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Monday, December 7, 2009

Daily news & Analysis

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Deleting Medicare Consult Code Could Hurt Patients, Say Doctors

By: Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, December 4, 2009

A Medicare rule that will eliminate specialist physicians' ability to bill higher amounts for patient consults as of Jan. 1 "has caused a combination of panic and confusion" and should be postponed for a year, the American Medical Association wrote in a lengthy letter. The impact will be even worse "if Congress has not acted to prevent a scheduled 21.2% cut in the conversion factor that is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1."

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Senate Amendments Feature Insurer Exec Pay Limits, Malpractice Award Caps

By: Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, December 7, 2009

In a rare but not unprecedented move, the Senate met through Saturday and Sunday to top off the first week of reform debate. Aside from President Obama meeting with the Democratic Caucus on Sunday afternoon, several amendments did come up for a vote.

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Abortion Amendment Expected Today

By: Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, December 7, 2009

While the Senate reform process continued to "crawl forward," as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called it, for the past seven straight days, the action may pick up somewhat Monday with the controversial amendment on abortion, which will probably be introduced by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE). Reid announced the move late yesterday afternoon during a rare weekend of the Senate in session.

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Use Medical Staff Membership to Integrate, Not Separate, Satellite Clinics

By: Emily Berry, December 4, 2009

Facilities that are looking for a way to achieve a closer bond between hospital-based practitioners and their peers who work at satellite clinics should work with medical staff leaders to extend medical staff membership and hospital privileges to clinic practitioners. Although medical staff membership is separate from clinical privileges, linking the two together can result in a medical staff with greater dedication to the organization.

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CDC Video Urges Patients to Insist They Witness Provider Hand-washing

By: Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, December 7, 2009

A CDC video now being shown to hospitalized patients and visitors urges them to insist they witness providers wash their hands by the bedside, even if the doctor or nurse says he or she already washed just before entering the room. Studies suggest that only 50% of caregivers actually wash their hands when they're supposed to before patient contact, although 90% think they do it when they should.

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Senate Democrats Bash Blue Cross' Health Reform Report

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 4, 2009

Senate Democrats are dismissing as "deception and distortion" a new health insurance industry study that alleges that the cost of premiums in the individual market would increase by 54% if healthcare reform passes. The increase would translate into premiums for people purchasing new policies of $4,561 for single coverage and $9,669 for family coverage in today's dollars—representing premium increases of $1,576 and $3,341, respectively.

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Three Ways to Thrive Under a Leaner Reimbursement Environment

By: Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, December 4, 2009

Legislators and academics, among others, have been crying "wolf" about healthcare's unsustainable long-term cost curve for years now. So why should we pay attention this time?

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