Tuesday Tidbits

  • The Senate approved the FY 2009 omnibus appropriations bill (HR 1105) tonight thereby sending it along to the President for his anticipated approval, according to an AP report. Division D of this bill includes OPM and FEHB Program appropriations, together with the standard FEHBP related appropriations provisions — a ban against application of the federal Cost Accounting Standards to FEHBP carriers (Sec. 612), a restriction against abortion coverage except where “the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term, or the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest (Sec. 613) and a contraceptive coverage mandate (Sec. 728).
  • Business Insurance reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has refused to reconsider the unanimous panel ruling that ERISA does not preempt San Francisco’s pay or play law. Under that law, San Francisco employers must provide health insurance coverage to their employees or pay a tax to the city. The Court’s action sets the stage for U.S. Supreme Court consideration of the issue.
  • Government Health IT reports that

    The stimulus law calls for giving Medicare providers up to $44,000 apiece for adopting EHRs and reducing their payments by up to 5 percent if they fail to use them by 2015.

    But the Avalere Health analysis concludes that a doctor still will have to shell out $70,000 over five years for an EHR system, or about $14,000 a year, beyond the incentive payments. The maximum penalty for nonadopters would amount to $8,500, Avalere officials said.

    On the other hand, I don’t think that the stimulus bill is providing other professionals a handout to cover technology expenses. And while in the you can’t please everyone department, Healthcare IT News reports that “A recent survey finds that although more physician leaders are using healthcare information technology, they still find it clunky and unresponsive to their needs.”