More home care providers adopting EHRs; Pharmacies, retailers join Blue Button intiative;

News From Around the Web

> ONC's Health IT Policy Committee's Privacy and Security Tiger Team, at its Feb. 10 meeting, continued to discuss the extent that patients' family members, friends and personal representatives should have access to the patients' data via Meaningful Use's view/download/transmit data requirements. The Tiger Team plans to make recommendations on the issue next month. Meeting material

> Home care agencies are not eligible providers under the Meaningful Use program, but increasingly are adopting electronic health records in response to payment reforms, according to a new report from Orem, Utah-based research firm KLAS. While this market is still evolving, functionalities such as interoperability play a key role for even these ancillary providers. Announcement

> Several large retailers and pharmacy chains have joined the Blue Button initiative, the public/private partnership between the industry and the government to enable patients to access the information in EHRs. Several of the new participants include Walgreens, Kroger, Safeway, Rite Aid and CVS Caremark. Blog post

Health Finance News

> The Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) process needs immediate reform, according to a letter to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, signed by 111 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The representatives said in the letter that "CMS should implement reforms to ensure that auditors are charged with identifying real claim coding and medical documentation errors, as well as provide a more transparent mechanism through which providers can be informed of errors so as to avoid them in the future." Article

> Although the healthcare sector is one of the economy's biggest generator of jobs, hospitals are creating fewer positions these days. Hospital-based employment fell slightly in January, to just under 4.8 million people, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The hospital workforce lost 4,500 jobs, although the numbers are still about 1,800 higher than December 2012. It lost 4,700 jobs in December, the first consecutive two-month decline since February 2011. Article

Health Insurance News

> Medicare Part D overpaid almost $12 million for inappropriate, gross drug costs for incarcerated beneficiaries from 2006 through 2010, according to results of an Office of Inspector General audit. The overpayment resulted from weak internal controls at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Specifically, CMS accepted prescription drug event (PDE) records from Part D sponsors and used the records to erroneously determine payment for incarcerated beneficiaries who received prescription drugs. Further, "CMS did not provide sufficient and timely guidance to sponsors that would have allowed them to readily and accurately verify a beneficiary's incarceration status and dates of incarceration," the audit report states. Article

> Legally married same-sex couples aren't receiving consistent treatment under the Affordable Care Act when it comes to individual market health plan enrollment, Kaiser Health News reported. These couples may or may not be able to buy family coverage depending on same-sex marriage laws in the state where they live. Federal rules say legally-married same-sex couples should receive the same treatment as opposite-sex couples in terms of premium tax credits and insurance subsidies, the article noted. But without a clear federal definition of who constitutes a spouse and family for health insurance purposes, states and payers define these terms differently. Article

And Finally... Hopefully she doesn't ultimately regret this decision. Article