HHS Notes

  • Modern Healthcare.com reports that “The CMS set the annual inflation update for hospital outpatient departments at 3.6% starting Jan. 1, but it will keep ambulatory surgical centers at this year’s rates. The federal agency also put outpatient departments on notice, saying that it will eventually adjust payments to reflect the quality of care that’s delivered in the more than 4,000 hospital outpatient departments across the country.”
  • CMS also announced that payment rates for physician fee schedule services will be increased by 1.1 percent in 2009″ as required by a law that Congress enacted last summer. CMS also announced that

    Physicians and other eligible professionals who adopt and use qualified electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) systems to transmit prescriptions to pharmacies may earn an incentive payment of 2.0 percent of their total Medicare allowed charges during 2009. This incentive is in addition to a 2.0 percent incentive payment for 2009 for physicians who successfully report measures under the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI), and both incentive payments are in addition to the 1.1 percent fee schedule update required by the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA). Thus, a physician who successfully reports under both the e-prescribing and PQRI initiatives could receive up to a 5.1 percent pay boost for 2009.

  • Renal Business Today reports on a Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General letter to the CMS Administrator criticizing CMS for lax enforcement of the HIPAA Security Rule. The Inspector General recommended that CMS establish policies and procedures for conducting HIPAA Security Rule compliance reviews of covered entities. The Inspector General based this recommendation on its hospital audit program. According to the letter, “After we completed our fieldwork but before we issued our report, CMS executed a contract to conduct compliance reviews at covered entities.”
  • Finally, I found it interesting that according to BNA, the American Hospital Association, a vocal supporter of aggressive implementation of the ICD-10 coding system, commented to HHS that the HHS proposed October 1, 2011, implementation date should be pushed back one year. Health plans, the American Medical Association, and others have backed the NCVHS-recommended implementation date, which would be October 1, 2013.