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MGMA sorting through applications for new CEO

Jerard Jensen, the Medical Group Management Association's attorney, has had to play a more visible role at the MGMA's 88th annual conference in Las Vegas as the organization's interim CEO.

Jensen was named to the post in August after Dr. Susan Turney resigned to become the first CEO of the new Marshfield Clinic Health System on Sept. 1. (Turney trained at Marshfield as an internal medicine resident in 1982.)
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Would you agree to a 21-day Ebola quarantine?

12:45 pm, Oct. 30 |

U.S. healthcare workers who volunteer to join the fight in Africa against Ebola have a new question to ask themselves these days: How would they feel about a 21-day quarantine when they get back home?

Two healthcare workers on opposite sides of the country are answering that question very differently right now. In Maine, feisty nurse Kaci Hickox is refusing to abide by a state request that she self-quarantine herself for 21 days. Hickox was initially kept in a tent outside a New Jersey hospital after returning through Newark Airport from a stint volunteering in Sierra Leone. She's hired an attorney and threatened to sue first New Jersey, and now Maine, to be able to resume her normal daily life.
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Bay State savings test produces positive results: NEJM

Healthcare costs grew more slowly and quality improved more rapidly among doctors and hospitals in the Massachusetts Blues' test of global budgets, compared with quality and performance across the Northeast, research shows.

The global budget contracts, introduced nearly six years ago by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, were among the first to enter the increasingly crowded field of attempts to rein in U.S. healthcare spending with incentives for quality and efficiency. The results for the first four years suggest some promise for global budgets, which allot providers an annual budget for patients' medical bills and leave providers liable for spending that exceeds that budget.
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Docs gripe, but med students keep coming

Reports of doctors concerned about their autonomy and the future of their profession apparently didn't stop a record 20,343 students from enrolling in medical school or a record 49,480 from applying to med school this year.

The new student figure, reported by the Association of American Medical Colleges Wednesday, tops the record number posted last year by 1.4%. The applicant figure represents a 3.1% increase over last year's total of 48,014.
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HHS contraceptive workaround isn't making either side happy

The controversy about how to provide contraception coverage to women employed by companies that hold religious objections to such coverage was evident in comments filed regarding a proposed HHS workaround that encompassed rules for such companies and for religious organizations. The comment period ended Monday.
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DeSalvo appears to be staying on, for now, at ONC

To paraphrase Mark Twain, news of Dr. Karen DeSalvo's departure from the top job at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has been somewhat exaggerated.

Last week, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell appointed DeSalvo to become acting assistant secretary of health, effective immediately, to head up public health matters, including HHS' Ebola response efforts. Lisa Lewis, who served as the ONC's chief operating officer, was named as acting national coordinator.
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Medicare's quality programs prove to be a hurdle, doc practices say

An overwhelming majority of medical practices say they are already participating in internal quality-improvement processes, according to a Medical Group Management Association survey, but an even higher number said they do not believe participating in Medicare physician quality-improvement programs is enhancing their practice.

According to a report on the findings released Monday at the MGMA's annual conference in Las Vegas, 82% of survey respondents were engaged in their own clinical-improvement effort, and more than 83% said Medicare's Physician Quality Reporting System, meaningful-use electronic health-record incentive program, and its Value-Based Modifier Program are distractions that impede quality improvement.
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A newly aggressive Salesforce invades the health IT battlefield

3 pm, Oct. 28 |
Tags: Tags: Vendors, the cloud-based customer resource management services provider, has been generating buzz lately because of a reported big push into healthcare.

Two unnamed company sources recently told Reuters that Salesforce hopes to bring in $1 billion in annual healthcare industry sales in the coming years.

That would mean a 25% bump to its top line, based on last year's numbers.
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Nebraska Ebola unit began with far different purpose in mind

Nebraska Medical Center staff perform a drill in the specialized isolation unit.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's current approach for handling the arrival of Ebola in the U.S. actually has its roots in the country's bioterrorism strategy from a decade ago.

At Nebraska Medical Center, located in a state once ranked in the top six for bioterrorism preparedness, an unused isolation unit unveiled in 2005 finally began receiving patients—though not the ones it had initially envisioned.
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High-deductible health plans may be spurring questionable new provider charges

Patients long have been positioned uncomfortably between healthcare providers and insurers when payment is due for services. A new article by Elisabeth Rosenthal in The New York Times highlights a growing issue in how providers are collecting payments at the point of service.

Rosenthal writes that doctors and hospitals are charging some patients unexpected add-on fees that go beyond the usual copayment or coinsurance. For example, a California woman had to pay a “sling fee” related to her teenage daughter's broken arm.
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