Hardship exemption for hospitals looms; MU not helping children's hospitals;

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> Many children's hospitals electronic health records don't contain features they need to provide high quality care to their patients, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. The Meaningful Use program has had little effect on their adoption of pediatric EHR functions, and in some cases has delayed their update of pediatric features. Article

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently issued a news alert reminding Medicare eligible hospitals that April 1 is the deadline for filing a hardship exemption to avoid the 2016 payment adjustment for failing to successfully participate in the Meaningful Use program. The applicant must show proof of a circumstance beyond the hospital's control and specifically outline how the circumstance significantly impaired the hospital's ability to meet Meaningful Use. Application

> Marysville, California-based Rideout Health lost the use of its EHR system for about a week after one of its HVAC systems burned out and the other overheated soon after. Clinicians had no access to their patients' records, and treatments had to be postponed at the two-hospital health system. The problem was not due to problems with the EHR system itself, according to Rideout. Article

Health Finance News

> The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has lowered its projection for the cost of implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) yet again. In a report released Monday, the CBO pegged the cost of health insurance subsidies, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) outlays and small-employer tax credits at $648 billion for 2015 to 2019. Article

> A new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General determined that the government could save billions of dollars a year if the swing beds at critical access hospitals were reimbursed at rates comparable to those of skilled nursing facilities.  Under the current reimbursement rules, patients at critical access facilities do not have to leave their beds in order to receive skilled nursing services instead of acute care services, but the hospital is paid at the higher inpatient hospital rate. Article   

Health Insurance News

> Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) have reintroduced their bill that would provide greater transparency to Medicare claims data so that the qualified entities who have access to that data can share it with payers, providers and research institutions. Bill S.1758, first introduced in November 2013, builds on the work of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) Qualified Entity (QE) Program, which lets organizations apply to receive standardized extracts of Medicare claims data and use the data to evaluate provider and supplier performance.   Article

> About 25 percent of plans sold on health insurance exchanges violate a federal mental health parity law that requires insurers to offer equal benefits to physical and mental healthcare, according to a new study published in the journal Psychiatric Services. In particular, there were two problems with the exchange plans--wide cost differences for physical and mental health services and more stringent requirements for prior authorizations for patients to receive mental services. Article  

And Finally... I'll bet they're not going on a second date! Article