- California Healthline Original Stories 2
- Covered California 2017 Rate Hikes Will Hit State’s Central Coast Hardest
- Medicare's Readmission Penalties Hit New High
- Public Health and Education 1
- CDC Doles Out $720K To California To Track, Treat Zika-Linked Microcephaly
Latest From California Healthline:
Highest premium increases could force some exchange enrollees to drop Obamacare plans, even with subsidies. (Ana B. Ibarra, 8/3)
Medicare will withhold an estimated $528 million in 2017 from more than 2,500 hospitals -- including 225 in California -- that have too many patients returning within 30 days. (Jordan Rau, 8/2)
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More News From Across The State
U.S. News & World Report has released its Best Hospitals survey and UCLA Medical Center, UCSF Health and Stanford Health Care came in 4th, 7th and 14th respectfully. Meanwhile, UCSF has entered a new partnership with Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
San Francisco Business Times:
UCSF, Stanford Health Care Rank High On Best U.S. Hospitals List
UCSF Health and Stanford Health Care both cracked the top 15 on U.S. News & World Report's annual Best Hospitals survey. But UCSF topped its Peninsula rival once again, ranking 7th to Stanford's 14th. UCLA Medical Center bested both of them, however, finishing 4th nationally and as top dog in the Golden State. The publication evaluated nearly 4,400 hospitals nationwide as part of its annual survey. (Rauber, 8/2)
The Press Democrat:
Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, UCSF Team Up For Expanded Pediatric Care
Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital says that level of care is now unmatched in the region, thanks to recent facility upgrades and, more importantly, a new partnership with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, a world-class provider considered a gold standard for neonatal and pediatric care...Under this new partnership, Annadel Medical Group pediatricians will team up with UCSF outpatient pediatric specialty practices to expand the availability of subspecialty care available at a clinic located in one of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s facilities. These expanded services include hematology, endocrinology and diabetes care, gastroenterology, cardiology, neurology, organ transplantation support and kidney care. (Espinoza, 8/2)
Federal health officials warn that the fund to battle the virus is rapidly depleting.
California Gets U.S. Funds To Track, Treat Babies Affected By Zika
California will receive federal help this week to help identify and treat babies born with microcephaly, the devastating neurological defect caused by the Zika virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will give the state $720,000 to gather more information about microcephaly, refer more infants and families to health and social resources, and track outcomes down the line for infants born to Zika-infected mothers. In total, 40 states and U.S. territories will receive federal Zika grants in this round of between $200,000 and $720,000. (Caiola, 8/2)
The Associated Press:
U.S. Officials Provide Stopgap Zika Funds, Congress Urged To Act
Federal health officials, scrambling to fund efforts to combat the spread of the Zika virus in the United States, said on Tuesday they have provided more stopgap money to various locales while calls grew for Congress to cut short its recess and act. Concern is mounting about the threat posed by the mosquito-borne virus after authorities in Florida last week reported the first signs of local transmission of Zika in the continental United States. (Grover and Clarke, 8/2)
While proponents of legalizing marijuana promise a well-regulated system that protects young Californians, opponents say the measure is being used to expose kids to harm for the sake of raking in billions.
When Pot Is Legal, How Do You Convince Teens To Abstain?
From the start, the campaign to make California the fifth state allowing adult marijuana use has sought to reassure skeptical parents by emphasizing safeguards to prevent those under the age of 21 from partaking. The first sentence of proponents’ case in a state voter guide promises Proposition 64 will create a well-regulated system “while protecting our children.” ...The initiative that will go before voters in November would block selling or advertising pot near schools and youth centers, mandate child-proof packaging, allow for stripping licenses from businesses that sell to people younger than 21 and use the green revenue stream to fund youth prevention and programming. (White, 8/2)
In other news —
The Press Democrat:
Santa Rosa Medical Marijuana Businesses Gain Access To Wider, Non-Residential Swath Of City
The Santa Rosa City Council declared Tuesday that medical marijuana support services such as testing labs and oil extraction businesses can legally be located in certain nonresidential areas of the city. The move, which takes effect immediately, opens up significant new areas of the city to the medical cannabis industry, as long as they follow a host of other regulations. (McCallum, 8/2)
All Robert Stone wants is a way to face death on his terms. And with the state's new aid-in-dying law, he can.
Los Angeles Times:
Making Use Of California's Aid-In-Dying Law: One Man's Story
When doctors told Robert Stone last year that he had terminal cancer, he didn’t feel scared of dying. Stone, a handsome man with glasses and a salt-and-pepper goatee, said he’d come to accept death as a natural part of life. What he did fear was having too little energy or too much pain to enjoy his remaining days. So last month Stone, 69, became one of the first people in California to obtain lethal medications under a new state law that allows doctors to write prescriptions for terminally ill patients to kill themselves. (Karlamangla, 8/3)
A new report shows that less than 20 percent of the age group turn to the internet when they have a question about their ailments or health.
Los Angeles Times:
Senior Citizens Rarely Consult Dr. Google For Medical Advice, Study Says
Senior citizens need more medical care than anyone else in the United States. And the Internet is chock full of health information. Yet seniors are far less likely than other adults to tap into it, new research shows. A report published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. found that only about 18% of participants in the National Health and Aging Trends Study got health information online in 2014. That pales in comparison with the approximately 60% of adults of all ages who have told the Pew Research Center that they consult Dr. Google at least once a year. (Kaplan, 8/2)
In other health technology news —
Capital Public Radio:
Virtual Dental Office Offers Safe, Effective Care
Alma Negreta's son, Leonardo, is one of over 200 students at Harmon Johnson Elementary School who receive oral care through a virtual dental office located on school grounds. The virtual office places dental hygienists into the elementary schools. Hygienists clean teeth, treat cavities, and teach brushing and flossing techniques. Patient x-rays and charts are electronically sent to dentists for review to create a dental treatment plan. (Johnson, 8/2)
Federal prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into the company's practices shortly after CEO Elizabeth Holmes was appointed to the position last year.
San Francisco Business Times:
Theranos CEO Steps Down As Presidential Entrepreneurship Ambassador
Embattled Theranos Inc. CEO Elizabeth Holmes quietly stepped down from an Obama administration entrepreneurship program. Holmes' name and photo were removed from the website of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship — or PAGE — program, which also includes AOL CEO Steve Case and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Fortune reported. (Elias, 8/2)
At the heart of the workers' frustration is a proposed contract changes that would cut pension contributions, freeze wages and offer a 1 percent bonus instead of raises.
Ventura County Star:
St. John’s Workers Protest In Front Of Oxnard Hospital
More than 100 hospital workers picketed over contract issues Tuesday in front of St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard. The informational picket, triggered by negotiations being held across the massive Dignity Health system, was organized by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. The union represents more than 400 workers at the Oxnard hospital, ranging from housekeeping staff to surgical technicians. Registered nurses are part of a different union. (Kisken, 8/2)
In other news —
LA Daily News:
Arrowhead Regional Medical Center’s Dr. Dev GnanaDev Elected To Top Medical Board Post
Longtime area surgeon and health care leader Dr. Dev GnanaDev has been elected president of the Medical Board of California, the state agency that licenses and disciplines medical doctors. GnanaDev, who is associate medical director and chairman of the Department of Surgery at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, was originally appointed to the board by Gov. Jerry Brown, in 2011. As president, GnanaDev said he would focus on the opioid abuse epidemic. (Steinberg, 8/3)
The facilities that receive funding from the county distribute a once-daily pill known as PrEP, which is designed to keep those who've potentially been exposed to HIV from becoming infected.
LA Supervisors Expand Program That Offers HIV-Prevention Drug Truvada
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to expand an HIV prevention program that’s proven highly effective in reducing the spread of the deadly virus that infects hundreds of county residents annually. The county’s been providing the anti-HIV drug, Truvada, at four of its clinics under a program approved last summer. With Tuesday's vote, supervisors approved $11.5 million in funding for ten additional providers to distribute the drug over the next two years to uninsured and underinsured high-risk patients. (O'Neill, 8/2)
In other health care news from across the state —
The Mercury News:
San Jose: Disabled Adults Get Back On Their Feet In 'The Safe House'
[Vanessa] Rogers is one of five adult residents with special needs living in the spacious single-story house on Cambrian Drive at the border of Campbell and San Jose's Cambrian Park neighborhood. The house is Life Services Alternatives' latest addition to its group of 11 assisted living homes throughout Santa Clara County that serve individuals with a range of conditions including Down's syndrome, autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. This month marks one year since the house opened and Rogers moved in, starting a new life. (Baum, 8/3)
East Bay Times:
Autistic Oakland Boy Restrained 92 Times In 11 Months By Concord School
The U.S. Department of Education ruled the Oakland school district discriminated against a 9-year-old autistic boy who was restrained 92 times during one school year, sometimes for up to 90 minutes at a time, according to an announcement Tuesday. Stuart Candell attended Anova Center for Education in Concord from April 2013 to February 2014. Two to three adults held him face down for a total of 2,200 minutes, or more than 36 hours, during his tenure at the school for high-functioning autistic kids. He was also secluded in a 12-foot-by-10-foot windowless room, according to the federal Office for Civil Rights decision in June. (Gafni, 8/2)
The insurer's decision to reverse course and not expand its Obamacare exchange plans casts doubts on the marketplace's sustainability.
The Wall Street Journal:
Aetna Backs Off Plans To Expand Its ACA Business
Aetna Inc. became the last of the five major national health insurers to project a loss on Affordable Care Act plans for 2016, underscoring concerns about the stability of the insurance marketplaces at the heart of the Obama administration’s signature health law. Aetna said it would re-evaluate its participation in the 15 state exchanges where it currently sells plans, and cancel a planned expansion into more. The moves come in the wake of recent confirmations by UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Humana Inc. that they would pull back sharply from the ACA’s exchanges amid deepening losses, and a disclosure by Anthem Inc. that it now expects losses on its ACA business in 2016. (Wilde Mathews, 8/2)
In other national health care news —
CMS Finalizes Controversial Hospital Overpayment Cut
In a final rule released Tuesday, the CMS said it will keep a controversial 1.5% cut to hospital reimbursement. Industry stakeholders had rallied against the move which aims to recoup a total of $11 billion in overpayments. Hospitals expected the cut to remain at 0.8%—as it has been ever year since 2014, two years after Congress mandated the CMS to recover funds allegedly lost as a result of incorrect coding on inpatient hospital stays. ... The CMS, however, estimated that another 0.8% reduction would have left the government $5 billion short of recouping the overpayments by its deadline of 2017. (Dickson, 8/2)
The Washington Post:
The Surprising Upside Of Hillary Clinton’s Biggest Failure
The Children’s Health Insurance Program, better known as CHIP, is a somewhat obscure initiative created nearly 20 years ago to help children get health insurance. Last week, it became an unexpected star at the Democratic National Convention, where speakers name-dropped it repeatedly as an example of Hillary Clinton’s efforts to improve children’s lives. In their remarks, Tim Kaine and Howard Dean and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all gave Clinton credit for helping CHIP become reality. In her own speech, Clinton touted her work to “help create the Children's Health Insurance Program that covers 8 million kids in our country.” (Guo, 8/2)
The Wall Street Journal:
Biogen Draws Takeover Interest From Rival Drugmakers
Biotechnology giant Biogen Inc. has drawn takeover interest from drug companies including Merck & Co. and Allergan PLC, raising the possibility of another huge deal in the health-care industry. Merck and Allergan have each sounded out Biogen on the possibility of a takeover, people familiar with the matter said. The communications were informal and preliminary, and they may not result in a deal—in part because Biogen may not be interested, they added. (Mattioli, Rockoff and Cimilluca, 8/2)