WEDI offers free membership to federal, state governments; North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System sued for failing to protect patient medical records;

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> The Reston, Va.-based Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange announced this week that it will offer free membership to all federal and state government agencies, as well as their corresponding departments, as part of an effort to improve health information exchange. Government agencies will have access to participate in all WEDI workgroups on critical health IT industry topics, as well as WEDI's public forums and virtual events. Announcement

Provider News

> A dozen patients are suing North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System for allegedly failing to protect their medical records and notifying them of a theft, CBS New York reported. The class-action lawsuit claims patients' face sheets with names, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and medical histories were stolen since 2010 from North Shore University Hospital. The plaintiffs' attorney says thousands of other former patients may have had their information compromised, too. Article

> In last night's State of the Union address, which focused largely on the economy, President Obama dedicated his first minutes to the sequester, reinforcing the White House administration's priority to fixing the federal deficit. The automatic budget cuts, including a 2 percent reduction in Medicare payments to providers, are set to hit March 1. Congress and Obama signed a 2011 deficit-reduction agreement that next month would trigger a trillion dollars' worth of automatic cuts to federal programs, particularly to defense. Article

Health Finance News

> Despite an ongoing campaign to reduce hospital readmissions among Medicare patients, more than 12 percent of patients nationwide wind up returning to inpatient care within 30 days, concludes a new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The rates were significantly higher in selected metropolitan areas, such as New York City, Chicago and Detroit. Article

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is urging a federal appeals court to deny a Texas hospital operator a $21 million depreciation loss adjustment from the Medicare program, reported Law360. CMS said Memorial Hermann Healthcare System could not claim a loss adjustment on the assets of its predecessor, Hermann Hospital, because the transfer of assets into the merged system did not qualify as a legitimate sale. Article

And Finally... Sad, but I guess he got what he paid for. Article

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