Monday, February 15, 2010

Long weekend update

Happy President's Day.  President Obama's health care reform summit is ten days away. Here's a link to the invitation (not mine). The invitation explains that
The President will offer opening remarks at the beginning of the meeting, followed by remarks from a Republican leader chosen by the Republican leadership and a Democratic leader chosen by the Democratic leadership. The President will then open and moderate discussion on four critical topics: insurance reforms, cost containment, expanding coverage, and the impact health reform legislation will have on deficit reduction.
There are rumblings that Speaker Pelosi is contemplating the use of the budget reconciliation process to ram through the Senate bill with the House modifications as the reconciliation "sidecar."  However, the unexpected resignation of former Congressman W.J. "Billy" Tauzin as CEO of the prescription drug manufacturer association, PhRMA,  late last week "presents another complication for Democratic leaders as they struggle to keep the effort from falling apart amid a tide of political setbacks" according to the Washington Post.

AHIP and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association announced late last week that a large group of health insurers and health care provider organizations have teamed up in New Jersey (similar to the ongoing project in Ohio) that creates
opportunities to simplify the work associated with patient visits and achieve savings, including providing physicians and hospitals with information in “real-time” that:
  • Allows office staff to quickly determine key eligibility and benefit information (e.g., co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles, and differences in coverage for services provided in- versus out-of-network), minimizing time and expense needed for such purposes;
  • Gives physicians access to current and accurate information on the status of claims submitted by physician offices for payment by insurers.  This will minimize the need for follow up steps by office staff or submission of duplicate claims that delay rather than expedite payment in most systems;
  • Tests real-time referrals and timely pre-authorization of services; and
  • Provides for the online submission of healthcare claims.
Very cool. It's nice to see the industry cooperating to create uniform technology standards.

Meanwhile, on Friday, HHS Secretary Sibelius announced that the federal government is doling out about one billion Recovery Act dollars to health care providers in order to allow them to adopt and make meaningful use of electronic health records. 

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