In the News

CMS’ Reported Nixing of End-to-End ICD-10 Test Irks Critics, Modern HealthCare, 5-12-14

Joseph Conn reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has canceled its first scheduled round of end-to-end testing for ICD-10 in the wake of a recent, one-year reset of the compliance deadline to Oct. 1, 2015, according to knowledgeable sources. But backing off from the schedule is not what several ICD-10 experts and advocates of a trial wanted to hear. They were hoping for a thorough dry run of the health care industry’s money flow system using the new diagnostic and procedural codes.

Medicare Struggling with Hepatitis C Cure Costs, NPR, 5-12-14

Richard Knox reports that researchers estimate that 3 to 5 million Americans carry the insidious hep-C virus, and it’s almost certain that potent new drugs for hep-C could cure many of them. However, the federal Medicare program has been refusing to pay for the drugs.

Telepsychiatry Brings Emergency Mental Health Care to Rural Areas, NPR, 5-7-14

This radio report highlights North Carolina’s telepsychiatry efforts in 28 counties across the state that do not have a single psychiatrist. That’s despite the fact that in recent years, emergency rooms in the state have seen more patients with mental health, developmental disability or substance abuse problems. So the state is trying telepsychiatry. When a patient comes into an emergency room, they can be connected via a two-way video connection with a psychiatrist.

 Limited Medicare ACO Quality Data Show Sharp Variations, Modern HealthCare, 5-3-14

Melanie Evans reports the $380 million in Medicare savings produced by accountable care organizations in the Shared Savings and Pioneer programs in 2012 have been well-publicized. But the CMS has not yet delivered on its stated goal of transparency for quality-of-care measures, which will be used to evaluate Medicare ACOs to determine whether they will receive financial bonuses or penalties. Quality measures ensure that ACOs—which are eligible to keep half to 70% of what they save—do not inappropriately skimp on care to win the savings bonuses.

Terminal Neglect: How Some Hospices Decline to Treat the Dying, The Washington Post, 5-3-14

Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating report that for more than a million patients every year, the burgeoning U.S. hospice industry offers the possibility of a peaceful death, typically at home. But that promise depends upon patients getting the medical attention they need in a crisis, and hundreds of hospices provide very little care to such patients, a Washington Post investigation has found.

NC Among Top Five States for Health Care Enrollment, Fayetteville Observer, 5-2-14

Paige Rentz reports that  more than 357,000 North Carolinians have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace, which has enrolled more than 8 million people nationwide. Only four other states – California, Florida, Texas and New York – have enrolled more residents than North Carolina.

Telemedicine Policy Draws Opposition from Patient Advocates, Health Care Providers, Kaiser Health News, 5-2-14

Lisa Gillespie writes that new guidelines issued by the Federation of State Medical Boards could have a chilling effect on the growth of telemedicine – especially in rural areas and among low-income patients, say some patient advocates, health care providers and health care companies. But the federation says the updated guidance will safeguard patients’ privacy and ensure high-quality care in the current fast-changing health care delivery environment.

Physician Anxieties Linger as CMS Sets Oct. 1, 2015 Conversion Date for ICD-10, ModernHealthCare, 5-1-14

Joseph Conn reports that the countdown has restarted toward the compliance deadline with the federally mandated conversion to the ICD-10 diagnostic and procedural codes. The new ICD-10 start date is Oct. 1, 2015, according to a terse statement from the CMS. But many of the problems and anxieties that led to last month’s congressional pushback of the ICD-10 start date are still unresolved, several experts said.

WHO’s First Global Report on Antibiotic Resistance Reveals Serious Worldwide Threat to Public Health, World Health Organization Release, 4-30-14

A new report by WHO–its first to look at antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance, globally–reveals that this serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country.


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