California Healthcare News

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DMHC Fines Three Health Plans $837,500 Premium Content
Mar 2, 2017

The Department of Managed Health Care was particularly active in the waning days of February, when the agency fined three major health plans more than $800,000 combined, records show.

            The largest fine, against Anthem Blue Cross of California, was for $500,000 for its failure to cover the costs of prenatal testing for thousands of enrollees. It constituted a repeat misbehavior that led to a $1.5 million fine against the insurer in 2015.

In California, Language Remains A Big Barrier To Obtaining Care Premium Content
Mar 2, 2017

When Margarita Ruiz takes her children to the doctor’s office, she has no choice but to trust that nurses and front desk staff are translating medical orders accurately. She doesn’t speak English and her children’s pediatrician speaks very little Spanish.

Advocacy Group Expressed Skepticism About Medical Board Premium Content
Mar 1, 2017

A consumer advocacy group has claimed in front of a state Senate committee that the Medical Board of California is still not providing appropriate oversight and discipline of problem doctors.

                The Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog made the claim in testimony this week in front of the Senate Business and Professions Committee earlier this week. The hearing is known as a “sunset review.” Such hearings take place every four years to determine if state agencies should continue to operate moving forward.

UCSF Joins Forces To Create Tech-Related Children's Health Initiative Premium Content
Mar 1, 2017

UC San Francisco has joined forces with its affiliate Benioff Children's Hospital, the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute and UC Berkeley to create what is known as the Engineering for Children's Health Initiative.

Kaiser Reports 2016 Earnings Premium Content
Feb 22, 2017

Kaiser Permanente reported significantly higher earnings for calendar 2016, much of it due to the improved performance of its investments.

            The Oakland-based Kaiser, which is a not-for-profit, reported net income of $3.1 billion in calendar 2016 on revenue of $64.6 million. For 2015, it reported net income of $1.9 billion on revenue of $60.6 billion.

            The 60% boost in the bottom line is attributed primarily to the $1.2 billion reported in net non-operating income. In 2015 that total was $102 million in 2015.

CDPH Fines Nursing Home $100,000 Premium Content
Feb 22, 2017

The California Department of Public Health has fined a Los Angeles-area skilled nursing facility $100,000 in relation to neglect that led to a patient's death nearly eight years ago.

            The patient, an unidentified female, died at a hospital emergency room in November 2009, suffering from peritonitis, sepsis and a perforated colon.

Single-Payer Bill Introduced in Legislature Premium Content
Feb 22, 2017

Legislation introduced in the state Senate last week would set California on a path toward the possible creation of a single-payer health care system ― a proposal that has failed to gain traction here in the past.

California's Uninsured Rate Plummets Premium Content
Feb 22, 2017

The uninsured rate in California has dropped to its lowest level ever recorded, according to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anthem Sued Over Plan Changes Premium Content
Feb 16, 2017

The Santa Monica-based advocacy group Consumer Watchdog has filed a class-action suit against Anthem Blue Cross of California, claiming it illegally moved consumers into health plans where they no longer have coverage for out-of-network services.

            The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claims that Anthem moved enrollees from preferred provider organization coverage to exclusive provider organization plans, which do not include provisions for care delivered out-of-network.

Kaiser Opens Offices In Santa Cruz County Premium Content
Feb 16, 2017

Kaiser Permanente has opened its first provider services in Santa Cruz County.

Appeallate Court Rejects Part Of Health Insurers' Challenge On Grace Periods Premium Content
Feb 16, 2017

A state appellate court has rejected a challenge by a group of carriers to grace period regulations promulgates by the California Department of Insurance.

ER Visits Tied To Seniors Falling On Rise Premium Content
Feb 15, 2017

The number of California seniors who land in emergency rooms after falling has risen sharply in recent years, as their population grows and they live longer with more chronic illnesses often requiring an array of medications.

            The number of visits to California emergency rooms by people over 65 who fell surged 38% from 167,785 in 2010 to 232,146 in 2015, according to data from the state’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

California Has Big Lab Technician Shortage Premium Content
Feb 15, 2017

California is facing an acute shortage of medical laboratory technicians, a situation that is particularly stark when compared to the situation in other states, according to a new report by researchers at UC San Francisco.

Covered California Is Working, Says Brookings Institution Premium Content
Feb 15, 2017

California took bold steps to ensure the success of its state health insurance exchange, making Covered California among the most robust examples in the entire country.

            That's the conclusion of new reports commissioned by the Brookings Institution, which studied health insurance exchanges in several states. An examination of California was conducted by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

Prime Close To Acquiring Texas Hospital Premium Content
Feb 9, 2017

The non-profit arm of Ontario-based Prime Healthcare Services is close to acquiring Mission Regional Medical Center in the border town of Mission, Texas.

            Mission's board of directors signed a letter of intent with the Prime Healthcare Foundation, which operates 14 non-profit hospitals. The 297-bed Mission has had struggles with its finances as of late, and has had to cut jobs in recent weeks. Talks with another buyer recently fell through, according to local media reports.

Covered California Says 412,000 Signed Up For 2017 Premium Content
Feb 9, 2017

The Covered California health insurance exchange said it had a surge of enrollment prior to the Jan. 31 enrollment deadline.

            Altogether, the exchange said it signed up more than 412,000 enrollees for calendar year 2017 – meeting prior enrollment projections.  About 12% of those signed up in the last two days of eligibility.

Immigration Restrictions Haven't Impact California Providers – Yet Premium Content
Feb 9, 2017

The chaos caused by President Donald Trump's executive order that nominally barred travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries has yet to impact providers in California, but the incident has left some in the healthcare sector wary that the order could be expanded.

            Trump's order, issued late last month, barred for 90 days travelers from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. It also banned refugees from those countries for 120 days, and from Syria indefinitely.

Vendor Blamed For DMHC Reporting Fiasco Premium Content
Feb 9, 2017

The Department of Managed Health Care's third try to measure timely access to care provided by health insurers was not a charm.

Kaiser Finds Link To Birth Complications, Autism Premium Content
Feb 1, 2017

A new study by Kaiser Permanente has uncovered a link between birth complications and an elevated risk of the newborn developing autism spectrum disorder.

            Kaiser researchers studied the births of 594,638 children at its hospitals in Southern California between 1991 and 2009. Of those births, 6,255 children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and 37% experienced some complication shortly before or during birth.

DMHC Fines Health Net $65,000 Premium Content
Feb 1, 2017

The Department of Managed Health Care has fined Woodland Hills-based Health Net $65,000 for a series of incidents in which enrollee grievances were mishandled.