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CMS eases rules to cut doctors’ regulatory burdens

The Obama administration removed several duplicative and burdensome regulations from Medicare that will save physicians and hospitals more than $1 billion, officials announced on May 10. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services finalized two regulations that eliminated rules deemed to have adversely affected those participating in Medicare. In one regulation, billing privileges for physicians will be protected from unjust revocations. In another rule, CMS increased flexibility on governance boards at hospitals but protected the autonomy of medical staff at each facility. “These changes cut burdensome red tape for hospitals and providers and give them the flexibility they need to improve patient care while lowering costs,” said acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “These final rules incorporate input from hospitals, other health care providers, accreditation organizations, patient advocates, professional organizations, members of Congress and a host of others who a ...

Teen immunization rates improve with middle school vaccine mandates

States that require middle-schoolers to be up to date with vaccines have greater coverage among teens for those particular immunizations than states without such mandates, a recent study shows. But because no state requires all of the three vaccines recommended for adolescents, physicians should review youths’ immunization history at each visit and offer any vaccine the teen is missing, said Shannon Stokley, MPH, co-author of the study published online May 7 in Pediatrics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that youths 13 to 17 receive the following vaccines: meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY); tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap); and human papillomavirus (HPV). “We need to do a better job of reducing missed opportunities to vaccinate adolescents and taking advantage of every visit with” adolescent patients, said Stokley, a CDC epidemiologist. Researchers examined data from the National Conference of State Legislatures and several oth ...

Physicians receive federal innovation grants

Physicians and other health care professionals will be developing medical homes, employing health information technology and taking various other measures to boost access to primary care under the first series of innovation grants announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on May 8. The CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation issued 26 grants totaling $122.6 million as authorized under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with an aim toward reducing health spending by $254 million over three years. The projects will involve the collaboration of physicians, hospitals, nurses, pharmacists, technology innovators, community-based organizations and patient advocacy groups in urban and rural communities, according to CMS. One of the award recipients, University Hospitals Case Medical Center’s Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, known as UH Rainbow, will use its $12.8 million grant to implement a “Physician Extension Team.” The PET model is a ...