Author Archives: LocalHealthGuide

Administration warns employers: Don’t dump sick workers from plans

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Ban_signBy Jay Hancock
KHN

As employers try to minimize expenses under the health law, the Obama administration has warned them against paying high-cost workers to leave the company medical plan and buy coverage elsewhere.

Such a move would unlawfully discriminate against employees based on their health status, three federal agencies said in a bulletin issued this month.

Brokers and consultants have been offering to save large employers money by shifting workers with expensive conditions such as hepatitis or hemophilia into insurance marketplace exchanges established by the health law, Kaiser Health News reported in May.

Image courtesy of Xm1702 under Creative Commons license. 

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Why are more and more hospitals partnering with each other? – Puget Sound Business Journal

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swedishWhile larger hospital systems benefit by gaining more market share when a small, independent hospital shows interest in teaming up with a bigger name, the small hospital stands to save a lot of money. Sharing resources means the two entities can share a human resources department, marketing efforts and the smaller hospital can rely on the larger one for more aggressive rate negotiations with insurance companies.

via Why are more and more hospitals partnering with each other? – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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Humana and Multicare launch accountable care program

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image003MultiCare Health System and Humana Inc. will launch a new accountable care partnership for Humana’s Medicare Advantage members in South King County and Pierce County, the companies announced this week.

Accountable care partnership will provide Humana membership with more coordinated care that will emphasize preventive services, the companies said.

Humana offers Medicare Advantage HMO plans, a prescription drug plan and Medicare supplement policies to Medicare recipients in the Tacoma area.

MultiCare is made up of five hospitals including Allenmore HospitalAuburn Medical CenterGood Samaritan HospitalMary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Tacoma General Hospital as well as outpatient specialty centers, primary and urgent care clinics.

The not-for-profit health care organization has more than 10,500 employees and a comprehensive network of services throughout Pierce, South King, Thurston and Kitsap counties.

Humana aims to work closely with doctors and hospitals through its Accountable Care Continuum, the companies said.

For a Primer on Accountable Care Organizations go here.

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What’s on the menu? Calories.

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From the US Food and Drug Administration

How Many Calories? Look at the Menu!

HamburgerWhen you eat in a restaurant, do you generally know how many calories you’re consuming? The answer is most likely, “no,” according to research findings examined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The good news is that FDA is now taking an important step to provide consumers with more information to help them make more informed choices about the food they eat away from home.

FDA has issued two final rules requiring that calories be listed on certain menus in chain restaurants and other places selling restaurant-type food and on certain vending machines.

“Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home,” says FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “These final rules will give consumers more information when they are dining out and help them lead healthier lives.”

The goal is to provide consumers with more information in a consistent, easy-to-understand way.  Continue reading

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Sign up to receive Flood Alerts! Or get the app!

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King County Flood Alert App

King County is offering free Flood Alerts to help keep you informed of flood conditions you can sign up for phone or text messages — or get an app.

  • Get Alerts by e-mail and/or phone (voice or text messages)
  • Select the rivers that affect you
  • Select the flood phase levels of interest to you.

 Make sure you get alerted in an emergency!

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Create your family health portrait on Thanksgiving: National Family Health History Day

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Ninety-six percent of Americans believe that knowing their family history is important. Yet, only one-third of Americans have ever tried to gather and write down their family’s health history. The Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait tool is a free resource that helps people collect and privately share their family history information through a secured system.

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 8.54.19 AM

 From HHS

Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. today declared this Thanksgiving day, November 27,  as the eleventh annual Family Health History Day.

Over the holiday or at other times when families gather, Americans are encouraged to talk about and keep a record of the health problems that seem to run in their families. Continue reading

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Minimum wage a health issue? States take a broader view of health disparities.

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Minnesota_population_map_croppedBy Michael Ollove
Stateline

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.— For years, proposals to raise the minimum wage in Minnesota bogged down over economic concerns: Would a raise impel businesses to leave the state? Would it decrease employment? Would it touch off inflation?

The supporters’ main argument, that raising the minimum wage would put more money into the pockets of low-wage workers and their families, fell short.

This year, proponents seized on a new strategy: They convinced the legislature to ask the Minnesota Department of Health to analyze the health impact of the state’s minimum wage of $6.15 an hour, which is among the lowest in the country.

The department’s subsequent analysis revealed that health and income levels were inextricably linked. Whether it was rates of adequate prenatal care, infant mortality, diabetes, suicide risk, or lack of insurance, the results for poorer Minnesotans were vastly inferior to residents with higher incomes.

In fact, Minnesotans living in the highest income areas of the Twin Cities region lived eight years longer than those living in the poorest.

The report virtually ended the debate. The legislature voted to phase in an increase in the minimum wage to $9.50—one of the highest in the country—with automatic subsequent increases indexed to the rate of inflation. Continue reading

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Fred Hutch recruits D. Gary Gilliland as its new president and director

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1416499943573Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center announced today that it has named an expert in cancer genetics and precision medicine. D. Gary Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D., a physician-scientist with a background in academic medicine and the pharmaceutical industry, as its new president and director. Gilliland will take the helm as Fred Hutch’s new leader on Jan. 2.

via Fred Hutch recruits D. Gary Gilliland as its new president and director.

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Graco recalls nearly 5 million strollers after fingertip amputations – Chicago Tribune

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Graco recalled nearly 5 million strollers Thursday after 11 reports of finger injuries, including six fingertip amputations.

The company recalled 11 models of Graco and Century branded strollers and travel systems with model names Aspen, Breeze, Capri, Cirrus, Glider, Kite, LiteRider, Sierra, Solara, Sterling and TravelMate. The strollers were made from August 2000 to Sept. 25, 2014.

via Graco recalls nearly 5 million strollers after fingertip amputations – Chicago Tribune.

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Boeing’s new accountable care health plans with UW Medicine and Providence-Swedish take off – Puget Sound Business Journal

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boeing-logoThe accountable care plans aim to lower costs for both employees and the company by incentivizing employee wellness and creating a more coordinated system to provide health care. By creating contracts directly between the employer and the health systems, the goal of these new systems is to reduce costs and confusion that often come from dealing with third parties while also improving care.

via Boeing’s new health plans with UW Medicine and Providence-Swedish take off – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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11-country survey finds U.S. seniors sicker, have the most trouble paying medical bills

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A survey of older people in 11 countries finds that U.S. adults are sicker than their counterparts abroad, as well as the most likely to have problems paying their medical bills and getting needed healthcare. U.S. adults also reported difficulty getting care in a timely fashion and using emergency departments for issues that a primary care physician could treat. Among the bright spots for the United States: having a care plan for chronic illness, and planning for end-­of-­life care.Medicare_Cost_Protection_v3_872px

via International Survey of Older Adults Finds Shortcomings in Access, Coordination, and Patient-Centered Care – The Commonwealth Fund.

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Small business plans now available on the SHOP marketplace

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Small business owners: SHOP coverage is now available online at HealthCare.gov.

Start your SHOP application 

Need help? You can contact a SHOP-registered agent or broker in your area or call 1-800-706-7893 (TTY: 711), Monday – Friday 9am – 7pm ET.

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Eight Washington hospitals identified for Ebola care

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ebolaAlthough all hospitals in the state are making plans to rapidly identify, isolate and safely evaluate people with suspected Ebola, eight hospitals are preparing to care for a person with Ebola for the duration of the illness.

These are:

  • CHI Franciscan Health (Harrison Medical Center – Bremerton campus),
  • MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital,
  • Providence Regional Medical Center Everett,
  • Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in Spokane,
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital,
  • Swedish Medical Center (Issaquah),
  • Virginia Mason Hospital, and
  • UW Medicine (Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center, Valley Medical Center)

“The chance of a confirmed case of Ebola in Washington is very low, but in the event it happens we want to be sure we have the capacity to provide ongoing care to a patient,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, state Health Officer. “Patients with Ebola can become critically ill and require intensive care therapy. Care needs to be delivered using strict infection control practices. We are working with each of the committed hospitals to ensure we are coordinated and thorough in our response.” Continue reading

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Naloxone kits for overdoses now available in Snohomish County

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Snohomish CountyNaloxone kits for treating opioid overdoses are now available at a number of pharmacies in Snohomish County.

These kits are available just by asking the pharmacists, there is no need to see a doctor to obtain a prescription.The cost of the kits is around $125.

Pharmacists will provide education to those being given a Naloxone kit on how to use it and when to use it.

In 2013 there were 86 opioid drug overdoses in Snohomish County, and 580 within Washington State.

The availability of naloxone (sold under the brand name Narcan) could potentially cut down on deaths due to heroin and prescription opioid drugs (morphine, oxycodone/OxyContin, methadone, hydrocodone/Vicodin, and codeine).  Continue reading

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