Week in review: 12 biggest healthcare stories this week

Stay in the know with Becker's Hospital Review's weekly roundup of the nation's biggest healthcare news. Here's what you need to know this week.

1. Florida governor files lawsuit against feds over Medicaid expansion
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) filed a lawsuit against the federal government for allegedly withholding money from Florida to force the state into expanding Medicaid. Florida has had a Medicaid waiver since 2005, and the state has received between $1 billion and $2 billion from the federal government annually to support its Low Income Pool program to aid the state's safety-net hospitals. In February, CMS announced it would not renew the Medicaid waiver, which is set to expire June 30. Last week, CMS sent a letter to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration suggesting that the fate of the state's LIP is tied to the state's decision on Medicaid expansion. Gov. Scott had responded to CMS by threatening to sue the federal government, which he has now followed through with. His lawsuit asks the court to prohibit the federal government from tying Florida's LIP program funding decision to the state's Medicaid expansion decision. The lawsuit also asks the court to compel the federal government to "immediately reconsider the renewal of Florida's LIP program without taking into consideration Florida's decision whether to opt into Medicaid expansion."

2. Republicans take aim at PPACA in budget compromise
Republicans in the House and Senate agreed on a budget for the first time in a decade. The budget allows the GOP majority to suspend the Senate's filibuster rule, which would allow Republicans to attack the PPACA using a filibuster-proof reconciliation bill. With reconciliation, Senate Republicans would need only a majority vote to push through legislation to repeal the PPACA because it would not be subject to a probably Democratic filibuster. However, President Barack Obama would likely veto any bill that calls for the repeal of the PPACA, making a reconciliation bill little threat to the health reform law.

3. Former hospital CFO ordered to pay $4.4M for lying about meaningful use
Joe White, former CFO of Center, Texas-based Shelby Regional Medical Center was ordered to pay more than $4.4 million in restitution for his role in a healthcare fraud scheme. Mr. White pleaded guilty in November to making a false statement — he had previously attested to successful meaningful use of an EHR, even though Shelby Regional did not meet meaningful use requirements. Mr. White also made false statements regarding other hospitals converting to electronic records technology. As a result of his false statements, the group of hospitals collected nearly $17 million in government incentive funds. In November, Mr. White also pleaded guilty to aggravated identify theft for using an employee's name to falsify documentation for the incentive funds that Shelby Regional received. Tariq Mahmood, MD, the owner of Shelby Regional and the other hospitals involved in the scheme, was sentenced in March to more than 11 years in prison for healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and identity theft.

4. Partners HealthCare falls victim to email phishing attack compromising 3,300 patients' data
The personal information of approximately 3,300 patients may have been compromised after a group of employees at Boston-based Partners HealthCare engaged with phishing emails. Some Partners employees received phishing emails Nov. 25, 2014, and responded to them, thinking they were legitimate. By responding, the hackers gained access to the employees' email accounts within the Partners network. Names, addresses, birth dates, telephone numbers, some Social Security numbers and some clinical information and health insurance information may have been compromised, according to Partners. The EMR system was not accessed, however. Since learning of the attack, Partners secured the email accounts, contacted law enforcement and started an investigation into the phishing attack. As of now, Partners has not received any indication that any exposed patient information has been misused.

5. Phishing attack compromises 39,000 patients' records at Seton Family of Hospitals
Austin, Texas-based Seton Family of Hospitals, a division of Seton Healthcare Family, notified approximately 39,000 patients that their protected health information may have been accessed by hackers. Hacker's conducted an email phishing attack Dec. 4, 2014, through which hackers obtained usernames and passwords of Seton employees' email accounts. Affected emails were shut down immediately after learning of the attack. Compromised personal health information includes names, address, birth dates, medical record numbers, insurance information, "limited critical information" and some Social Security numbers, though hackers did not gain access to individual medical or billing records.

6. Indiana HIV outbreak leads CDC to issue health alert and suggestions
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory to alert physicians, hospitals and health departments across the country to look out for increases in injection drug-related HIV and hepatitis C infections. The CDC made the advisory after the number of individuals infected with HIV soared in one Indiana county, leading Gov. Mike Pence to declare a public health disaster in the county. As of April 21, the CDC had identified 135 people with newly diagnosed HIV infections in the Indiana community of 4,200 people, 84 percent of whom were also infected with hepatitis C.

7. Carolinas patient tests negative for Ebola
A man being treated at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., for Ebola-like symptoms tested negative for the infection, according to the Charlotte Observer. The patient — who has not been publicly identified — recently returned to the U.S. after traveling to Liberia. County health nurses monitored the man on a daily basis to see if he developed a fever or any other symptom. After a fever was detected, the man was immediately isolated and transferred to CMC to be cared for by healthcare workers in protective gear. Now that the patient's test results came back negative, he will be relocated to a regular hospital room to continue treatment.

8. Leapfrog releases spring safety scores: 5 things to know
The Leapfrog Group released its Spring 2015 Hospital Safety Scores Wednesday, which assign letter grades to more than 2,500 U.S. hospitals. In addition to new grades for participating hospitals, Leapfrog also released new updates to help patients track hospital safety consistency. For the first time, the Hospital Safety Score website allows patients to see a hospital's current score alongside its previous scores so patients can easily see if a hospital has maintained performance, improved or gotten worse. Leapfrog also labeled the 182 hospitals that consistently received an A grade for safety with a "Straight A's" logo on the Leapfrog website. In Spring 2015, 2,523 hospitals received a Hospital Safety Score. Despite the strides made in pre- and post-surgery safety processes and the implementation of computerized medication prescribing systems, hospitals have not significantly improved performance on safety outcomes, like preventing errors, accidents and infections, according to Leapfrog.

9. Salesforce CEO tackles gender pay gap, mandates equal pay for men and women
Marc Benoiff, CEO of Salesforce.com, is sifting through all 16,000 employees' salaries to ensure male and female workers are paid fairly in an attempt to eliminate any gender pay gap at the company. Mr. Benoiff has already given some employees raises, and he expected to give many more over the next few years, he told the Huffington Post. The attention to women's pay is part of a company-wide initiative called Women's Surge, which seeks to identify "executive-potential women employees" and requires them to be included in important meetings, according to Business Insider. Between 30 and 50 percent of attendees must be women, as mandated by the program.

10. Epic, Cerner, MEDITECH lead KLAS' usability rankings
Physician leaders identified Epic, Cerner and MEDITECH as top performers in the realm of acute-care EMR usability, according to the latest KLAS report. The report, "Physician Leadership Weighs In on Acute Care EMR Usability," aggregated data on the usability of EMR modules including physician documentation, computerized physician order entry, medical reconciliation and clinical decision support. KLAS also interview physician leadership at 110 healthcare organizations to learn their perspectives on the overall productivity, effectiveness and user interface of their EMRs. Epic was named the industry leader in usability performance, while Cerner's customers are making the most progress in terms of usability, and MEDITECH has "made up the most ground."

11. FDA seeks safety data on antiseptic products used in healthcare settings
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a proposed rule asking for scientific data supporting that active ingredients used in antiseptics used in healthcare are safe and effective. The rule would require manufacturers who want to continue marketing these products under the over-the-counter drug monograph to provide the agency with additional data on the active ingredients' safety and effectiveness, including information on potential hormonal effects and development of antibacterial resistance. The FDA is seeking the additional information based on new scientific information and concerns expressed by experts on an FDA advisory committee that ingredients in healthcare antiseptics can cause disease. However, "the FDA's request for more safety and effectiveness data for healthcare antiseptic active ingredients should not be taken to mean that the FDA believes that these products are ineffective or unsafe," a press release states.

12. Teladoc to file for IPO
Dallas-based Teladoc, a telehealth solutions provider, submitted a confidential submission of draft registration for initial public offering. The company submitted a Form S-1 to the U.S. Secretaries and Exchange Commission proposing an IPO of its common stock, though the number of shares and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined. Teladoc, founded in 2002, aims to address the issues of patient access, cost and quality in healthcare. The company offers virtual visits with physicians board-certified in internal medicine, family practice or pediatrics. According to Teladoc's website, the company has approximately 10 million members and zero malpractice claims. Teladoc reporting and member surveys indicate 95 percent member satisfaction, 96 percent physician satisfaction and a 90 percent issue resolution rate. The average consultation duration is 17 minutes.

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