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California AG: Healthcare breaches were preventable

Healthcare breaches accounted for 15% of all data breaches in California in 2012 and 2013, according to a report from the state's attorney general. Most were easily preventable, the report chides.
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Political airwaves dominated by anti-Obamacare ads

2 pm, Oct. 30 |
More than a quarter of all political advertisements on television this year mention healthcare, and 14% of those specifically reference the federal healthcare law, according to an analysis released by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Just 5% of ads that mentioned the healthcare law were sponsored by Democrats and only 4% included pro-ACA content.
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EEOC sues Honeywell over wellness program

3:45 pm, Oct. 30 |
Honeywell International's wellness program has crossed the line from helping employees to hurting them, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company in federal court Monday.

The EEOC alleges that Honeywell is violating the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by requiring its employees and their covered spouses to undergo biometric testing or face penalties. The screening checks employees' cholesterol levels, blood pressure, glucose, height, weight and waist circumference, as well as testing for nicotine or cotinine, according to the EEOC's petition filed Monday.
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MGMA sorting through applications for new CEO


Jensen
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 |

Hickox
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


Kirch
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


DeSalvo
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


Gilberg
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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