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CMS finalizes EHR meaningful-use rule, adds some flexibility
August 29, 2014
The CMS late Friday finalized a rule allowing hospitals and eligible professionals more flexibility in how they meet meaningful-use requirements for the electronic health-record incentive program. The agency had first proposed the idea in a May draft rule. Friday's final rule left the May proposal...

Providers see little enthusiasm to join Pioneer ACOs
September 01, 2014
Federal officials are floating the idea of expanding Medicare's Pioneer model for accountable care organizations, but they might struggle to recruit any new participants.

AMA proposes Medicare pay for end-of-life counseling
August 31, 2014
The American Medical Association has proposed a new Medicare billing code for physicians who provide counseling for patients who want to write end-of-life directives, the New York Times reports.

Hospitals often ignore policies on using qualified medical interpreters
August 30, 2014
As the U.S. grows more linguistically diverse, safety experts worry that healthcare providers too often fail to make interpreter services available to patients, increasing the risk of adverse events.

Indiana hospitals fight state's salary disclosure law
September 01, 2014
Indiana county hospitals are seeking an exemption from a requirement that they make the salaries of doctors and staff public, saying doing so puts them at a disadvantage with their private counterparts.

CMS offers holiday sale on audit appeals
August 30, 2014
In a pre-Labor Day weekend bid to lower its backlog of contentious payment disputes, the CMS late Friday offered to pay hospitals 68% of all medical claims appealed by the service providers after having been rejected by outside auditors.

More Medicare star ratings coming soon—unless providers can put the brakes on
August 30, 2014
Hospital groups and dialysis and home care providers are warning that a five-star rating system the CMS plans to apply to them as early as this fall is more likely to confuse consumers than help them meaningfully compare providers' quality and safety.

Federal judge strikes down Texas abortion clinic restrictions
August 30, 2014
Tough new Texas abortion restrictions are on hold after a federal judge found Republican-led efforts to hold abortion clinics to hospital-level operating standards unconstitutional in a ruling that spares more than a dozen clinics from imminent closure.

Obamacare's political turning point
August 30, 2014
We've come to a fascinating point in the Obamacare political battle where Republican candidates aren't sure they still want to attack Democrats over the law, and Democrats still aren't sure they want to claim credit for it.

States side with FTC against St. Luke's physician deal
August 22, 2014
The attorneys general from 16 states have filed an amicus brief backing the Federal Trade Commission in its closely watched bid to undo an Idaho health system's acquisition of a physician practice.

Reform Update: Facing ACA mandates, insurers diversify into technology
August 28, 2014
Health insurance companies, now required to spend the lion's share of premium revenue on patient care, are looking for higher investment returns elsewhere. As a result, they're increasingly putting money into technology ventures where they expect to realize higher returns.

Outsourcing lab services can save money, but it's not that simple
August 30, 2014
Hospitals increasingly are outsourcing nonclinical services such as laundry and food to save money. Now, some are turning the cost spotlight on clinical services such as labs and diagnostic imaging. But such moves require hospitals to evaluate service and quality issues.

New Novartis heart disease drug shows big promise in study
August 30, 2014
A new study reports one of the biggest potential advances against heart failure in more than a decade—a first-of-a-kind, experimental drug that lowered the chances of death or hospitalization by about 20%.

Experimental Ebola drug ZMapp proves promising in primate study
August 30, 2014
An experimental Ebola drug healed all 18 monkeys infected with the deadly virus in a study, boosting hopes that the treatment might help fight the outbreak raging through West Africa—once more of it can be made.

Healthcare outsiders fuel digital health startups
August 29, 2014
A gold rush inevitably lures outsiders, and digital health is no different. People with tech talent but little to no healthcare experience are encamping in the booming sector.

Reform Update: Ascension deals signal new economic reality in healthcare
August 27, 2014
Ascension Health, one of the nation's largest hospital owners, is expanding rapidly with a string of announced deals that its CEO says will grow its reach beyond hospitals to keep pace with rapid Obamacare-induced changes in the marketplace. But notably, Ascension is not on an acquisition spree.

Federal judge blocks Louisiana's new abortion restrictions
September 01, 2014
A federal judge has temporarily blocked enforcement of Louisiana's restrictive new abortion law.

Pennsylvania to expand Medicaid, but with strings attached
August 29, 2014
The Medicaid agreement between the Obama administration and Gov. Tom Corbett will extend coverage to more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians, but advocates for the state's low-income residents continue to express concern over some of concessions the CMS made to get another Republican-led state to expand...

Providence agrees to lift Catholic restrictions at new clinic
August 29, 2014
Responding to pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, Providence Health & Services has agreed to modify the provisions of a partnership agreement with Washington State University to lift restrictions on healthcare services that are contrary to Catholic religious doctrine at a new teaching...

VA names new director of Massachusetts facility
August 27, 2014
The Veterans Affairs Department has named Christine Croteau permanent director of Edith Nourse Rogers VA Memorial Medical Center, a 461-bed facility in Bedford, Mass., effective this week.

Georgia Regents system taps Cerner for IT outsourcing contract
August 29, 2014
Georgia Regents Health System in Augusta and health technology giant Cerner Corp. have signed a 14-year, $400 million agreement in which Cerner will take over the health system's information technology services.

Another year of pay hikes for non-profit hospital CEOs
August 09, 2014
Despite public ire aimed at executives at not-for-profit healthcare systems because of their multimillion-dollar pay packages, their salaries and total cash compensation continued to rise at a far faster clip than average worker salaries in 2012—the most recent year with full data available.

IBM to sell Watson's brainpower to speed clinical and academic research
August 28, 2014
IBM on Thursday rolled out yet another healthcare use of its Watson computing technology, namely to help academic and clinical researchers sort through mountains of research data.

Southern opposition to Obamacare not monolithic, could change, new report says
August 25, 2014
The South has been a hotbed of opposition to Obamacare with the vast majority of states there opting not to expand Medicaid or establish state-based exchanges, two pillars of the federal healthcare law.

Expanding economy got little help from healthcare in last quarter
August 28, 2014
The national economy grew more robustly than was believed a month ago, but the expansion owed little to health spending—at least according to the latest estimates of the evolving picture of U.S. economic growth and demand for healthcare as millions gained insurance.

Reform Update: Healthcare interests spending big in Calif. fight over premium regulation
August 29, 2014
Normally, backers of a ballot initiative that polls show has support from 7 out of 10 registered voters could sit back and start planning their victory party. But that's not the case with California's health insurance-focused Proposition 45.

Defense contractors storm the Obamacare contract beach
August 28, 2014
HHS' Office of Inspector General released a report this week showing a chorus of companies is being paid to build and maintain HealthCare.gov. The familiar names were there, but two companies in particular raised an eyebrow.

Med staff turnover remains high as doc retirements rise
August 26, 2014
The recovering economy has created challenges for medical staff retention with high turnover rates for doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, according to a survey by the American Medical Group Association and the St. Louis-based Cejka Search recruitment firm.

What you don't know about Obamacare can't hurt you
August 25, 2014
For some Obamacare opponents running for Congress, when the evidence doesn't support their arguments they simply don't notice it.

International clampdown needed on e-cig use, says WHO
August 26, 2014
The World Health Organization on Tuesday called on countries to impose tougher regulations on electronic cigarettes out of concerns over their unknown health risks, recommending bans on indoor use as well as sales to minors.

Most-costly ACA plans cheapest for specialty drug patients
August 27, 2014
Individuals with chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis or cancer will likely spend far less money if they enroll in platinum plans through the exchanges, even though those typically have the highest monthly premiums, according to a new study by researchers at HealthPocket. That's because...

Pennsylvania becomes 27th state to expand Medicaid
August 28, 2014
A half-million more low-income Pennsylvanians are in line to get federally funded health insurance after HHS approved the state's plan to accept Medicaid expansion money under the landmark 2010 federal healthcare law, officials said Thursday.

New York, Missouri blood centers merge
August 05, 2014
New York Blood Center in Manhattan and Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City (Mo.) have finalized a merger agreement, creating one of the largest community-based, not-for-profit blood centers in the country.

Amazon meets with FDA, healthcare is likely the topic
August 21, 2014
The road to the Food and Drug Administration's Silver Spring, Md., office this year has been well-traveled by the big technology firms. Both Google and Apple have met with FDA leadership to talk about healthcare plans, and a recent review of FDA's public calendar reveals Amazon.com has joined the...

Los Angeles goes after patient-dumping for a third time
August 28, 2014
Glendale (Calif.) Adventist Medical Center has agreed to pay $700,000 to settle allegations the 462-bed hospital dropped off a homeless patient on Los Angeles' Skid Row—a downtown district infamous for its homeless population.

Counseling encouraged for overweight patients at risk for heart disease, task force says
August 26, 2014
Overweight and obese adults at risk for heart disease should be referred to or offered intensive behavioral counseling for diet and exercise interventions, a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation concludes.

Lin MacMaster out at American Cancer Society
August 22, 2014
American Cancer Society executive Lin MacMaster is out after just more than a year as chief revenue and marketing officer for the Atlanta-based organization.

Anesthesiologists pioneered solutions for tubing risks
August 25, 2014
The Joint Commission's Sentinel Event alert last week warning of the hazards of misconnected medical tubes harkened back to how anesthesiologists addressed similar issues in the prehistory of the patient-safety movement.

Reform Update: Flood of new patients worries mental health workers
August 12, 2014
Many behavioral healthcare advocates and providers across the country are reporting significantly increased demand for their services because of the Medicaid expansion in some states. But they are worried about whether underfunded and understaffed mental health centers will be able to adequately...

Sharp HealthCare ACO drops out of Medicare's Pioneer program
August 26, 2014
Another Medicare Pioneer accountable care organization has exited the program, renewing questions about its long-term sustainability. Sharp HealthCare, a five-hospital system in San Diego, said in its third-quarter financial statement that it dropped out of the Pioneer ACO program.

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