Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weekend update / Miscellany

  • News reports indicate that President Bush may veto the Medicare fix bill which Congress enacted last week with veto proof margins. However, both of the Republican Senators from Texas have announced that they would vote to override any veto. CMS has said that it will hold claims with July dates of service until Tuesday. Robert Pear of the New York Times reported on why it is so difficult to enact a permanent fix to the doctor reimbursement cuts mandated by a 1997 law. Pear's article also points out the problems associated with a single payer system.
  • As noted in an earlier post this week, the Medicare fix bill will include financial incentives for doctors to use electronic prescribing. Also last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration proposed rules to allow e-prescribing of controlled substances, such as painkillers and stimulants, and will accept public comments until Sept. 25. This is a big deal to those who support e-prescribing.
  • New reports are continuing to confirm that House and Senate negotiators have resolved the policy differences between their respective mental health parity laws, making passage likely this summer. (Enactment in 2008 creates a 2010 effective date for the FEHB Program.)
  • Speaking of 2010, Healthcare IT News reported that "The federal government is expected to set the [ICD-10] transition date within the next few weeks, and it could be as early as October 2010, Bernard said. The ICD-9 is the diagnosis and hospital procedure code set that HHS requires covered entities to use in their HIPAA compliant electronic claims. The ICD-10 change is a big deal to IT folks and it can require costly programming and hardware changes.
  • According to CNN, Rep. Joe Barton (R Tex.) announced last week that the full House Energy and Commerce Committee may vote on a bipartisan electronic medical records bill (HR 6357, PRO(TECH)T Act of 2008) as early as this coming week.

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