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Research roundup: Benefits of smaller practices; Rx price growth; fixing Medicare claims reviews

Research roundup: Benefits of smaller practices; Rx price growth; fixing Medicare claims reviews

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services within the Department of Health and Human Services has taken steps to prevent its contractors from conducting certain duplicative postpayment claims reviews-;reviews of the same claims that are not permitted by the agency-;but CMS neither has reliable data nor provides sufficient oversight and guidance to measure and fully prevent duplication. [More]
UCSF study shows price differences for ten common blood tests across California hospitals

UCSF study shows price differences for ten common blood tests across California hospitals

New UC San Francisco research shows significant price differences for ten common blood tests in California hospitals, with some patients charged as little as $10 for one test while others were charged $10,169 for the identical test. [More]
Physician disclosure website back on track

Physician disclosure website back on track

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announces it has fixed the glitch that took down the website where doctors and hospitals can review information about payments from drug and device makers. Meanwhile, The New York Times looks at how costly compounded medicines are drawing the ire of health insurers, and a U.K. agency recommends the government pay for a costly new hepatitis treatment. [More]
Cops, computer analysts hunt for Medicare fraud

Cops, computer analysts hunt for Medicare fraud

The Wall Street Journal looks closely at the work of the Medicare Strike Force, which includes FBI agents and CMS workers. Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office finds Medicare audit contractors may hammer hospitals with multiple reviews of the same payment claims. [More]
Viewpoints: Enrollment 'plummeting'?; Arkansas' 'boondoggle'; move Medicare to Obamacare exchanges

Viewpoints: Enrollment 'plummeting'?; Arkansas' 'boondoggle'; move Medicare to Obamacare exchanges

In the latest leg of their endless journey to find bad news about the Affordable Care Act, conservative analysts and websites have seized on some ambiguous figures to declare that enrollment is "plummeting," "shrinking," "sinking rapidly"--choose your headline. The most charitable interpretation of this claim is that it's based on extreme cherry-picking. The most accurate interpretation is that it's wrong (Michael Hiltzik, 8/13). [More]
First Edition: August 15, 2014

First Edition: August 15, 2014

Today's headlines include a variety of updates regarding health policy and the health care marketplace. [More]

The rush is on: Process immigrant paperwork to keep them insured

The Wall Street Journal reports on reaction to the Obama administration's announcement that coverage would be cut off for as many as 310,000 people if they don't prove they are citizens or legal residents by Sept. 5. Other news outlets offer local takes on the issue. [More]
Medical advisory panel recommends new pneumonia vaccine for seniors

Medical advisory panel recommends new pneumonia vaccine for seniors

The experts expressed concern, however, that Medicare rules may hamper some people from getting the new vaccine if they have already had an older version. Also in drug issues, some patient advocates report that insurers are balking at paying for a costly drug to treat hepatitis C if the patients are in drug treatment programs. [More]
Longer looks: A sugar cube pyramid; Obamacare's successes; the suicide checklist

Longer looks: A sugar cube pyramid; Obamacare's successes; the suicide checklist

Dean Angstadt, a 57-year-old, self-employed logger, said that the Affordable Care Act saved his life. ... Kathy Bentozi, a 58-year-old Pennsylvanian, is also thankful for Obamacare. ... Joshua Haymore, a 27-year-old Coloradan, could not get a specialist to see him for weeks last year ... Now that he has Medicaid, his prescriptions cost $3 and his health has improved significantly. Those are just three of thousands of good-news stories coming from the insurance expansion in the Affordable Care Act. ... But there is scant evidence that Americans have started to take notice, or care (Annie Lowrey, 8/13). [More]
First Edition: August 14, 2014

First Edition: August 14, 2014

Today's headlines include a report about an uptick in VA referrals to private physicians. Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "Some hospitals in New York, Florida and Wisconsin are exploring ways to help individuals and families pay their share of the costs of government-subsidized policies purchased though the health law's marketplaces – at least partly to guarantee the hospitals get paid when the consumers seek care. [More]

Majority of customers are satisfied with MediCare International, shows survey

A recent survey of users of international private healthcare insurer MediCare International has reported that 95% of those surveyed were either very satisfied or satisfied with their overall service experience. [More]

Researchers examine reason for patients being discharged from hospice care

About 1 in 5 Medicare patients is discharged from hospice care alive, whether due to patients' informed choice, a change in their condition, or inappropriate actions by the hospice to save on hospitalization costs related to terminal illness. [More]

Unresolved citizenship, immigration status threaten health law coverage for 310,000 people

The federal government has mailed notification to the people in three dozen states. These people have until Sept. 5 to present green cards, citizenship documents or other information to prove their eligibility for health insurance purchased through the online insurance marketplace. [More]
Viewpoints: Medicaid's good deal; Medicare hospital errors; CBO on exchange coverage

Viewpoints: Medicaid's good deal; Medicare hospital errors; CBO on exchange coverage

If the governor and the legislature refuse to accept the federal deal [for Medicaid expansion] -; as 24 states have so far -; they in effect vote against one of the most fantastic cash-flow deals ever offered them. ... And it gets worse. [More]

Insurance rate hikes could be issue in key states

Although rate hikes average 7.5 percent nationally for the individual health insurance market, consumers in politically key states such as Florida and North Carolina may see higher increases-- and insurers are partly blaming the administration's decision to allow consumers to hold onto their old policies. [More]
First Edition: August 13, 2014

First Edition: August 13, 2014

Today's headlines include reports that more than 300,000 people who obtained new insurance through the health law could lose it if they do not provide proof by Sept. 5 that their immigration or citizenship status makes them eligible for it. [More]
CAH successfully attest to Stage 2 of Meaningful Use EHR incentive program using MEDITECH

CAH successfully attest to Stage 2 of Meaningful Use EHR incentive program using MEDITECH

Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center in Odessa, Wash. is the first Critical Access Hospital (CAH) to successfully attest to Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use electronic health record (EHR) incentive program using MEDITECH Information Technology, Inc. administered by Engage, a division of Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS). [More]
Viewpoints: Robin Williams' 'wakeup call'; surprise in Medicaid growth; tools to stop Ebola in U.S.

Viewpoints: Robin Williams' 'wakeup call'; surprise in Medicaid growth; tools to stop Ebola in U.S.

Earlier this year, [Robin] Williams checked himself into a rehabilitation facility. And whether he needed help with addiction or mental illness-;or, as is so often the case, with both-;it's safe to assume he got it. He had the money to afford the best and the sad truth is that, in some cases, even the best isn't enough to save people. [More]
Researchers identify predictors of early rehospitalization among patients with COPD

Researchers identify predictors of early rehospitalization among patients with COPD

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have identified predictors of early rehospitalization among patients hospitalized for complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This study was recently published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society. [More]
Screening test for colon cancer wins FDA approval

Screening test for colon cancer wins FDA approval

The test, called Cologuard, can detect genetic mutations in patients' stool samples that are associated with cancerous and precancerous growths. [More]