Ex-employee sues health system for taking vendor kickbacks; CMS releases MU/PQRS reporting fact sheet;

News From Around the Web

> An employee of a Long Island physician's practice has been arrested for stealing a prescription form from the practice's electronic health record system and forging a prescription for Percocet, Long Island Newsday reported. The employee was the office's IT administrator and a medical assistant. The form had the electronic signature of one of the practice's physicians. Article

> A former employee of Cleveland's MedCentral Health System has sued MedCentral, alleging that his job was eliminated after he tried to expose illegal kickbacks that health IT vendors were making to hospital employees, the Mansfield News Journal reported. He claims that under federal law, MedCentral could not retaliate against him for reporting the kickbacks. The employee was the health IT logistics coordinator and responsible for purchasing health IT, according to the article. Article

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released a new fact sheet on how to participate in the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS)  Medicare EHR Incentive Pilot program. The program allows eligible professionals to meet the clinical quality measure (CQM) requirements for the Meaningful Use Incentive program while reporting for PQRS by submitting the CQM data electronically. The data must be submitted between Jan. 1, 2014, and Feb. 28, 2014. Fact sheet (.pdf)

Health Finance News

> A new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finds that changes in Medicare payment rates and in beneficiary demand for services account for only one-quarter of the slowdown in Medicare spending between 2000 and 2010. The reasons for the rest of the slowdown are unclear as it "appears to have been caused in substantial part by factors that were not related to the recession's effect on beneficiaries' demand for services,"  the report says. The CBO adds the amount that can be attributed to rate changes and demand "is subject to considerable uncertainty; nonetheless, it informs our view that other factors--namely, a combination of changes in providers' behavior and changes in beneficiaries' demand for care that we did not measure--were responsible for a substantial portion of the slowdown in Medicare spending growth." Article

> A new report by Moody's Investors Service has concluded that hospital expenses are outpacing revenue for the first time in several years, and that the trend is "unsustainable." Article

Provider News

> When using template-based electronic health records, physicians must make the most of the narrative space to complete the parts of the patient's story that may not be reflected through check-boxes and drop-down menus, according to experts interviewed by American Medical News. This advice is in response to the burgeoning problem of EHR templates leaving out too much of the patient's health context and even potentially contributing to billing fraud. Article

> When a medical group enters into an accountable care organization (ACO)-related contract with a payer, the benefits reach beyond just the patients covered by the ACO, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In particular, researchers found that groups' participation in Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Massachusetts' Alternative Quality Contract (AQC) was associated with savings for Medicare beneficiaries as well. Quality of care for Medicare patients, however, did not consistently improve after the groups joined the AQC, authors noted. Article

And Finally... Paper? Glad they're not holding out for lobster or gold. Article