Bill would add PAs to Medicaid MU program; Deadlines loom for grants, EP attestation;

News From Around the Web

> Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) has introduced a bill that would extend eligibility for Medicaid Meaningful Use incentive payments to physicians assistants, whether the clinicians worked at a rural health center or federally qualified health center. The bill--the Health IT Modernization for Underserved Communities Act of 2015 (H.R. 1345)--has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Website

> The deadline for applying for three grant funding opportunities is fast approaching; applications are due to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT by April 6. The grants either help expand interoperability or provide work force training. The total funding for the three grants is $36.1 million. Funding opportunity announcements

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued a news update reminding eligible professionals to attest to Meaningful Use for the Medicare EHR incentive program for the 2014 reporting year by March 20. CMS had extended this deadline, originally Feb. 28, to encourage more eligible professionals to attest. Providers who successfully attest will receive an incentive payment and avoid the penalty to be applied Jan. 1, 2016. Website

Health Finance News

> It may be back to square one in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' bid to create new pacts with recovery audit contractors (RACs). The U.S. Court of Federal Appeals has invalidated the current proposed contract with RACs, primarily due to their violation of U.S. acquisition regulations. The violation is based on a provision in the contract that would not allow RACs to collect contingency fees for their work until a clawback that has been appealed by a hospital reaches the second of a five-stage appeals process. The court ruled that that provision violates customary commercial practices. Article

Health Insurance News

> The special enrollment period began Sunday for millions of Americans who did not yet purchase health coverage for 2015 and were hit with federal fines for not having insurance--but it's unclear how many people know that they can take advantage of the opportunity. The enrollment window, open from March 15 to April 30, aims to give consumers a chance to purchase plans after they realized, while filing their taxes, that they have to pay a penalty for not having insurance, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement. Article

> The Obama administration's final rule on wraparound benefit coverage makes it clear that insurers can't offer excepted benefits as a substitute for primary coverage. "[T]hese final excepted benefits regulations are designed to allow plan sponsors an option to offer additional workers health coverage comparable to that which they already offer, rather than to serve as a substitute for primary coverage," stated the rule, which was written by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury. Article

And Finally... Maybe he should have painted his tattoos instead. Article