Tag: Doctors Administrative Solutions

DAS Doctors Attest for Over $5 Million in Meaningful Use Dollars

Doctors Administrative Solutions has helped doctors attest for over $5 million in meaningful use dollars…. and we’re still going!

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Study Shows EHRs Help Docs Boost Care

A new study in the journal Health Services Research finds nearly three-quarters of physicians using electronic health records in 2011 said there were clinical benefits when patients’ medical histories were kept in digital files. The study focused on doctors’ perceptions of clinical benefits to patient care when EHRs were in place.

Jennifer King, chief of research and evaluation at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and lead author of the study, explained in the article that physicians with longer experience using EHRs were more likely to report clinical benefits.

Researchers looked at the responses from 3,180 physicians to the Physician Workflow Survey questionnaire about their experiences with EHRs.

“A majority of physicians said they were alerted to a potential medication error or critical lab value, and about one-third reported that EHRs helped them identify needed lab tests or facilitated direct communication with patients,” said King.

The study’s findings may open up new opportunities for more doctors to gain health IT benefits. King said Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use Program, which provides incentives from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for EHRs, includes policies designed to enhance the use of EHRs to exchange data between providers and give patients access to their health records.

“These policies may increase the rate at which physicians are able to use their EHRs to realize benefits such as not ordering duplicate lab tests and identifying needed tests,” said King.

“The study reinforces our view that meaningful use of EHR technologies can deliver clinical benefits and improve outcomes,” Mickey McGlynn, chair of the Electronic Health Record Association and senior director of strategy and operations for Siemens Healthcare, commented in a news release.

McGlynn pointed have fewer resources to support health IT.

“Because of that, they have historically been late adopters of EHRs,” she said. “Successful EHR adoption requires provider organization to integrate technology into their workflows and to adjust workflows over time to support their practices and specialties.”

McGlynn added that the study might help those reluctant to invest in EHR technology to realize that benefits may not be achieved quickly but can be over time. “EHR adoption is a journey not a destination,” she said. “All stakeholders must collaborate to ensure that requirements to achieve both benefits and incentives are practical and do not add unnecessary burdens to busy providers who must make patient care their top priority.”

The results of the survey were reported by Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health.

Don’t Miss Out On $500,000 with Section 179 Deduction

Contact our sales team today to learn how to take advantage of Section 179 before year-end to purchase your new EHR system.

Section 179 is a federal rule that allows small businesses to recognize immediately the expense of certain fixed assets. Taking advantage of Section 179 is very important because it can provide a great tax boon for small business owners (physicians).

Nearly every business has equipment and property that depreciates with time. Rather than being forced to deduct an asset’s value over the course of several years, Section 179 allows businesses to get the entire depreciation deduction in a single year, a practice known as first-year expensing.

How Section 179 works

If you were to purchase all-new desktop PCs for every employee, you’d be forced to deduct a portion of each computer’s cost over multiple years according to the regular depreciation rules. For the next five years, you’d only be able to deduct fractions of the overall expense. Section 179 allows for the immediate deduction of the entire expense in a single year instead of being forced to track depreciation for a computer that doesn’t typically offer a long useful lifetime. While this section of the tax code doesn’t increase the total amount you can deduct in a single year, it allows you to benefit from the deduction all at once.

The U.S. government created this incentive to ultimately encourage companies to invest in themselves and buy equipment to improve the services they can offer. In previous years, Section 179 was often referred to as the “SUV Tax Loophole” or “Hummer Deduction” due to how often the tax deduction was used in writing off the purchase of qualifying vehicles.

While the positive impact of Section 179 has been reduced severely for such vehicle write-offs, small businesses are in a better position to realize the value of deducting expenses in the same year for purchases of vehicles, machinery, software (Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems) and other office equipment. Many business owners prefer to write off entire equipment purchases the year they buy it. In years past, many companies avoided purchasing new equipment because they’d have to wait several years to realize the tax write-off in its entirety.

Section 179 limits

All new and used equipment is eligible for deduction up to $500,000 for 2013. All companies that lease, finance or purchase business equipment valued at less than $2 million still qualify for the Section 179 deduction, though any amounts beyond that limit affect the deduction value of any expenses. In unprofitable years or years with no taxable income to use for a deduction, businesses can still use a 50 percent “Bonus Depreciation” and carry forward the remaining deduction to the next year.

Assets eligible for deduction include anything from off-the-shelf software to business-use vehicles. Even some property types are eligible, provided the property meets a specific set of requirements set by the IRS. Any equipment declared for the Section 179 deduction must be put into service during the year it is declared on tax forms.

Companies with more than $2 million in purchased equipment won’t benefit as greatly from Section 179. Expenses over that maximum amount begin to decrease on a dollar-for-dollar deduction scale, effectively gearing this tax code toward small and medium-sized businesses.

Businesses are likewise limited in their deductions and cannot declare more than their net taxable business income. Net taxable income is best calculated by removing all deductions with the exception of Section 179, employment tax and net operating losses.

Changes in 2014

Every year, the IRS alters the benefits associated with Section 179. For example, the deduction limit, which was $500,000 in 2013, will be reduced to $25,000 in 2014. Also, the equipment purchase limit of $2 million will be cut to $200,000 after 2013.

Florida Blue to Reinstate Policies

The state’s largest health insurer, said Thursday it will extend policies that did not meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act through 2014, an announcement that came hours after President Barack Obama’s said Americans could keep their canceled plans.

Florida Blue was expected to drop as many as 300,000 policies over the next 12 months because they did not provide essential benefits required by the health law. About 40,000 beneficiaries in Florida had been notified before the president’s announcement, according to spokesman Paul Kluding.

The company plans to send out letters notifying affected policy holders, all in the individual insurance market, informing them they can keep their plans or select another. Company chairman and CEO Pat Geraghty also released a statement saying that the company had tried to help people find alternate plans

“Florida Blue has been an advocate for our members and we complied with the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which called for the inclusion of essential health benefits in all individual plans,” said company chairman and CEO Pat Geraghty in a prepared comment. “We notified impacted members and offered them the option of comparable and compliant plans giving them access to a wide variety of choices to meet their individual health care needs.”

It wasn’t immediately clear Thursday how all the state’s other insurers would react.

The health law required all new insurance plans to carry certain essentialbenefits not included in older policies, including those with high deductibles or limited hospitalization coverage. .In many cases, those plans were also less expensive, leading some consumers to complain they were paying for coverage they don’t need.

Essential benefits include hospitalization, emergency care, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drugs, preventative health care disease management and pediatric care.

Dr. Larry Antonucci, the chief operating officer of Lee Memorial Health System, called the president’s action a “wise decision.”

“You know when you have something as complex as this, both for patients and the insurance companies trying to deal with it, I think giving (them) a little breathing time to work this all out makes sense,” Antonucci said. He added that insurance buyers should “beware” when deciding what kind of plan to buy and make sure it covers what they need.

Lynne Thorp, who is overseeing the Affordable Care Act insurance sign-up effort in Southwest Florida, said her office has received a large number of calls from people who lost non-compliant insurance plans. She otherwise did not comment specifically about Thursday’s policy change.

Florida May Have to Pay the Increase on Medicaid Pay for Doctors

Florida physicians have made the argument for years: The state’s Medicaid payment rates are so low that many doctors wouldn’t take patients covered under the program.

But the federal Affordable Care Act provided a temporary solution. In 2013 and 2014, the law calls on the federal government to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to boost the pay of primary-care physicians who provide much of the treatment for low-income Floridians enrolled in Medicaid.

Now, however, Florida lawmakers and doctors face a dilemma. The federal government will stop covering the full cost of the physician pay increases at the end of next year. And that means Florida taxpayers would have to pick up part of the extra cost if the pay continue into 2015.

The Florida Medical Association has started lobbying lawmakers to include money in the upcoming 2014-15 fiscal-year budget to prevent doctors from falling back to lower payment rates. The FMA estimates the state’s cost at about $135 million, and a state report last year put the potential cost even higher.

Monte Stevens, an FMA lobbyist, told senators last week that physicians will consider the payment rates in deciding whether to serve Medicaid beneficiaries.

“Physicians are no different than any other small business owner in the state,” Stevens told the Senate Health and Human Service Appropriations Subcommittee. “They don’t make decisions about their business arrangements in a two- or three-year business cycle. They look at the long term.”

It remains unclear, however, whether lawmakers and Gov.Rick Scott will support spending the money. The Agency for Health Care Administration, which is part of the Scott administration and oversees Medicaid, did not include the additional money in its budget request for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Also, supporters of spending the money face questions about whether the higher pay is attracting more physicians to treat Medicaid patients. While the increased federal payments were slated to start in January, doctors did not start seeing additional money until this summer and fall because the state needed approvals for how the funding would flow through.

While physicians will receive the additional money retroactively, the delays make it harder to determine whether higher payment rates are drawing more doctors to the program.

“It’s pretty early to tell because the money has only recently started flowing. … We don’t have necessarily a long enough track record for us to tell whether or not this has had an impact, but we certainly think it may,” said Justin Senior, AHCA’s deputy secretary for Medicaid.

Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairwoman Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, said in an email Thursday she hopes lawmakers will see data in the coming months about whether higher payment are attracting doctors to take Medicaid patients.

“The goal of the increase, of course, was to encourage more providers to serve Medicaid recipients,” Grimsley said in the email. “As HHS Chair, to consider maintaining the increase with state dollars, I want to make sure the objective of increasing access for Medicaid recipients is being met.”

Judge Tosses Key Part of Florida Medical-Malpractice Law

A federal judge has rejected a key part of the state”s new medical-malpractice law, saying it conflicts with federal requirements designed to prevent the improper disclosure of patients” health information.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee came less than four months after Gov. Rick Scott signed the law. It was a blow to groups such as the Florida Medical Association, which represents doctors and which lobbied heavily this spring for changes in the medical-malpractice insurance system. Meanwhile, the Florida Justice Association, a trial-lawyers group, had long argued that the new law would trample on patient privacy.

The case focused on part of the law that would allow what are known as “ex parte communications” in medical-malpractice cases.

In such communications, for example, defense lawyers representing a doctor accused of malpractice could get personal health information about the patient involved in the case. That information could come from other doctors who had treated the patient, and such disclosures could occur without the patient”s lawyer being present.

Opponents of the law argued that it violates the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which seeks to prevent disclosure of personal medical information except in certain circumstances.

“The issue is whether a state, by statute, may require a patient, as a condition precedent to pursuing a medical-negligence claim, to sign an authorization allowing the potential defendant — and the potential defendant”s attorneys, insurers, and adjusters — to conduct ex parte interviews with the patient”s other health-care providers,”” Hinkle wrote. “Because federal law prohibits ex parte interviews of this kind with exceptions not applicable here, this order holds the statute invalid.”

An FMA spokeswoman said late Wednesday that the politically influential physicians group was reviewing Hinkle”s order.

In the past, supporters of the law have argued that ex parte communications would give defense lawyers access to information that plaintiffs” attorneys already can review. Along with saying that is a fairness issue, they contend the information could help defense lawyers make decisions more quickly about whether to settle or proceed with cases.

Hinkle acknowledged in his ruling that the state law could have such a benefit, but he wrote that “there are substantial arguments on the other side, too. The arguments on the other side have prevailed at the federal level. And the resulting federal rules expressly preempt conflicting state statutes.”

The FMA and allied groups made a top priority during this year”s legislative session of passing a medical-malpractice bill. The final version included the ex-parte communications issue and also placed new restrictions on expert witnesses in malpractice cases. The expert-witness issue was not part of the case before Hinkle.

Immediately after the medical-malpractice law took effect July 1, lawsuits were filed in state and federal courts across the state on behalf of people who were considering whether to pursue malpractice cases. The lawsuits attacked the ex parte communications issue.


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