HealthLeaders Media Finance - June 1, 2009 | Is Your Billing and Collections 'Small-Town' Enough? View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
Is Your Billing and Collections 'Small-Town' Enough?
Michelle Ponte, Senior Editor-Finance

Millions of dollars go into customer service programs to help healthcare organizations treat their customers like their neighbors. Healthcare providers have come a long way in enhancing the patient care experience in certain parts of the healthcare continuum such as the doctor's visit or the hospital stay. However, there is still a lot of drag when it comes time to collect payment. If you want to know if your payment program is patient-friendly enough ask yourself: Does it pass the small-town test? [Read More]
  June 1, 2009

Editor's Picks
Feds Target Radiology Imaging Payment Cuts
Imaging services have been eyed by the government for quite some time as an area to reduce. But now, things are getting even more serious with imaging services being a big target of healthcare reform. Between 2000 and 2006 physicians doubled their Medicare tab to $14 billion. According to a GAO report last summer, advanced imaging costs are rising much faster than basic imaging services such as X-ray and ultrasound. One idea being floated by the Senate Finance Committee to reduce spending is to require prior authorization for any such services. It's an age-old problem that is bankrupting the system: We want the best quality healthcare, including new lifesaving technologies, but at what cost? [Read More]
CMS Updates RAC Audit Timeline: Complex Reviews Still Months Away
There's some good RAC news on the horizon for providers. CMS has updated its RAC timeline, saying that it will more than likely start rolling out automated reviews in June or July, according to Marie Casey, deputy director of the Division of Recovery Audit Operations at CMS. One benefit to providers, says Casey, is that automated reviews do not require a request for medical records. Next year, however, CMS plans to roll out its big gun: medical necessity complex reviews. [Read More]
Congress Asks Obama to Withdraw Indirect Medical Education Funding Cuts
Teaching hospitals brought Republicans and Democrats temporarily together to agree that cutting reimbursement for indirect medical education is the wrong move. About 200 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle signed their names to a letter requesting President Barack Obama to withdraw the Oct. 1 phase-out of indirect medical education reimbursement for teaching hospitals under the capital prospective payment system. The CMS rule that calls for phasing out the IME adjustment to the capital PPS in 2009 and 2010 would mean $375 million in annual losses to teaching hospitals. [Read More]
Costs snarling health overhaul in Massachusetts
Healthcare costs are still a big problem in Massachusetts, despite healthcare reform that comes pretty close to universal coverage, according to this Boston Globe article citing a survey of 4,000 adults, who say they are having a difficult time paying their medical bills. A growing number of participants who are low income also said they are not accessing healthcare services because of rising costs. Still, one huge upside to offering near-universal coverage is that Massachusetts has the lowest number of uninsured residents in the U.S. [Read More]
Finance Forum
RACs: Self Assessment and Aggressive Appeals Are Key
Reimbursement investigations will likely be pursued in numbers and with a tenacity not previously seen in the Part B Medicare program. Data from the demonstration project shows that while very few providers appealed, those that did saw a high percentage of wins. An aggressive appeals stance on the part of providers, therefore, will likely emerge as a significant deterrent against marginal investigations as the program matures. [Read More]
Finance Headlines
Hospital district signs deal to buy eastern New Orleans hospital, health centers
New Orleans Times-Picayune - May 29, 2009
UnitedHealth Tells Medicare How to Look for More Savings
Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media - May 28, 2009
Healthcare cuts would mean higher costs and possibly deaths, California officials warn
Los Angeles Times - May 28, 2009
Targeted Tax Hikes Would Raise Billions for Health Reforms
John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media - May 27, 2009
Medicare Payment Changes Could Prompt Hospital Closings, Layoffs
John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media - May 26, 2009
From HealthLeaders Magazine
Cash for Computers
HealthLeaders May 2009 With an 11-figure incentive to invest in information technology and electronic medical records, healthcare executives need to determine if this offer from Uncle Sam is the kind of help that they are prepared to accept. [Read More]
Service Line Management
Simpler Surgeries, Complex Market
Technological advances have impact beyond the OR, affecting market trends and hospital-physician alignment. [Read More]
Money Talk

Resurrection Health Care, Chicago
Rating: BBB+
Outlook: Negative
Affected Debt: $592.8 million
Agency: Standard & Poor's
Remarks: Outlook revised from stable due to continued operating losses, negative margins of 5.2%, and weak maximum annual debt service coverage. [Read More]
Audio Feature

Revenue Cycle Overhaul: With a deteriorating cash position, Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, WY, recently completed an overhaul of its revenue cycle, dropping its net AR from 90 to 61 days. Karl Vilums, CFO, says Ivinson also saw a 193% ROI on the project, which translates to $4.6 million. [Listen Now]

June 17: HIPAA Changes: New Compliance Strategies for New Marketing Models
June 26: ICU Overhaul 2009: Strategies to Reduce Costs and Improve Quality
On Demand: Service Lines Strategies Workshop: Cardiovascular Physician Alignment
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