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HHS will fund $25 million in tort reform projects

The White House quickly followed up on President Obama's pledge to authorize medical liability demonstration projects, announcing Sept. 17 the availability of $25 million in grants to be doled out to states by the Dept. of Health and Human Services. Grants for up to three years and $3 million each will be awarded on a competitive basis to states and health care systems to test models that improve health care quality and patient safety while decreasing medical liability pressures on doctors. In his Sept. 9 address to Congress, the president said he would authorize the state demonstration projects to test new ideas. Many doctors insist that medical liability concerns lead to practicing defensive medicine, which in turn contribute to higher health care costs. Many physicians also say they continue to struggle to pay liability premiums, which vary by specialty and state. The American Medical Association applauded the announcement and said it supports the new initiative, even thoug ...

Physician job search strategy shifts as Internet booms, economy busts

When orthopedic surgeon John Kemp, MD, looked for a job fresh out of residency 22 years ago, he used a lot of paper and stamps mailing resumes to practices in areas of the country where he wanted to work, not knowing if there was even a job available. A year ago, when Dr. Kemp decided it was time to leave private practice in Littleton, Colo., he turned to listings on the Internet -- no paper, no stamps, no guessing if someone had an opening. On Aug. 1, he started as director of sports medicine at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center in Marshall, Minn. The Internet "gives you a lot more selection and, therefore, a lot more options," Dr. Kemp said. In-house recruiters handling doctor hiring are feeling the same way. A recent survey of 166 recruiters at hospitals and physician groups found that most rely heavily on Internet job postings, as well as word-of-mouth, to locate physicians for open positions. They were using physician search firms less than other tools, citing bot ...

CMS probes Humana's lobbying tactics on reform

A federal inquiry at the behest of a key Democratic lawmaker into an insurance company's attempt to influence the health system reform debate has prompted a groundswell of criticism from GOP leaders, who likened the government's actions to a "gag order" on reform critics. At the urging of Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D, Mont.), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is investigating Louisville, Ky., based Humana for allegedly sending misleading information to its Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. CMS says the insurer may havemade false claims about the impact that pending health reform legislation could have on the coverage status of beneficiaries. "CMS is concerned that, among other things, this information is misleading and confusing to beneficiaries [and] represents information to beneficiaries as official communications about the Medicare Advantage program," the agency stated in a Sept. 18 letter to Humana. "As we continue our research into this issue, we ...