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Friday, January 15, 2010

Daily news & Analysis

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Congress, Labor Leaders Agree on Revised Cadillac Health Plan Tax

By: Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, January 15, 2010

White House and Congressional leaders passed another important signpost Thursday on the road to completing the healthcare reform bill. Following marathon negotiations with labor union leaders all week, a new deal was reportedly hammered out over the issue of taxing employees' high-cost or "Cadillac plans." The provision will remain, but the threshold at which the 40% tax would kick-in with the high-cost plans would change. The threshold would now be for families whose plans' value reach $24,000—up from $23,000; for individuals, the $8,500 threshold is likely to remain the same.

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New MedPAC Hospital, Physician Payment Updates a Mixed Bag for Providers

By: Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, January 15, 2010

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission voted to recommend that Congress give hospitals a fiscal 2011 payment update equal to the rate of change in the marketbasket index (currently projected at 2.4%) for inpatient and outpatient payments. This rate will be concurrent with implementation of a pay-for-performance program. However, to restore budget neutrality at the federal level, MedPAC called on the Health and Human Services Secretary to reduce the inpatient update by up to 2% in 2011, 2012, and 2013 to recover earlier overpayments that resulted from recent documentation and coding changes in 2008.

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Health Reform Could Put End to Physician-owned Hospitals

By: Liz Jones, January 14, 2010

If passed as is, the Senate's current healthcare reform bill will put physician-owned hospitals on the endangered species list. Some lawmakers are eager to put the kibosh on physician-owned hospitals because of a debate that has been raging in the field since physician-owned hospitals started cropping up in the 1990s.

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Top Joint Commission Citations: Corridor Clutter, Door Wedges

By: Scott Wallask, for HealthLeaders Media, January 14, 2010

The Joint Commission's focus on Life Safety Code® compliance doesn't look to be subsiding, as evidenced by fire safety provisions topping the latest list of most-cited standards in hospitals. However, there are some simple strategies CEOs can ask their safety committees or facilities departments to look into that may help hospitals stay in better compliance.

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Healthcare Community Rushes to Aid Haiti Earthquake Victims

By: Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 15, 2010

Four thousand health workers with Boston-based Partners In Health were already working in Haiti with the Ministry of Health when the earthquake hit earlier this week. They were working like they usually do, managing 10 hospitals and other facilities in the rural areas far to the north of Port-au-Prince, says communications director Andrew Marx. But routine went out the window on Wednesday. The hospitals, doctors, nurses, and community health workers reinforced the health system in rural areas on two fronts.

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Security Breach Puts 500,000 BlueCross Members' Data at Risk

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 14, 2010

The theft of 57 hard drives from a BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee training facility last October has put at risk the private information of approximately 500,000 customers in at least 32 states, the insurer said this week in an investigation update. The hard drives contained customers' personal data and protected health information that was encoded but not encrypted.

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Two Hospital Workers Fired for Refusing Flu Shots

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 15, 2010

Two employees at Charleston (WV) Area Medical Center have been fired for reportedly refusing to receive hospital-mandated vaccinations against the H1N1 virus, the hospital confirmed. "Companies within the CAMC Health System employ more than 6,000 people. Nearly every one of them have been vaccinated as part of a new policy aimed at increasing the number of employees receiving the influenza vaccine," said CAMC spokesman Dale Witte, in a media release. "Only two employees decided to not be vaccinated and will no longer be permitted to work at CAMC."

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Five Healthcare Facilities Agree to Stop Dumping Drug Waste in Watershed

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 15, 2010

Five healthcare facilities in two counties near New York City have agreed to immediately stop dumping pharmaceutical waste into the city's watershed, the New York Attorney General's Office announced this week. The five Putnam and Delaware county facilities named in the settlements are: O'Connor Hospital in Delhi; Margaretville Memorial Hospital; Mountainside Residential Care Center in Margaretville; Countryside Care Center in Delhi; and Putnam Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Holmes.

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Physicians Making Progress on EHR Adoption

By: Elyas Bakhtiari, for HealthLeaders Media, January 14, 2010

It seems to be difficult—perhaps more difficult than it should be—to get an accurate estimate of how many physician offices are actually using electronic health record systems. But progress is being made.

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Making the Family Caregiver a Part of the Healthcare Team

By: Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, January 14, 2010

Sometimes, an important presence may be overlooked in providing quality patient-centered care: the family caregiver.

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