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Tag Archive: Medicare

Feds have no policy on posting meetings

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While the federal government has extensive rules about how its regulatory agencies makes rules--with notices, publication schedules and comment periods--there is no government-wide policy for providing information to the public about meetings between executive branch officials and private interests. These contacts between regulators those seeking to influence them--refered to as ex parte meetings--can have a profound effect on the final shape of the rules that govern everything from disposing of trash to disclosing positions in complex derivatives. Yet there is no uniform requirement to make information about these meetings available to the public, let alone whether or not agencies must ...

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Shrinking of private practice may drive up health care costs: study

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Over the last three years, more and more doctors have left private practice to work for hospitals. A new study has found that this trend might be contributing to the rising cost of health care, at least in the short term.

Hospital groups, which continue to be some of the biggest donors to members of Congress, wielded considerable influence during the debate over the Affordable Care Act, last year's health care reform law: during 2009 and 2010, hospital and nursing home groups spent over $216 million on lobbying, employing over 1,100 lobbyists in 2010 alone, according to the ...

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Medicare and the Super Committee: Can doctors afford to lose two percent of their payments?

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Medicare and other health care services could see their funds drained in any number of ways as, over the next few months, the congressional Joint Committee on Debt Reduction--better known as the "super committee"--looks for ways to reduce the national debt.

Health care interests are well represented among the big donors to the committee's dozen members. Half those members--including Max BaucusFred UptonXavier Becerra and Chris Van Hollen--number health care concerns among their top ten career donors. Collectively, health care professionals ranked fourth among those career donors, giving $9.3 million, according to an analysis of ...

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First glimpse at medical error rates separates the good, the bad and the ugly

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Between Oct. 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010, Medicare patients at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers, N.Y., suffered thirteen instances of severe bed sores during their stay requiring additional treatment, a rate of nearly 2.9 per 1,000 treated. At St. John’s Riverside Hospital, three miles down Broadway from St. Joseph’s, the rate was 20 times lower: only one severe bed sore was reported, even though St. John's discharged far more Medicare patients during that period -- 8,270 to St. Joseph's 4,541.

Over the protests of groups like the American Hospital ...

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What we don’t know about doctors

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As political debate rages in Washington about how to reform the nation’s $509 billion Medicare system, a hearing is taking place in a Florida courtroom today about making data available to the public on how much individual physicians are paid under the program.

Though the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that some $48 billion in improper payments were billed last year to the massive federal program--much of which is driven by health care providers including physicians--the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) maintains that a 1979 court order bars publication of government records ...

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Wall Street Journal sues for access to Medicare records

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The Wall Street Journal announced today that it's suing for access to data on payments that doctors receive from Medicare, which has been exempt from public disclosure thanks to a 1979 court case won by the American Medical Association. The Journal argues that absent data on the payments, it's impossible for journalists or members of the public to tell which doctors are billing the system improperly. "It's time to overturn an injunction that, for decades, has allowed some doctors to defraud Medicare free from public scrutiny," Mark Jackson, the counsel for Dow Jones, the Journal's immediate ...

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Can we rate heart surgeries like blenders?

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The Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, released a set of ratings yesterday for something rather more important than appliances: heart bypass surgery. Using data submitted to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), the Consumers Union has graded various heart surgery groups using a three-star scale, similar to the way it rates radios, cameras and washing machines. It's a set of valuable public data that could serve as a model for expanding the Department of Health and Human Services' open government sites like Data.medicare.gov and the Community Health Data Initiative.

The heart surgery ratings are based on ...

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