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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

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Daily news & Analysis


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Storm of Controversy Follows Nurse Firings in DC Hospital

By: Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, March 2, 2010

Should a hospital fire a nurse for failing to make it to work in a blizzard? A Washington, DC, hospital thinks so, and has fired 11 nurses and at least five other staffers for staying home and not going to work in blizzards that pulverized much of the metro area on two occasions last month, dropping more than 40 inches of snow. Despite the conditions, "We don't shut down—and we need everybody. Nurses are essential," says So Young Pak, spokeswoman for the Washington Hospital Center.

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MedPAC Recommends Small Inpatient Pay Increase for Hospitals

By: Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, March 2, 2010

In its annual report to Congress, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recommended on Monday 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. However, there is a catch. To restore budget neutrality at the federal level, MedPAC is proposing to reduce the inpatient update by up to 2% in 2011, 2012, and 2013—to recover earlier overpayments that resulted from changes in the use of new diagnosis-related groups in 2008.

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HIMSS Survey: Meaningful Use is Driver of Health IT Spending

By: Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 1, 2010

Although federal guidelines are not yet set for meaningful use, nearly three-fourths of hospitals and other healthcare organizations say they will increase information technology spending in anticipation of stimulus fund reimbursement. However, security issues remain a concern for hospitals.

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Physicians Plunging into EMRs, But Expect Lots of Help

By: Rick Johnson, for HealthLeaders Media, March 2, 2010

It's no secret that the vast majority of office-based physicians don't have EMR technology. Estimates vary because of conflicting definitions about what constitutes an EMR, but it's safe to say that less than 20% have a fully-functioning system in their practices. This is despite years of EMR vendors, consultants, and a few early adopter advocates pushing and prodding physicians to come on board. Those plugs are common at healthcare conferences, but the message and tone feels different at this year's HIMSS conference.

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Is There a Realistic Approach to Meaningful Use?

By: Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, March 1, 2010

Compromise and balance will be the key to meaningful use success. At the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives 2010 CIO forum this week, participants in a town hall meeting made that clear as they discussed a variety of topics, from getting physicians to embrace technology to the wisdom of telling your executive team that it must invest in technology to be eligible for stimulus funds.

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Healthcare Online Job Ads Dip in February

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 1, 2010

Online job ads in many employment sectors across the nation dipped by nearly 67,000 listings in February and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations accounted for almost half of the decline, a new report shows. The Conference Board's Help Wanted Online Data Series report found that advertised vacancies for highly skilled healthcare practitioners and technical occupations fell by 30,300 listings in February.

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MGMA's Jessee Will Retire Next Year

By: John Commins, March 1, 2010

After leading the Medical Group Management Association for more than a decade, President and CEO William F. Jessee, MD, announced that he will retire in the fall of 2011. "I've been blessed to have the opportunity to spend the last 11 years working with a marvelous staff and dynamic boards of directors, during an incredibly exciting period for our nation's healthcare system," Jessee said.

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Trained Interpreters Improve Patient and Provider Satisfaction, Says Study

By: Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 1, 2010

Even as the Joint Commission introduced standards for medical interpreters, a new study reveals that the use of trained language specialists to assist physician-patient communication dramatically improves satisfaction in emergency room settings with non-English speaking patients.

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CMS Suspends Fox Insurance Drug Plan for Medicare Part D Issues

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 2, 2010

CMS has immediately suspended Fox Insurance Co. of New York from marketing and enrolling new members in its Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, after physicians and beneficiaries complained that Fox's drug plan hasn't met the prescription drug needs of some of its newest members.

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Two Nursing Home Chains Pay $14M to Settle Kickback Probe

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 1, 2010

Atlanta-based Mariner Health Care Inc., subsidiary SavaSeniorCare Administrative Services LLC, and their principals will pay the federal government and several states $14 million to settle kickback allegations, the Justice Department has announced. Federal prosecutors alleged that the defendants solicited kickback payments from pharmacy giant Omnicare in exchange for agreements by Mariner and Sava to continue using Omnicare's pharmacy services for 15 years.

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Palm Beach County (FL) OKs Sale of Glades Hospital

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 2, 2010

The Health Care District of Palm Beach County Board has approved the $250,000 bid to purchase the old Glades General Hospital on 14 acres in Belle Glade to Miami-based developers Castello Brothers, LLC. "We are encouraged by the bidder's interest in developing new housing on the property, which would serve as a community resource and asset," Dwight D. Chenette, CEO of the healthcare district, said in prepared remarks.

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Are You Running Scared From Financial Forecasting?

By: Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, March 1, 2010

There are more than a few ways to create a financial forecast, and more than a few hospital CFOs who opt not to do it. Why? I suspect it's because they are afraid to see a lousy future.

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ED Shooting Shows Why Confronting Hospital Violence Must Be A Priority

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 1, 2010

The Feb. 15 shooting inside the ED of Scotland Memorial Hospital in Laurinburg, NC, provides an unwelcomed, frightening, and extreme example of the violence that healthcare professionals too often confront.

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