News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Recovery Auditor Prepayment Review Demos Imminent
Health Leaders Media

The Recovery Auditor prepayment review demonstration, announced last fall and delayed for months, will launch on August 27, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced.

In this demonstration, Recovery Auditors will conduct prepayment reviews on certain types of claims that historically result in high rates of improper payments.

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California’s LIHP a Big Success
California Healthline

The Low Income Health Program, launched 20 months ago, already has more than 400,000 Californians signed up. Health care experts gathered in Sacramento yesterday to discuss one of the successes in California’s health reform effort. “We hear about a lot of issues people have, but the issue that rises to the top is the LIHP,” said Agnes Lee, health policy advisor to the Assembly speaker’s office.

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Healthcare reform drives interest in captive insurers
Modern Healthcare

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has increased middle-market employers’ interest in captives to fund medical stop-loss for their self-funded health benefit plans, captive experts say. Similar to captive property/ casualty programs, medical stop-loss captives allow self-funded employers to pool part of their excess medical claims costs with other like-minded companies and then purchase commercial stop-loss coverage at higher attachment points.

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Health care law’s tax hikes are coming: Who pays?
San Francisco Chronicle

Who gets thumped by higher taxes in President Barack Obama’s health care law? The wealthiest 2 percent of Americans will take the biggest hit, starting next year. And the pain will be shared by some who aren’t so well off — people swept up in a hodgepodge of smaller tax changes that will help finance health coverage for millions in need. For the vast majority of people, however, the health care law won’t mean sending more money to the IRS.

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Report: Major cities not prepared for growing retiree health costs
California Watch

Most major California cities are failing to address the growing health care costs of government retirees, which have ballooned to more than $1 billion in some areas and soon could threaten municipalities’ ability to pay other expenses, according to a recent financial analysis by a nonprofit research group. Eleven of 20 California cities with the biggest budgets do not set aside funds for future health care costs, the study by California Common Sense found.

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Review finds hospital-acquired infections went unreported
California Watch

California public health authorities who reviewed 100 hospitals found that the facilities failed to report as many as a third of the infections they should have reported in 2011 under the state’s public reporting law.

As part of a national effort to limit preventable harm, hospitals are increasingly required to file public reports on infections that set in while they are caring for patients.

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Thousand Oaks clinic offers a free shot at health
Ventura County Star

The line was long at a free immunization clinic on Wednesday held at Methodist Church of Thousand Oaks, but Newbury Park resident Glendy Bustillos didn’t mind waiting.

Without the free shots given that day, Bustillos, 34, said she wouldn’t have been able to be vaccinated against a host of deadly diseases that she could’ve passed on to her 5-year-old daughter Melanie Mosqueda.

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Bill responds to Calif. hospital exec’s $4M payout
Sacramento Bee

California hospitals would have to reveal more about their executives’ benefits under a bill moving through the Legislature.

The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved AB2115, which was written in response to a hospital executive’s $4 million payout.

The bill requires hospital operators to have written employment agreements with their executives.

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Benefits of cholesterol-cutting drugs outweigh diabetes risk
USA Today

The benefits of taking cholesterol-lowering medications outweigh the increased risk some patients have of developing diabetes from using the drugs, a report out Thursday says. Patients who were at higher risk for diabetes were 39% less likely to develop a cardiovascular illness on statins and 17% less likely to die. Patients who were not already at risk for diabetes and were taking statins had a 52% reduction in cardiovascular illness, and no increase in diabetes risk.

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A hint of success in treating Alzheimer’s raises ethical quandary
Los Angeles Times

Amid the generally discouraging news about drugs that can slow or reverse the progress of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study is a faint glimmer of hope: In mice whose brains are clogged with the protein deposits that characterize Alzheimer’s, a drug called bexarotene substantially reversed key signs of dementia and reduced by half the telltale protein deposits of the disease.

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Christians share medical bills through ministry
North County Times

Mark Richards and Tony Meggs have a suggestion for anyone who is morally opposed to the insurance mandates imposed by Obamacare: health care sharing ministries.

A health care sharing ministry is a Christian-based alternative to traditional medical insurance. Its members agree to voluntarily share the payment of each other’s medical bills through a monthly fee that is similar to, but not the same as, an insurance premium. The ministry then facilitates provider payments through third-party banking accounts.

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Long awaited downtown San Jose health center celebrates grand opening
The Mercury News

Eight years after downtown San Jose residents endured the closure of the San Jose Medical Center — and with it access to nearby quality medical care — a new primary care health center celebrated its grand opening Thursday to serve a population that has been clamoring ever since for much-needed services. The addition of the Gardner Downtown Health Center inside the Mediplex Building at 725 E. Santa Clara St.

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Camarillo hospital’s obstetrics unit to close
Ventura County Star

After 38 years in operation, the obstetrics unit at St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo will close on or around Nov. 1.

“The staff here is devastated,” said Pleasant Valley Hospital obstetrics nurse Ruth Graf, who has worked in the unit since 1975. “This has not been a job for the staff. This has been a life’s work. A calling. This is our lives.”

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Talon Therapeutics wins approval for leukemia drug
San Francisco Business Times

The generally accepted notion in the drug-development space is that it takes $1 billion or more and 10-plus years to bring a therapeutic to market. Then there’s Talon Therapeutics Inc. The San Mateo company (OTCBB: TLON) won accelerated approval Thursday from the Food and Drug Administration regarding its cancer-fighting drug Marqibo.