Up on Capitol Hill, the House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act for this third time (Hill report) and the Senate confirmed Marilyn Tavenner to run the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency which  is quite relevant to the FEHBP because of the large cadre of Medicare eligible members and CMS’s key role in Affordable Care Act and HIPAA implementation (Kaiser Health News aggregation of stories). 

In other ACA news, HHS announced that it will award $1 billion in health innovation awards “to provide better health care and lower costs.” The FEHBlog is not quite sure that throwing money at a problem has a good track record as a solution.

Speaking of throwing money at a problem,  Becker’s Spine Review (what a great name!) reports that 71% of U.S. physicians think that health information technology use will raise costs according to a Deloitte survey available here.

But there is good news.  Key survey findings include (according to the Becker’s article):

•    Seventy-five percent of all physicians said clinical capabilities are a major positive reason to collaborate with hospitals.
•    Seventy-three percent of all physicians believe that health IT will improve the quality of care provided in the longer term.
•    Only 31 percent of solo practitioners have an electronic health record system that meets meaningful use stage 1 requirements, compared with 82 percent of larger practices.
•    Overall, 63 percent of physicians are satisfied with their EHRs.
•    Seventy-four percent strongly agreed that faster and more accurate billing for services is the greatest benefit of EHRs.
•    Seventy-two percent of physicians in practices that do not have EHRs meeting meaningful use stage 1 requirements said the upfront financial investment is the greatest barrier to EHR adoption. 

Finally, and also on the innovation front (or perhaps more accurately old practices become new), the Philadelphia Inquirer reports a growing incidence of group medical appointments with primacy care practices for issues such as obesity:

The American Academy of Family Physicians found that 12.7 percent of family physicians held group visits in 2010, up from 5.7 percent in 2005. Some experts think that group appointments could accelerate, and help ease the doctor shortage expected as more people gain health insurance starting early next year under the Affordable Care Act. The idea behind group appointments is to give patients the tools to become their own advocates and full-fledged partners with doctors. The groups also enable physicians to treat more patients, see them more often, and practice a more personal and rewarding style of medicine.