Proposed legislation would stop VA employees from inappropriately accessing patient records; Jamaica moves to adopt EHRs;

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> Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) has introduced a bill to stop Veterans' Administration (VA) employees from inappropriately accessing patient records. The VA has one of the largest and most sophisticated electronic health record systems in the country; however it also has a high incident rate of inappropriate access and disclosure of patient data. View the bill

> Jamaica has set aside about $50 million to transition its hospitals from their current paper-records system to EHRs. The move is being made in large part so that the country can reap the benefits of medical tourism. Article

Health Finance News

> Lawyers for a Sumter, S.C., hospital slapped with a $237.5 million federal judgment in a Medicare fraud case in October say the hospital may close if it is forced to pay the entire amount, according to local news reports. Last spring a jury found Tuomey Healthcare System guilty of paying kickbacks to doctors for referrals, leading to the October judgment. Attorneys for the hospital system now are asking the judgment to be set aside until its appeal is heard. Paying the entire judgment is "a fiscal impossibility" that would cause the hospital to shut down, Tuomey lawyers argued in the motion. Article

> Hospital charges continue to rise, with some procedures billed at more than 10 times their cost, according to a statement from National Nurses United (NNU). The data are based on Medicare Cost Reports covering the fiscal year ending in September of 2012. "Such inflated practices continue to price far too many Americans out of access to needed medical care or expose them to financial ruin. It's long past time to rein in the price gouging, and recognize that a healthcare system based on profiteering puts all of us at risk," said Jean Ross, co-president of NNU. Article

Health Insurance News

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this week released a whopping 678 pages of draft revisions to Medicare C and D regulations intended to fight fraud and save the program about $1.3 billion over five years. Further aims of the proposed rule include strengthening beneficiary protections, clarifying program participation requirements, and strengthening the government's ability to spot promising candidates for Parts C and D participation and weed out underperforming contractors. Article

> Moving to another state with expanded health insurance eligibility isn't a choice waves of low-income Americans have made, and interstate migration isn't a major cost driver for states that expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new Health Affairs study. These findings refute what's called the "welfare magnet hypothesis," which holds that geographic variation in social programs causes welfare recipients--especially those with complex healthcare needs--to move to areas with richer benefits or easier-met eligibility rules. If that hypothesis proved true, expanding Medicaid could seriously hurt state budgets forced to absorb healthcare costs of new residents. Fear of these costs has been an argument against expanding Medicaid. Article

And Finally... Oh, no! What's next, Spam? Cheez Whiz? Article