- Medicare 1
- Justice Department Joins Lawsuit Accusing Calif. Hospital Chain Of Improper Medicare Billing
- Marketplace 2
- Beginning Days Of Walgreens-Theranos Partnership In The Spotlight
- Qualcomm, Medtronic To Develop Inexpensive, Easy To Use Glucose Monitors
- Public Health and Education 4
- Analysis Of Skyrocketing Mental Competency Cases Leaves More Questions Than Answers
- The Facts That 'Vaxxed' Leaves Out
- SoCal Gas Resumes Porter Ranch Cleanup After Quality Control Talks With County
- Expert Provides Information On Meningitis After Sacramento Student Hospitalized
Latest From California Healthline:
It goes back to the byzantine way health care — and health insurance — developed in the U.S. in the wake of World War II. (April Dembosky, KQED, 5/26)
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Summaries Of The News:
The federal agency is joining a whistleblower in alleging that Prime Healthcare Services overbilled Medicare by improperly admitting patients.
Los Angeles Times:
Justice Department Accuses Ontario-Based Hospital Chain Of Cheating Medicare System
The U.S. Justice Department has joined a whistle-blower case against Prime Healthcare Services, adding significant weight to allegations of widespread Medicare overbilling at 14 of the company’s hospitals in California. A Los Angeles magistrate judge granted the agency’s request to intervene in the case Tuesday, one day after the government declared in a court filing that its investigation of the Ontario- hospital operator has “yielded sufficient evidence” that the facilities “submitted or caused the submission of claims to Medicare for unnecessary inpatient stays.” (Sisson, 5/25)
The Wall Street Journal:
DOJ Joining Lawsuit Against Prime Healthcare Services Alleging Medicare Fraud
The Justice Department said it is joining a lawsuit against Prime Healthcare Services and its chief executive that alleges Prime hospitals improperly admitted patients for care and submitted false claims to Medicare. The lawsuit was first brought in 2011. On Wednesday a federal judge granted a Justice Department request to join the case. Troy Schell, general counsel for the Ontario, Calif.-based Prime Healthcare Services, said in a statement the company’s officials believe it will be exonerated. (Evans, 5/25)
The Wall Street Journal reports that Walgreens never fully validated Theranos' technology before striking up their partnership even though some executives and outside advisers had doubts.
The Wall Street Journal:
Craving Growth, Walgreens Dismissed Its Doubts About Theranos
Walgreens was considering a partnership with Theranos Inc. when founder Elizabeth Holmes arrived at Johns Hopkins University in the spring of 2011. She brought with her a machine she said could test tiny samples of blood for dozens of conditions and thick binders of data to show its accuracy. A Hopkins scientist told her that his researchers needed to put the device in their Baltimore laboratory to verify the technology on Walgreens’ behalf, and Ms. Holmes agreed to provide one, say people familiar with the meeting. (Weaver and Carreyrou, 5/25)
But one competitor may have a head start on the next generation technology.
San Diego Union-Tribune:
Qualcomm Teams With Medtronic On Glucose Monitors
Qualcomm and medical device maker Medtronic said Wednesday that they would work together to develop small, inexpensive, easy-to-use continuous glucose monitors targeting people with Type 2 diabetes. The San Diego company’s subsidiary, Qualcomm Life, will contribute communications technology expertise to the joint project with Medtronic, which is working on a new low-cost glucose monitoring technology that possibly could be disposable. (Freeman, 5/25)
The hospital has the only emergency room in a nearly 40-mile area from Mission Viejo across Camp Pendleton to Oceanside.
The Orange County Register:
Lawsuit Seeks To Keep San Clemente Hospital Open
Leaders of the Save San Clemente Hospital Foundation are asking a judge to issue a court order to bar Tuesday’s planned closure of the 73-bed hospital that provides emergency room services for the southern end of Orange County. Drs. Gus Gialamas and Steve Cullen, along with local resident Terri Anne Plunkett, filed suit Monday in Orange County Superior Court against the Orange County Emergency Medical Services agency and the California Department of Public Health. (Swegles, 5/25)
A working group has been looking into why the number of cases referred to Los Angeles County's mental health court to determine defendants' competency swelled from 944 in 2010 to 3,528 in 2015. They've released a preliminary report but the authors say they need to do more research.
Los Angeles Times:
Report On Increase In Mental Competency Cases Leaves Many Unanswered Questions
Misdemeanor cases filed by city attorneys are driving a surge in competency cases that is overwhelming Los Angeles County's mental health court, according to a preliminary report released Wednesday. The report suggests that the increase might be linked to the county’s rising homeless population, to criminal justice reform measures that may have resulted in fewer people participating in mandated treatment programs, and to the scarcity of psychiatric hospital beds. (Sewell, 5/25)
The controversial movie presents itself as a scientific documentary about vaccinations and autism, but it skates over backstory and events that could challenge its portrayal of a link. The Washington Post puts those in context.
The Washington Post:
7 Things About Vaccines And Autism That The Movie ‘Vaxxed’ Won’t Tell You
On its surface, the movie “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe” appears to be a slickly produced scientific documentary with lots of charts and data about one of the most important issues of our time. The central premise of the film is that the country’s mandatory measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine — when given to children under age 2 — may be leading to an epidemic of autism diagnoses. It contains heartbreaking footage of happy, laughing toddlers who, their parents say, became profoundly disabled almost overnight after receiving the shot. It explains the findings of a study that confirms the link and unearths recordings from a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist who purportedly claimed the government quashed findings of the connection. But what the movie doesn’t get into is as compelling as what it does present. (Cha, 5/25)
Los Angeles County's health department issued a stop-work order on Sunday after concluding the cleaning "did not comply with the Public Health cleaning protocol."
LA County Tells SoCal Gas To Resume Cleaning Porter Ranch Houses
Three days after halting the operation, Los Angeles County Wednesday told Southern California Gas Co. to immediately resume cleaning the homes of Porter Ranch residents displaced by the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak. The county's Department of Public Health issued a stop-work order on Sunday after agency experts observing the cleaning "concluded that it did not comply with the Public Health cleaning protocol," the department said in a statement. It found that the gas company's contractors were not properly equipped or trained to carry out the work according to the agency's strict requirements. The operation also lacked adequate supervision and quality control, said Angelo Bellomo, Public Health's deputy director for health protection. (Glickman, 5/25)
The Los Angeles Daily News:
Clean-Up Of Porter Ranch Homes Resumes After Health Department Lifts Stop-Work Order
A work plan has been developed since, which public health officials approved Wednesday, said Angelo Bellomo, deputy director for health protection at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “Even though the work plan now imposes several layers of supervision and quality assurance, (the Department of Public Health) will continue to do spot checks on a continued basis,” Bellomo said. (Abram, 5/25)
Dr. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis, talks about the infection and its vaccine. In other news, UC Davis is hosting a forum on Zika on Thursday.
Capital Public Radio:
What You Need To Know About Meningitis
Sacramento County Health officials worked with Vista Del Lago High School this week to inform families about meningitis, its symptoms and treatment. A student at the high school was hospitalized with the bacterial form of meningitis, which can be treated successfully with antibiotics. Left untreated, however, the illness can be deadly. (5/25)
Capital Public Radio:
UC Davis Hosting Zika Public Awareness Symposium
Scientists working on the front lines of the Zika epidemic are set to take part in a free Public Awareness Symposium at UC Davis Thursday, May 26th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Giedt Hall. UC Davis Biology Professor Walter Leal is one of the symposium's organizers. He's been working with researchers in his native Brazil. (Milne, 5/25)
The alleged abuses include charging insurers for patients who were never examined, overstating patients' conditions and the amount of time spent with them to bill more, and claiming patients were seen by doctors no longer with the practice.
The San Jose Mercury News:
Saratoga Doctors Federally Indicted In Alleged Health-Insurance Fraud Scheme
A pair of doctors from Saratoga have been indicted in an illicit billing scheme to defraud patients and health-insurance providers by routinely charging for unperformed services and unseen patients and exaggerating other treatments, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Dr. Vilasini M. Ganesh, 46, a family practitioner, and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gregory Belcher, 54, both face a count of health-care fraud conspiracy, one count conspiracy to commit money laundering, and six counts of money laundering. Additionally, Ganesh faces five counts each of health-care fraud and making false statements relating to health-care matters. (Cameron and Salonga, 5/25)
Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt says he is particularly excited about advances in genetics and more personalized and efficient health care. In other health IT news, a CPR robot is helping firemen save lives.
Google’s Schmidt Sees Genetics Advances, No Alphabet Breakup
When Alphabet Inc. Chairman Eric Schmidt looks to the near future, he sees breakthroughs in health and technology that will change the world. For example, Schmidt said he’s looking forward to advances in genetics, thanks to technology that will improve gene sequencing, and more personalized and efficient health care as the medical world becomes increasingly digitized. Speaking at Bloomberg’s Breakaway conference Wednesday in New York, Schmidt also said Alphabet, the holding company that owns Google and other businesses including Nest and Fiber, will probably never break up and its job is to seek out transformative solutions. (Cao, 5/25)
Bay Area News Group:
New CPR Robot Helps Bay Area Firefighters Preserve A Life
Three days after the Contra Costa County Fire District rolled out a new CPR robot that does compressions, firefighters used it to save a 50-year-old man who had collapsed from a heart attack. (Gartrell, 5/26)
Shiloh, a 4-year-old trained therapy beagle, was honored along with other volunteers as a 2016 Healthcare Hero. Shiloh visits patients at Sharp Grossmont Hospital's cancer treatment and rehabilitation center, at Sharp HospiceCare LakeView home in La Mesa and in private hospital rooms.
San Diego Union-Tribune:
Healthcare Heroes Sometimes Have Four Legs
A wagging tail, flopping ears and four paws with nails painted in bold blue polish set one honoree apart from the rest last week at a luncheon that celebrated local volunteers. Shiloh, a 4-year-old trained therapy beagle, along with her caretaker, Michael Colombo, was one of a group of five recognized by the Grossmont Healthcare District as a 2016 Healthcare Hero. (Pearlman, 5/24)
In other health care news from across the state —
Ventura County Star:
Ventura Veteran Takes Part In Outdoor Rehabilitation
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Michael Nares reeled in halibut earlier this month as part of an outdoor rehabilitation activity in Alaska intended to bring healing to injured service members. The Ventura resident, who has post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury, participated in the third annual adventure sponsored by Freedom Alliance, a nonprofit that supports the nation's injured service members. (5/25)
The Desert Sun:
Grower Fined After Pesticides Make Valley Students Sick
Six months after more than two dozen students and staff fell ill at Coachella Valley High School due to herbicides drifting from an agricultural field across the street onto campus, the Riverside County Agricultural Commissioner's Office has proposed a $5,000 fine for the grower, Amazing Coachella, Inc., which does business as Peter Rabbit Farms. ... Amazing Coachella also used a wintergreen odor mask to cover the smell of the herbicide. (Hwang, 5/25)
San Diego Union-Tribune:
Virus At Sage Canyon School Prompts Early Dismissal
Classes ended early at a Carmel Valley elementary school Wednesday after several students and staff came down with nausea and vomiting because of an apparent virus, district officials said. Sage Canyon School Principal William Cameron did not say in an email to parents how many people became ill. (Hernandez, 5/25)