Deadline for EP hardship exception looms; ONC updates certified HIT product list;

News From Around the Web

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued a news update reminding eligible professionals (EPs) to apply for a 2016 hardship exception by July 1. EPs that don't successfully participate in the Meaningful Use program in 2014 and don't have a hardship exception will be hit with a payment adjustment beginning Jan. 1, 2016. To earn an exception, the EP must have proof of a circumstance beyond the EP's control and outline how that impaired the EP's ability to meet the Meaningful Use requirements. Some EPs don't need to apply for an exception, such as those that are newly eligible physicians. Website

> The Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT has updated the ONC Certified Health IT Product List. The new version includes a completely refined user interface, improved search functions, better filtering options and new product selection processes. Providers need to use a certified EHR in order to meet the Meaningful Use requirements. Website

Health Finance News

> Industry experts say hospital mergers and acquisitions will continue to be strong this year, with for-profit systems driving many deals. There were 23 deals that closed during the first quarter of 2015, according to the Kaufman Hall & Associates LLC. That's tracking fairly close to the 95 deals that were consummated during 2014. Article

> Hospital prices have remained flat for the past year, with no signs of perking up in the immediate future, although overall spending continues to rise briskly. The latest price data from the Altarum Institute indicate hospital prices rose 0.4 percent in March compared to March 2014, an increase Altarum referred to as "scant." For the entire healthcare sector, prices rose 1.3 percent year-over-year. Article

Health Insurance News   

> Another health insurer may be eyeing a potential acquisition. Anthem Chief Financial Officer Wayne DeVeydt told investors during the UBS Global Healthcare Conference in New York Tuesday that the insurer's low interest rates make it an attractive candidate for a possible acquisition, reported Reuters. The nation's second-largest insurer is well-positioned to acquire smaller insurers, such as Cigna or Humana, noted DeVeydt. Last week, analysts predicted a similar transaction involving Aetna's acquisition of either Cigna or Humana. Article

> While health insurance brokers may be the key to the Affordable Care Act's Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) enrollment success, obstacles remain on how to best include them in the process. Article

And Finally... And I go crazy when there's just one in the house! Article