Hospital mergers; Cardiac rehab;

> Massachusetts health insurers are preparing a comprehensive attack to rein in payments to the state's hospitals and physician groups--even at the risk of some providers leaving their networks, reports the Boston Globe. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan are all on board, believing the political and social climate is right to seek modest increases, payment freezes or even payment reductions. FierceHealthPayer

> Most hospital mergers and acquisitions and physician practice group acquisitions do not present competitive concerns, but the OIG is definitely is on the lookout for deals that are likely "to harm consumers through higher prices or lower levels of service" and will act to prevent them, said Christine Varney, assistant attorney general in the Antitrust Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, in a May 24 speech at the American Bar Association/American Health Lawyers Association Antitrust in Healthcare Conference in Arlington, Va. Speech

> The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued instructions explaining how and when hospital outpatient departments and physician practices can bill the Medicare fee-for-service program for cardiac rehabilitation and intensive cardiac rehabilitation services provided on or after Jan. 1, 2010. MLN Matters article 6823

> Atlanta-based home health and hospice provider Gentiva Health Services Inc. has signed a definitive merger agreement to purchase hospice giant Odyssey HealthCare Inc. in Dallas for approximately $1 billion in cash ($27 per share in common stock). The deal will create what is believed to be the largest home health and hospice company in the country. FierceHealthcare

> Continuing its path back from an accounting scandal-induced brush with bankruptcy, HealthSouth Corp., based in Birmingham, Ala., expects to launch the construction of two new inpatient rehabilitation hospitals per year in addition to adding two new two hospitals annually through "tuck-in" acquisitions that build up existing HealthSouth markets, reports the Birmingham Business Journal. Article

And Finally... Teen-age? No. Mutant? No. Turtles? No. Ninjas? Yes! Article