- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Health Insurers Grilled Over Merger
- A Closer Look At The Senate's Investigation Of Tainted Medical Scopes
- Covered California & The Health Law 1
- Fast Food Restaurants Struggle After Cutting Workers To Avoid ACA Fines
Latest From California Healthline:
State officials had some pointed questions for health insurers last week during a hearing on the proposed sale of Health Net to Centene. (David Gorn, 1/25)
A Senate investigation recently found that 16 hospitals around the U.S. failed to file mandatory paperwork with the federal government after patients at their hospitals became infected or died from the use of tainted medical scopes. KHN's Chad Terhune, who reported on the story for the Los Angeles Times, spoke with Madeline Brand on KCRW's Press Play about the investigation and steps the scope maker is taking to stop the infections. (1/25)
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Summaries Of The News:
“A lot of the fast food franchisees that did this are now coming back and saying, it was a great idea for reducing the number of people that I have to offer benefits, but now I can’t run my restaurants,” says Kaya Bromley, an attorney who consults with employers on how to comply with the Affordable Care Act.
To Avoid Obamacare, Some Fast Food Restaurants Cut Staff Hours. Did It Work?
Starting January 1, businesses with 50 or more full time employees must offer health insurance to all full time staff or pay a hefty fine. Employers with 100 or more workers had to start offering coverage last year. But smaller businesses that operate on lower margins, especially restaurants, complained loudly about the cost. And some fast food franchise owners, figured out a way to avoid paying for coverage: just make everyone part time. (Demboksy, 1/25)
"I have a question of the witnesses," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones at the hearing to examine the insurers' $6.8 billion merger. "I'm wondering if there are any recent peer-reviewed studies which demonstrate that consumer prices for health insurance or managed care went down after a health insurance or managed care merger."
Health Insurers Grilled Over Merger
The wary and aggressive tenor of questions at a state hearing set a high bar for approval of the proposed $6.8 billion purchase of health insurance company HealthNet by Centene. The hearing Friday in the Capitol Building convened by the California Department of Insurance lasted six hours. It delved into the esoteric details of the large financial transaction and it also hit on some of the broader questions about what might happen to market competition and premium costs when health insurance companies consolidate. (Gorn, 1/25)
Johnese Spisso, now VP of medical affairs for the University of Washington and chief health system officer for UW Medicine, will take over on Feb. 8.
Johnese Spisso Named President Of UCLA Health
Johnese Spisso has been named president of UCLA Health, CEO of the University of California at Los Angeles Health System and associate vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences. Spisso begins her role Feb. 8 and will be responsible for all operations of UCLA's hospitals and clinics, as well as the health system's regional outreach strategy.She is now VP of medical affairs for the University of Washington and chief health system officer for UW Medicine. Kenneth McFarland is leaving his position as CEO at Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo, Calif., effective Feb. 5. Dr. Richard Afable has been named interim CEO. (1/23)
A new law allowing pharmacists to prescribe women birth control is facing a series of delays. “It’s been politics, in some ways, at its worst. Every time there’s a delay, the delay is just exponential," says Kathleen Besinque, an associate professor of clinical pharmacy at USC. In other public health news, home screening colonoscopy kits generate higher levels of participation.
The Orange County Register:
It's The Law In California, But Here's Why You Still Can't Get Birth Control Without A Doctor
By now, it was supposed to be easier for California women to get birth control. A 2013 law allowing pharmacists at CVS, Rite Aid and other drug stores to directly prescribe the pill, and two other forms of hormonal contraception, was set to roll out in October. But it’s been three months, and women still have to see a doctor first for a prescription. (Chandler, 1/25)
Put Off By Colonoscopy? Home Screening Test Is Good Alternative, Study Shows
An annual screening test for colon cancer that can be done at home showed strong effectiveness over several years, and patients who were sent the kits in the mail were very likely to participate year after year, a large study from Kaiser in both Northern and Southern California found. (Aliferis, 1/25)
For the third year in a row, the percentage of Kern's kindergartners receiving vaccinations climbed. In other news, The California Department of Transportation will be on the hook for $12 million in damages for concealing the presence of valley fever fungal spores.
The Bakersfield Californian:
Kern Immunization Rates Remain Above State Average
The percentage of Kern County kindergarteners receiving vaccinations has climbed for the third year in a row, remaining above the state average, state health records released this week show. In Kern, 95.3 percent of kindergarteners were vaccinated this school year, up almost two percentage points from 2014-2015, according to the California Department of Public Health. The rate was 92.8 percent statewide. (Pierce, 1/25)
The Bakersfield Californian:
Caltrans Found Liable For Valley River Infections In Kern
The California Department of Transportation is on the hook for $12 million in damages after a jury in Solano County found Thursday that the agency concealed the presence of valley fever fungal spores at a construction site in western Kern County, causing five individuals to contract the disease and suffer debilitating, life-long effects, according to the plaintiffs’ law firm. (1/22)
The Congressional Budget Office on Monday updated its projections about how many people would sign up for health insurance, dropping the number from 21 million to 13 million.
Los Angeles Times:
Enrollment Growth In Obamacare Health Insurance Slower Than Expected
Reflecting slower than anticipated enrollment growth in health insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has lowered its estimate of how many people will get coverage through the law in 2016. The lower enrollment number brings the budget office closer in line with the Obama administration, which scaled back its own enrollment targets for 2016, citing the difficulty of reaching new consumers who have not so far taken advantage of the marketplaces. (Levey, 1/25)
The New York Times:
Budget Office Sharply Cuts Health Exchange Estimate
The Congressional Budget Office on Monday sharply reduced its estimate of how many people would get health insurance this year through the Affordable Care Act’s public marketplaces, to 13 million, from a prior estimate of 21 million. ... The budget office now estimates that 11 million people a month, on average, will receive subsidies this year, down from its prior estimate of 15 million. The lower estimates are not necessarily bad news for President Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment. (Pear, 1/25)
The Fiscal Times:
Filing Alert: How Obamacare Affects Your 2015 Taxes
This is the second year that the Affordable Care Act and taxes will collide, and two changes this year could make the cumbersome tax filing process a bit more complicated. But let’s start with what has stayed the same. (Herron, 1/25)
The government spent $936 billion last year on health programs including Medicare, Medicaid and subsidies related to the Affordable Care Act, a jump of 13 percent from 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Spending on Social Security, in contrast, totaled $882 billion, the Congressional Budget Office reported. The Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid and the growing availability of subsidies for exchange plans are driving much of the higher spending.
During its investigation into accusations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood, a Texas grand jury cleared the organization of wrongdoing and instead indicted the two people who secretly recorded videos purporting to show officials trying to profit from the sale of fetal tissue.