Weekend update

Congress will be in session again this coming week. Here’s a link to The Week in Congress’s report on last week’s action. Here’s a link to a detailed Federal News Radio report on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee hearing on cybersecurity held last Wednesday.  The Washington Post reported on a related House Small Business Committee hearing held the same day. This Wednesday, that Committee’s subcommittee on information technology will hold a hearing on encryption technology and potential U.S. policy responses which should be interesting.

Health Data Management reported on a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing about FY 2016 HHS appropriations held last Thursday. The Committee flailed the HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell over the electronic health records program.

[Sen. Lamar] Alexander [(R TN)] referred to an American Medical Association-commissioned RAND Corp. study in which doctors identified EHRs as the leading cause of professional dissatisfaction, emotional fatigue, depersonalization and lost enthusiasm. To address these issues, Alexander, who is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, told Burwell that he and ranking member Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have formed a bipartisan working group to identify five or six EHR problems “that we can address administratively—in other words, you could do it—or legislatively if we have to.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R LA) also recommended that HHS allow doctors a two year implementation period for the ICD-10 coding system before imposing penalties. Currently, HHS plans to reject ICD-9 coded Medicare claims for service rendered on or after October 1, 2015. Health plans are generally planning to follow HHS’s lead.

Medical Practice Insider reports on Medscape’s 2015 physician compensation survey results.  Many key findings are presented graphically so check it out.  The survey finds a significant uptick in doctor participation in accountable care organizations (24% in 2013 to 30% in 2014).  Also, “across all types of payment models, specialists earned 45 percent more than PCPs in 2014.” Finally, “only 5 percent of respondents said they operated cash-only practices in 2014, down 1 percent from the prior year. Concierge care stayed level at only 3 percent participation in 2013 and 2014.”