2010 Physician Fee Schedule Released
The 2010 Medicare physician fee schedule (PFS) is projected to increase payments to general practitioners, family physicians, internists, and geriatric specialists by 5 to 8 percent, prior to application of the negative update required by the standard growth rate (SGR), according to the PFS Final rule released on October 30. For calendar year 2010, the conversion factor will be -21.2 percent, the preliminary estimate for the SGR will be -8.8 percent, and the conversion factor will be $28.4061. Physician-administered drugs will be removed from the definition of “physician's services” for purposes of computing the SGR and the levels of allowed expenditures and actual expenditures.
Shortage of Flu Vaccines Leaves Health Care Workers Vulnerable
from the Los Angeles Times
For more than a week, occupational nurse Janet Li-Tall has been giving the H1N1 flu vaccine to a short list of fellow healthcare workers at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. But she cannot get the coveted vaccine for herself. On the front lines of the H1N1 outbreak, tens of thousands of doctors and nurses in California are scrambling to get vaccinated. One nurse says it's like 'asking us to fight a war without protection.'
House Reform Bill Would Significantly Alter Medicare Payment Policy, Report Finds
from McKnight’s Long Term Care & Assisted Living
Under the House healthcare reform package, Medicare payments to skilled nursing facilities would grow slowly, according to a Congressional Research Service report released the day before the bill's passage. The House legislation would subject skilled nursing facility market-basket updates to a "productivity adjustment," significantly slowing an increase in payments. The combination of the productivity adjustment and a proposed elimination in the market basket for the final three quarters of fiscal year 2010 would result in a reduction in Medicare of $23.9 billion over 10 years, according to the American Health Care Association.
North Carolina Mental Patients Stuck in Emergency Rooms for Days
from the Charlotte Observer
Across North Carolina, mental patients are routinely languishing for days in emergency rooms ill-equipped to care for them, waiting for a bed to open at one of four state-run psychiatric hospitals. Lanier Cansler, the state's secretary of health and human services, plans to ease the strain by paying private hospitals with taxpayer money to admit and treat more mental patients, especially those who don't qualify for Medicaid.
Clinton Calls on Senate Democrats to Push Through Health Bill
from The Washington Post
Former president Bill Clinton urged Senate Democrats on Tuesday to overcome their differences and pass health-care reform as soon as possible, warning that politically and economically, "The worst thing to do is nothing." Addressing the Democrats at their caucus luncheon, Clinton noted the grim consequences of his own failed reform effort in 1994: Democrats lost control of Congress in the November midterm elections, health-care costs skyrocketed, and the uninsured rate continued to rise. This time, Clinton told senators to be prepared to compromise for the sake of victory.