February 8, 2013
By Adam Mingal*
Next Flu Season's Vaccines Already in the Works
The Mississippi Business Journal (2/6) reports that following one of the nation's worst flu seasons in recent history, immunologists are already working to develop vaccines for the next flu season. Developing vaccinations is a time and labor-intensive process that involves scores of scientists, vaccine companies, and surveillance programs analyzing samples from around the world. The vaccines resulting from this process are typically "considered the world's best defense against the flu."
Study Finds that "July Effect" is Negligible in Spinal Surgery Patients
MedPage Today (1/31) reports that researchers have determined that the alleged "July effect"—or the effect that presence of new residents and new fellows have on patient outcomes in teaching hospitals—is insignificant in spinal surgery patients. The Mayo Clinic study, which examined close to one million admissions of spinal surgery patients from 2001-2008, led researchers to conclude that there was no month-to-month variances in mortality rates. The study also found no difference in the care for higher-risk patients admitted to teaching hospitals for elective surgery or for those undergoing simple or complex spinal procedures. However, other research published in July 2010 suggested that medication mistakes do increase in July when new residents start their programs.
Final CMS Guidance Issued on Sunshine Rule
Mondaq (2/7) reports that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a Final Regulation implementing the Physician Sunshine Payment provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which require annual reporting to CMS of payments to physicians and teaching hospitals. Although not all of the guidance has been finalized, organizations must begin collecting data later this year and report on it soon thereafter, or face fines that could reach as much as $1 million per annual submission.
Senate Requests Change to New Medicaid Hospital Payments Model
The Miami Herald (2/6) reports that members of the state's Senate's Health Policy Committee have requested revisions to the diagnosis-related group (DRG) payment model, which would replace the current cost-based system beginning in July. Several senators oppose the fact that for-profit hospitals are the biggest winners under the DRG "as it currently stands." While representatives from the Florida Hospital Association and Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida support a one-year delay in implementation, legislators reportedly desire to "make the DRG system the best it can be by the July 1 start date."
*We would like to thank Adam Mingal (Department on Disability Services, Washington, DC), for providing this week's update.