Showing posts with label hhs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hhs. Show all posts

September 27, 2023

Effects on Data of a Government Shutdown

UPDATE: An agreement reached for continuing funding has ensured that normal collection and dissemination of federal healthcare data will continue through at least the upcoming October update of CarePrecise data packages.

Discussion of a government shutdown that could affect the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – a primary source for U.S. healthcare data – has raised concerns that the regular updates of CarePrecise datasets may be impacted. Our pledge is to provide the most recent data as released from our sources, which are largely within The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Postal Service, among other government agencies. Should a government shutdown occur, it was announced a few days ago that a large portion – perhaps 42% – of personnel in the HHS will be furloughed. In this event, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare are not expected to be impacted from the perspectives of most patients, providers, and payers, beyond brief delays in reimbursements. However, it is not known at this time how the furloughs will affect processes related to delivery of healthcare data updates. Should any delays occur, CarePrecise will alert all of our data subscribers with what we know.

It is important to point out that there have been 21 government shutdowns since the days of the Ford Administration, and four of these have taken place since CarePrecise began leveraging federal data for the benefit of our customers. The longest, and perhaps most dramatic of these, was the seventeen-day shutdown that occurred in October 2013. No impact on CarePrecise data delivery was felt during any of these previous shutdowns. We note also that much of the responsibility for data production within the federal government falls to contractors. In many, if not most, cases, contractor agreements will not immediately be affected, and work may be expected to continue.

The criticality of current, accurate, standardized data in healthcare has sustained strong bipartisan support since the leadership of HHS Secretary Louis W. Sullivan in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

It is also noteworthy that, since its founding in the 2008/2009 federal fiscal year, CarePrecise has never missed a data distribution. Whatever happens, CarePrecise will distribute the data as soon as digitally possible.

January 18, 2013

Surprise: You May Now Be Liable Under HIPAA

When the HIPAA privacy rule first went into effect, business associates of hospitals, physicians, etc. didn't have to worry about getting in trouble for releasing data in ways that violate patients' privacy.

No more.

In light of several years of clumsy handling of patient data by contractors and employees, it's perhaps not surprising that HHS is changing the rules to extend the strict HIPAA privacy rules -- and penalties for violations -- to external vendors and IT communities.

If you work in any way with patients' medical data -- whether as a data processor, consultant, IT contractor, EHR installer, whatever -- you'd better get familiar with the new rule that goes into effect March 26. It clarifies when breaches need to be reported to the Office for Civil Rights, scraps the old standards for the use of patient-identifiable data for marketing and fundraising purposes, and expands direct liability under the law to so-called “business associates” of HIPAA-covered entities.

Perhaps equally interesting is that patients once again will have the right to limit release of treatment records to insurance companies if they paid out-of-pocket on that treatment. Look out for problems and potential fines related to goof-ups related to granting access to the wrong business partners on the wrong data. Greatly increased penalties for privacy and security violations under the ARRA are explained in the new ruling.

Read the HHS news release.
Read the rule in the federal register (you've still got time to comment).

January 9, 2013

$1.25 Billion in December EHR Incentives

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that a record $1.25 billion was paid in December to hospitals, physicians and other professionals in electronic health-record (EHR) incentive payments. The program awards healthcare providers for adopting electronic health records systems.

The December pay out is three times the size of the previous largest one-month awards total. Medicare and Medicaid awarded $255 million to physicians and other professionals, and $1 billion to hospitals. So far, EHR incentive programs have paid out $10.3 billion to improve the quality of US healthcare information technology, which for decades has lagged behind other industries.

June 29, 2012

Now We Know: Time to implement the Affordable Care Act

As the Tennessee Medical Association puts it, there is now a "certain finality" to the Affordable Care Act following the Supreme Court decision upholding the law. A huge win for the Obama administration, the decision yesterday was like kicking a hornet's nest among conservatives. The Christian Medical Association said the decision "sounds an alarm across the country to people with faith-based and pro-life convictions" and called on Congress to repeal the law.

An article in Modern Physician characterizes the response among physicians as "mixed," but the vast majority of our MD, DO, PA and RN contacts have come down strongly in favor of the law, in one case saying "The government did something right... 50 million healthier Americans is going to look pretty good here in a few years."

Whichever political side one is on, it is now clear that work can move forward on implementing the law. The Tennessee Medical Association's statement concluded "Today's decision allows us to make more definitive plans regarding reforms to our healthcare system in Tennessee." The sentiment seems to be fairly widespread through the provider side of the industry.

Some states - among them our own Oklahoma - elected to refuse federal funding ($54 million in Oklahoma's case) to establish health insurance exchanges. The decision, taken on the part of Governor Mary Fallin, appears to have been politically motivated, but Oklahoma is, in fact, developing an exchange, without the federal dollars. An agency head, speaking with an Oklahoma radio station, said "It would have been good to have the money, so we could have a more user friendly and effective system, but we'll have something, anyway."

The justices struck down provisions in the law that would empower the federal government to force states to comply with the planned Medicaid expansion or lose all of their Medicaid funding. Now states will be eligible for basic Medicare funding even if they choose not to accept the additional dollars to provide expanded care. Numerous states have sworn to refuse expanded Medicaid funding, but it remains to be seen whether any will ultimately deny this added coverage for hundreds of thousands of their citizens. The federal dollars are being offered with no required match for three years. Medicaid is often one of the biggest lines in states' budgets, and that share is growing as healthcare costs continue to rise.

July 1, 2011

Medicare Wins in Vegas Fraud Case

Rakesh Nathu, a Las Vegas oncologist, settled his fraud case with the Justice Department yesterday for $5.7 million plus interest. Dr. Nathu was accused of submitting false claims to Medicare, TRICARE and the Federal Employees Health Plan for various radiation oncology services, including intensity modulated radiation therapy, and double billing for services. We hope he did better at the craps table. The government has recovered more than $7.3 billion in False Claim Act cases since 2009.

Among CarePrecise clients are law enforcement agencies working on federal and private payer fraud investigations. As a result of work done for our clients, we developed a means of matching the federal fraud conviction list with providers' NPI records, and associating certain demographic data with practice locations to help visualize patterns. Late in 2010 we began including the fraud data in our CarePrecise Access Complete dataset, and the additional economic data in CarePrecise Gold products. Now included is a flag that indicates provider records whose data strongly suggest a match with the federal LEIE (List of Excluded Individuals/Entities) database. Other features help investigators track providers' licensing, credentials, specialty codes, enrollment in the PECOS database, and numerous other functions.

Read the Justice Department news release.

January 18, 2011

Nearly 3000 Excluded Providers Still Practicing

You might wonder if, and if so, why, healthcare providers who have been convicted of Medicare fraud are still practicing medicine, writing prescriptions, and billing health plans (except, presumably, Medicare). Well, it's a good question. Apparently such a conviction may not get a provider's NPI deactivated.

For several months the number of providers that appear on both the HHS Office of Inspector General's excluded providers list and the current National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) have hovered around 2,700.* But for December the number jumped to 2,925. Of that number, more than 1,400 are physicians.

For the past several months, CMS has dropped only 400 to 500 providers each month for various reasons; not all dropped NPI records are due to fraud convictions. Interestingly, the December NPPES dropped more than 1,000 records, while still including more than 2,900 providers listed in the LEIE (List of Excluded Individuals/Entities), the federal database primarily of healthcare providers convicted of fraud or other crime, for patient neglect or abuse, felony controlled substance conviction, or whose licenses have been revoked, suspended or surrendered. A small number of providers are included on the list for less serious reasons, including refusal to provide required information to HHS, and default on a federal healthcare education loan. An inquiry sent to CMS requesting information on the matter has not been answered.

Each month, nearly 30,000 new records are added to the NPI database, primarily representing new healthcare providers. On average, 33,000 records are updated (by the providers themselves in nearly every case). The December NPPES database includes 3,277,833 healthcare provider records. All HIPAA-covered U.S. healthcare providers are required to obtain an NPI record. For all practical purposes, a physician's NPI number, along with a DEA number, is required to write a prescription because pharmacies generally require them. Theoretically, at least, if a pharmacy could not find a valid NPI number, it could refuse to fill the prescription.

CarePrecise compiles federal healthcare provider data for use in research, clinical trial provider pool development, fraud prevention and marketing. Clients include health plans, educational institutions, drug companies, marketers, law enforcement, health systems and individual providers.
* Source: CarePrecise research data. Methodology involves cross-referencing the two databases using proprietary algorithms to affix NPI numbers to providers in the fraud database; the fraud database (LEIE) does not include NPI numbers, making it difficult to track against practicing providers. Actual number of providers on both lists may be higher; the cross-referencing algorithm is used conservatively.

October 22, 2010

Clinical Terminology Dictionary to be Available

Kaiser Permanente announced a few weeks ago its 75,000-term clinical terminology database, the Convergent Medical Terminology dictionary (CMT), to become freely available through HHS. Including maps to additional clinical vocabulary sets, including SNOMED-CT, the database enables links to ICD-9, ICD-10 and other code sets. Many millions of dollars and 16 years in development, the CMT will be freely distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services. Watch here for more information as the dictionary becomes available.

October 11, 2010

$727 Million to Health Centers

The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration announced $742 million from HHS will go to community health centers nationwide to build new medical clinics and bring technology in older clinics up to speed. This is in addition to the more than $2 billion already allocated to health centers from stimulus funds.