Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Mid-week update

My how time flies when it's a four day work week. When Congress returns to work later this month, it must face the loose ends created by the two month long tax extenders act. One of this loose ends which impacts the health care industry is the Medicare Part B payment patch. Absent this patch the statutory sustainable rate of growth formula would cut Medicare Part B payments to doctors by 27.4%, leaving FEHBP plans, among others, to pick up the slack. Kaiser Health News offers an interesting FAQ on this important issue.

Modern Healthcare reports that "Highmark, the Blue Cross organization for western Pennsylvania, with a deal to acquire West Penn Allegheny Health System, announced a $20 million investment in the system's Forbes Regional Hospital and a new medical group affiliation."

Speaking of acquisitions, the Denver Post reports that "Aetna has purchased Lakewood-based Healthagen, developer of iTriage, a [free and very popular] mobile application [for the Iphone or Android phone] that helps injured or sick people determine what's wrong and find local treatment." Mobihealth News adds that "Aetna is also leveraging the mobile application in its accountable care organization (ACO) offering, where it will be a key component for consumer engagement, Aetna executives said during an investor day presentation this week." And there's no profit cap on technology at least for now.

Even though both of these acquisitions strike the FEHBlog as pretty innovative, the CMS Innovation Center announced the names of 73 new innovation advisors, none of whom (evidently by law) are from the health insurance industry. "The Innovation Advisors Program is designed to broadly help individuals refine, apply, and sustain managerial and technical skills necessary to drive delivery system reform for the benefit of Medicare, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beneficiaries."

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