Midweek Update

The FEHBlog was saddened to learn yesterday from the Chicago Tribune that the American Medical Association is shutting down the AMA News on September 9, 2012, and the AMA News website at the end of this year. The FEHBlog has been a loyal subscriber of this publication for over a decade. The AMA News provides tremendous insights on the medical profession and it will be missed. But the FEHBlog plows on.

In this year’s call letter. OPM encouraged FEHB plans to take advantage of the Choosing Wisely campaign (which the FEHBlog had pitched before the call letter.)  “Choosing Wisely® aims to promote conversations between physicians and patients by helping patients choose care that is: Supported by evidence; Not duplicative of other tests or procedures already received; Free from harm, and Truly necessary.” These are the standard parts of any health plan’s medical necessity limitation.  The campaign’s principal sponsor, the ABIM Foundation, has announced that “In late 2013 and early 2014, leading medical specialty societies will release more than 30 new lists of specific tests or procedures they say are commonly ordered but not always necessary and could cause harm as part of the Choosing Wisely campaign.” Stay tuned.

Athena Healthcare released its annual physician sentiment index. The long and short of it is that physicians are not happy campers.

Another unhappy camper is Affinity Health Plan, Inc. which just agreed to pay the federal government $1,215,780 million to settle a HIPAA privacy and security rule complaint. The alleged violation arose when Affinity returned leased photocopiers to the lessor without wiping the hard drives included in photocopiers these days. The lessor then passed along one of the photocopiers to CBS News and the rest is history. According to the HHS press release,

Affinity estimated that up to 344,579 individuals may have been affected by this breach. OCR’s investigation indicated that Affinity impermissibly disclosed the protected health information of these affected individuals when it returned multiple photocopiers to leasing agents without erasing the data contained on the copier hard drives.  In addition, the investigation revealed that Affinity failed to incorporate the electronic protected health information (ePHI) stored on photocopier hard drives in its analysis of risks and vulnerabilities as required by the Security Rule, and failed to implement policies and procedures when returning the photocopiers to its leasing agents. 

Fool me once, etc.