A selection of health policy news from Massachusetts, Georgia, California, Texas, Florida and Wisconsin.
Modern Healthcare: Massachusetts Launches Statewide Health Information Exchange
Massachusetts on Tuesday launched a statewide health information exchange that will allow health care providers to share electronic health information as they seek to improve coordination of care, lower costs and increase patient safety. Gov. Deval Patrick successfully sent his health data from 907-bed Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to 659-bed Baystate Medical Center in Springfield as part of the launch. ... The Massachusetts Health Information Highway, the name of the state's HIE, has received $16.9 million in funding from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Medicaid (Lee, 10/16).
Georgia Health News: New Georgia Prompt-Pay Rule Sparks Legal Fight
A legal fight about a Georgia health insurance law pits doctors against insurers in a case that could have reverberations nationwide. At issue is a 2011 state law that requires insurers to pay doctors promptly for treating patients in self-funded employer health plans. … For years, Georgia has had this kind of prompt-pay law for regular insurance plans covering individuals and small businesses. But now that the requirement has been extended to self-funded employer plans -- where the majority of Americans get their health coverage -- opponents have taken their concerns to court. America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group representing the industry, filed a lawsuit in late August challenging the new prompt-pay statute (Miller, 10/16).
Los Angeles Times: State Probes CVS Refill Allegations
State pharmacy regulators have opened an investigation into reports that CVS Caremark Corp. refilled prescriptions and billed insurance companies without patients' consent. Virginia Herold, executive officer of the California Board of Pharmacy, said Tuesday that investigators were probing complaints about the refill practices of the country's largest drugstore chain after Walgreen Co (Lifsher,10/16).
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Houston Hit Hard In Latest Medicare Fraud Bust
When federal law enforcement agents swept through seven U.S. cities earlier this month to arrest more than 91 doctors, nurses and others for Medicare fraud, one of their targets was Houston. For the Bayou City, it was the latest in a disturbing series of revelations about health care fraud there" (Feibel, 10/17).
The Associated Press: Health Care Amendment Has No Legal Teeth
Florida's Republican-led Legislature put Amendment 1 on the upcoming ballot as a moratorium on President Barack Obama's health care plan, but it will have little legal impact. Still, its backers say its passage would send a strong political message that the people of Florida don’t like the plan they call "Obamacare" (Kennedy, 10/16).
California Watch: Hospital Opens Wallet To Save Executives' Pay
A Peninsula ballot measure that would limit the pay of executives at El Camino Hospital faces its toughest opposition from the hospital, which has donated three-quarters of the campaign funds to defeat the proposal. El Camino Hospital has contributed $149,000 in an attempt to defeat Measure M, which would cap the annual salary and compensation package for hospital executives, managers and administrators to twice the salary of the governor of California (Mieszkowski, 10/17).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: End-Of-Life Medical Care Initiative Prompts Worries About Abuse
A statewide pilot program aimed at getting more people to document their wishes for end-of-life medical care is modeled in part on a successful La Crosse program that has been touted as a national example. But the new initiative will exclude one key feature of the La Crosse plan, a bright yellow document that directs emergency caregivers -- paramedics and emergency room doctors -- to provide or withhold lifesaving treatment in accordance with a patient's wishes. Advocates consider the POLST, or Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, an important tool that gives chronically and terminally ill patients greater control of their care in the final moments of their lives. Critics, including some physicians and Wisconsin's Catholic bishops, fear it can be abused to expedite death and advance euthanasia (Johnson, 10/16).