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SCOTUS Ruling on ACA Print E-mail
Written by Digital Wire Service   
Thursday, 28 June 2012 00:00

The Decision is In

Click Hot Link to View Blog Post.
Last Updated on Friday, 06 July 2012 08:11
 
Hospital Safety Print E-mail
Written by Bernd Wollschlaeger, MD, FAAFP, FASAM   
Friday, 22 June 2012 07:57

A new report card from healthcare watchdog the Leapfrog Group ranks hospitals for patient safety - A through F. A blue ribbon panel of the nation's top patient safety experts provided guidance to the Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits, to develop the Hospital Safety Score. The Hospital Safety Score is calculated using publicly available data on patient injuries, medical and medication errors, and infections.

For the first time, the Hospital Safety Score will highlight the country's best hospitals and warn against the worst to save lives and bring attention to the nation's silent safety epidemic. According to recent studies, one in four Medicare patients will leave a hospital with a potentially fatal issue they didn't have prior to hospitalization. On average, one medication error per day occurs for each hospitalized patient, and more than 180,000 Americans die every year from hospital accidents, errors, and infections.

The Hospital Safety Score website http://hospitalsafetyscore.org/ allows visitors to search hospital scores for free, and also provides information on how the public can protect themselves and loved ones during a hospital stay. In South Florida 25 of 49 hospitals scored an "A." The news for South Florida hospitals wasn't all good, though. Eight rated a mediocre "C," including Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami beach, Delray Medical Center, Plantation General Hospital and Wellington Regional Medical Center.

Worse, six Miami-Dade County hospitals, including Jackson Memorial and the University of Miami Hospital, would have scored a "D" or an "F" but got a "score pending" reprieve in this go-round. They'll have a chance to improve their grades before the next ranking comes out in the fall, according to a public relations executive working with Leapfrog. Ashish Jha, MD, of Harvard, a member of the blue ribbon expert panel was quoted in the press release stating that "Even hospitals with excellent programs for surgical and medical care, state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, and dedicated physicians may still need this score as a reminder that patient safety should be a top priority."

Dr. Wollschlaeger is a frequent contributor to FHIweekly and Specialty Focus. You can read more of his articles by visiting http://floridadocs.blogspot.com/.

Last Updated on Monday, 25 June 2012 07:13
 
House Passes FDA User Fee Bill; Congress on Track to Pass Reconciled Bill by Beginning of July Print E-mail
Written by MWE.com   
Thursday, 21 June 2012 00:00

On May 30, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Food and Drug Administration Reform Act of 2012-the chamber's FDA user fee authorization bill-by a 387-5 margin. With regard to user fees, the bill is very similar to the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (S. 3187), which was approved by the Senate a few days earlier, on May 24, 2012. However, there are substantive differences between the House and Senate bills with regard to provisions that address the FDA's review and oversight of drugs, medical devices and biologicals. In this newsletter, we provide an overview of some of the major aspects of both bills, and identify similarities and differences between the two pieces of legislation as the two chambers enter the reconciliation process to finalize the legislation for presentation to President Obama.

Read the full article here.
 
What Are Your Chances of Being Audited By the IRS? Print E-mail
Written by Jeffrey B. Kramer, CPA   
Friday, 15 June 2012 00:00

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued its annual Data Book which provides statistical data on its fiscal year 2011 activities.

Of the 140,837,499 individual income tax returns filed during fiscal year ended 2011, 1,564,690 (or 1%) were audited, which is roughly the same percentage as the prior year.

Of those audited, 31% were for tax returns that claimed the earned income tax audit (EITC) which is available to low-income individuals with qualifying children.

Examination rates go up as income increases as shown in the following table:

% Being                                                   Income
Audited                                                    Level              

  1.0%                                                       $100,000 - $200,000

  2.7%                                                       $200,000 - $500,000

 11.8%                                                      $1,000,000 - $5,000,000


Roughly 25% of the IRS audits were conducted in person by revenue agents, tax compliance officers, tax examiners and revenue office examiners. The remaining 75% of the audits were conducted via correspondence letters.

During fiscal year 2011, the IRS assessed 28.75 million civil penalties against individual taxpayers. Of those, 58.6% received "failure to pay" penalties, 25.6% received "underpayment of tax" penalties and 13% received "filing delinquency" penalties.

The IRS initiated 4,720 criminal investigations in 2011. Of those, 3,410 resulted in referrals for prosecution with 2,350 convictions. Of those sentenced, 82% were incarcerated.

The take away from this data is that low income tax payers claiming the EITC and high earners with income exceeding $1,000,000 are most likely to be audited. Of those being audited, most will be conducted via correspondence letter audits. Very few audits result in criminal investigations; however, once an investigation is initiated, 69% result in convictions.

To contact the author, click Jeffrey B. Kramer, CPA

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 June 2012 16:57
 
Four Healthcare Stocks Make 2011 Top 20 List Print E-mail
Written by Jeffrey Herschler   
Thursday, 14 June 2012 00:00

Fortune magazine recently released its Top 20 Best Performing S&P 500 Stocks of 2011. Four healthcare companies made the list: 
  • WellCare #2
  • Biogen Idec #4
  • Humana #7
  • Rite Aid #20


With a whopping 73.7% total return to shareholders last year, the editors had this to say about WellCare's startling reversal of, no pun intended, fortune:

"It was only a few years ago that this Tampa-based health company struggled amid Medicaid-fraud probes and shareholder lawsuits, which subsequently led to a management shake-up. The insurer began improving its bottom line during the second half of 2010 and continued to do so in 2011.

WellCare, which provides managed care plans for Medicare and Medicaid, reported strong earnings as membership rebounded after declining in 2010. This was largely driven by the growth in its Medicare prescription drug programs. Like other health insurers, WellCare also benefitted as Americans used fewer medical services, which in turn has helped drive down the portion of premiums used to cover medical costs."

Last Updated on Friday, 15 June 2012 11:20
 
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