CMS will begin to enforce HIPAA compliance nearly five years after the law went into effect. The intend to review 10-20 hospitals in the next nine months for compliance. These are hospitals that have had complaints about them to the OIG. CMS will review remote access to privacy information and the use of portable storage devices. They will not name the publicly the hospitals to be surveyed. The agency wants not to fine but to work toward complete compliance with the rules. CMS enforces the security rules and the Office of Civil Rights looks after the privacy rules. About 70% of the complaints have been for privacy problems.
Dr. Boris Murillo of Berkshire Medical Center has had a misdemeanor charge in his state license and had to pay a fine. He was dating a nurse and twice accessed her electronic medical record without consent. He also read the electronic medical record of a medical secretary about ten times. He had to pay a fine of $2,500 and is being sued by the secretary for $250,000 due to breach of privacy, emotional distress and anything else she can find. Top
President Bush is proposing in his new budget a huge spending deficit due to the recession and the war of terrorism. He hopes to recoup some of the money on the backs of medicine. He is proposing that the feds spend $1.2 billion less on Medicaid next year and $14 billion by five years. This would be done by regs not needed to be approved by Congress. The Medicare reductions would make up the remainder of the $6 billion next year and $91 billion in five years. This would be done by reducing payments to hospitals for annual updates, special payments to those hospitals that serve a large number of poor people and for capitol improvements. There would also be less spent on teaching hospitals. This is in line with the MPAC report. Also, payments to nursing homes would be frozen in 2009 as would home health through 2013.
The Comptroller general in a report to the Senate has stated that continued increased health care costs are unsustainable. He states that the next president and Congress have five years to get rid of entitlements and get spending under control or it will be too late to prevent large tax increases and huge reductions in benefits would be needed. As usual the congress will pay no heed, especially in an election year.
The People's Republic of Massachusetts has now determined that their universal healthcare reform will exceed the original budget by a mere $ 345 million this year and $400 million next year. This is due to more people than expected enrolling. Duh! The money is expected to come from a combination of federal funds and not paying providers what is due them. A major surprise.
California has seen the light. In a state not known to be fiscally sound, the Senate sub committee has turned down flat the Governor's healthcare plan stating it is too expensive. It should be noted that one of those voting against the plan was the champion of the universal unipayor plan.
New Jersey has never been known to be smart. The had a law preventing general surgeons from opening surgical centers but never enforced it until the courts stated that the law was indeed legal. Now the same person who initiated the law is scurrying to rectify his Democratic mistake. The new law will allow those ASCs already open to remain but not allow new ones. what makes the two different? No idea except for the legislative original mistake.
New Jersey continues in the news with the statement that not all hospitals are worthwhile. They will determine which financially strapped institutions are worth saving with state money. A state report stated that some hospitals are just poorly managed and inefficient. The report now goes to the Governor for a decision whether or not to help pay to rescue some of these hospitals.
CMS has again criticized Kaiser for poor care. This time it was Kaiser Fresno. Physicians and nurses complained repeatedly about the skills of a perinatologist, Dr. Hamid Safari. The hospital paid no heed. Dr. Safari then had problems with two deliveries which resulted in both dying. The physician is still with the hospital but on a consultant basis and is not delivering any more babies. The physician could not make rounds alone but did and the hospital continued to look the other way. Now the State of California Medical Board is looking into the removal of Dr. Safari's license. Several physicians have also sued Kaiser for punishments they received for reporting Dr. Safari.
The administrator of Kaiser Fresno resigned the day after the above story broke. Kaiser may still take action against the hospital's physician in chief who received the multiple complaints regarding the physician. Top
California is fining PacifiCare $1.3 Billion in penalties due to the takeover by UnitedHealth. There was an investigation of the plan and 133,000 separate violations of state law or regs was found. Each one is punishable by a fine of $10,000. In a separate action the California Department of Managed Care has found an additional 30% of reviewed claims were wrongly denied. They are fining the HMO an additional $3.5 million. The California Insurance Commissioner said since PacifiCare cannot pay claims correctly and learn the ABCs of claims maybe they can learn the way of regulatory fines. Top
Kansas has suspended the license of the jailed Dr. Stephen Schneider. He is in jail for being a pill mill and causing the deaths of four patients. His wife, a nurse, is also in jail on the same charges. Top
DISCLAIMER: Although this
article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the
time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers
should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the