July 15, 2015 Legislation





The California Assembly has rejected the bill that would have given nurse practitioners the right to practice completely independently from physicians.  Teh defeat came after the sponsor refused an amendment that would have placed the nurse practitioners in the same kettle as physicians, under the Corporate Practice of Medicine Act.  The bill will be reintroduced next year.

California's Department of Managed Health has ordered the Chase Dennis Emergency Medical Group to cease balance billing patients as it against California law.  They also ordered them to repay 122 people.  There were no fines.        Top


CMS is getting smarter.  They have announced a one year grace period for those who make errors in the upcoming ICD 10 transition.  Claims will not be rejected just because the ICD code is not specific enough.  The code will be recognized as long as it is the right code family.  The same is true for physicians submitting the stupid Medicare quality programs such as PQRS.  This happened because the AMA vigorously protested the codes.

CMS is proposing to start a trial of paying for knee and hip surgeries as a bundled payment from admission to 90 days post discharge.  They are picking 75 areas of the country as the guinea pigs. The payment will be from $16,500 to $33,000 depending on the location.  It will start 1/1 and last for five years.

CMS is also proposing to pay for end of life discussions.  They have already added the CPT codes put have not funded them.  That would start next year. 

The House has overwhelmingly passed the 21st Century Cures Bill.  This bill gives an additional $8 billion to the NIH.  It also and most importantly tweaks the processes to get drugs to those who need them faster.

The administration continues to attempt to tinker with the contraception part of the Obamacare law.  This will lead to more Supreme Court cases regarding the law.  This tinker will allow closely held corporations to get out of providing contraception if their religion is against it.  It would allow the businesses insurance to pay for the contraception at no cost to the employee without going through he employer.  The problem is that the businesses would still be paying the premiums for things that it deems religiously offensive.

California's governor has signed into law a bill that protects people using medical marijuana.  They can now have transplants without being rejected due solely because of their use of the evil weed.  The state is the 7th to enact this type of legislation.

California attempted and failed to pass a right to die law.  The Democrats feared that physicians would coerce low income patients to end their lives instead of getting treatment.  The Democrats in the Assembly were lobbied by the Catholic church to defeat the bill.  The Senate had already passed the bill.

Arizona has passed a measure to allow do-it-yourself lab testing with no physician supervision.  They can now go to a lab without a physician order and get certain tests.  This could lead to many more physician visits for confusion about the results.        Top


The New Jersey Health Department is asking the the Department of Human Services to withhold $46,000 in Medicaid payments from Meadowlands Hospital.  The hospital had been fined in the past for failing to turn over audit records but the hospital has not paid.  They were fined $5000 per month and the hospital wants those fines waived but the state has disallowed the request. The hosital blames their screw-up on their IT, of course.

St. Elizabeth Hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts, has agreed to pay the feds $218,000 to settle claims that screwed up by not analyzing the risks involved in setting up a shared storage device.  This put 595 patients at risk after a flash drive was stolen.  Another foolish hospital.        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 information presented.