organization noted that opioid pain drugs “rank among the drugs most frequently associated with adverse drug events” such as respiratory depression and aspiration pneumonia.

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Contra Costa regulators disband elected Mt. Diablo Health Care District board
The Mercury News

Four civil grand juries, a dozen high-voltage editorials and one stinging consultant’s report later, Contra Costa regulators pulled the plug Wednesday on the central county’s hospital-less public health care district. The Local Agency Formation Commission unanimously disbanded the Mt. Diablo Health Care District’s five-member elected board, shrank its borders and assigned its funds to Concord.

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ACP: Federal, state laws limit better care
Modern Physician

A paper released by the American College of Physicians highlights state and federal laws that it says limit physician-patient communication and present roadblocks to better care. The paper, “Statement of Principles on the Role of Governments in Regulating the Patient-Physician Relationship”, suggests guidelines for the role of governments. Among the concerns are that some laws prevent physicians from educating patients about risk factors that could affect their health or their families’, as suggested by evidence-based guidelines of care.

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FTC won’t challenge effort to fight drug shortages
Modern Healthcare

The Federal Trade Commission will not recommend a challenge to a Generic Pharmaceuticals Association plan to assist the Food and Drug Administration as it tries to reduce drug shortages. Though the effort, known as the Accelerated Recovery Initiative, would have the GPhA collect competitively sensitive data that would raise antitrust concerns if it were shared with competitors, the proposed program’s safeguards would prevent such sharing from occurring, according to a news release from the FTC.

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Cigna Plans Aggressive Expansion for ACO-like Program
Health Leaders Media

Cigna has accelerated the development of its collaborative accountable care (CAC) program. The CAC is Cigna’s variation on the accountable care organizations (ACO) created as part of federal healthcare reform. While ACOs focus on physicians and hospitals providing coordinated care to improve quality and lower the cost of care for Medicare beneficiaries, Cigna’s version of the ACO is an insurer-physician partnership that provides coordinated care to improve quality and contain healthcare costs across Cigna’s commercial and Medicare Advantage books of business.

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Health care law may cut down on excessive procedures
USA Today

The 2010 health care law gives Medicare and Medicaid more authority to track and reject payments for medical procedures believed to be overused, such as those involving hospital giant HCA and its alleged overuse of stents in cardiac patients, records and interviews with health care experts show. Also, the law and 2009 stimulus act will change payment incentives and allow physicians to use electronic records to limit unnecessary medical testing.

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Blue-collar workers top charts for worst employee health
USA Today

Workers who keep the country running through transportation, construction and other services may also suffer the worst health, according to recent rankings of employees’ well-being. The research group Gallup and wellness company Healthways gathered information about employees’ health and living through its 2011 Well-Being Index to gain a comprehensive picture of workers’ health across occupation groups.

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Health Care Heroes 2012
San Francisco Business Times

We are proud to recognize this year’s Health Care Heroes with our second annual publication and event. The 2012 Heroes were honored at a breakfast event Wednesday, July 25, at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. When we created the awards, our goal was to recognize the broad spectrum of contributors to the Bay Area’s vibrant health care ecosystem: From doctors and nurses who deliver treatment, to the fundraisers who make sure hospitals have the equipment and facilities they need to succeed, to the volunteers and unsung heroes whose contributions are invaluable to thriving medical fac

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Retailers and hospitality industry employers face big healthcare reform cost increases: Mercer
Modern Healthcare

Employers in the retail and hospitality industries face the greatest cost increases when provisions of the health care reform law imposing financial penalties on employers that do not offer qualified coverage go into effect in 2014, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Forty-six percent of employers in the retail and hospitality industries and 40% of employers in the health care services industry expect health care cost increases of at least 3% due to health care reform law requirements, according to the Mercer L.L.C. survey of 1,203 employers.

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Sutter Health program guides parents through birth of multiple infants and beyond
Sacramento Bee

If you had walked into Sutter Medical Plaza Sacramento on Wednesday morning, you would have found yourself seeing double, or even triple, as families with twins and triplets gathered to thank the staff who helped them get through their pregnancies.

The 27 families present were all “graduates” of the Sutter Moms of Multiples (MOMs) Center, offered under the umbrella of Sutter Women’s Services.

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States May Drop Medicaid Expansion, CMS Says
Health Leaders Media

The federal announcement this week that states may choose to expand their Medicaid programs to 138% of the federal poverty level for some period of time, and then later drop out, could provoke some states deeply opposed or on the fence to reconsider.

But the news doesn’t answer many of the big questions that remain, says Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors.

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New drug improves prognosis in advanced breast cancer cases
Los Angeles Daily News

A recent drug approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is making waves in the breast cancer community.

The drug everolimus (brand name Afinitor, from drug manufacturer Novartis) has been approved as a treatment for postmenopausal women with advanced hormone receptor-positive, or HR+, breast cancer.

Everolimus is used in combination with the drug exemestane after failure of treatment with letrozole or anastrozole.

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States can expand Medicaid, cut it later, CMS says
Modern Healthcare

States that expand their Medicaid programs under provisions of the federal healthcare overhaul are free to cut them again in the future, the CMS has confirmed.

Cindy Mann, director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations at the CMS, said the agency will allow states that expand their Medicaid eligibility to receive 100% federal funding for the newly eligible in 2014-2016 to cut their rolls in the future.

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Survey: 61% of employers expect cost increase from healthcare law
Los Angeles Times

More than 60% of employers in a new survey anticipate some increase in their health benefit costs due to the federal Affordable Care Act.

The survey of 1,203 employers by the Mercer consulting firm found that 20% of those businesses expect an increase of 5% or more. The firm said employers in retail and hospitality, which often have large numbers of part-time and lower-paid workers, will be among those most affected when the healthcare law takes full effect in 2014.

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Employers confused on health insurance rebate
San Francisco Chronicle

A provision of the Affordable Care Act that entitles some health insurance customers to a rebate has some employers wondering how to administer it. “There is still a lot of confusion regarding this,” said Andy Thiede, director of operations for the Human Resources Association of Central Connecticut, the Hartford-based affiliate of the national Society for Human Resource Management. “I don’t think there’s a clear path right now.”

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The Most Powerful Health Care Group You’ve Never Heard Of
The Health Care Blog

Excessive health care spending is overwhelming America’s economy, but the subtler truth is that this excess has been largely facilitated by subjugating primary care. A wealth of evidence shows that empowered primary care results in better outcomes at lower cost. Other developed nations have heeded this truth. But US payment policy has undervalued primary care while favoring specialists.

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Life, Interrupted: Medical Bills, Insurance and Uncertainty
New York Times

Like a lot of other young people, I never thought about health insurance until I got sick. I was 22, and my adult life was just beginning. But less than a year after walking across the stage at my college graduation, I received an unexpected diagnosis — acute myeloid leukemia — and with it came a flurry of consultations, tests and appointments. From early on, my doctors told me I would need chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

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Doctors, Patients, or Insurers? Who Will Shape Health Care?
The Health Care Blog

At a conference for America’s Health Insurance Plans, Gladwell argued that patients or consumers have been unable to be more empowered because doctors, as the intermediary, held the power of knowledge much the same way chauffeurs did for the early days of the automobile and Xerox technicians did in the early days of photocopying. A person was needed to guide and assist the individual to get the job done. At some point, however, the technology became simpler.

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Diabetes and the Obesity Paradox
New York Times

Type 2 diabetes, a condition widely thought of as a disease of the overweight and sedentary, also develops in people who aren’t overweight. And it may be deadlier in these normal-weight people, a new study shows. In the study, which appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers reviewed data involving more than 2,500 people with Type 2 diabetes, some of whom were followed for decades.

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