In defense of health insurance agents; High expectations for big data among healthcare execs, but hurdles remain;

News From Around the Web

> House and Senate negotiators drew near a budget deal late last week, reported The New York Times. Democrats want to avert the next round of sequestration next month while Republicans want to keep the political focus on the healthcare law and avoid another possible government shutdown on Jan. 15. Article

> The health insurance exchange in Washington, D.C., has had an outside scammer redirecting customers to a fraudulent website, Politico reported. Article

> The president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors responds to recent criticism of health insurance agents in a letter to the editor of LifeHealthPro, explaining the industry needs health insurance agents to help individuals and small business owners get the most out of healthcare reform changes. Letter

Health IT News

> Reaction from hospital executives was mixed following Friday's announcement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services of a proposed extension of Meaningful Use Stage 2 through 2016. The proposal also calls for Stage 3 to be rolled out in 2017, but only for providers who have completed at least two years in Stage 2. Article

> Healthcare executives have high expectations for the potential of big data, with a talent shortage and lack of resources being the biggest barriers to use, according to a new survey from the Society of Actuaries. Article

And Finally... Run, run, Rudolph. Article

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