FROM Chad Terhune
Medical Scopes A recent Senate investigation found that 16 hospitals across the country that saw infections and deaths as a result of tainted scopes failed to file mandatory federal reports on them. Last year, seven patients were infected and three patients died as a result of tainted scopes at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The Food and Drug Administration did not notify hospitals about issues with the scopes until it was reported by the Los Angeles Times. Since then, the company that manufactures the scopes, Olympus Corp., has recalled the scopes and announced plans for a redesign. But is it too late?
A New Look at Medical Training The giant HMO Kaiser Permanente has a history of bucking the healthcare establishment by snapping up new technology and encouraging physicians with different specialties to work together. Now it's planning its own medical school to train a new generation of doctors who look like the patients in communities where they serve. Chad Terhune covers healthcare for the LA Times .
Big Money in Healthcare Non-Profits Blue Shield is California's third largest health-insurance company. It was founded as a non-profit company in 1939 with an exemption from paying state taxes. Last August, the Franchise Tax Board revoked the tax exemption — but that was not made public until the LA Times reported it yesterday.
Surgeon Wins $10 Million Settlement in UCLA Whistleblower Suit Yesterday the University of California handed a $10 million settlement to the former chairman of UCLA's orthopedic surgery department. Dr. Robert Pedowitz sued UCLA, the UC Regents, colleagues and university officials for allegedly retaliating against him after he spoke up in 2010 about what he called widespread conflicts of interest involving UCLA doctors' financial ties to medical device companies. UC officials have denied any wrongdoing in the case, and claim there is no evidence that patient care was affected. The university maintains it settled to avoid the cost and inconvenience of further time in court. Note: We asked UCLA to participate in this discussion but, unfortunately, the University was not able to provide an official by the taping of this interview. It did provide us with the following statement: "UCLA acted fully within the scope of law and UC policy in this case."
Bureaucratic Delays, Shifting Deadlines: CA Healthcare Rollout The Affordable Care Act, called Covered California here, continues to confuse people who want to sign up. The rush of new applicants has created a backlog of applications in California. The good news is that if you're late on a premium payment, you now have until January 15 to pay for coverage that was scheduled to begin January 1. But the latest fudging of what were concrete deadlines underscores a bigger problem for Covered California: confusing rules for consumers. And they can't get answers from state officials and insurance companies, mainly because people can't get through on the phone.
The Changing Face of Healthcare Delivery in California It'll be four months before anybody knows what the President's Affordable Care Act will really look like in California, but it's beginning to take shape. It might turn out to be less expensive than predicted — if enough of those who don't have insurance decide to sign up instead of paying a $95 penalty. Meanwhile, healthcare providers promise a massive rally tomorrow in Sacramento to pressure Governor Brown to restore reimbursements for services to poor people. We hear about that and get a preview of what the roll-out of Obamacare is beginning to look like in California.