CMS outlines 2014 PQRS changes; EHRs help a little in tackling childhood obesity

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> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released a fact sheet outlining the changes in the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) for 2014. The changes include new satisfactory reporting for claims, including EHR-based reporting, added EHR-based reporting for certain group practices and implemented the 2016 PQRS payment adjustment.  Fact sheet (.pdf)

> Electronic health record alerts can help physicians treat childhood obesity more aggressively, according to a new study. The alerts did change physician behavior, but did not lead to dramatic improvement and help children lose weight, suggesting that while EHRs help, they need to be part of a more comprehensive strategy to tackle this health issue. Article

Health Finance News

> Bullying in the hospital setting by doctors or other employees could impact patient outcomes and potentially even the organization's bottom line, according to an opinion article in Aeon magazine. Harvard Medical School student Ilana Yurkiewicz argues that bullying can lead to all sorts of negative outcomes, including below-average surgical stitchings and all sorts of other breakdowns. "When anger and intimidation flow down, information stops flowing up. The chain of communication becomes clogged," she writes. At the same time, harshness is often equated with competence." Article

> Missouri's hospitals--and their patients--are beginning to feel the bite of their state policymakers' decision not to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. Missouri's decision not to expand Medicaid left nearly 200,000 state residents unable to obtain healthcare insurance, according to the Springfield News-Leader, As a result, the Missouri Hospital Association estimates a reduction of Medicaid payments by $700 million between now and 2019, along with another $3.3 billion in peripherally related cuts. MHA President Herb Kuhn noted that his membership has cut 1,000 jobs as a result. "We're really beginning to feel the pinch," he said. Article

Health Insurance News

> The healthcare reform law aims to offer affordable health insurance coverage, but there are still regions where even the least costly plans are relatively expensive for various reasons--including provider market share dominance and the size of the tourist population. The 10 most expensive geographic regions, based on the lowest-price silver plan, include the states of Alaska and Vermont, as well as large portions of Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to Kaiser Health News. Article

> Many consumers can't get through to insurers due to long customer service wait times, so they're turning to social media--Twitter in particular--to express their complaints and criticisms. And insurers are listening, often responding directly to consumers with ways to immediately rectify the problems.  Anthem Blue Cross in California is experiencing the brunt of many tweets after it canceled individual plans and switched hundreds of its members into new plans and withdrew premiums from their bank accounts without their knowledge. In several situations, Anthem spokesperson Darrel Ng tweeted individually to people who complained about the withdrawals, asking for their contact information so he could resolve the problem, ProPublica reported. Article

And Finally... Didn't Dr. Seuss write a book similar to this? Article