By Julian Pecquet - 05/31/11 11:10 PM EDT
Patient rights: Patients would be able to find out who has looked at their electronic medical records under a proposed rule opened up for public comment on Tuesday.
Patients would obtain the information by requesting an access report, which would document who electronically accessed and viewed their protected health information. Although providers are currently required to track access to such information, they don't have to tell patients. Read the Healthwatch story.
Medical imaging: The top Republican and Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Health panel are pushing back against proposals to curb medical imaging tests paid by Medicare, arguing that they could restrict access to "life-saving medical tools."
In a letter to the chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), Reps. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) request that scheduled imaging payment cuts be allowed to go into effect before new restrictions are considered. In April MedPAC voted to submit clinicians who order large numbers of such tests to prior authorization, a recommendation that's expected to be included in the commission's June report to Congress. Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has the story.
New faces: The comptroller general on Tuesday announced the appointment of two new MedPAC members and the reappointment of three others. Their terms expire in 2014.
The newly appointed members are Willis Gradison, a scholar in residence in the Health Sector Management Program at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business; and William Hall, a geriatrician and professor of medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Reappointed were Rush University Medical Center COO Peter Butler; Harvard Medical School professor Michael Chernew; and First Diversity Management Group COO George Miller.
Geographic disparities: The Institute of Medicine will release a long-awaited report on geographic variation in healthcare spending that 50 Democrats from the Midwest and Pacific Northwest demanded in exchange for their support of the House healthcare bill back in 2009. The report assesses the methodology and data used to calculate Medicare geographic payment adjustments and recommends ways to improve their accuracy.
Oral arguments: The healthcare reform court saga continues as the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals hears arguments in the case of four members of the Thomas More Law Center who say the law's individual mandate violates their freedom. The Cincinnati court is the second court of appeals to hear oral arguments in a healthcare reform case, after the 4th Circuit in Richmond gave the law’s critics a frosty reception earlier this month.
The three-judge panel in Cincinnati, Ohio, is expected to be more divided: One was appointed by President George H.W. Bush and two by President Clinton, one of whom is a Republican. In a novel twist, the Obama administration argued Friday that the plaintiffs don't have standing, especially since it turns out one of them had employer-sponsored coverage the whole time and presumably wouldn't be penalized under the law’s mandate.
Budget call: Center for American Progress COO Neera Tanden and others hold a briefing in the morning to discuss the Republican budget plan and what the numbers mean for the ongoing debate over the Affordable Care Act.
Association of Schools of Public Health (self-registration)
Mr. Eric Lachica / US Medicare PH (Medicare overseas portability)
Missy Edwards Strategies / Georgia Health Services University
Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications / Massachusetts Eye and Ear (specialty hospital)
Venn Strategies / Medical Information Working Group
High-deductible insurance plans are gaining popularity, reports USA Today.
California's crackdown on hospital-acquired conditions is faltering, writes The Sacramento Bee.
The World Health Organization suggests cell phones should be labeled as "possibly carcinogenic," Reuters reports.
What you might have missed on Healthwatch:
House Republicans aren't backing away from Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal.
Dems and GOP display dizzying shift on Medicare rhetoric.
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