Daily roundup: June 13, 2012

Bite-sized hospital and health industry news.

New York: On Tuesday the state ratified a bill mandating physicians to consult a database—the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act, or I-STOP—containing each patient's drug history before prescribing most controlled substances. The program enables physicians to report and track the use of controlled narcotics. It aims to provide them with data to:

  • Detect dangerous drug interactions;
  • Identify patterns of abuse on the part of patients, doctors, and pharmacists;
  • Identify those who suffer from addictions; and
  • Prevent new addictions from taking root.

However, physicians express concern that the bill could affect patients with legitimate medical needs (Drury, Buffalo Business Journal, 6/12).

North Carolina: The Carolinas HealthCare System added five Triad hospitals in a 10-year management agreement with Cone Health, which takes effect Oct. 1. The contract maintains a possibility for two 10-year extensions, although the financial terms were not disclosed. CEO of Carolinas HealthCare Michael Tarwater says, "it’s a great addition to the [Carolinas HealthCare] family and a new geography for us." In total, Carolinas HealthCare now owns, leases, or manages 38 hospitals, making it the nation's second largest public health system with more than 48,000 employees—8,500 of whom are at Cone Health (Thomas, Charlotte Business Journal, 6/12).

Pennsylvania: A federal jury on Tuesday convicted a former health care executive on counts of health-care fraud, aggravated identity theft, distribution of controlled substances, and other charges. Elliza Jo Benoit was the CEO and founder of a mental health clinic called Transition Phase III, which was shut down last year following an investigation. The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges that Benoit falsely portrayed herself as a psychiatrist to patients at the clinic, and later assumed another psychiatrist's name and identification to bill insurance companies for patient consultations, totaling over $500,000. Benoit faces at least three years in prison and up to $48 million in fines (George, Philadelphia Business Journal, 6/12).

Tennessee: So far this year, about 336,000 state residents currently covered by Medicare have received preventive health services, including flu shots, diabetes screenings, mammograms, and pelvic exams, at no charge. About 14 million Medicare beneficiaries nationwide have taken advantage of similar services thusfar in 2012, and CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner notes that "these free preventive services are helping people in Medicare stay healthy and lower their health care costs." Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare patients can receive preventive benefits without any deductibles or co-pays, in an effort to help patients take initiative in managing their own health (Silva, Nashville Business Journal, 6/11).

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