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April 15 Misses Tax, Obamacare deadline

on Thu, 04/10/2014 - 12:14

April 15 will be the last day for most people to enroll in Obamacare exchanges for health coverage during 2014. Although the official deadline was midnight Monday, the Obama administration had offered anyone who started an application by then the chance to continue enrolling undefined but not until Thursday did it give a hard deadline for this grace period. As is the case with private insurance, people who experience major life changes that affect their health coverage, such as marriage, divorce or job loss, still can apply for coverage at any time.

State Auditor Releases Financial Assessment of Publicly Owned Rural Hospitals

on Wed, 04/09/2014 - 12:04

State Auditor Stacey Pickering has released an in-depth study of Mississippi’s publicly owned, rural hospitals’ financial health. Public finances and the efficiency and effectiveness of their use are areas frequently studied by the Office of the State Auditor. The report (found here) will give both state and local policymakers a better understanding of where the publicly owned hospitals are financially positioned from statewide and national perspectives.

Reform Update: Community health centers brace for influx of newly insured

on Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:35

The nation's 9,000 community health center locations, serving some 22 million patients, are bracing for an influx of patients in the 26 states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Roughly 10,000 physicians make up about 60% of the community center clinical workforce; their work is supplemented by about 6,000 nurse practitioners and physician assistants, noted Dan Hawkins, policy director for the National Association of Community Health Centers. He is not sure if this will be enough for what he expects will be increased demand for services.

SGR, ICD-10 extensions approved by Senate

on Wed, 04/02/2014 - 12:08

The Senate approved a bill Monday evening that prevents steep cuts to Medicare physician payments from going into effect for one year and delays the conversion to ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure codes for at least one year. The Senate voted 64-35 in favor of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, which the House approved last Thursday. Assuming the president signs the legislation, it will be the 17th such patch that Congress has enacted since the so-called Medicare sustainable growth-rate formula became law in 1997.

Proposed patient-centered telemedicine policy raises licensing questions

on Tue, 04/01/2014 - 12:05

The Federation of State Medical Boards will vote next month on a new telemedicine policy (PDF) that codifies that medical care takes place where a patient, not a provider, is located. It also states that whether a physician and patient have a virtual or a face-to-face encounter, there should be no differences in standards of care. The proposal carries implications for where doctors practicing telemedicine need to be licensed. “The practice of medicine occurs where the patient is located at the time telemedicine technologies are used,” the proposed policy states.

Healthcare Exchange Deadline Approaching

on Fri, 03/28/2014 - 12:17

Shauntay Hinton ran into several glitches while trying to get healthcare coverage, but after President Obama’s push for revamping the site, it was smooth sailing. “Once I signed up, it took about, give or take 45 minutes total. Which is not bad compared to when Obamacare first started it was taking about 5 hours out of my life that I would never get back,” said Hinton. Now she’s waiting on her coverage to kick in next month.

House passes contested 'doc-fix' patch with ICD-10 extension

on Thu, 03/27/2014 - 19:10


Despite opposition from doctors' groups, on a voice vote Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a one-year patch for Medicare's unpopular sustainable growth-rate formula for physician payments and, in the same bill, extended the implementation deadline for ICD-10 diagnostic and procedural codes for at least a year.

The American Medical Association and its allies had come out strongly against the deal, which was brokered by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) earlier this week.

Reform Update: Obamacare's insurance mandate could be toothless in 2014

on Thu, 03/27/2014 - 12:01

The Obama administration has made the individual mandate its line in the sand for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Despite delaying or tweaking numerous provisions undefined most notably the requirement that businesses with more than 50 employees provide coverage undefined federal officials have refused to yield on the insurance requirement for individuals.

Flip the Clinic hopes to improve the patient-doctor visit experience

on Wed, 03/26/2014 - 12:01

Flip the Clinic, a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation website, has launched with a goal of redesigning the patient-caregiver encounter based in input from both sides of that meeting. “The traditional doctor's visit is ripe for reinvention undefined both because it is such a valuable interaction and because we know there are ways to make it better,” according to the site. Visitors are encouraged to become part of the Flip the Clinic community by either submitting comments or suggesting tools that might improve the doctor-patient experience, called a flip on the site.

3-D Printing is Revolutionizing Surgery

on Tue, 03/25/2014 - 11:54

Reaching into a beat-up, red-and-white cooler lined with a white terry-cloth towel, Dr. Matthew Bramlet pulls out a replica of an infant's heart. The size of a small pear and chalky to the touch, the model was made in a 3-D printer. Last spring, Dr. Bramlet, 38, a pediatric cardiologist at Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria, commissioned it from the hospital's new innovation lab while planning surgery for a girl with a congenital heart defect.