Senate Passes 2-Month SGR, Medicare Fixes; House Action Uncertain

Legislation providing a two-month extension of the Medicare physician  payment fix and all other Medicare “extenders” passed the Senate  Saturday.  The House GOP baulked and passage is uncertain.  It is  supported by the President.  Click here to read a good summary on  the congressional battle.  There were NO payment cuts to hospitals or  other […]

New Plan to Revamp Medicare Has Washington Buzzing

Washington was buzzing last week with the announcement from key House  and Senate members about a plan to revamp Medicare.  Democratic Sen. Ron  Wyden and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan introduced a new  Medicare reform plan that would allow seniors to choose between  traditional Medicare and new private insurance programs.  Click here for […]

Government Funded for a Year; Some Cuts Made to Health Programs

Congress averted a government shutdown last week by approving a new   funding bill that runs through September 30, 2012.  There were several  cuts to existing Affordable Care Act:  $400 million from the CO-OP  program and $10 million from the Independent Payment Advisory Board  (IPAB).  It is unclear whether IPAB would be able to function without  […]

MedPAC Recommends Update Reductions for Some, Increases for Others

MedPAC last week proposed to reduce hospital inpatient and outpatient  rates from 2.9 percent in 2012 to 1 percent in 2013 and freeze them at  that level for five years in order to recover an estimated $11 billion  in 2010-2012 over payments due to documentation and coding methods.  A  very good MedPAC powerpoint summary of […]

Government Seeks Wage Increase for Home Health Workers

The Department of Labor will propose new rules that would extend  minimum wage and overtime protections to in-home health care workers  employed by staffing agencies.  According to the administration, many of  the workers provide in-home health services such as tube feeding, wound  care or assistance with physical therapy.  The proposed regulations would  apply to workers […]

CMS Rule Requires Disclosure of Industry Payments to Physicians, Teaching Hospitals

CMS last week published a proposed rule intended to create more  transparency about financial relationships between doctors and  drugmakers, device manufacturers and other private interests.  The  proposal would require manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals, and  medical supplies covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health  Insurance Program to report to CMS payments or other transfers […]

CMS’ Value Based Purchasing Program Impacts Dialysis Providers

30 percent of dialysis facilities will get a payment cut of 0.5 to 2  percent in 2012 depending on their final performance scores under  the Medicare pay-for-performance system, according to CMS last week.   Click here for details.

26 Hospital Groups Get $218 Million for Partnership for Patients

CMS last week announced the 26 organizations that will receive $218  million in funding in the Partnership for Patients program.  (Strategic  Health Care provided grants development and health policy assistance to  three of the organizations listed.)  Click here to see the list of those receiving Hospital Engagement Contracts.

States to Have More Flexibility in Setting Essential Benefits: HHS

States will be given wide latitude to decide what “essential benefits” insurers must offer in policies offered on new health exchanges come 2014, HHS announced last week.  Instead of one national standard, states will be able to design benchmark plans based on one of four choices: The benefits offered in one of the three largest federal employee plans (by enrollment), […]

Physician Payment Fix in the Works

Congressional leaders are in active discussions on how to fix – at least for a year – the physician’s Medicare payment system.  A House vote on a solution could come as early as this week.  Without a fix, docs take a 27.4% Medicare pay cut Janauary 1.  The cost of a one year fix is about $21 billion over […]


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