Anesthesia Industry and Market News: eAlerts
eAlerts are the latest industry information regarding regulatory changes, helpful compliance reminders, or any number of relevant topics in the fast-paced, ever-evolving speciality of anesthesia.
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August 18, 2014
One of our readers asked us recently what his group needed to report under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. The answer: nothing. The Sunshine Act, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, requires pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers to report payments and other items of value worth more than $10, as well as certain ownership interests held by physicians and immediate family members. (See our Alert of August 5, 2013, Drug Manufacturers’ Payments to Anesthesiologists Are Now Reportable under the Sunshine Act.) It does not impose any tasks on physicians.
August 11, 2014
We recently had the opportunity to talk with one of our favorite surgeons about what she wants from her anesthesiologist or care team. Some of the items on the list below will be very familiar—so much so that it’s surprising that the issue still comes up. Others are specific to our surgeon’s specialty, otolaryngology, they may sensitize readers to analogous concerns affecting other specialties.
August 4, 2014
Ambulatory or outpatient anesthesia accounts for approximately 60 percent of surgeries in the U.S. today. The majority of anesthesia practices provide services at one or more of the 5,300 Medicare-certified ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). The challenges faced by ASCs—whether hospital-owned or independent—affect us all. In order to be your ASCs’ valued partners, anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists need to understand how healthcare’s challenges in general and ASC’s challenges in particular affect your facilities.
July 28, 2014
Some of the most controversial provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are those that require individuals to either sign up for health insurance or to pay a tax. Differing interpretations of the statutory language regarding the tax credit or “subsidy” that would enable lower-income individuals to afford coverage have given opponents of ACA a hook on which to hang a small but powerful legal weapon. Contrary to the claims (and hopes) of some observers, recent federal Appeals Courts decisions are not the death knell for Obamacare, however.
July 21, 2014
In a health plan featuring a “narrow network” (NN), the carrier substantially reduces the number of participating physicians, hospitals and other providers. Limiting the panel to providers offering lower prices is nothing new. In the mid-1990s, HMOs and PPOs sparked a backlash from patients and a multitude of state laws requiring that insurers include any willing provider in their networks. The dynamic has changed since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect, however.
July 14, 2014
The Proposed Rule for the 2015 Medicare Fee Schedule would eliminate the PQRS antibiotic prophylaxis measure, would reinstate the 2014 values for the laminar epidural injections, and would revise the definition of “screening colonoscopy” in recognition of the role of anesthesia—among numerous other changes.
July 7, 2014
Medicare and most commercial payers will pay anesthesia practices for locum tenens physicians who temporarily substitute for regular physicians. Know your carriers’ rules and make sure that you don’t forfeit any payments for services provided.
June 30, 2014
Keeping patient information confidential has become a major challenge since we all began storing so much of it in electronic form. Computers, tablets and smart phones containing unsecured electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) go missing and are reported in the press on at least a weekly basis.
June 23, 2014
Two recent Alerts focused on the growing movement toward transparency of medical prices. (How Much Did Medicare Pay Each of 32,641 Anesthesiologists in 2012?, April 21, 2014 and Private Payer Information on Anesthesia and Other Services: Claims Data to Be Available Next Year, May 19, 2014.) The first of these discussed CMS’ April 9th release of a massive database with information on the approximately $77 billion that Medicare paid out to more than 800,000 physicians and other non-hospital providers in 2012. The May Alert examined three large insurers’ announcement that they were establishing an online database of paid claims that would provide public information about the price and quality of healthcare services.
June 16, 2014
Until now, claims-based reporting has been the only Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) option for most anesthesiologists. While the method of reporting, inserting the five-digit PQRS codes for the PQRS measures on one’s Medicare claims, has been easy enough, finding enough quality measures that apply to anesthesia practices has been more of a challenge.
June 9, 2014
For the first time, we are using an issue of the Alert to reproduce a third-party article in full. Dr. Steven Boggs’s thoughts on “anesthesiologists as operating room directors” add such a lot to the concept of “anesthesiologists as medical directors” that they deserve to be read unabridged, undiluted and unencumbered by extraneous ideas. We are grateful to Dr. Boggs and to PhySynergy for granting us permission to publish this article, which appeared on PhySynergy’s AnesthesiaReviews Blog on March 10, 2014.
June 2, 2014
Under CMS’ current Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive program regulations, eligible professionals (EPs) must use 2014 edition certified EHR technology (CEHRT) to demonstrate meaningful use for either Stage 1 or Stage 2 in 2014. Many EHR vendors have not yet met the criteria to obtain certification for the 2014 edition, or they have too large a backlog of installations to comply with the timeline, however. On May 20th, CMS issued a proposed rule that would push back the deadlines for implementation of 2014 edition systems for the Medicare program.
May 27, 2014
Are there any anesthesia or pain medicine practices that have not yet implemented a patient satisfaction survey?
May 19, 2014
Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare have announced plans to establish an online database of paid claims that will give consumers, employers and federal and state governments information about the price and quality of healthcare services
May 12, 2014
Anesthesiologists are automatically exempt from the meaningful use requirement and from penalties in 2015 as long as they have registered in the Provider, Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS) using anesthesiology’s specialty designation (05). Any anesthesiologist who is at all unsure should check that he or she has created an account in PECOS and that the information is correct—also before July 1, 2014. Hospital-based anesthesiologists are not merely excepted; they are excluded from the EHR incentive program altogether and can neither earn the bonus nor be subjected to penalties. “Hospital-based” is defined narrowly under the program’s rules, however: the EP must provide 90 percent or more of his or her covered services in a hospital inpatient or emergency room setting. Most anesthesiologists do not provide anything like 90 percent of their covered services in the hospital inpatient or ER setting unless their practice is limited to cardiac, transplant or critical care work.
May 5, 2014
When is it acceptable for anesthesiologists, or nurse anesthetists or anesthesiologist assistants, to use their smart phones in the OR?
April 28, 2014
Anesthesiologists, once the third most highly-paid specialists, have dropped to sixth place in Medscape’s latest survey of physician compensation. The 2014 report, based on 2013 data, shows an average income from patient care activities of $338,000 for anesthesiologists, compared to $413,000 for orthopedic surgeons, who are at the top of the list.
April 21, 2014
Interested parties can now look up how much Medicare paid each of more than 880,000 providers, including 32,641 anesthesiologists, 1,856 interventional pain physicians, 2,999 pain physicians, 30,160 nurse anesthetists and 881 anesthesiologist assistants individually by name.
Securing Anesthesiology’s Future, and Safeguarding its Present: Thoughts From the Advanced Institute for Anesthesia Practice Management
April 14, 2014
While we are all trying to understand how the landscape is evolving for anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists and anesthesia groups, keeping our eyes on traditional practice management issues such as compliance remains as important as ever. Similarly, we must maintain a dual focus on the big picture of system and organizational changes, on the one hand, and on the day-to-day requirements of providing and being paid for anesthesia and pain medicine services, on the other. Our field of vision has to be both longitudinal and latitudinal.
April 7, 2014
When it comes to Medicare payments to physicians, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Last week Congress adopted the 17th “patch” to prevent the huge cut mandated by the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula from going into effect for another year. The legislation also kept in place the antiquated ICD-9 coding system until at least October 1, 2015.
March 31, 2014
ICD-10 is coming, as we have all heard many times. Will full implementation be here on October 1, 2014, though, or on October 1, 2015? As of the time this is written, the Senate is expected quickly to take up the House-passed Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (H.R. 4302), legislation that will prevent Medicare payment cuts from going into effect on April 1st—and that contains a provision delaying the implementation of ICD-10 for a year. Whether we are six months or 18 months from the start date, however, it is none too early for clinicians to gain an understanding of what ICD-10 will require of them, as well as to practice meeting the new requirements.