Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekend Update / Miscellany

  • Modern Healthcare Online published an interesting, wide ranging interview with HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. Secretary Leavitt discussed the problems created by the "'silo syndrome.' Everything is paid for separately. You can’t possibly expect to get any kind of efficiency or coordination, and we have all kinds of bad things that happen as a result, not to mention dramatic amounts of overpayment." It's therefore not surprising that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last week "a new demonstration for hospitals to test the use of a bundled payment for both hospital and physician services for a select set of episodes of care to improve the quality of care delivered through Medicare fee-for-service."
  • Government Health IT Magazine reported that following privacy protections crafted by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D Vt) will be added to the Senate's Wired for Health Care Act:
    • Eliminate what Leahy called a loophole in the original bill that would have allowed operators of personal health information databases to give sensitive health records to virtually anyone under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule.

    • Ban certain health care providers from using or disclosing health records for marketing purposes.
    • Direct the HHS Secretary to submit a report to Congress recommending privacy and security protections for personal health records.
    • Give patients the right to inspect their e-health records and receive electronic copies of the records. Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, individuals have a right to see their medical records, but there is no clear right to electronic ones.
    • Strengthen congressional oversight over federal health privacy compliance and enforcement of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
    However, the article also reports that it is unlikely that Congress will pass the bill this year.
  • The Federal Times reports on a new FAR Council proposal to expand the proposed contractor code of ethics rule to commercial items and contracts performed in foreign countries. The dollar threshold for application of the rule is $5 million.
  • Looking forward, Friday May 23 is that date on which Medicare will begin rejecting provider claims that include any provider identifier other than the HIPAA National Provider Identifier and the tax identification number.

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