First Edition: July 14, 2010

Today's headlines reflect coverage of new federal rules related to "meaningful use" of electronic health records as well as the latest on the federal deficit, the White House's new HIV/AIDS strategy and other developments.  

HHS Relaxes Some Rules For Doctors, Hospitals To Get Aid For Electronic Health Records
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "The federal government is making it easier for health care providers to get bonus money for using electronic health records starting next year, but the hospital industry said it still had concerns that too few facilities would qualify" (Kaiser Health News).

A New Practice: The Doctor Will See You
Catherine Arnst, writing for Kaiser Health News in collaboration with The Boston Globe, reports: "Dr. Dennis M. Dimitri, a family physician, runs a pretty unusual office. Few appointments are accepted in advance. Instead, patients call in the morning and are assigned a time slot later that day. Some patients walk in without calling ahead" (Kaiser Health News).

Standards Issued For Electronic Health Records
The federal government issued new rules Tuesday that will reward doctors and hospitals for the "meaningful use" of electronic health records, a top goal of President Obama (The New York Times).

Ambitious Timetable For Electronic Medical Records
The Obama administration on Tuesday rolled out an ambitious five-year plan for moving doctors and hospitals to computerized medical records, promising greater safety for patients and lower costs (The Associated Press).

At Funding Rules' Debut, HHS Docs Sing Praises Of Electronic Health Records
Just a day after being sworn into his new job as Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, recess appointee Dr. Donald Berwick has his official coming out this morning in the grand hall of the Department of Health and Human Services (NPR).

U.S. Eases Funds To Adopt Electronic Medical Records
The Obama administration on Tuesday loosened the rules for hospitals and doctors to qualify for federal funding to replace paper medical records with electronic files for patients (The Wall Street Journal).

Medicare Eases Providers' Electronic Record Requirements
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on Tuesday significantly eased the requirements for providers moving to adopt electronic health records that some had complained were too strict (The Hill).

White House To Unveil List Of Free Preventive Services
The Obama administration on Wednesday will unveil new rules specifying which preventive health services will be free to consumers under the new health law (The Wall Street Journal).

Federal Budget Gap Tops $1 Trillion Through June
Worries about the size of the deficit have created political problems for the Obama administration. Congressional Republicans and moderate Democrats have blocked more spending on job creation and other efforts. Republicans also have held up legislation to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless because of its effect on the deficit. Another failed effort would have provided cash-starved states with money to help avoid layoff of public employees and finance the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled (The Associated Press).

Jacob Lew Nominated To Head OMB
The search for Peter Orszag's successor at the Office of Management and Budget is over, as the White House announced Tuesday morning that President Obama has picked Jacob "Jack" Lew, who held the same job during the Clinton administration (The Fiscal Times).

Obama Nominates Lew To Head Office Of Management And Budget
In the job of OMB chief, Lew would be responsible for drawing up a budget plan by February to reduce the federal deficit to 3 percent of the size of the economy by 2015. The current deficit is $1.3 trillion -- more than 9 percent of the economy. To meet the goal, he probably would have to entertain the possibilities of tax increases and cuts to popular entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare (The Washington Post).

GOP Senators Ask Kagan To Step Aside On Health Law
Senate Republicans today asked Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan whether she would recuse herself from a possible Supreme Court challenge to this year’s health care law (The Wall Street Journal).

Pharmaceutical Group Shifts Tone With New Pick For President
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has tapped a low-key, veteran business lobbyist as its next president, signaling a shift in tone if not approach for one of Washington's most powerful trade groups (The Washington Post).

Castellani Next PhRMA President
His predecessor was a Republican rainmaker, a powerful committee chairman who pushed through the revolving door to head the nation's leading lobby of drugmakers five years ago (Politico).

Maine Seeks Health Care Waiver
Maine's insurance regulator asked the Obama administration to temporarily exempt the state's health plans from a key provision of the federal health overhaul that would affect their profits. At issue are tougher rules governing the so-called medical-loss ratio, a measure of how much insurers spend on medical care compared with their administrative expenses and profits (The Wall Street Journal).

White House Unveils National HIV/AIDS Strategy
The White House on Tuesday unveiled the first formal national HIV/AIDS strategy, a plan that aims to reduce the number of new cases by 25 percent in the next five years, officials said (The Washington Post).

Obama's HIV/AIDS Policy Hailed For Targeting Spread Of Disease
President Obama acknowledged an uncomfortable reality as he unveiled the nation's first comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy at a White House ceremony Tuesday: Though the United States has made tremendous gains treating people infected with the virus, efforts to prevent the spread of the disease have continued to lag (Los Angeles Times).

Sebelius Details New HIV/AIDS Plan
President Barack Obama announced his administration's plan for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in a memorandum Wednesday, the first ever on the disease since it was first diagnosed in the United States 30 years ago (Politico).

Study: Many Docs Don't Blow Whistle On Colleagues
Your doctor could be drunk, addicted to drugs or outright incompetent, but other physicians may not blow the whistle. A new survey finds that many American physicians fail to report troubled colleagues to authorities, believing that someone else will take care of it, that nothing will happen if they act or that they could be targeted for retribution (The Associated Press).

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