12 added to federal Health IT Fellows program; ONC opens comments on draft test procedures;

News From Around the Web

> Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) has issued a statement that she is "pleased" the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services extended the Meaningful Use hardship exception deadline to November, suggesting that the agency acted in response to a letter she and Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) sent to CMS in September expressing the need for additional time. Ellmers also reiterated that it was "crucial" to enact the Flex-IT Act, legislation she recently introduced to reduce the reporting period for Meaningful Use in 2015 from 365 days to 90 days. Statement

> The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has added 12 new fellows to its Health IT Fellows Program. The program was created to learn with and from individuals in the field to share best practices in leveraging health IT. The program now has 62 fellows from 29 states. Website

> ONC is now accepting comments on draft test procedures for the 2014 edition release certification criteria. The criteria included pertain to computerized physician order entry, transmissions by ambulatory providers to public health agencies, and transitions of care. The comment period closes Nov. 7. Website

Health Finance News

> Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital may have spent as much as $1,000 an hour in its futile attempt to treat Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan. Duncan died last week after 11 days of treatment. The costs not only are linked to the intensive care Duncan required, but also the fact that he was also kept under strict isolation--a protocol that disrupted other hospital operations. Article

> Healthcare job growth had been mostly stagnant of late, but it appears to be taking off this year with a vigor not seen since the onset of the Great Recession. The healthcare sector added 22,600 jobs last month, according to data from the Altarum Institute's Center for Sustainable Health Spending. For the past six months, the average monthly gain has been 26,000 positions, 50 percent higher than the 17,500 average between March 2013 and March of this year. Article

Health Insurance News

> The idea that Medicaid expansion will wreak havoc with state budgets due to increased hospital use by the previously-uninsured was challenged by results of a recent study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. While rates of hospital and emergency room use rose soon after people enrolled in low-cost, government health plans, utilization of these services dropped off within a year, researchers found. Article

> While the private sector began to eliminate retiree health insurance benefits back in the 1990s--the public sector, on the other hand, has yet to do so because of strong opposition from unions. Currently, nearly 80 percent of state and local government organizations offer retiree health insurance. But these plans cost the government quite a bit--unfunded retiree insurance liabilities rack up to $627 billion. Article

And Finally... At least he didn't try to use the chimney. Article