Texas Won’t Enforce Federal Insurance Reforms

Texas has joined five other states in informing the federal government that they will not enforce new health insurance reforms, according to the Texas Tribune. By federal law, a state is required to implement provisions and regulations related to the insurance exchange and market reforms unless it notifies the federal government that it is unable, or unwilling, to do so. Arizona, Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wyoming previously informed the federal government that they will not be enforcing the insurance reforms. The state’s decision could create an administrative burden for insurance plans and result in confusion for Texans who purchase health insurance under… Full Story

Healthcare Reform Fails With Physicians

Thirty percent of physicians graded the Affordable Care Act with an “F,” according to physician recruiting group The Medicus Firm. Physicians told pollers they had seen neither decreased costs nor increased quality of care, and also noted that the efficiency of the healthcare system has yet to improve. Physicians do feel, however, that reform has increased access to healthcare services, with grades being split between B and C, with F being the third highest grade in the category. “Since we initially began surveying physicians on this issue in 2009, they have expressed many concerns about the government’s answer to health reform,… Full Story

Dallas-area Men Plead Guilty in Medicare Fraud Case

Two owners of Texas companies that provide hyperbaric oxygen therapy have pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud Medicare, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Stanley Thaw, 71, of Frisco, and Michael Kincaid, 56, of Plano, admitted that they frequently billed Medicare for therapy sessions that did not happen from January 2008 through June 2011. Thaw and Kincaid have run companies in Plano, Denton, Hurst, Houston and San Antonio. Thaw’s wife, Kernell, also admitted to conspiracy to make false statements to a bank to receive loans to purchase properties in Dallas. Sentencing for the case is set for Nov. 13. The defendants face a maximum… Full Story

Texas Halfway Houses, Mental Health Units Face Closure

A $23 million dollar budget cut has the Texas Juvenile Justice Department considering the closure of multiple halfway houses and mental health units, according to the Texas Tribune. One of the facilities in question is a 124-year old Corsicana youth detention center that houses mentally ill offenders. This has city leaders worried about not only the patients, but also those who are currently employed by the facility. “The closure is something we certainly don’t want,” Mayor Chuck McClanahan told the Tribune, citing how difficult it can be to find jobs with state benefits. If the facility closes, the mentally ill patients… Full Story

HealthTexas Provider Network Expands Collaborative Accountable Care Initiative

Paired with Cigna, HealthTexas Provider Network has expanded their Collaborative Accountable Care Initiative, according to a release. The program started in April 2012, with 91 HPTN physicians at 12 clinics. By April of this year, 114 more physicians at 35 clinics had joined the program. Accountable care initiatives focus on improving health, affordability and patient experience. HPTN monitors all aspects of an individual’s care, highlighted by the nurses they employ to assist patients with chronic illness or other healthcare issues understand the healthcare system. Through the partnership with Cigna, physicians use patient-specific data provided by Cigna to identify patients who may… Full Story

East Texas Psychiatric Hospital Faces Possible Funding Cut

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has given the Terrell State Hospital 90 days to fix problems found by federal investigators in 12 different areas of patient care and hospital management, according to Modern Healthcare. The hospital has until October 6 to address issues in nursing, laboratory, food, anesthesia, and respiratory services, as well as an inadequate physical environment for patients. The investigation into the operations of the hospital began in April, after the agency became aware of the 2012 death of Ann Simmons, a 62-year old patient who died after being left in restraints for 55 hours. The Dallas… Full Story

Rising Number of Standalone ERs Concerns Health Experts

The number of standalone emergency rooms nationwide has more than doubled in the past four years, a trend that could increase healthcare costs across the board, Kaiser Health News reports. Free-standing emergency rooms can charge higher rates, even though they typically don’t treat heart attacks or trauma. Most patients should instead use urgent care centers, argues Vivian Ho, a health economist at Rice University in Houston. While the standalone emergency rooms charge insurers double or triple the amount per patient as an urgent care center or a doctor’s office, patients regularly use them for routine care that could be provided in… Full Story

Rawlings Gives Impassioned Speech at Mental Health Conference in Dallas

“We’ve got to eat this elephant one piece at a time,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said as he addressed the more than 700 attendees of the 28th annual Texas Council of Mental Health Centers Conference Thursday morning. “We have all seen the impact of mental illness in our community, day in and day out.” Rawlings began by speaking about the time before he was mayor, when he was the so-called “homeless czar” of Dallas: “I had to figure out how to deal with our chronic homeless issue, and the root cause for so many is mental illness.” He said he began… Full Story

Healthcare IT Market Has Projected Worth of $31.3 Billion by 2017

According to PR Newswire, the need for IT is quickly evolving, due to a long list of issues currently characterizing healthcare systems. A report published by Markets and Markets states that the North American HCIT market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 7.4 percent, growing from $21.9 billion in 2012 to $31.3 billion in 2017. There are factors that holding back the growth of IT, however. Those factors include high cost of healthcare as well as high service and maintenance costs and interoperability issues.    

Mobile EHRs Growing with Physician Demand

Physicians are beginning to demand that electronic medical records be accessible on more screens than just their computers, according to American Medical News. A report published by Black Book Research polled more than 700 EHR vendors, 36 percent of which said they have already released or are working on apps for smart phones that would give physicians the ability to access their records wherever they may be. Of the doctors looking for a replacement EHR system, 100 percent expressed the need for a mobile app. However, only 17 percent of vendors said they currently have an app available for use.… Full Story