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Health Management Technology News
  May 16, 2014
In this issue:
 

 Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide sign-up

 AMA challenges accuracy of Medicare data dump

 Kindred Healthcare goes hostile with a $533 million bid for Gentiva

 Sanders excuses VA: ‘Not the case that health care in the rest of America is just wonderful’

 A hospital’s most important secret system

 Study: Diabetes common, expensive issue among hospital patients

 Sen. Murray: Time for 'decisive action' on veterans’ healthcare


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AMA challenges accuracy of Medicare data dump

Recently released data about Medicare payments to doctors is missing large amounts of information, badly undercutting its usefulness for analyzing Medicare spending and making reforms to the government-funded system, the American Medical Association (AMA) charged Thursday.

The AMA said that up to 40 percent of medical provider billing codes that should have been included in the huge data dump were missing "entirely," presenting a potentially skewed picture of Medicare spending in different areas of the country and misleading the general public.

One example was the fact that the data dump identified zero Medicare claims for cases in 2012 of "closed treatment of shoulder dislocation, with manipulation; without anesthesia," according to the AMA. In fact, there were14,685 such Medicare claims, according to other data released earlier by the federal government.

The AMA also suggested that many of the billing codes, which identify the types of medical services provided, were significantly under-counted in the release of 2012 Medicare reimbursements, when compared with the actual uses of those services.

Read the full article from CNBC.com here

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Kindred Healthcare goes hostile with a $533 million bid for Gentiva

Hospital operator Kindred Healthcare Inc went hostile with a $533 million offer for Gentiva Health Services Inc, after the home healthcare services provider rejected the bid saying it could generate more value as a standalone company.

Kindred said it made its $14-per-share offer public on Thursday since Gentiva was unwilling to discuss a potential deal to create a company with adjusted annual revenue of about $7.2 billion offering a full spectrum of services to an aging U.S. population.

While it was not clear when or at what price Kindred first made an offer, the company on May 5 raised its bid to $14 per share, which Gentiva rejected on May 13, according to letters between the companies made public by Kindred.

Analysts said the offer was a good "exit strategy" for Gentiva's shareholders as the stock has languished below Kindred's offer price since August 2011, despite acquisitions to boost growth.

"We view (the rejection) as a meaningful error on (Gentiva) management's part, as our long experience tells us that it would take management a very long time to create that kind of increase in value," CRT Research analyst Sheryl Skolnick wrote in a note.

Read the full article from Reuters here

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Sanders excuses VA: ‘Not the case that health care in the rest of America is just wonderful’

While most lawmakers demanded the Veterans Affairs Department use the allegations in Phoenix as a wake-up call to take action, Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, defended the department and pointed out the good care it provides to veterans.

“There is no question to my mind that VA healthcare has problems. Serious problems. But it is not the case that health care in the rest of America is just wonderful,” the chairman said at a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Thursday morning where Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki will testify. “It’s important to put VA healthcare in context.”

Mr. Shinseki will face questions from Congress about allegations that at least 40 veterans died waiting for care on a secret list at the Phoenix VA facility.

Mr. Sanders said it’s important to look at whether the VA has enough staff to meet the 14-day wait for appointments it promises to veterans. He said trying to meet that “unrealistic expectation” may have created a situation where staff felt the need to “cook the books.”

Other members of the committee on both sides of the aisle did not defend the VA in the same way Mr. Sanders did. Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, said more needs to be done to increase transparency and restore veterans’ confidence in their healthcare system.

“I continue to believe you take this seriously and want to do the right thing, but we come to a point where we need more than good intentions,” she said.

Read the full article from The Washington Times here

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A hospital’s most important secret system

Every two weeks, the Quality Improvement Committee meets in a windowless room. Some people’s names are called; they leave because they were involved in the adverse event. Everyone else stays. They hear the story. They ask questions. They look at the documents. They make a decision. Most people don’t know that some version of a QI committee exists for every department of every accredited hospital in this country. The committees are one of the most important safety features in medical care today. I’ve been lucky enough to serve on these committees, both as a trainee and as more senior staff.

You may not know about QI committees, the way you don’t know how the surgical instruments used in the operating room are sterilized, or how the biohazard garbage is taken away, or how the blood tubes used for testing are zipped to the lab. The hospital is made up of a thousand secret systems, most of them behind walls and curtains, and most of them don’t matter to patients in any immediate way.

But then something bad happens, and this particular system becomes important. That’s because QI committees mean that when something bad happens, everyone is looking to see what happened: looking back, but also looking forward, to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Read the full article from The Slate here

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Study: Diabetes common, expensive issue among hospital patients

Three out of every 10 people hospitalized in Monterey County have diabetes, a little more than the one in four people in neighboring Santa Cruz County's hospitals, driving up health care costs according to a study released Thursday by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research recommending prevention efforts.

The study, based on 2011 data from the Office of Statewide Health and Planning Development, reports 6,700 hospitalizations that year of people with diabetes in Monterey County, 3,900 in Santa Cruz County and 729,000 for California.

With a hospital stay costing $2,200 more for a patient with diabetes, a disease that can be prevented by adopting a healthier diet and daily exercise, the study calculates the extra cost at $14.7 million in Monterey County, $8.5 million in Santa Cruz County, and $1.6 billion statewide.

Diabetes is more common among Latinos than other ethnic groups.

Among the complications from Type 2 diabetes, the preventable type that represents 95 percent of all cases, are heart attacks, high blood pressure, fungal infections, nerve damage and cataracts.

One of the most expensive complications is limb amputation.

The authors of the UCLA study cite a growing body of research that shows sugary beverages are "uniquely harmful" because the liquid sugar is absorbed in as little as 30 minutes, leading to a spike in blood sugar the body is not equipped to handle.

Read the full article from Monterey Herald here

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Sen. Murray: Time for 'decisive action' on veterans’ healthcare

Facing calls to resign, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said Thursday he is "mad as hell" over allegations of treatment delays and preventable deaths at a Phoenix veterans hospital and vowed to hold employees accountable for any misconduct.

"Any adverse event for a veteran within our care is one too many," Shinseki said at a Senate hearing Thursday on the Phoenix allegations and other problems at the VA. "We can, and we must do better."

Meanwhile, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said the hearing "needs to be a wake-up call for the department," noting that outside reviews have outlined problems with wait times and quality of care since at least 2000.

Shinseki's testimony marked his first extended comments since allegations surfaced last month that the Phoenix VA hospital maintained a secret waiting list to hide lengthy delays for sick veterans. A former clinic director says up to 40 veterans may have died while awaiting treatment at the Phoenix facility.

Read the full article from KOMONews.com here

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