Doctor fees will be published
* The U.S. Justice Department said last week it won't challenge a plan by the Washington State Medical Association to publish fee and reimbursement information from physicians and physician assistants, but it reserved the right to take action later if necessary. Although the association's plan falls outside established "safety zones" for such activity, that doesn't mean it's illegal, the Justice Department said in a seven-page business review letter written at the association's request. The government said it was persuaded the association would prevent anticompetitive uses of the information.
Drug program case on docket
* Oral arguments are set for January in the pharmaceutical industry's challenge of a 2-year-old Maine law aimed at reducing prescription-drug prices for low-income residents. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court this month arguing that the Maine program, which has never gone into effect, violates Medicaid law and the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution by regulating business transactions in other states. Under the MaineRx program, the state would negotiate rebates from drugmakers on behalf of residents without prescription-drug coverage and impose price controls if voluntary rebates are insufficient.
Doc pleads guilty to fraud
* Krishnaswami Sriram, M.D., 44, of Lake Forest, Ill., and his home health company, Home Doctors, billed payers for services rendered on dates he was out of the country; for more than 24 hours work in a single day; and for as many as 187 patients in a single day, the U.S. attorney in Chicago said. After pleading guilty this month to one count each of healthcare, mail and tax fraud, Sriram faces up to 18 years in prison, fines of up to $750,000 and asset forfeitures of up to $2 million at his sentencing hearing, which begins Feb. 3, prosecutors said.