Monday, August 22, 2011

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Monday, August 22, 2011

CVS Agrees to $2M Settlement in Customer Overcharging Lawsuit

CVS Pharmacy has agreed to pay more than $2 million to settle a California lawsuit claiming it overcharged customers and engaged in misleading advertising. The retail pharmacy chain has admitted no wrongdoing or liability. Pasadena Star-News et al.


Medical Data of 300,000 Californians Available Via Unsecured Website

A researcher recently found that the medical data of 300,000 Californians were available online through an unsecured site. Southern California Medical-Legal Consultants said it thought the information was secure and has taken steps to protect the data. AP/Forbes.


Debate Continues Over Bill on Administration of Seizure Drug in Schools

Teachers, parents and nurses continue to debate legislation that would allow non-medical personnel in schools to administer the epilepsy drug Diastat to students. The bill is up for review by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. AP/San Jose Mercury News.


Many Hospitals Hiring Physicians To Increase Market Share, Revenue

A new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change finds that hospitals increasingly are hiring physicians in an effort to increase their market share and revenue. However, researchers note that the strategy does not guarantee clinical integration. Modern Healthcare.


HHS Gives 106 Waivers in July for Exemption From Reform Provision

Last month, HHS granted 106 new waivers exempting groups from a rule in the federal health reform law that prohibits caps on health benefits. The agency has said it will stop accepting applications for the waivers in September. CQ HealthBeat, The Hill's "Healthwatch."


AROUND CALIFORNIA

On Sunday, a spokesperson for the United Food and Commercial Workers union announced that more than 90% of the union's members who are employed at three Southern California supermarket chains -- Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons -- have voted to reject the chains' latest health care benefits proposal. The vote automatically authorizes union officials to call for an employee strike after 72 hours. The grocery store chains have indicated that they want to increase workers' share of health insurance premiums and eliminate HMO coverage as an insurance option. Los Angeles Times et al.


Inland Empire Health Plan -- an HMO that serves an estimated 500,000 residents in Riverside and San Bernardino counties -- has contracted with San Fernando-based Partners at Home on a pilot program aimed at reducing hospital readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries. Under the pilot program, participants will receive a home visit, at least four follow-up telephone calls from Partners at Home staff and possibly food delivery services. Riverside Press-Enterprise.


ACROSS THE NATION

Black researchers are significantly less likely to secure NIH grant funding than white applicants, according to a study published in the journal Science. Study author Donna Ginther of the University of Kansas said the disparity can be explained one of two ways: black applicants do not have the same "cumulative advantages" -- such as education and mentoring privileges -- as whites, or there is bias in NIH's grant review system. NIH Director Francis Collins pledged to take steps to root out any bias issues in the review process. Reuters et al.


Kentucky-based Kindred HealthCare will purchase Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Professional HealthCare for $51 million in cash. Professional HealthCare provides home health, hospice and private duty nursing services, as well as durable medical equipment. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the third quarter. San Francisco Business Times.


OPINION MAKERS

One "consequence" of the recent "U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering California to reduce its prison population by 30,000" will be the "strain on local budgets of trying to meet the health care needs of this population," Lois Davis -- a senior policy researcher at RAND -- writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece. "The chief reason the court ordered a reduction in the prison population was the failure of the state to meet the basic medical needs of prisoners," Davis writes. "If the state shifts responsibility to counties, it will also need to shift enough money to fund the treatment needs of this population," Davis concludes. Los Angeles Times.




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