Local CMO Named to Governor’s Broadband Development Council

Dr. Saurin Patel, the chief medical officer at Access Physicians, has been appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to the Governor’s Broadband Development Council, which is intended to provide rural areas increased access to broadband internet. Access Physicians is a telemedicine company that helps hospitals connect with physicians, and has been endorsed by the Texas Hospital Association and the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals. The growth of telehealth has expanded healthcare access to rural areas, but a strong internet connection is a a pre-requisite for most telehealth systems, especially companies that use video conferencing. “I’m honored to be appointed… Full Story

Trump Wants Hospitals’ Negotiated Rates Posted – North Texas Experts Weigh In

The Health and Human Services Department released two rules in November that give clarity on an executive order released earlier last year from the Trump administration about improving transparency in the healthcare industry. But will the rules improve transparency, or add more confusion? And are there already tools in place that accomplish similar goals? The rules say that health insurers must give patients “an estimate of their cost-sharing liability for all covered healthcare items and services, through an online tool that most group health plans and health insurance issuers would be required to make available to all of their members,” which… Full Story

Healthcare Exec Sentenced to 66 Months for Role in Forest Park Scheme

Dallas healthcare executive Andrew Hillman was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $3 million in restitution for playing a part in the Forest Park Medical Center and NextHealth fraud schemes. Hillman plead guilty in October 2018 to being a part of a conspiracy to pay and receive bribes and kickbacks in the Forest Park scheme. Hillman admitted that he and his partner Semyon Narosov were paid $190,000 by Forest Park to refer patients to the facility or surgeons who operated there. The payments went through a shell entity and were done with phony invoices. Hillman… Full Story

Presbyterian Hospital Overcharges Medicare Over $10 Million, According to Audit

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department estimates that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas incorrectly billed Medicare more than $10 million, based on an audit performed by the Office of the Inspector General. The routine audit looked at 100 randomly selected claims from the hospital in 2016 and 2017, and found that only 59 of them complied with Medicare billing requirements. The other 41 claims were incorrectly billed and resulted in overpayment of $500,323 for the audit period. The audit said that errors included rehabilitation claims that did not meet coverage or documentation requirements, inpatient claims that… Full Story

Texas Medical Board Withdraws Surprise Billing Rules

The Texas Medical Board is changing its tune about how to interpret Texas’ latest surprise billing legislation. Last week, controversy arose about rules written by the Texas Medical Board in the interpretation of Senate Bill 1264, which was meant to prevent patients from being involved in the balance billing process, were criticized for creating a large loophole for physicians to exploit. Critics said the rules would have put confusing paperwork in the hands of patients, with a potential result being that patients may sign away their protections under the new legislation. The Texas Medical Board said it would not have… Full Story

Parkland One of 622 Hospitals to Sue HHS for Reimbursement Reduction

Parkland Hospital and Health System is one of 622 hospitals suing the Health and Human Services Department for cutting hospital reimbursement by around $840 million per year nationwide. For each hospital that participates in Medicare reimbursement, the suit alleges a loss of about $200,000 per year. An adjustment to the way HHS paid hospitals in 2008 resulted in overpayments to providers, and the government made adjustments to the reimbursement rates to recoup $11 billion from the hospitals between 2014 and 2017.  The suit says that the law required that the reimbursement cuts be reversed in 2017, but the suit alleges that… Full Story

Texas Can Expand Coverage Without Expanding Medicaid – Here’s How

Texas remains one of 14 states in the country that has yet to expand Medicaid, as its Republican leadership has refused to accept more federal money for expanding health insurance to more of our state’s poor families. DFW’s hospitals are behind Medicaid expansion, in part because Dallas is the largest city with the worst insured rate in the nation. Nationwide, 5.7 percent of children don’t have health insurance, but in Dallas county, that number is 14.3 percent. A number of factors have also decreased the number of children in rolled in CHIP. Hospitals (via taxpayers and consumers) end up paying… Full Story

Parkland Police Officer Arrested on Rape Charge

Authorities say a Parkland Hospital police officer was arrested on a rape charge over the weekend, WFAA reports. An altercation between a woman in the parking lot and officer Keivon Gamble, 28, led police to make the arrest. Gamble was booked into Dallas County jail on a rape charge and two assault charges, and is accused of raping and assaulting the woman earlier this month. Police say he is accused of pulling the woman’s hair, punching her to cause bruising, and forcing her to have sex with him, WFAA reports. Gamble, a former TCU football player, is on administrative leave… Full Story

Texas’ Balance Billing Legislation May Be Threatened by Loophole

Consumer advocates are worried that a proposed rule could undo the protections in Texas’ balance billing legislation. After a law was passed this summer to keep Texas patients out of arbitration between providers and insurers when there are surprise medical bills, some worry that a loophole in the legislation will be used to confuse patients and increase balance billing. Stacey Pogue, a senior policy analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, says that the Texas Medical Board is proposing a rule to implement the law that would expand the use of a section of the law for patients who knowingly… Full Story

Parkland’s Lawsuit: Are Drug Distributors to Blame for the Opioid Epidemic?

Earlier this year, dozens of health systems in Texas filed a civil lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. Two local entities, Parkland Hospital and Health System and McKesson Corp., are on opposite sides of the lawsuit. But why are the health systems taking legal action, and should distributors be held accountable for what physicians are prescribing? In 2010, opioid prescriptions peaked when providers wrote 81.2 prescriptions per 100 persons. In 2017, around 57 million people had at least one prescription for opioids, with 191 opioid prescriptions dispensed, according to CDC data. Darren Nicholson, of Burns Charest LLP in Dallas,… Full Story