- Congressional Republicans have named Keith Hall head of the Congressional Budget Office, which plays a crucial role in assessing how much healthcare programs will cost the Treasury. Hall served as commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2008 to 2012 under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Previously, he was chief economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisers and chief economist at the U.S. Commerce Department. Hall will replace Douglas Elmendorf, who has served in the office since 2009, starting April 1.
- Hospital leaders are working to head off any momentum in Congress toward overhauling Medicare rates to pay hospitals and physician offices the same rates for outpatient services. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has pushed site-neutral payment policies for years. The panel will make the same recommendation to lawmakers in its March report. The change could mean a $1.44 billion annual drop in reimbursement if Congress adopts it. Hospitals say they hope Congress will consider the consequences of site-neutral payments, saying the higher rates for hospitals are justified by the higher cost of keeping a hospital running 24/7.
- Nashville-based HCA disclosed a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging the company subjected patients to medically unnecessary, invasive and costly cardiovascular procedures. The U.S. Justice Department declined to join the lawsuit. A former employee alleges in a 2012 whistle-blower complaint that HCA hospitals billed the procedures for patients who either didn't have coronary artery disease or whose illness wasn't severe enough to warrant an invasive procedure. The lawsuit was filed by a former director of professional liability claims at an HCA subsidiary in Nashville. Many of the procedures at issue were performed at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute, Fort Pierce, Fla., and Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, Hudson, Fla., according to the complaint.
Congressional Republicans have named Keith Hall head of the Congressional Budget Office, and other news
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