AAPC to Offer Distance Learning Training Series

The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) is now offering a distance learning training series for the complete 2010 coding updates.  Instead of waiting for a workshop in December to get updated with the new codes, these updates will be released upon renewal of the most recent update.  Along with the three Webinars, a CD and eManaul are also included with each session. 

Listed below are the 2010 coding updates covered in the series:

  • ICD-9-CM (September release; 2 CEUs)
  • CPT (November release; 3 CEUs)
  • HCPCS Level II (December release; 1 CEU)

Sheri Poe Bernard, VP of clinical coding content at the AAPC, believes this series is a “must-have” for all coders. 

The training series is available for purchase now at AAPC’s web site.  You can also call 800-626-CODE to get more information.

PRN Funding featured in Home Health Line’s Private Duty Insert

Phil Cohen, CEO of PRN Funding, wrote a featured article for the August 2009 edition of Home Health Line’s Private Duty insert. 

The article, titled “Grow in a Tough Economy: 3 Alternative Ways to Locate Business Financing,” describes three nontraditional, yet effective ways for financing your private duty business.  Below is a list of the 3 alternatives:

  1.             Banking with family and friends
  2.             Peer-to-peer lending
  3.             Exchange Medicaid invoices for cash

Mr. Cohen goes into further detail about each financing option.  Many other vendors in the health care industry might consider trying some of these options too. 

Click here to order your subscription to Home Health Line.

Health Care Reform Push Moving Too Fast?

Gary Fields of the Wall Street Journal gave an update on the health care reform bill earlier yesterday.  On Sunday, key senators said they would like to slow down President Obama’s pace of overhauling America’s health care.  Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said on CNN’s State of the Union that Obama chose a difficult time to fix one of the country’s toughest sectors noted, “In other words, we’re in a recession.”

Lieberman also pointed out that since Obama’s inception, Americans “are very worried about their jobs, about the economic future.  They’ve watched us add to the debt of this country.  We’re projected to run a $1.8 trillion deficit this year.” He suggested that a lot of the concerns at town hall meeting across the country are stemming from a struggling economy, and that Obama should be patient and wait for the economy to improve. 

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) concurred with Lieberman and said Sunday that because of the issues outlined by Lieberman, President Obama should “…postpone the decision” on health care reform. 

If any plan is pushed through, Senator Lieberman would like to see more public support.  He also stressed that it would be a mistake to push through a bill that the public is so heavily against.  In addition, Lieberman said, “It’s just not good for the system, frankly, and it won’t be good for the Obama presidency.”

Recent strategies within the Democratic Party include reconciliation: a rarity in voting on bills, it would allow the Senate to pass a bill with just 51 votes, instead of the traditional minimum of 60.  However, Democrats are backing away from this option. 

On Sunday, Senator Arlen Spector appeared on Fox News Sunday and addressed the issue of reconciliation: “[iIt is] not desirable.  As a very last, last, last resort, if you can’t get anything else, I would consider it.”

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said Sunday on Meet the Press that reconciliation was not meant to be utilized on a bill that overhauls one-sixth of the U.S. economy and would be a gross “…abuse of the process.”

A bipartisan effort is dimming with each day that passes.  Only time will tell what the final bill, if any, looks like.

To read the entire Wall Street Journal article, click here: Health-Bill’s Pace Prompts Calls for Delay.

AAHAM to hold Annual National Institute

In a recent press release, the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management announced that it will hold its Annual National Institute from October 14-16 in Scottsdale, AZ at the Fairmont Princess Resort and Spa.  The conference will focus on the future of health care in the U.S.’s changing economy. 

Over the three days, there will be educational sessions, opportunities to hear from keynote speakers-over 50 of them-as well as networking in an exhibit hall.  The speaker series will focus on five health care topics: management/revenue cycle, access/quality management, compliance, leadership/professional development, and specialty. 

For more information about the event, visit www.aaham.org or contact AAHAM directly at (703) 281-4043.

Democrats looking to Split Health Reform Bill?

Jonathan Weisman and Naftali Bendavid of the Wall Street Journal had another update on health care reform yesterday.  The chances of a bipartisan bill being completed are decreasing by the day.  Due to this fact, the White House and Senate Democratic leadership have plans to split the bill into two parts and utilize reconciliation (budget-related items that can pass the Senate with 51 votes instead of the required 60 to overcome a filibuster) to pass the most expensive and controversial provisions.  Since Republicans are against any kind of government intervention into health care, the Democrats are debating whether or not to go it alone. 

President Obama has set a new goal for when his health care plan should be passed-by the end of 2009.  Splitting up the bill and using reconciliation would all but ensure this objective. 

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, will decide whether or not to use the reconciliation tool.  Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, was quoted in the article: “We will not make a decision to pursue reconciliation until we have exhausted efforts to produce a bipartisan bill.  However, patience is not unlimited, and we are determined to get something done this year by any legislative means necessary.”

Senate Finance Committee members, seen as the last hope to hammer out a bipartisan agreement, are not giving up yet.  Chairman of the Finance Committee and Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) said, “The Finance Committee is on track to reach a bipartisan agreement on comprehensive health care reform that can pass the Senate.” 

Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) explained how Republicans must be involved in the negotiations: “We need to get a bill the 75 or 80 senators can support.  If the Democrats choose to shut out Republicans and moderate Democrats, their plan will fail because the American people will have no confidence in it.” 

The bottom line is that if a deal is not reached by mid-September, the Democrats will most likely use reconciliation to get their bill passed. 

To read the entire Wall Street Journal article, click here: New Rx for Health Plan: Split Bill

PRN Funding Contributes to August Edition of Matrix Journal

Phil Cohen, CEO of PRN Funding, LLC, recently wrote a piece for the August 2009 edition of Health Data Matrix (the business and technology journal of AHDI and MTIA).  From pages 18-20 in the journal, Cohen outlined five questions every medical transcription service owner (MTSO) should ask their factoring company.  The questions are listed below:

  1. Do you understand the medical transcription industry?
  2. How flexible is your factoring program?
  3. How long will it take to get my questions answered?
  4. How long have you been in business?
  5. What are your fees?

These questions don’t just apply to MTSOs; all health care vendors should ask these questions to become comfortable with their factoring firm.

White House Changing Strategy to Sell Health Care Reform

Jonathan Weisman of The Wall Street Journal provided an update on health care reform yesterday.  Come September, the Obama administration will try to take control of the health care debate.  Doing so will not be easy, as Americans worried about the government overhaul continue to show up and protest the plan at their representatives’ town hall meetings.  The shifting strategy will include more speeches and less informal town hall style meetings. 

The public has been confused on the White House’s stance on the public option for the past couple of days.  Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, said over the weekend that the government option was not the central part of the bill.  In addition, President Obama indicated during a town hall meeting in Colorado that the public option might not be included in the final bill.  These statements created cause for concern amongst supporters of the public option. 

On Wednesday, the president will try to add an emotional appeal during a conference call with liberal religious groups.  Conservatives still say this bill has too much government control that a majority of Americans don’t want.  A senior Republican Senate aide said Obama has failed to convince Americans that they will benefit from his plan.  He also stressed the battle between Americans’ personal costs vs. ideals, and that ideals almost always lose. 

The Democrats are not giving in.  A Democratic strategist said, “If you are going to sell something as big and monumental and transformative as health care, you cannot get small with it.  You’ve got to be larger.  You’ve got to call on the better angels out there.”

Another point Weisman made is that during his presidential campaign, Obama scolded opponent Hillary Clinton for allying herself with Washington power brokers.  With the AARP and drug companies in favor of health reform, it seems as if Obama is the one signing up the special interests. 

Polling has been less than favorable to the proposed HR 3200 bill.  An NBC News poll released yesterday shows 41% in favor of the way Obama is handling health care reform, while a troubling 47% disapprove.  Now, only 21% want a complete overhaul of health care, down from 33% in April. 

How do you feel about the president’s handling of health care reform?

To read the entire Wall Street Journal article, click here: White House Rethinks How It Sells Health Overhaul

White House not Ready to Forfeit Public Option

Naftali Bendavid, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, gave an important update to health care reform earlier today.  Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, caused some uproar amongst Democrats on Sunday when she said that a public option is not the “essential element” to health care reform.

In a Q-and-A email sent out to members of Congress on Monday, the White House said “nothing has changed” in regards to the plans of including a public option into the final health care reform bill.  President Obama is still convinced that the best way to reform the system is to lower costs and increase competition; he believes a public option will achieve these goals. 

Ironically, two groups have formed due to the White House’s latest indications that it is backing away from a public option: liberal activists, who say they would never support a reform bill without a public option, and moderates, who say the government option will lead to complete government control of the system.  The White House is trying to appease both groups. 

Even if the public plan is dropped altogether, Republicans and moderates are still wary of the rest of the provisions in the bill.  Specifically, they are worried that the estimated cost of $1 trillion over 10 years is too much to put on the American people in a down economy.  Some experts believe these estimates, must like original estimates for Medicare, are inaccurate, and this kind of reform will end up costing a lot more. 

One House Republican leadership aide said, “It doesn’t make a difference to us [if the public plan is dropped].  This plan is so bad that changing this one particular provision is not going to fix it.”

Currently, three committees in the House have completed different versions of HR 3200.  All three of them include the controversial public option.  The Senate, however, is still working on its version.  The Senate Finance committee is trying to churn out their ‘bipartisan’ bill, which will certainly not include the public plan. 

Michael Mahaffey, spokesman for Senate Finance Committee member Mike Enzi (R-WY) said, “The government-run plan does not have the votes to pass in the Senate, it never has.” 

So while Sen. Enzi is pleased to see the White House backing away from its insistence on including a government-run plan, the fact is this doesn’t change the dynamic in the Senate very much”. 

To read the entire Wall Street Journal article, click here: White House Reassures Allies

Democrats: No Reform without Government Option

FoxNews.com reported yesterday that Democrats’ hopes for a public insurance option are waning fast.  After two weeks of grassroots efforts on both sides to either extinguish or support the plan, it has come out that a public insurance option simply will not pass in the Senate.  However, several Democrats in the House have also pledged not to vote for a bill that leaves out a public option.

Jim Dean, chairman of progressive group Democracy for America, sent an email to supporters on Monday urging them not to settle for non-profit cooperatives in place of a public option.  He wrote: “Let’s be clear: A health care bill without a public option is D.O.A. in the House.  Period.  To pass any bill in the House, they need at least 218 votes but 64 House Democrats have stood up and said they will not vote for a bill without a public option.  That means a bill without a public option would only have 193 votes.”

Over the weekend, several members on the left as well as President Obama admitted the public option is not the key element in the health care reform bill.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday that, “We need some choices, we need some competition”.

Many liberal supporters have criticized the Obama administration for backing away from a public option.  Representative Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said, “Leaving private insurance companies the job of controlling the costs of health care is like making a pyromaniac the fire chief”.

Moreover, former presidential candidate, Howard Dean, said meaningful change in the health care system is not possible without a public option.

However, as Senator Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) pointed out on Fox News Sunday, “The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option.  There never have been.  So to continue to chase that rabbit I think is just a wasted effort”.

For more health care reform details, click here: No Government-Run Health Insurance, No Bill, Say Liberal Supporters of Reform

Public Plan Option Fading Fast

Elizabeth Williamson and August Cole of the Wall Street Journal reported today that the Obama administration, alongside Democrats, is close to throwing in the towel on the most controversial piece of the proposed legislation for health care reform: a public insurance option.  Yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, said that this provision is not the most “essential” part of a reform bill.  President Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, also said Sunday that while the President believes a public option would be the best way to increase choice and competition in the insurance marketplace, there are alternatives that can accomplish the same goal.

On Saturday, Obama held a town hall meeting in Grand Junction, CO.  Towards the end of the meeting, he said, “Whether we have it [public insurance option] or we don’t have it, is not the entirety of health care reform”. 

Opponents have formed on all sides of this key issue in the health care reform debate.  Angry protesters have turned out in many numbers across the country.  Fearing an eventual governmental overhaul of the system, Americans who have never been involved in politics have become ensconced in the debate. 

Health care reform could be devastating for private insurance company owners, who have been demonized in the past couple of weeks for posting record profits year after year.  The fear is justified because if a public plan is put in place, hospitals and doctors would begin charging private insurers more per claim to make up for the expected losses from reduced reimbursement by the government.  Americans are worried that these businesses would be driven out as private insurers already pay more per claim due to Medicare and Medicaid. 

To read the entire Wall Street Journal article, click here: Chances Dim for a Public Plan