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Health reform heads for legal showdown

The Supreme Court, starting March 26, will hold three days of oral arguments on legal challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a defining moment for the 2-year-old statute and a major factor in determining whether it will survive. In November 2011, the high court agreed to take up health reform lawsuits brought by a coalition of states and a prominent small-business association, a widely expected move that likely sets up a June decision by the court in the middle of the presidential election campaign. Justices could decide that the law is constitutional, invalidate part or all of it on constitutional grounds, or effectively postpone a final determination by stating that the plaintiffs cannot challenge the law until it takes full effect in 2014. The justices will hear from the Obama administration and a multi-state coalition led by Florida on whether the Anti-Injunction Act renders moot the central challenge posed to the reform law by the states. The act in ...

Enforcement of 5010 standards delayed until July 1

Federal officials have extended by an additional 90 days the enforcement deadline for physicians, health plans and claims processors to comply with the 5010 electronic transaction standards under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The decision to delay again the full implementation of the electronic transaction standards used to bill services throughout the health system comes as physician practices continue to report problems with claims processing, creating millions of dollars in unpaid claims. A number of outstanding issues led the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to make the decision to hold off on enforcing the standards through June 30, the agency said in a March 15 statement. In late 2011, CMS had decided to move the enforcement date from Jan. 1 to April 1. The latest postponement means that electronic submissions using the old 4010 HIPAA transaction format, or using the new 5010 standard but with formatting errors, will continue to be process ...

Men more likely to reapply to medical schools, study finds

Tough competition means that many prospective medical students aren’t accepted the first time they apply to medical school, but several factors affect whether an individual decides to apply a second time. Among them are age, gender, educational debts, scores on the Medical College Admissions Test, socioeconomic status and other career opportunities, says an Academic Medicine study published online Feb. 22. To help medical school admissions officials and pre health advisers better understand applicants’ motivations, Assn. of American Medical Colleges researchers analyzed data on 3,326 people who reapplied to medical school in 2010 after being rejected as first-time applicants in 2009. “The study was prompted by a broader goal of better understanding factors that might be associated with a medical school aspirant transitioning to an applicant,” said Douglas Grbic, PhD, lead study author and AAMC senior research analyst. Fifty-three percent of 38,402 U.S. citizens or perm ...