OIG nixes lab deal meant to reduce EHR burden; Patients OK with EHRs, but not scribes;

News From Around the Web

> The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General has nixed a laboratory's proposed arrangement to enter into agreements with physicians to provide services and waive fees for practices' patients who are members of plans that require a different lab be used. The arrangement, according to the lab, was created in large part due to electronic health record issues; the lab was trying to accommodate some physicians who preferred one interface for obtaining lab reports electronically to their systems both for consistency and to avoid multiple monthly interface maintenance fees charged by EHR vendors. The OIG viewed the arrangement as potentially violating the anti-kickback statute. Advisory opinion (.pdf)

> Australian physicians have expressed frustration with the government's $1 billion EHR system, which they say is plagued with accessibility problems and other issues. A number of physicians have also found, to their dismay, that the systems identify their jobs as "meat inspector." The EHR developer reportedly has corrected that glitch. Article

Health IT News

> A new survey by Nuance of patients reveals that patients view EHRs and other health IT in the exam room as positively affecting their health care experience and providing value. However, they are against having scribes recording data in the EHR, since having a third person in the exam room is seen as a privacy concern. Article

Health Finance News

> A landmark Supreme Court ruling Tuesday made it clear that private medical providers cannot sue individual states in an attempt to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates. In the case, Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, justices ruled 5-4 in favor of the state of Idaho, which a group of residential care service providers alleged had unfairly kept Medicaid reimbursement rates at 2006 levels despite studies showing that the cost of care had gone up. Article

> Healthcare spending, which had been tempered in recent years by the fiscal constraints of the Great Recession, appears to be moving on an upward track for the long term. Healthcare spending grew at a 5 percent annual rate in 2014, up from 3.6 percent in 2013, according to new data from the Altarum Institute's Center for Sustainable Health Spending. Article  

Health Insurance News

> As of March 25, over 1 million people enrolled in consumer operated and oriented health insurance plans (CO-OPs) during the 2015 enrollment period, the National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs (NASHCO) announced. The CO-OPs, operating in 23 states, more than doubled their enrollment from 2014's 400,000 members. Article

> A majority of state health insurance marketplace plans do not do enough to provide smokers with the assistance they need to quit, according to a new report from the American Lung Association. The Affordable Care Act requires marketplace plans to cover tobacco cessation treatments without cost sharing, regardless of whether the state operates its own exchange or uses Healthcare.gov. Article

And Finally... No more bingo for Grandma! Article