CMS distributes $1.2 billion in Meaningful Use incentive payments for December; Largest regional extension center hits milestone;

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> Meaningful Use incentive payments were doled out at a record pace last month, with eligible provider collecting more than $1.2 billion, Healthcare IT News reports. According to Robert Anthony, a health insurance specialist with the Office of eHealth Standards and Services at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services who spoke at the Jan. 8 Health IT Policy Committee meeting, as of December 2012, a total of $10.3 billion in Meaningful Use incentive payments have been distributed since the program's inception. Article

> As of Jan 1, 2013, 525 health care organizations have reported security breaches of unsecured patient protected information and are listed on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' "wall of shame." Almost two-thirds of the breaches have involved theft or loss of the information, many of which were in electronic form, such as on laptops or networks. Article

> The California Health Information Partnership and Services Organization (CALHIPSO) has hit a milestone, with more than 1,200 of its providers attesting to Meaningful Use. CALHIPSO is the largest of the 62 federally designated regional extension centers, serving 56 of the state's 58 counties. Article

> CMS has posted new and updated answers to frequently answered questions regarding the Meaningful Use incentive program. Some of the new topics covered include questions about  shared portals, health professional shortage areas and computerized provider order entry. Article

Health Insurance News

> The New York insurance department has slashed insurers' premium rate requests so much that it will save consumers $500 million this year. Insurers sought rate hikes averaging more than 12 percent, but the Department of Financial Services cut down those increases to 7.5 percent, limiting the average approved rate to less than 10 percent. Article

Medical Imaging News

> Children who are brought to general hospitals with suspected appendicitis are more likely than those brought to children's hospitals to undergo CT imaging, according to a study recently published in the journal Pediatrics. In the study, Jacqueline Saito, assistant professor of surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues analyzed the records of 423 children who underwent appendix removal surgery. Of those children, 218 initially were evaluated at St. Louis Children's Hospital, and 205 at general hospitals. Article

And Finally... You've got to admire their entrepreneurial spirit. Article