BOSTON—Legislation backed by Massachusetts' governor would create regulation for accountable care organizations and establish a health information technology council. The bill calls for the creation of accountable care groups, which could pay bonuses or fine providers based on quality performance, across Massachusetts by 2015. Under the legislation, Massachusetts would introduce criteria for ACOs no later than June 1, 2012. The law also calls for regulations to expand use of alternatives to fee-for-service payments statewide by June 2015. Other provisions would create an 18-member health IT council to give recommendations on the state's adoption of information technology and set criteria under which the Massachusetts insurance commissioner may reject premium rate increases for small businesses. According to the governor's office, the premium hikes will be measured against factors such as the state's economic growth; the increase in total medical expenses; providers' reimbursement rates; and movement away from fee-for-service contracts.
Regional News/Northeast: Mass. creates regs for ACOs, and other news
WOONSOCKET, R.I. —RegionalCare Hospital Partners, Brentwood, Tenn., has signed a letter of intent to acquire two-hospital Landmark Health Systems, Woonsocket. The letter of intent sets a target date of March 15 for negotiating an asset purchase agreement that would be submitted to Rhode Island State Superior Court in Providence, according to a news release. Landmark submitted to a special master under the state court's direction in June 2008 in order to reorganize its finances and operations while seeking a bidder, according to Bill Fischer, a spokesman for Landmark. Other bidders have until March 25 to make an offer for the two hospitals—133-bed Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket and 70-bed Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island in North Smithfield, Fischer said. The special master will present all bids and his own recommendation to the court April 1, and another hearing to consider the bids is set for April 6, Fischer said. Terms were not disclosed, but the letter of intent includes a significant capital commitment, including a multimillion-dollar expansion of Landmark Medical Center's emergency room, according to the release. Privately held RegionalCare was founded in 2009 and owns four hospitals in three states.
NEW YORK—The New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. filed a lawsuit against a data storage and transport vendor after the December theft of electronic files that contained personal or health information for about 1.7 million patients and hospital or contract employees. The 14-hospital system said the breach involved patients, staff and vendors at Jacobi Medical Center and North Central Bronx Hospital and two health centers during a 20-year period. The city-owned system mailed letters to alert patients to the theft and offered free credit monitoring and fraud resolution for one year. The system notified three nationwide consumer reporting agencies of the theft, as well as New York's attorney general, the state Office of Cyber Security, the state Consumer Protection Board and HHS. The files were stolen after a driver for GRM Management Information Services left the company's van unlocked, the system said. A spokeswoman for GRM did not respond to a request for comment. The data storage company dismissed the driver and notified police. The system has canceled the vendor's contract and said the lawsuit seeks to recover the costs of notification and other related damages.
NEW YORK—The Hospital for Special Surgery is entering the final phase of its $173 million construction project. Exterior work is scheduled to finish in the coming weeks at the construction site along the East River in Manhattan, the hospital said in a news release. Once finished, the project will add 62,000 square feet and three floors to the hospital's east wing. The additional floors, which have been under construction for roughly 14 months, are scheduled to open this fall. The 162-bed hospital will expand its outpatient pediatric rehabilitation services and pharmacy department as part of the project. The hospital is also expected to add two inpatient bed units once the new floors are complete. Bonds financed the majority of the overall construction project, which began in 2005, the hospital said. The $69 million east wing expansion is the final phase.
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