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HHS: No contingency plan if Supremes strike down subsidies 

The Obama administration has no contingency plan if the Supreme Court strikes down the subsidies at the heart of the insurance exchanges, Health and Human Services Sec. Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in a letter to Congress last week. Arguments in King v. Burwell are slated for today, March 4. MedPageToday shared some of the responses from experts asked "What if" SCOTUS rules against the administration. (The Hill; MedPage Today)



Florida Health Choices, the only state-run alternative to healthcare.gov for Floridians, enrolled a mere 50 people, despite receiving $2.4 million in state funding. CEO Rose Naff claims the state exchange is not a competitor of the federal exchange, because Florida Health Choices' "target audiences are miles apart from each other. We don't offer any subsidies and we are not giving it away for free," she says. Average monthly premiums linger around $427. Naff expects the exchange will receive no further state funding. (Kaiser Health News)


Another barrier to interoperability: Data held hostage? 

As providers try to exchange patient information with each other, they're running into an unexpected barrier, Politico reports: EHR vendors want thousands of dollars to unlock data so it can be shared across systems. "I believe this to be the biggest threat to the investment the nation has made in health IT," says David Kendrick, head of Oklahoma's health information exchange. Lance Donkerbrook, COO of Commonwealth Primary Care ACO, agrees: "The No. 1 factor hindering the exchange of information between health care stakeholders is the exorbitant fees that most EHRs are charging for integration, connectivity and reporting." (Politico)

SCOTUS ruling raises antitrust questions about medical boards

In North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state dental board violated antitrust laws when it tried to prevent nondentists from providing teeth-whitening services. The ruling could support challenges to the authority of state physician boards to regulate scope of practice of nonphysicians, MedPage Today reports. However, attorney Miles Zaremski says medical boards have much to worry about. Most "operate fair and square. And even if a board can be sued for antitrust, it's not easy." (MedPage Today)

Innovation & Transformation

VA, Cleveland Clinic share access to records 

The Cleveland Clinic and the Veterans Administration announced they will provide seamless access to each other's EHRs. More than 1,800 vets receive care from both entities. By sharing medical information, physicians will be able to coordinate care for patients at facilities across the country, Crain's Cleveland Business reports. The VA has been enrolling hospitals nation-wide in its Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record to improve care for veterans who receive care outside of the VA system. (Crain's Cleveland Business) 


Five Maryland health systems announce new collaborative

Five Maryland-based health systems have formed an alliance--Advanced Health Collaborative--to strengthen their performance under the state's global budget reimbursement system, Modern Healthcare reports. Investing in care management infrastructure "gives everyone access to lower costs and best practices," says Robb Cohen, CEO of the alliance. The systems involved in AHC have 10 hospitals. Joint projects will include care management infrastructure designed to reduce patient hospitalization, she says. That could include investments in updated IT infrastructure and telemedicine, multidisciplinary patient-centered care teams, medication therapy management and primary care office redesign. (Modern Healthcare)
Consumers & Providers

AAFP: NCQA designation isn't synonymous with PCMH

"Don't consider PCMH practice redesign and NCQA designation as synonymous," writes AAFP VP Shawn Martin. "The PCMH ... was created by physicians and not by others for physicians." But lately, "ownership" of PCMH has moved toward "the quasi-government agencies that recognize the practices. As a result, physician enthusiasm for the model has waned--to put it mildly." He doesn't reject the importance of third-party recognition, and stresses that the "process of becoming a recognized medical home should be collaborative and focused on the characteristics of the Joint Principles." (AAFP In the Trenches blog) 

Privacy, schmivacy

Nine out of 10 visits to health-related web pages result in personal health information being provided to third parties, according to findings published in Communication of the ACM. Naked Security describes it thusly: Browse pages about genital herpes on the CDC site and you're "telling marketing mega-companies Twitter, Facebook and AddThis that you've an interest in genital herpes too." Personal health information "has suddenly become the property of private corporations who may sell it to the highest bidder or accidentally misuse it to discriminate against the ill," says the author, Timothy Libert of the Annenberg School for Communication. (CACMNaked Security)  

NPR series explores nursing injuries

A recent NPR investigative series, Injured Nurses, explores nurses' work-related injuries. Nurses suffer more debilitating back and body injuries than nearly any other occupation. According to the report, some are willfully unacknowledged by employers. Terry Cawthorn worked as a nurse at Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC, for more than 20 years until a career-ending back injury caused by lifting patients. Her employer attributed the injury to removing a casserole from the oven. Refusal to acknowledge work-related injuries frequently means no workers' compensation or pay for missed time. Research suggests some are preventable, if enough time and money are invested. (NPR)
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New & Noted   

Good faith, bad info: The IRS won't collect additional taxes from the estimated 50,000 people who filed their tax returns based on incorrect government statements regarding their 2014 health coverage. (Kaiser Health News)


Updated Nursing Home Compare: CMS has revised the rating system on its Nursing Home Compare website. About two-thirds of nursing homes will see a decline in their quality measures rating and about one-third in their overall star rating, according to CMS. (AHA News)



MU extension: Physicians won an extra three weeks to attest to Meaningful Use. The new deadline: March 20. The original deadline for attestation was Feb. 28. (MedPage Today)


Video: King v. Burwell debate

"King v. Burwell:  Debating the Future of the ACA," a webinar hosted by the National Institute for Health Care Management, features a point-counterpoint debate between Nicholas Bagley of the University of Michigan and Michael Cannon of The Cato Institute. Among the areas covered: the legal foundation of the case and predictions for the decision based on judicial perspectives and precedents, and the impact of a ruling for the plaintiff on the viability of ACA--and on consumers, hospitals, health plans and states. Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News moderates. (webinar)

MarketVoices...quotes worth reading


"My vendor holds my data hostage, and I have to pay a ransom to access it." -- An unnamed Oregon primary care doctor quoted in Politico
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