The National Committee for Quality Assurance received authority to accredit PPOs in the Medicare Advantage program, creating new competition for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, which have held deeming status for Medicare PPOs since 2002. The CMS' deeming program allows health plans in the Medicare Advantage program, formerly known as Medicare+Choice, to satisfy most federal certification requirements with accreditation by an approved third party instead of going through a full CMS audit. The NCQA's new designation comes just prior to an expected surge in the number of regional PPOs in Medicare Advantage. The CMS predicts that almost 30% of Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in either an HMO or PPO by 2010, up from about 11% today. The NCQA, which in January 2002 became the first private accreditor to win deeming status for Medicare HMOs, accredits 50 of the roughly 150 HMOs in the federal program. The JCAHO and the AAAHC accredit six and 20 Medicare plans, respectively.
Suits filed to block amendment
Florida Hospital, Orlando, and the Florida Hospital Association filed two lawsuits asking judges to quickly block a pair of state constitutional amendments that increase public reporting of medical errors and prohibit practice in Florida by doctors with more than two medical malpractice judgments against them. Richard Morrison, Florida Hospital's vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs, said hospitals can't follow either law without further clarification from legislators or the courts. One amendment lets patients see medical error information upon request but could violate Florida and federal rules shielding such information, Morris said. The other amendment, Morris said, may violate doctors' right to due process in automatically prohibiting doctors with more than two malpractice judgments from practicing in the state. Voters approved both amendments last week.
Broadlane buys oncology GPO
Broadlane, San Francisco, which offers group purchasing and other business services to the healthcare industry, acquired National Oncology Alliance, San Rafael, Calif., a GPO serving oncology physician practices. Financial terms were not disclosed. The U.S. pharmaceutical market for chemotherapy and related medications is about $10 billion annually, with office-based physician practices representing about $8 billion of the total purchases, officials said in a news release. For every office-based oncologist in the U.S., about $1.2 million is spent on such products annually. Founded in 2000, National Oncology serves more than 50% of the office-based oncology market, officials said. The acquisition was completed last week. National Oncology now operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of Broadlane. Customers spend more than $7 billion annually through the two companies' contracts combined, the officials said.