Public Policy

How Often Do You Ask This (Ineffective) Question?

How often do we get complacent with knowledge?  We hear the same thing over and over, and the message becomes lore.  Drink eight ounces of water per day or turkey makes you drowsy—not only do we as docs believe it but we tell family members and patients the same. I came across a new study in CMAJ that fractures another piece of lore we hold fast. And not only should this study put the kibosh on it, but also upends a practice (a patient question) that teachers from eons past have instructed us to use over and over and over.  The question has intuitive appeal, is easy to gestalt, and has a universal understanding.  Non-physicians and laypeople can grasp what the answer implies without any difficulty.  (more…)

A Need for Medicare Appeals Process Reform in Hospital Observation Care

by Ann Sheehy, MD, MS, FHM
By Ann M. Sheehy, MD, MS, FHM Concern has existed regarding Recovery Auditor enforcement of outpatient (observation) and inpatient status determinations. Scrutiny of the contingency fee-based Recovery Auditors, often called Recovery Audit Contractors (“RACs”), has prompted Congressional attention and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reforms. Although the impact of these changes is not fully known, there is bipartisan support for reform of the initial auditing step in the Medicare audit and appeals process. Congress and CMS must now turn their attention to reforming the 5-Level Medicare administrative appeals process that follows an initial audit and denial. Last year, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report Medicare Fee-for-Service: Opportunities Remain to Improve Appeals Process cited a 2000% increase in Level 3 inpatient appeals from 2010-2014. In response, CMS issued appeals reforms, including allowing senior attorneys to hear some Level 3 appeals and permitting the Medicare Appeals Council to set…
Ann Sheehy, MD, MS, FHM, is a physician and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin (UW) School of Medicine and Public Health. She received her MD and MS in Clinical Research from Mayo Medical School and Mayo Graduate School, respectively, in Rochester, Minnesota. She completed her residency in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland in 2005. The same year, Dr. Sheehy joined the Division of Hospital Medicine as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. In 2011, she became a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine. Dr. Sheehy held the position of Interim Director, prior to being appointed Division of Hospital Medicine Director in 2012. Dr. Sheehy has a background in academic medicine, with emphasis on diabetes screening practices and care of inpatients with hyperglycemia, as well as health care disparities and the effect of health care policy on patient care in the hospital. Dr. Sheehy is a member of the Society of Hospital Medicine Public Policy committee, and serves as Vice President of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) Medical Board and is chair of the Credentials Committee. Dr. Sheehy is a two-time recipient of the Evans-Glassroth Department of Medicine Inpatient Teacher of the Year Award and has also been awarded the University of Wisconsin Internal Medicine Residency Professionalism Award. Dr. Sheehy is an active SHM member in the Public Policy Committee and has found herself on Capitol Hill multiple times, testifying before Congressional committees focused on the U.S. healthcare system, on behalf of hospitalists and SHM.

We Are All Accomplices In The Great American Coding Swindle

"Membership in the American Academy of Professional Coders has risen to more than 170,000 today from roughly 70,000 in 2008." "The AMA owns the copyright to CPT, the code used by doctors. It publishes coding books and dictionaries. It also creates new codes when doctors want to charge for a new procedure. It levies a licensing fee on billing companies for using CPT codes on bills. Royalties for CPT codes, along with revenues from other products, are the association’s biggest single source of income" Aint that something? Okay, I would rank Elizabeth Rosenthal up there with Atul Gawande and Lisa Rosenbaum in the pantheon of standout healthcare writers active today.  They are all docs and have more skill in their writing pinky than I have in my entire body. They have a unique talent in stitching together narratives that speak to both docs and patients in their language--and do it within…

Dont Compare HM Group Part B Costs Hospital to Hospital. It’s About the Variation Between Individuals.

I have been and will be light on the blogging these days.  However, a new JAMA online first study out looking at hospitalist Part B cost variation deserves some attention.  Bestill my heart.  It's not about groups.  It's about individual physicians.  The gap between high- and low-spending doctors in the same hospital was larger than the gap in spending between hospitals. From the editorial: In this issue, Tsugawa et al3 analyze spending by individual physicians in relation to patient outcomes. The research team compared Medicare Part B spending per hospitalization by hospitalists practicing within the same hospital. To profile each physician’s level of spending, average Part B spending per hospitalization for 2011 and 2012 was used, then applied to clinical outcomes (30-day readmission and 30-day mortality rates) for 2013 and 2014. The split-sample approach mitigates bias if a physician treats a complex set of patients in one year and therefore has…

Falling MOON Will Impact Hospitalists on March 8

by Bartho Caponi MD, FHM
Effective March 8, we have to deliver CMS’ Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice, the MOON, to all Medicare and Medicare Advantage patients hospitalized under observation status for 24 or more hours. This must happen within 36 hours of the observation order, even if eventually changed to inpatient status. A result of the well-intentioned NOTICE Act, the MOON is supposed to clarify when a patient is being observed rather than admitted (SHM has a useful FAQ for background). The MOON is a flawed document. For those not familiar, the MOON is a CMS-standardized document that hospitals have limited ability to edit. A point of contention for hospitalists, the first section states, “You’re a hospital outpatient receiving observation services. You are not an inpatient because:” followed by a blank field. The second section states, “Being an outpatient may affect what you pay in a hospital.” There are also specific delivery and receipt requirements,…
Bartho Caponi MD, FHM graduated from the University of Illinois at Rockford College of Medicine in 2005 and completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Wisconsin in 2008. He has been practicing hospital medicine at the University of Wisconsin since then, on teaching and non-teaching services. In 2012, Bart became a utilization review advisor, and has since served as UW Health's Medical Director for Case Management and Utilization Review. He has also been a member of SHM's Education Committee since 2013, and a member of the American College of Physician Advisors since 2015.
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