Physician Practice Roundup—In midst of measles outbreaks, New York county and California take action

Vaccines
Measles outbreaks have prompted action by New York county officials and a California lawmaker. (Getty Images)

In midst of measles outbreaks, New York county and California take action

Ongoing measles outbreaks have prompted action in a New York county and the state of California.

Officials in Rockland County, New York, declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and barred unvaccinated minors from public places, including schools, in an effort to halt an aggressive measles outbreak, according to the Associated Press.

The county in New York City’s northern suburbs has seen more than 150 people infected with measles since last fall. The emergency declaration will last 30 days and bars anyone under 18 who is not vaccinated against measles from public gathering places, including shopping malls, civic centers, schools, restaurants and houses of worship. Officials hope the declaration will serve as a wake-up call to the seriousness of the situation.

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In California, lawmakers are considering a bill that would crack down on false medical exemptions for childhood vaccinations, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The bill was introduced on Tuesday by State Sen. Richard Pan, M.D., a pediatrician, and would require state public health officials to approve medical exemptions requested by physicians for childhood vaccinations. Pan said the bill will combat doctors who sell fraudulent medical exemptions to parents who do not want to have their children vaccinated. (Associated Press report, San Francisco Chronicle article)

CMS offers up to $1.6M in AI challenge for better healthcare prediction tools

Details are finally out about a new artificial intelligence challenge aimed at creating tools to better predict patient health outcomes. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Wednesday it is launching the CMS Artificial Intelligence Health Outcomes Challenge with the potential for projects to win up to $1.65 million. It was created in partnership with the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

It comes a little more than a month after Adam Boehler, director of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI)—the innovation arm of CMS—teased early details about the competition at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's (HIMSS) annual conference.

In the announcement on Wednesday, officials said the central goal is to develop artificial intelligence-driven predictions that healthcare providers and clinicians participating in CMS Innovation Center models can use. It is open to innovators from all sectors, officials said. (FierceHealthcare)

Kentucky physicians get relief under new prior authorization law

Starting next year, physicians in Kentucky will see some reforms when it comes to prior authorizations by insurance companies.

Under a new state law that takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, physicians will receive responses on prior authorization requests within 24 hours for urgent services and within five days for nonurgent services, according to the American Medical Association. Also among the changes, prescriptions for chronic-condition maintenance drugs will be valid for a year and any changes in dosages during that period will be covered. Physicians and other clinicians will be able to request and transmit prior authorizations electronically.

The new law reforming health insurance company prior authorization processes was signed by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin March 26 after it was approved by the state’s House of Representatives and Senate. (AMA article)

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