Weekend update

Both the House and Senate are away from the Capitol until after Labor Day. Here’s a link to the Week in Congress’s report on last week’s activities in the Senate. 

In data breach news, OPM received the Pwnie award for the most epic cybersecurity fail at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas this weekend according to ZDNet.  Meanwhile, according to Roll Call, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz is calling for the OPM Chief Information Officer’s removal in the wake of serious accusations that the Inspector General made against her on Friday.

Because what’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander, the American Hospital Association is asking the Justice Department to take a close look at the Anthem – Cigna merger.  (The AHA is not enthralled with the Aetna – Humana merger either).  The Indiana Business Journal has a detailed story on why the Blue Cross brands create a hurdle for the Anthem – Cigna merger beyond the antitrust regulators.

Modern Healthcare has a good story following up the Medicare readmissions problem discussed in Friday’s post:

Medicare is four years into its drive to cut the number of patients who land back in the hospital within a few weeks of leaving, and only a quarter of more than 3,400 hospitals avoided penalties. The results are contributing to skepticism about the readmissions program and the broader array of metrics used to evaluate healthcare quality. * * *

[W]ith as much as 6% of a hospital’s base operating pay from Medicare expected to be on the line by 2017, health policy and quality and safety researchers, as well as organizations representing hospitals, are urging more scrutiny of metrics used in the government’s quality incentive programs. 

“The whole field is a mess—it’s all over the place,” said Dr. Robert Wachter, interim chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “We need better science.”

Amen to that. There simply is too much unwarranted government reliance on these quality statistics.