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December 1, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Just under 2 million Californians have mental-health problems or illnesses that require treatment, but only a fraction of them receive care, according to a report released Wednesday by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The study found that one in 12 of the state's adults have symptoms that are consistent with serious psychological distress and cause them difficulty functioning at home or work. About half said they are not receiving treatment for their symptoms and about 25% receive "inadequate treatment," according to the authors of the report.
November 12, 2011 | Steve Lopez
Last time I wrote about my dad, he'd taken a fall in his bedroom, couldn't get up, but didn't want yet another ride in an ambulance. So my mother got down on the floor with him, pulled up a blanket and they went to sleep. This time they went down together, falling in the street outside a Burger King in the Bay Area town of Pittsburg. He was using a walker with my mom assisting, but he lost his balance and dragged my mother down with him. She was OK, but my dad was hurting. An ambulance happened to be going by, scooped him up and the verdict in the emergency room was a broken hip. For a senior, those two dreaded words — "broken hip" — are often the beginning of the end. Doctors said that without surgery, my father would probably die within three months.
November 1, 2011 | By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
The rate of preterm births has been getting better overall, but the U.S. still gets a "C" grade on the March of Dimes 2011 Premature Birth Report Card. The report, issued Tuesday, shows that the country's preterm birth rate has been decreasing since 2006, when it was 12.8%. In 2009 that rate was 12.2%, but still short of the March of Dimes' goal of 9.6% by 2020. Almost every state showed some improvement from 2006 to 2009, with 16 states receiving a grade of B (including California)
September 19, 2011 | By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
There are six things that young doctors need to learn during their training period as interns and residents, starting with basics like acquiring “medical knowledge” and honing their “patient care” skills. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education and the American Board of Medical Specialties make sure that doctors-in-training master these general competencies before they complete their residency training. One more item should be added to this list, according to Dr. Steven E. Weinberger , chief executive of the American College of Physicians: how to provide high-quality medical care without breaking the bank.
July 20, 2011 | By Noam N. Levey, Tribune Washington Bureau
An independent panel of doctors and health experts recommended Tuesday that health plans cover a broad range of contraceptives for women without co-pays, setting the stage for another debate over the impact of the new health overhaul. The law that President Obama signed last year requires new health plans to cover many preventive health services without co-pays or deductibles for patients, a key provision of the new law that experts believe will encourage more Americans to get recommended immunizations, cancer screenings and other services.
July 7, 2011 | By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
Adults with Medicaid use more medical services, have less financial stress related to health and, overall, feel healthier than those without insurance. So says a first-of-its-kind study on the effectiveness of the government insurance plan.  The findings make intuitive sense, yet the study is the first to directly compare similar adults with Medicaid and with no insurance at all. Hundreds of other studies have examined differences between those with and without insurance, but are always limited in conclusion by the inherent differences in the two groups, such as income and employment.
June 6, 2011 | By Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News
Emergency departments are struggling to keep up with demand, serving a growing number of people at the same time that their numbers are shrinking. One increasingly popular option to improve access to services is the freestanding emergency department, a facility that, as its name suggests, isn't physically located with a hospital. Services at these facilities get high marks, but questions remain about whether they're the best choice for some serious medical problems, such as heart attacks.
April 30, 2011 | By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times
A California regulator for the first time has declared a health insurance rate increase "unreasonable" but acknowledged that it can do nothing to stop the state's largest for-profit insurer from going ahead with it. As a result, rates for 120,000 customers of Anthem Blue Cross will begin rising an average of 16% on Sunday, infuriating policyholders and frustrating officials at the California Department of Managed Health Care. The state regulator said Woodland Hills-based Anthem refused its request to match a break in insurance rates that the insurer is giving to about 600,000 other customers whose individual policies are handled by a different regulator, the California insurance commissioner.
April 21, 2011 | By Colby Itkowitz, Morning Call
Reminiscent of the August 2009 town halls when members of Congress faced angry constituents over health care reforms, a public forum in Carbon County with Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) Wednesday night provided a glimpse of the strong emotions stirred by a Republican plan to alter Medicare benefits. At the start of his town hall meeting, Barletta welcomed people to use the conversation to get things off their chests. While he was going through a slide projector presentation about the Medicare changes proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)
March 31, 2011 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender patients have unique healthcare needs and concerns just as any minority does -- and those distinctions should be taken into account in studies and health records, says a new report released Thursday. The Institute of Medicine report, meant as technical advice for the National Institutes of Health, recommended that federally funded studies ask participants about their sexual orientation and gender identity -- factors that could affect a person's medical profile and health risks just as aspects such as race and age do. The institute also recommended that medical professionals start including data on sexuality and gender identity in people's electronic health records.
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