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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Daily news & Analysis

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Hospital Finances Rebounding

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 19, 2009

Many of the nation's hospitals have made impressive financial and operational turnarounds in the first quarter of 2009, apparently reversing troubling trends that only months earlier had placed a considerable portion of the sector in red ink, according to a new Thomson Reuters study released today.

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OIG Audits Find More Providers Overcharging Medicare

By: Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 19, 2009

Five federal audits on behalf of Medicare found $12 million in erroneous claims filed by dialysis centers in West Virginia and Delaware, two hospitals in the Altoona Regional Health System in Pennsylvania, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas and duplicate billings for the same Medicare patients. The audits by the Office of Inspector General included recommendations that the money be repaid to the federal government and that the responsible agencies and providers make sure such mistakes are not repeated.

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Physician Groups Earn Over $25 Million for Quality Improvements

By: Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, August 19, 2009

All 10 of the physician groups participating in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Physician Group Practice Demonstration achieved benchmark performance on at least 28 of the 32 measures reported in the third year of the pilot demonstration. As a result of their efforts to reduce the growth rate in Medicare expenditures, five of those physician groups are receiving performance payments totaling $25.3 million as part of their share of $32.3 million of savings generated for the Medicare Trust Funds for the year.

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No Final Guidance on Unsecure PHI—Yet

By: Dom Nicastro, for HealthLeaders Media, August 19, 2009

HHS failed to meet its August 18 HITECH Act deadline for final guidance on unsecure PHI, meaning for now the definition goes to a default standard. Per the HITECH Act, Section 13402, "Notification in the case of breach," the definition of "unsecure PHI," provided there is no HHS announcement within 180 days of the February 17, 2009, signing of the HITECH Act, is: PHI that is "not secured by a technology standard that renders [PHI] unusable, unreadable, or indecipherable to unauthorized individuals and is developed or endorsed by a standards developing organization that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute."

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RAC Posts Issues for Review in Florida

By: Andrea Kraynak, for HealthLeaders Media, August 19, 2009

Connolly Healthcare, the RAC for region C, has now posted issues for review in Florida. Similar to South Carolina, RACs may now audit providers in Florida on the following five issues: untimed codes, IV hydration therapy, once in a lifetime procedures, pediatric codes exceeding age parameters, and J2505: Injection, Pegfilgrastim, 6 mg.

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Nursing Students Learn About Rural Healthcare

By: Keri Mucci, for HealthLeaders Media, August 18, 2009

A divide commonly exists between rural communities and healthcare access, but a grant will soon allow University of Virginia nursing students to be in closer reach.  Fourth-year nursing students will travel to some of the state's rural communities to devise interventions for the locations' largest health problems.

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CCHIT Remains the Only Certifying Body for EHRs—But Not for Long

By: Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media, August 18, 2009

CCHIT will lead the way in mapping out the certification criteria based on the HIT Policy Committee's recommendations outlined in the "meaningful use" matrix.

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British Defend NHS Against U.S. Criticism

By: Ben Cole, for HealthLeaders Media, August 18, 2009

Health reform opponents often point to Britain's National Health Service deficiencies as an example of why a government-run healthcare system should not be implemented. But the British are firing back against these claims.

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