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Major employers support flu shot requirement for health professionals

Many of the country's largest companies are telling hospitals to send a message to physicians and other health professionals who refuse influenza immunization: "You're fired." "Transmission of seasonal influenza between health care workers and patients is a significant patient and worker safety issue. Failure to prevent the transmission of seasonal flu between health care workers and patients also increases health costs," said Helen Darling, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health, at a Feb. 2 news conference. The organization represents 340 U.S. companies, 68 of which are listed on the Fortune 500. Most hospitals that have adopted mandatory policies require all employees to receive the flu vaccination as a condition of employment unless they present evidence of a medical contraindication. If the employees do not get immunized, they are typically required to wear face masks whenever they interact with patients or risk getting a pink slip. "Requiring flu vacc ...

CMS lays out how to appeal meaningful use decisions

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Office of Clinical Standards and Quality announced the establishment of a two-tier appeals process for physicians who were deemed ineligible for Medicare meaningful use incentive pay, or who thought their pay was too low. There are three types of appeals physicians can file: An eligibility appeal will allow doctors to show that all the requirements to earn an incentive payment were met, but payment was not received due to circumstances outside of his or her control. Eligibility appeals must be filed before March 30 to appeal decisions for payment year 2011. A meaningful use appeal allows physicians to show that they used a certified electronic medical record system and met all meaningful use objectives and measures. These appeals must be filed within 30 days of the physician receiving a demand letter or other finding from the review board. An incentive payment appeal allows physicians to show that they provided claims ...

California tax hike could take pressure off Medicaid

The California Medical Assn. on Jan. 31 endorsed a ballot measure proposed by California Gov. Jerry Brown that would increase certain state income and sales taxes to fund education and public safety programs. In December 2011, Brown proposed two tax increases that would generate nearly $7 billion annually. The first would raise income taxes by 1% to 2% on individuals earning at least $250,000. The second would increase the sales tax by one-half cent. Both tax hikes would expire in 2016. California Medical Assn. CEO Dustin Corcoran said Brown's proposal "is the only viable, balanced plan on the table to address the chronic budget crisis and protect essential health care services." The California Hospital Assn. also supports the measure, said CHA spokeswoman Jan Emerson-Shea. She said the California Hospitals Committee on Issues -- the association's ballot initiative arm -- has contributed $500,000 to the campaign to get Brown's proposal on the ballot. The California Academy of ...