ONC accepting applications for patient safety workgroup; Hospitals dismiss significance of chargemaster prices;

News From Around the Web

> At least 90 percent of federally qualified health centers are participating with a regional extension center to facilitate their use of electronic health records, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's latest data brief, released Feb. 27. More than half (53 percent) of the REC providers in FQHCs have received incentive funds, and one out of 10 are demonstrating Meaningful Use. Brief

> ONC now is accepting applications for membership in its Food and Drug Administration Safety Innovation Act workgroup. The workgroup will inform the development of a report on the appropriate regulatory framework pertaining to health IT and patient safety. Applications are due by March 8. Application database website

Health Finance News

> Hospital chargemasters, internal price lists, are used as a basis to extract far higher payments from uninsured patients than those who have coverage, although hospitals dismiss their significance altogether, reported Time magazine. The article examined the medical bills of seven people who lacked insurance or were underinsured, and found large markups in all instances. In one case, the bills to treat a case of heartburn ran $21,000. Article

> Fitch Ratings warns the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the merger of two Georgia hospitals could negatively affect the finances of investor-owned healthcare organizations. "[S]tricter anti-trust action is a negative for investor owned hospitals as these companies have recently been offsetting weak organic growth through hospital acquisitions," the rating agency said last week in a brief report. Article

Health Insurance News

> Although the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services believes its proposed rule regarding contraceptive coverage for religious employers will be cost neutral for insurers, some industry executives and analysts aren't so sure. The concern is that when religious employers opt out of the reform law's mandate requiring them to offer free contraceptive coverage insurers will end up paying for those costs. Article

> Despite being one of the most ardent critics of the reform law, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced last week that he would green light the expansion of the state's Medicaid program. The move likely makes Scott the most significant of the seven Republican governors to expand Medicaid since he spearheaded the challenge to the reform law, taking it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Article

And Finally... What, was he hoping for an ambulance to deliver it? Article