Tuesday Tidbits

Of course, it’s hardly a tidbit that former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle asked President Obama to withdraw his nomination as HHS Secretary and White House health care reform czar, and the President agreed. It will be interesting to see who is the President’s next choice. My money is on former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who is an MD.

In an interesting development, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected Consumer Checkbook’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking to get Medicare data in order to assess the quality of health care. According to an AP report, “The requested data does not serve any (freedom-of-information-related) public interest in disclosure,” Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson wrote for the majority. “Accordingly, we need not balance the nonexistent public interest against every physician’s substantial privacy interest in the Medicare payments he receives.” A copy of that opinion can be accessed here. The AP report indicates that Consumer Checkbook’s lawyers are considering an appeal.

Another shoe just dropped in the Ingenix out of network provider reimbursement controversy. According to this Hartford Courant report (Go UConn), Aetna “reimburse more than $5.1 million on 73,000 health claims for college students it underpaid between 1998 and April 1, 2008,” under a settlement agreement with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The AG’s press release is available here. Evidently, the Aetna subsidiary in question failed to keep the Ingenix usual reasonable and customary payment database up to date.

Finally, Healthcare IT News reports that

Humana, one of the nation’s largest health-benefits companies, has promised to adopt machine-readable patient ID cards and, in the process, won the acclaim of the Medical Group Management Association, which estimates the cards could save physician offices and hospitals as much as $1 billion a year. Less than three weeks ago, MGMA launched ProjectSwipeIT, an industry-wide effort calling on health insurers, vendors and health care providers to initiate processes to support standardized cards by Jan. 1, 2010. Louisville, Ky.-based Humana is the first insurer to publicly pledge its support.

The SwipeIt projectstrikes me as a cool idea. You can pledge your support here.