ASCA News Digest (December 16, 2014)

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December 16, 2014





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ASCA Highlights


Last Chance to Register Early for ASCA’s 2015 Coding Seminar

Early registration discounts end next Monday, December 22, for ASCA's 2015 Winter Coding Seminar, January 22-24 in San Diego. This two-and-a-half day conference is a "must" when it comes to learning best coding practices that assure you receive the reimbursements you deserve. Attendees will be awarded up to 19.5 CEU(s) from AAPC. MORE
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Registration is now open for ASCA's Medical Director Leadership Seminar, May 16–17, in Orlando. The new meeting is targeted exclusively to the unique interests and needs of medical directors and other physician leaders in the ASC setting. Register online today—ASCA members can register for a discount and can enjoy additional savings by sending more than one employee. MORE
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Get the insider information and real-world solutions you need to navigate the challenges your ASC will face next year by signing up for ASCA’s 2015 Webinar Series. Next year's webinars will help you prepare for the regulatory and accreditation requirements, clinical and operational concerns and billing and coding changes coming your way. ASCA members who register for the entire 2015 series will receive an additional 10% off the total price. MORE
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ASCA members who purchase the 2015 ASCA Benchmarking survey before January 1, 2015, can save 10% off the total price. ASCA Benchmarking is ASCA's online clinical and operational benchmarking program that produces valuable data about your ASC that you can use to improve quality, boost performance and meet the expectations of regulators, payers and patients. MORE
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ASCA has partnered with HealthStream to offer a collection of 21 courses that apply specifically to ASCs and are designed to train ASC staff on the most current regulations and standards of care. 16 of the interactive courses provide continuing education (CE) credit. Reduced prices are available through January 31, 2015. MORE
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Registration is now open for ASCA 2015, May 13–16, in Orlando. ASCA members receive a discounted rate and can enjoy additional savings by sending more than one attendee. ASCA 2015 is the premier meeting for the ASC industry and will give you the chance to network with your peers, exchange best practices and discuss marketplace trends that could have immediate and long-term implications for your ASC. MORE
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ASCA joined the American Academy of Ophthalmology and other stakeholders in signing a coalition letter asking Congress to address implementation issues of the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA), particularly issues regarding office use and repackaging. MORE
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Industry News


A Doctor's Concern for Private Practice
Crawfordsville Journal Review (IN) (12/15/14) Davis, Chad

Economic pressures are changing how medical care is provided in Indiana, writes Dr. Chad Davis, a general surgeon in Indianapolis. He calls on residents to lobby their congressional delegations to remove the biases in ObamaCare that favor hospital ownership of medical practices and remove IT infrastructure requirements, which are expensive and force doctors away from private practices and into hospitals. In addition, Davis asserts, state lawmakers could "relax restrictions on hospital construction--restrictions now weighted in favor of the politically powerful general hospitals and against the small specialty hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers." Patients should also be given a firm price before undergoing a procedure or operation. Saving Indiana's private physicians, Davis writes, takes both "understanding of the issues involved ... [and] some legislative will."
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Medical Debt Is Ruining the Credit Scores of Millions of Americans
Washington Post (12/11/14) Marte, Jonnelle

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), around one in five credit reports, or 43 million Americans, has delinquent medical debt, which accounts for 52 percent of all overdue debt on credit reports. About 15 million people have only medical debt in collections in their credit report, and these people would be considered credit-worthy otherwise. The CFPB indicates that the average medical bill sent to collections was $579, but under some FICO scoring models, even an unpaid bill of $100 can lower a credit score of 680 by more than 40 points.
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This Database Tells You How Much Hospital Procedures Cost in Maryland
Baltimore Business Journal (12/05/14) Gantz, Sarah

The Maryland Health Care Commission has unveiled a new interactive database that enables consumers to obtain information about how much certain medical procedures cost and which facilities have the highest infection rates. The Maryland Health Care Quality Reports Web site provides consumer guides for ambulatory surgery centers, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. An interactive tool allows users to search the 25 most common medical procedures and compare them based on average cost, consumer ratings, quality, and safety. The Web site reveals that on average, hip joint replacement surgery costs $24,722 in Maryland, with the average charge per case varying from $17,177 to $41,975.
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HHS Updates Tech Priorities With Draft Strategic Plan
Washington Post (12/08/14) Ravindranath, Mohana

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a draft five-year plan for encouraging health care providers to adopt new technology. The new plan includes reforming payment systems to accommodate telemedicine, expanding federal health IT certification programs to inspect and certify more products, devising standards to allow disparate software systems to exchange information about the same patient, and protecting patient data. The draft from HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is an update of the 2011 plan to spur the adoption of EHRs by healthcare providers and to use those systems to meaningfully improve patient care. The goals of the new plan focus on encouraging hospitals to ensure that systems at different facilities exchange information or that hospitals can use remote technology to monitor patients. The draft is open to public comment until Feb. 6.
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New Calls for Meaningful Use Reporting Changes, ICD-10 Delay
EHR Intelligence (12/03/2014) Murphy, Kyle

The Medical Society of the State of New York sent a letter to members of Congress requesting them to delay the transition to ICD-10 coding until October 2017. The letter warns that, "If every entity in the complex medical payment pyramid does not function perfectly on October 1, 2015 then physicians' income goes to zero, which is a steep price to pay for a new imperfect coding system." The Texas Medical Association is similarly calling for a two-year implementation delay. Meanwhile, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society is seeking the passage of the proposed Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act of 2014, which would replace the full-year reporting for meaningful use in 2015 with a quarterly report. The legislation has the backing of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, or CHIME, which wants the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reconsider meaningful use requirements in 2015.
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CMS Renews Joint Commission Ambulatory Surgical Center Deeming Authority for Six Years
Joint Commission (11/26/14)

The Joint Commission's deeming authority for accrediting ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) has been renewed for six years, effective to Dec. 20, 2020, by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS evaluated The Joint Commission's standards and survey process and found they satisfy or exceed those set by CMS. The designation verifies that Joint Commission-accredited ASCs may be surveyed by The Joint Commission for compliance with the requirements of CMS for participation in Medicare or Medicaid.
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SullivanCotter Releases 2014 Physician Compensation and Productivity Survey Results
Business Wire (12/08/2014)

The 2014 Physician Compensation and Productivity Survey by Sullivan, Cotter and Associates, Inc., indicates there will be a continued increase in the employment of physicians and expansion in the use of Advanced Practice Clinicians (APCs). In 2014, 68 percent of participants said they increased their employed physician and APC population, while 66 percent of participants plan to increase the number of employed physicians and APCs within the next year. Participants reported a median total cash compensation (TCC) increase of 4.9 percent for primary care and 1.9 percent for medical specialties, a slight decline from the 5.7 percent increase for primary care and 3.2 percent increase for medical specialties reported in 2013. Surgical specialties experienced a slight increase of 2.5 percent in 2014 compared to 2.3 percent in 2013. The overall actual quality incentives comprise 5 percent of physician TCC, which is consistent with 2013 findings. The survey involved 517 organizations covering more than 98,000 health care providers and 240 specialties and positions.
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Danbury Orthopedics Opens New Surgical Center
Stamford Advocate (CT) (12/09/14) Perrefort, Dirk

A new surgical center in Danbury, Conn., has been opened by Danbury Orthopedics as part of a $5 million upgrade of its facility on White Street. "Having our own surgical facility that's specialized for orthopedic procedures is a big advantage for us," says Dr. Michael Brand, president of the group. "It means we can invest in the best state-of-the-art technology on the market today for orthopedic procedures to meet the demands of our growing practice." The practice was first launched in 1954 and has since integrated with other regional practices to form Western Connecticut Orthopedic Specialists. A merger with the Hand Center four years ago enabled the group to obtain a certificate of need for the outpatient surgical center.
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Doctors Advise FDA and Companies, Too
Wall Street Journal (12/09/14) Walker, Joseph

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is coming under fire for failing to disclose the majority of the connections between medical device companies and the doctors who sit on agency panels charged with evaluating orthopedic, cardiology and gynecology devices. An analysis by the Wall Street Journal shows that one-third of the 122 doctors who sit on these panels received financial or other types of compensation from medical device companies between 2012 and 2014. Almost 10 percent of these doctors received some type of compensation from a medical device company before they evaluated a product from that company. However, the FDA only disclosed about 1 percent of the connections between these doctors and medical device makers, the analysis found. The FDA says it only reveals its advisers' financial connections in cases where they need waivers to serve on its advisory panels.
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