Federal Regulation news
FDA Panel Warns Against Certain Back Pain Injections
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 01:51 PM

Epidural steroid injections (ESIs) should be contraindicated under certain circumstances in the management of back pain, the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee has concluded.

Medicare Fees for CMT to Increase on July 1
Written by Editor   
Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:00 PM

On June 6, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued notification regarding updates to the 2014 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Database (MPFSDB) that will go into effect on July 1, 2014. Included in the updates were new fees for Chiropractic Manipulative Treatment (CMT) codes 98940, 98941, and 98942.

Following the completion of the Chiropractic Medicare Demonstration Project in March 2007, CMS determined that the costs of this demonstration were higher than expected and they were required to recover $50 million over a 5-year period by deducting 2 percent from payments for chiropractic services. CMS has now determined that the costs are fully recovered; therefore, effective for dates of service on or after July 1, 2014, the 2 percent reduction for CPT codes 98940, 98941, and 98942 has been eliminated.  

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Source:  ACA Week in Review June 12, 2014

CMS Offers More Flexibility on EHRs
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 11:11 AM

Providers implementing the "meaningful use" requirements for electronic health records (EHRs) will be able to use 2011-certified EHR programs in 2014, rather than having to upgrade to more recent certification, under a proposed rule announced Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  Beginning in 2015, all eligible hospitals and professionals would still be required to report using 2014-certified EHRs, according to CMS.  Providers who show "meaningful use" of certified EHRs can receive up to $44,000 in extra payments from Medicare and Medicaid, but eligible professionals who don't meet such requirements are subject to penalties starting in 2015.

HHS Secretary Nominee Gets Finance Committee OK
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 11:08 AM

The Senate Finance Committee approved the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to become Secretary of Health and Human Services by a vote of 21-3.  Burwell's nomination now heads to the full Senate, where it could be taken up as early as the first week in June.

Schizophrenic Government Attitudes
Written by Editor   
Thursday, April 24, 2014 06:42 AM

When Idaho's largest hospital system bought the state's largest doctor practice in 2012, the groups expressed hope that the deal would spark a revolution in delivering better-quality care.  Instead, it ignited a costly legal battle with state and federal regulators and rival hospital systems. Officials at Boise-based St. Luke's Health System thought they had the Obama administration on their side because the federal health law encourages hospitals to collaborate with doctors to improve quality and lower costs.

But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed suit, arguing that St. Luke's purchase of the 43-physician Saltzer Medical Group in Nampa was anti-competitive and would lead to higher prices for Idaho patients.  A federal judge agreed in January, and ordered to dissolve the merger.

While consolidation in the industry has been underway for decades, the pace has accelerated dramatically since the 2010 passage of the federal healthcare law.  "The Affordable Care Act is pushing consolidation and working together, but the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department seem to be saying, 'Wait a second, there are antitrust laws here'," said Robert Field, a law and health policy professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia. "The federal government has a schizophrenic attitude toward provider consolidation."

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