Federal Regulation news
FDA Finalizes New Food Safety Rules
Written by Editor   
Monday, December 21, 2015 08:51 AM

The FDA has issued new rules designed to prevent food borne illnesses.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued new rules designed to prevent food borne illnesses caused by tainted produce. The final rules put teeth into the FDA's ability to enforce food safety by establishing safety standards for produce farms and making importers accountable for verifying that imported foods meet U.S. safety standards.

The FDA said the new rules will help produce farmers and food importers take steps to prevent problems before they occur. The changes are part of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, a sweeping package of food safety reforms governing produce safety, preventive controls for food produced in facilities, and the safety of imported food.

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Medicare Advantage: Not Advantageous
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, December 15, 2015 12:00 AM

The Medicare Advantage program hasn't quite worked out as promised under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to healthcare policy experts.  While designed to target the shortcomings of traditional fee-for-service Medicare, the idea that Medicare Advantage (MA) could reduce costs through better care coordination hasn't played out as intended, said Mark Miller, PhD, executive director of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC).

Care coordination and quality improved in some communities, and certain MA plans even offered benefits at lower costs than fee-for-service Medicare, "but in aggregate, that never happened." Instead of saving money, the government was paying, at the highest point, 14% more than fee-for-service Medicare, he said.

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Primary Care Docs Face Pay Cut
Written by Editor   
Sunday, December 06, 2015 12:00 AM

Many primary care practitioners will see the expiration of a health law program that has been paying them a 10 percent bonus for caring for Medicare patients. Some say the loss may trickle down to the patients, who could have a harder time finding a doctor or have to wait longer for appointments. But others say the program has had little impact on their practices, if they were aware of it at all.

The incentive program began in 2011 and was designed to address disparities in Medicare reimbursements between primary care physicians and specialists. It distributed $664 million in bonuses in 2012, the most recent year that figures are available, to roughly 170,000 primary care practitioners, awarding each an average of $3,938, according to a 2014 report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

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Senate Votes to Repeal Obamacare
Written by Editor   
Sunday, December 06, 2015 12:00 AM

The Senate took a first step toward dismantling the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, and defunding Planned Parenthood, and now the ball is in President Obama's court. But the president has already stated his intention: he will veto the bill.

The “Restoring America’s Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act" or less formally the "Obamacare repeal bill," passed 52-47.  The new bill would dismantle the individual mandate, as well as the employer mandate -- an unpopular provision that requires mid-size businesses to provide health insurance for workers.

Other major provisions of the bill include:

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Physicians Decry Broken Promise of Medicare Raise in 2016
Written by Editor   
Monday, November 30, 2015 09:20 AM

The law that repealed Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for physician pay called for an annual raise of 0.5% from 2016 through 2019 as part of a transition to value-based reimbursement.

When Congress passed the law in April, some leaders of organized medicine noted that the modest raise lagged behind the inflation rate, but said it was better than nothing. It was certainly better than the disastrous 21% pay cut that the SGR formula would have triggered in 2016. 

However, the promised raise of 0.5% turned into a 0.3% pay cut in the fine print of the final 2016 Medicare fee schedule. The reason? The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and several other laws that set Medicare reimbursement policy trumped MACRA.

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