Bipartisan Budget Act means no new off-campus hospital outpatient departments

From Lexology:

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (the “Budget Act”), signed into law by President Obama today, November 2, 2015, prohibits newly created off-campus hospital outpatient departments from receiving provider-based Medicare reimbursement for non-emergency services beginning January 1, 2017.1  The Budget Act is a significant step toward aligning payment rates across different ambulatory settings, a controversial move expected to reduce overall Medicare spending but which could discourage hospitals from opening new outpatient facilities in underserved areas.

Miami lawmaker pushes bill to ban unexpected medical charges for emergency services

From the Herald:

Balance billing is prohibited by Florida law — but only if you’re in a health maintenance organization, or HMO, and only for emergencies and covered services provided in an in-network facility.

Consumers who belong to preferred provider organizations (PPOs) or exclusive provider organizations (EPOs) are not covered by the statute.

But a bill introduced this fall in the Florida House seeks to prohibit balance billing in emergency situations for members of PPOs and EPOs. Sponsored by Rep. Carlos Trujillo, a Republican from Miami, the bill has drawn spirited opposition from physician associations, hospital groups and political conservatives who have compared the legislation to “Obamacare.”

Billers and coders highest-paid non-clinical staff members of 2015

From Fierce Practice Management:

A successful practice depends on a strong team of not just physicians, but also top-notch clinical and administrative staff. If you’re wondering how your employees’ pay and benefits stack up against that of other practices, look no further than Medscape’s2015 Clinical and Office Staff Salary Report.

On the non-clinical side, the highest-paid nonclinical staff members are medical biller/coders, at $37,000, possibly because of their importance in implementing ICD-10. While Medscape’s 2013 survey did not ask about coders specifically, just 14 percent of physicians said at the time they would need to hire more staff to carry out the conversion. The 2013 survey also indicated that about one-third of practices planned to cut their billing staff, a figure that dropped to 13 percent this year.

CME: An Update on Poisonings Presenting to EDs

From Physician’s Weekly:

In the United States, deaths from drug overdose have become a leading cause of injury-related mortalities. According to current estimates, drug misuse and abuse causes about 2.5 million visits to the ED. “Drug-related deaths now exceed motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.,” says Richard C. Dart, MD, PhD. “This is an important issue for EDs because they are typically the first to encounter these cases.”

Despite being familiar with managing patients suspected of being poisoned, emergency physicians are continually challenged by the emergence of new types of poisoning. “Every year, emergency physicians encounter a new wave of poisoning agents that range from household products to drugs that are intended for recreational use,” Dr. Dart says. “Each newly identified poisoning agent may require a new approach to diagnose and manage.”

Harnessing Tech to Transport Doctors Into Rural School Nurses’ Offices

From H&HN:

Pulling a sick child out of school in the middle of the day can be a difficult proposition, especially when the parent is stuck at work and the hospital is miles away. But what if we could use advanced equipment to instantly transport a doctor or specialist into a school nurse’s office at the push of a button?

One Georgia-based health system is aiming to do just that, with the help of telehealth technology. Teaming with insurer WellCare and the Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth, Appling HealthCare System recently began rolling out the offering at Appling County High School and Appling County Elementary, both in Baxley, Ga. Now, if a child is sick enough to warrant a doctor’s visit, the system can video in one of the health system’s physicians, or one of about 150 specialists from a network of providers stretching across the state, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta more than 200 miles away.

The program is all part of the health care system’s drive to reach outside its four walls to increase access to care for its patients in an affordable fashion, says Robin Crosby, director of education and marketing for Appling HealthCare System. Early success, she believes, wouldn’t have been possible without buy-in from the schools.