Feb. 12, 2014

State-run health exchange launch imminent

Florida politicians this past year rejected the federal Affordable Care Act ACA, refusing to expand Medicaid or to set up a website to connect consumers to federally subsidized policies. However, they did authorize an online insurance marketplace separate from the ACA and designed to fill in the gaps in coverage offered by federally approved plans.

"It's in the area of gap coverage, for the insured person who doesn't have dental coverage, or the uninsured who doesn't qualify for coverage or the eligible uninsured who didn't sign up for coverage but now wants gap coverage," said Rose Naff, CEO of Florida Health Choices.

Naff said the launch of Florida Health Choices is imminent. It will debut by offering discount service plans, such as a dental plan for $5.99 a month, or a pre-paid limited-benefit plan for a specific service and/or a pre-paid health clinic plan for outpatient services starting at $75 a month.More

DOH releases new trauma center proposed rule

The Florida Department of Health has released a new proposal aimed at resolving a fight over approving new trauma centers. The agency has scheduled a Feb. 25 hearing on the new proposal.

The plan would create a formula for the approval of centers in 19 different areas of the state, considering factors such as population, transport times to hospitals, community support, and whether there are Level 1 trauma centers, which provides the most comprehensive care, already in the area.More

Needle-and-syringe program passes first committee

The Senate Health Policy Committee unanimously passed SB 408, a needle-and-syringe exchange pilot program for Miami-Dade County on Feb. 4.

The committee unanimously passed similar legislation last session, which ultimately died on the Senate floor.

The House proposal, HB 491, has yet to be taken up in committee.More

House, Senate working on telemedicine

Senetor Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, wants to get everybody on the same page for a telemedicine bill. The chairman of the Senate Health Policy Committee will use Tuesday's meeting to gather input for the Florida Telemedicine Act, a comprehensive proposal that would establish the regulatory framework for healthcare providers to use digital technology to treat patients in another location.

"The intent is to increase access to healthcare for millions of people and to lower costs," said Bean.

Harnessing the latest technology to relieve a physician shortage in Florida is on the agendas for both the House and Senate during the 2014 legislative session. Monday, officials with Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth gave presentations to the House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation.

The eardrum of a person in a Georgia examining room filled the large monitors in the committee room. The sharpness and high definition of the real-time video was demonstrated by a single human hair that strayed across the patient's ear and could easily have been mistaken for a hair on the monitor rather than in the picture.

"We can diagnose bowel disease, we can diagnose pneumonia, skin diseases and initiate treatment for the patient prior to them coming to a (medical) center," said Dr. Dean Watson, Tallahassee Memorial Chief Medical Officer. "It is imperative that we have this kind of access to patients out there who truly don't have access to care."

Tallahassee Memorial is using a variety of grants to enter into partnerships with other providers scattered throughout the Florida panhandle to extend its reach into the small towns of North Florida.

The Senate Health Policy Committee is working on a committee bill that would set standards and prohibitions for telemedicine and authorize interstate compacts for the delivery of services. The bill would require the same Medicaid reimbursement for a telemedicine visit as for a face-to-face visit between physician and patient. However, it would allow insurance companies and providers to negotiate a reimbursement schedule.

"We will vote on the bill Feb. 11," said Bean. "We're going to work on it tomorrow (Feb. 4), but there will be a vote February 11."More

Save the date!
Feb. 19, 2014 FCEP Committee Meetings
March 4, 2014 First day of Legislative Session
March 10-13, 2014 Emergency Medicine Days
March 11, 2014 FCEP Board of Directors Meeting
April 8, 2014 FCEP Board Conference Call
May 7, 2014 FCEP Committee Meeting
May 8, 2014 FCEP Board Meeting at FCEP
May 18-21, 2014 ACEP Leadership and Advocacy Conference
June 10, 2014 FCEP Board Conference Call
June 16, 2014 FCEP Board Conference Call
July 17-20, 2014 ClinCon
Aug. 7-10, 2014 Symposium by the Sea
Aug. 7, 2014 FCEP Board of Directors Meeting

Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center to pre-screen ER patients
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
As medical providers look to save money in a changing healthcare landscape, another local hospital is changing its emergency room rules to direct patients with minor issues into less-expensive forms of treatment. Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center is the latest hospital to charge people upfront who come to the emergency room with the sniffles, a toothache and other conditions deemed to be minor. More

ICD-10 education, CDI training must be flexible for physicians
EHR Intelligence
In the few months left before ICD-10 collides with the healthcare industry, providers have a last chance to close the gap by providing training and education to their physicians and coders. Documentation must be improved, coding skills must be practiced, and technology must be implemented in order to turn underprepared providers into ICD-10 champions. More

Florida Hospital to build apartment complex for employees
Becker's Hospital Review
Orlando-based Florida Hospital plans to build an apartment complex in College Park, an Orlando neighborhood, geared specifically toward its employees, according to an Orlando Sentinel report. Florida Hospital owns more than 170 acres of land in the College Park area, which is where the complex, called The Ivy, will be built. The hospital has a larger strategy to offer retail, office and recreation areas as well in what is being called Health Village, according to the report.More

SGR fix: No pay cut
MedPage Today
Physicians will get a 0.5 percent pay increase each year for 5 years under a deal by a bipartisan team of House and Senate negotiators to repeal the sustainable growth rate formula for physician payment under Medicare. The deal announced on Feb. 6 combines the work of three congressional committees, as Democrats and Republicans have worked together for nearly a year to draft legislation that repeals the SGR. More

Experts: Moving new Medicaid patients out of ER will take time
Chicago Tribune and Kaiser Health News
In expanding Medicaid coverage, the architects of the national healthcare overhaul hoped to change the way low-income people obtain healthcare, moving away from emergency rooms and into the offices of doctors, where more consistent supervision may improve their health. But some healthcare experts say that in many cases it will take time and considerable coaching to change their behavior. More

Florida set to launch its own limited insurance marketplace
Six years in the making, Florida Health Choices will soon open for business with an inventory of products that cannot legally be marketed using the words insurance, coverage, benefits or premiums, according to Chief Executive Officer Rose Naff. The brainchild of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio while he was a state legislative leader in 2008, Florida Health Choices has been held up by advocates as a better alternative to President Barack Obama's signature Affordable Care Act.More

Researchers find variability of contact precaution policies in EDs
Infection Control Today
In a recent study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, authors surveyed a random sample of U.S. emergency departments and found substantial variation in the adoption of policies relating to contact precautions. While most EDs have policies relating to contact precautions when specific organisms are suspected, a minority have such policies for the symptoms often caused by those organisms. This indicated that institutional policies do not mirror consensus recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and other national bodies. More

Study: Traumatic spinal cord injuries on the rise in US
Claims Journal
The number of serious traumatic spinal cord injuries is on the rise in the United States, and the leading cause no longer appears to be motor vehicle crashes, but falls, new Johns Hopkins research suggests. The same research shows, moreover, that rates of these injuries — whose symptoms range from temporary numbness to full-blown paralysis — are rising fastest among older people, suggesting that efforts to prevent falls in the elderly could significantly curb the number of spinal injuries.More