Meaningful Use incentive payments surpass $22 billion; 17 vendors adopt EHR Code of Conduct;

News from Around the Web

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has paid out $22.7 billion in electronic health record incentives to eligible hospitals and providers through January 2014. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act--part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009--initially allocated $19 billion for the incentive payments. Report

> MMR global and Walgreens have settled the two patent infringement lawsuits that MMR had filed against the pharmacy chain. Walgreens also entered into a licensing agreement with MMR and agreed to sell MMR's MyMedicalRecords personal health record on Other terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Post

> The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has created a template to help people submit comments on the proposed 2015 edition certification criteria and related standards and implementation specifications. ONC will accept comments through April 28. The final rule is expected to be issued summer 2014. Website

> Seventeen health IT vendors have adopted the HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association's voluntary code of conduct since it was introduced last summer. The developers include Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner, CPSI, Epic, Foothold Technology, GE Health Care, Greenway Medical, MacPractice, MEDHOST, MEDITECH, Modernizing Medicine, NextGen, Practice Fusion, Siemens, SRSsoft and Versasuite. Announcement

Health Finance News

> Patients no longer just face confusion over complicated hospital billing practices. In some cases, if they object to the charges, the bills may end up with collection agencies and later damage their credit, the New York Times reported.  Patients are also often unaware that some hospitals or other medical facilities will refer the unpaid charges to the collections process, according to the Times. Article

> The Cleveland Clinic's decision to accept bundled payments for complex procedures not only attracts surgical patients from out of state, it's led other providers to do the same. Large employers like hardware retail giant Lowe's will have their employees travel from other parts of the country to undergo heart and other surgeries at the Cleveland Clinic, which offers lower prices under a bundled system and overall expertise in healthcare delivery. Article

Health Insurance News

> Medicare spending per person will slow down over the next decade, partly due to beneficiaries who are getting younger and using fewer services, according to a new monthly budget review from the Congressional Budget Office.The CBO estimated spending will grow at an average of 1.5 percent year between 2014 and 2014, well below the 4 percent spending growth between 1985 and 2007. Article

> Moody's Investors Service blasted the White House's move to extend noncompliant health plans until Oct. 1, 2016, saying it's bad news for insurance companies. While the two-year extension could ultimately help consumers, as Debbie Gordon, vice president of marketing, sales and product strategy at Massachusetts-based Tufts Health Plan, told FierceHealthPayer in an exclusive interview, the credit rating firm called the move a credit negative for health insurers. Article

And Finally... A History of Violence: Feline Edition. Article