California Healthline is a free news digest reporting on health care policy and politics.
Updated: 11 min 47 sec ago
HHS has awarded nearly $55.5 million in new grants to help boost the U.S. health care workforce and strengthen training for new and current professionals. Officials say the grants are meant to help a workforce that already is stretched thin and could worsen under the Affordable Care Act. Washington Post's "Federal Eye."
A Covered California spokesperson says the exchange's website and call centers are experiencing issues resulting from a high volume of consumers trying to sign up for insurance coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2014. The site has incorrectly displayed premium estimates, in addition to other errors, while average call center wait times have reached 25 minutes. U-T San Diego, Los Angeles Times.
A new Commonwealth Fund study finds that states that opt out of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion will forgo billions of dollars in federal funds over the next decade. In addition, taxpayers in such states will fund the Medicaid expansion in other states but not receive any of the benefits. USA Today et al.
A study by University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine researchers finds that children who carry the MET gene and are exposed to high levels of pollution are three times more likely to develop autism than children who do not have either risk factor. KPCC's "Pass/Fail," USC Keck School of Medicine release.
Borrego Community Health Foundation will use an $816,667 grant to build medical clinics in San Jacinto and Anza. A lawsuit filed against Riverside Community Hospital claims that the hospital waited nearly a month to report that a man with a seizure disorder might be unfit to drive. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, UCLA Health System and Pennsylvania-based Select Medical Holdings have announced plans to jointly renovate a 138-bed rehabilitation hospital in Century City.
Next week, the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees are expected to vote on a proposal that would permanently repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate formula. Hopes were high for legislation to pass this year because estimates for the cost of such legislation were far lower than in previous years, but time is dwindling on the legislative calendar and committee members are scrambling to put together a short-term fix. Politico Pro et al.
A new Harvard Institute of Politics poll finds that fewer than one in three young, uninsured adults plans to purchase coverage through the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges. Meanwhile, a Gallup poll finds that 28% of young, uninsured adults intend to pay the penalty rather than comply with the ACA's individual mandate. New York Times' "In Practice" et al.
Data released by the California Department of Public Health find that the number of hospital-acquired infections -- such as MRSA and central line infections -- at state health care facilities decreased slightly from 2011 to 2012. The report attributes the drop in central line infections in part to hand washing and other efforts to reduce such infections. Payers & Providers.
A poll by the Public Policy Institute of California finds that 44% of state residents support the Affordable Care Act, while 44% oppose it. Meanwhile, 72% of uninsured Californians ages 18 to 44 said they likely will purchase insurance under the law, compared with 51% of uninsured respondents age 45 and older. San Jose Mercury News et al.
Certain Democratic lawmakers in California want an Affordable Care Act website developed by the Assembly GOP Caucus taken down, saying it contains misleading information. A spokesperson for the caucus says that the group still supports it and that the Assembly Rules Committee has approved mailers directing people to the site. Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal."
A CMS report released yesterday says that nearly 1.5 million U.S. residents were found to be eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program in October through the state or federal health insurance exchanges. Among states that are expanding their Medicaid programs, California had the most eligibility determinations, with 149,098 state residents deemed eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. The Hill's "Healthwatch" et al.
Santa Barbara officials and CDC are discussing whether to allow the use of a meningitis vaccine not yet approved in the U.S. following four UC-Santa Barbara students being diagnosed with the disease. The strain of the disease affecting the students typically is found in other parts of the world and cannot be treated with the U.S.-approved vaccine. Reuters, AP/U-T San Diego.
A new Treasury audit report finds that the Internal Revenue Service's fraud detection system is inefficiently equipped to securely process federal tax subsidies through the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges because of long-term system limitations. AP/Sacramento Bee et al.
Large health systems in Northern California, such as Sutter Health, have used their influence to raise costs and lower competition across the region, according to a New York Times analysis of federal government data. Sutter officials say higher prices are necessary for many reasons, including to provide care for uninsured individuals. New York Times, KQED's "State of Health."
Nearly two dozen California hospitals have been named as top performers in a national survey by the Leapfrog Group. To be designated as a "top hospital," facilities had to have lower infection rates, higher survival rates for risky procedures and fewer readmissions. Sacramento Bee's "Healthy Choices" et al.
The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West will drop state ballot initiatives that would curb hospital executive salaries and limit how much hospitals can charge consumers if hospitals agree to enter into a "strategic partnership" with the union to address such issues, according to a union spokesperson. Wall Street Journal.
Industry analysts and economists say that the federal government will spend significantly less on the Affordable Care Act than originally expected because of certain ACA provisions, as well as lower-than-anticipated costs for the Medicaid expansion and subsidies for private insurance plans. New York Times.
California's state health insurance exchange has launched a new website that allows small businesses with 50 or fewer employees to sign up for health coverage. Exchange officials seek to cover 40,000 workers through 7,000 small businesses in 2014. Sacramento Business Journal et al.
One day after the Obama administration said it met its self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline to improve the HealthCare.gov website, insurance brokers and navigators helping U.S. residents sign up for coverage through the site report mixed reviews. Meanwhile, traffic to the website reportedly reached about 375,000 visitors yesterday morning, which slowed overall access and forced federal officials to deploy a new queue system. AP/Miami Herald et al.
UC-Riverside Medical School is offering five full-ride scholarships to students who agree to practice primary care in the surrounding area for five years after graduation. The move is an attempt to curb California's growing shortage of primary care physicians, which could worsen as the Affordable Care Act offers coverage to more residents. CBS News.