January 18, 2013
By Amy Kaufman*
Final Rule Expands Scope of HIPAA
Law360 (1/17) reports that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released a "long-awaited" Final Rule expanding the scope of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) privacy laws on Thursday. Currently, only healthcare providers, health plans, and clearinghouses that process insurance claims are subject to HIPAA. Under the Final Rule, however, HIPAA will now apply to business associates of those types of entities as well. While the Final Rule will become effective on March 26, business associates will not be required to comply with HIPAA until September 23. (Note: registration is required to access the full article.)
University of Chicago School of Medicine "Unveils" New Facility
The Chicago Tribune (1/14) reports that the University of Chicago's School of Medicine revealed its new hospital on Monday. The new 1.2 million-square-foot facility, which is located in Hyde Park and cost
$700 million, will open to patients on February 23.
Partners HealthCare Distributes First Round of Grants to Community Health Centers
Boston.com's White Coat Notes (1/14) reports that Partners HealthCare and Neighborhood HealthPlan announced that they provided $4.25 million in grants to community health centers, the first installment of the $90 million in grants the groups plan to award during the next fifteen years. The grants "will be used to purchase electronic medical records systems. They also will pay to train staff to use the systems, to properly bill for complex patient care under the new federal health law, and to implement quality improvement programs."
Physicians Face Looming Information Technology Deadlines
MedPage Today (1/14) reports that physicians are concerned about three upcoming deadlines they will soon face related to information technology. Beginning in 2014, physicians will be required to implement "meaningful use" requirements for electronic health records; the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) diagnostic coding system; and e-prescribing. The ICD-10 system, which has tens of thousands more codes than its predecessor, ICD-9, was supposed to go into effect later this year; however, it was delayed for one year in response to a proposal from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. According to the article, "[p]hysicians groups had cried for years to forgo ICD-10 use, claiming that the system was too complex, too hard to use, and that most providers didn't understand it."
Coalition Urges Obama Administration to Finalize Physician Payment Sunshine Rule
Law360 (1/15) reports that a coalition of nearly twenty consumer and healthcare advocacy groups called upon the White House to approve the Physician Payment Sunshine Final Rule. The rule, which was originally supposed to be finalized by October 2011, would require drug and medical device companies to report to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services any payments or transfers made to doctors that exceed $10 or face penalties of up to $100,000. Reported payments or transfers would be posted in a database made available to the public. The coalition noted that "[t]here is a significant consequence for health care system costs associated with the ongoing delay implementation because of the practice by some physicians of over-prescribing certain drugs, or by otherwise prescribing medically unnecessary and expensive treatments." (Note: registration is required to access the full article.)
Northwestern Physician Group Acquires New Practice
Crain's Chicago Business (1/10) reports that the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, the physicians practice affiliated with Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, acquired Chicago Lake Shore Medical Associates. This acquisition has allowed the medical school to add "about 50 doctors to its ranks, in specialties such as dermatology, gastroenterology and plastic surgery." The Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation was "already the second-largest practice in the Chicago area." (Note: registration is required to access the full article.)
*We would like to thank Amy E. Kaufman, Esquire (Patton Boggs LLP, Washington, DC), for providing this week's update.