News & Information
Physician Was Hub in Power Wheelchair Racket, Feds Say
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 11:36 PM

There's an axiom that the single biggest driver of healthcare spending is the physician's pen, or to be up to date, the physician's mouse and keyboard. Laboratory tests, diagnostic imaging, prescription drugs, hospitalization, home healthcare, and durable medical equipment (DME) such as power wheelchairs — a physician signs off on all of them.  And sometimes not honestly.

That is the accusation facing 67-year-old Robert Glazer, MD, from Los Angeles, California, who was recently indicted in a federal district court on healthcare fraud charges. In exchange for kickbacks, said prosecutors, Dr. Glazer wrote medically unnecessary prescriptions for power wheelchairs and certifications for home care. Fraudulent claims submitted by DME and home healthcare companies, plus those submitted by Dr. Glazer for his often fictitious services, added up to $33 million from January 2006 to May 2014, according to prosecutors. Medicare paid roughly $22 million on those claims.

Power wheelchairs have been a flourishing racket for fraudsters, partly because of their wide profit margin. DME companies can buy the chairs wholesale for $900 apiece and then bill Medicare for roughly $6000, according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Surgeons Not Very Involved in ACOs, Survey Says
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 10:50 PM

Accountable Care Organizations have given little attention to surgery in the early years of the Medicare program, choosing to focus instead on managing chronic conditions and reducing hospital readmissions.  That's according to a case study and survey. The authors conducted case studies at four ACOs in 2012 and sent a survey to all 59 Medicare ACOs in the first year of the program, with 30 responding. 

American Medical Association Annual Meeting
Written by Editor   
Sunday, June 08, 2014 11:44 PM

The American Medical Associations annual meeting of the House of Delegates opened Saturday.  Issues on the AMA agenda include a proposal to classify cheerleading as a sport; a report that suggests there is an ethical imperative for physicians to prospectively inform patients of procedures such as sterilization or prescribing of marijuana that physicians feel violate their consciences; and challenge to the AMA board of trustee's oversight of advocacy.  Additionally, the AMA will debate gun violence and its impact on medical practice, and offer a remedy to the ongoing problems at VA medical centers.

 According to delegates from the Florida Medical Association, who say it is time to shake up AMA's lobbying efforts, as a Washington power broker, the American Medical Association comes away empty-handed more often than not.  Florida deligates lined up significant support in an effort to force the AMA board to cede control of its advocacy operation to the AMA's House of Delegates (HOD).  Specifically, Florida is asking the AMA to hire an outside consulting firm to evaluate "all aspects of the AMA's advocacy efforts" and that evaluation would be overseen by the HOD. Currently, the AMA's advocacy efforts are overseen by its Board of Trustees.  One delegate characterized the AMA's current advocacy efforts as "a lot of singles and doubles, but very few home runs."

Senate Confirms Burwell as HHS Secretary
Written by Editor   
Thursday, June 05, 2014 05:33 PM

By a vote of 78-17, the Senate on Thursday confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Burwell, who currently heads the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), replacesKathleen Sebelius, who tendered her resignation in April (but is continuing in office until her replacement becomes official).

Before coming to OMB last year, Burwell, a native of Hinton, W.Va., previously served as president of the Walmart Foundation, according to her official biography. Prior to that job, she served as president of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she worked for 10 years in various capacities.

Shinseki Resigns in Wake of VA Scandal
Written by Editor   
Thursday, June 05, 2014 08:04 AM

Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned in the wake of the unfolding scandal over long wait times for care at VA health facilities.  In a news conference, President Obama said he had accepted Shinseki's resignation "with considerable regret." A growing chorus of voices on Capitol Hill -- including both Democrats and Republicans -- had been calling for the secretary to step down.

Shinseki's resignation comes in the wake of an ongoing investigation by the inspector general of the VA into alleged criminal misconduct at a veterans' healthcare facility in Phoenix. Allegations against the facility "include gross mismanagement of VA resources and criminal misconduct by VA senior hospital leadership, creating systemic patient safety issues and possible wrongful deaths," the inspector general's office noted in its interim report.

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