By Sam Baker and Julian Pecquet - 12/05/11 11:00 PM EST
Quality comparisons: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finalized rules Monday giving employers and consumer advocates broader access to Medicare data on the quality of healthcare providers. Although some private insurance plans compare doctors and hospitals based on quality, those measurements haven't been able to draw on the mass of data that Medicare controls. The final rule is online here.
"Today’s decision to release Medicare claims data is a huge victory for American workers and their families,” Roundtable President John Engler said in a statement. “For the first time, American consumers will be empowered with accurate information on the performance of health care providers — exactly the type of information they need to make informed health care choices.”
Insurance fraud: The Labor Department announced new steps Monday to crack down on fraud in certain employer-based healthcare plans.
The new rules, which implement part of the healthcare reform law, target arrangements in which multiple employers join together to offer healthcare coverage. The agency says the so-called multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs) are a magnet for fraud, and has proposed requiring them to register with the Labor Department before they can set up operations in a new state and allowing the department to shut down MEWAs it believes are fraudulent. Healthwatch has the lowdown here.
Fake drugs: The pharmacy lobby lent its support Monday to a bill that would heighten the penalties for counterfeiting prescription drugs. The National Association of Chain Drug Stories endorsed the bill, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), saying the proposal recognizes that counterfeit medicine poses a greater risk than other counterfeit products.
Medicaid and kids: If Congress repeals Medicaid maintenance-of-effort provisions in the healthcare law, children will have less access to care than if the law had never passed in the first place. That's the conclusion from a new Georgetown University study of the law's coverage expansion. According to the paper, the healthcare law will likely cut the number of uninsured children by about 40 percent, and the number of uninsured parents by 50 percent.
But that would change if states are allowed to cut eligibility levels for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, as many conservative governors have requested, or if Congress cuts CHIP funding. Those steps would cause the number of uninsured children to double, the report says.
State by state
A new analysis suggests Connecticut's insurance exchange might not do much to lower costs in the state.
Minnesota is offering residents a preview of the interface for its exchange.
In California, nursing students are graduating into a tight job climate.
Searfoss Consulting Group / Cardiology Advocacy Alliance
Podesta Group / ViroPharma
B & D Consulting / Supply Chain Group
British Prime Minister David Cameron wants the government to share more data with the private healthcare industry, the AP reports.
The Financial Times says fears surrounding Medicare payment cuts are hurting U.S. healthcare stocks.
The FDA has approved a hangover pill just in time for the holidays, The Washington Post reports.
What you might have missed on Healthwatch
A policy wonk is derailed by politics
Week ahead: Deadline for 'doc fix' closing in
Comments / complaints / suggestions? Please let us know:
Julian Pecquet: firstname.lastname@example.org / 202-628-8527
Sam Baker: email@example.com / 202-628-8351
Follow us on Twitter @hillhealthwatch