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Maine faces $220 million Medicaid budget deficit

Maine Gov. Paul LePage's remedy for a $220 million, two-year Medicaid budget deficit is a package of eligibility and coverage cuts that the state's medical association warns would only shift health care costs to a different part of the health system. The state expects to spend $120 million more on Medicaid than budgeted in fiscal 2012 and $100 million more than expected in fiscal 2013. It could run out of Medicaid funding by April 1, said State Sen. Richard Rosen, chair of the chamber's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. In December 2011, LePage proposed closing the deficit in part by ending Medicaid eligibility for childless adults, all 18- and 19-year-olds and certain parents. LePage also would end Medicaid funding for private non-medical institutions. These facilities provide residential and medically necessary services to more than 5,500 Medicaid patients who are not at the level of care for a hospital or nursing home but still need continuing care, LePage said. ...

Medicare kicks out 1 in 5 new medium- and high-risk suppliers

More than 20% of new medical suppliers who are deemed at medium or high risk of being fraudulent had their Medicare billing privileges revoked during the first year of enrollment, federal investigators found. Illicit businesses can bilk the Medicare program for hundreds of thousands of dollars before being discovered, according to a December 2011 report from the Health and Human Services Dept.'s Office of Inspector General. The report found some medium- and high-risk medical equipment suppliers going several months before their first post-enrollment site visits, which ensure that a supplier is running a legitimate business. For instance, one supplier had received $800,000 from Medicare before its first site visit seven months after getting approval to participate in Medicare. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services removed 21% of high- and medium-risk suppliers that were studied in the report, which reviewed claims from 2008 through 2009. The suppliers were paid a total of a ...

Make human research data publicly available, bioethics report says

Patients participating in federally funded scientific studies generally are protected from avoidable harm and unethical treatment. But there is significant room for improvement to increase accountability and, in turn, reduce the chance of volunteers being harmed or treated unethically, a new report says. In the December 2011 report, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues called for the improvements. Those include: creating public online access to basic data from human subjects research projects; treating volunteers for research-related injuries and compensating them for harm; and developing courses in bioethics and human subjects research at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels. President Obama asked for the study after an October 2010 discovery showed that the U.S. Public Health Services ran experiments in Guatemala in the 1940s that exposed people to sexually transmitted diseases. Commission members said abuses like those in Guatemala w ...