HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Creighton University School of Law

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kaiser Updates Resources on Health Coverage and the Uninsured to Include Latest Census Data

An update to the health coverage and the uninsured databases of The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured now reflects new data released in September by the U.S. Census Bureau. This update also includes information about the potential impact of the health reform law on the uninsured population. Kaiser's databases include:

The Uninsured: A Primer -- Updated with 2009 data, the Primer reviews the basic profile of the uninsured population, how they receive care, the latest trends in health insurance coverage, key issues in increasing coverage and basic statistics on the uninsured. It also discusses how the      new health reform law might affect the uninsured population.

The Uninsured and the Difference Health Insurance Makes -- This fact sheet describes the characteristics of the uninsured population, the difference health insurance makes, and why there is a large uninsured population.

Five Facts on the Uninsured --This issue brief provides basic facts that explain why so many people in America lack health coverage and how being uninsured affects their health and financial security.

The Health Coverage & Uninsured section of the Foundation’s website includes data on the health insurance status of state populations and demographic information for those who are uninsured, have employer-based insurance, or Medicaid, including state-by-state changes in coverage since 2007. The Demographics and the Economy section includes basic information about each state’s residents, including breakdowns of the population by age, gender, race/ethnicity, income and employment.

For all the latest Kaiser research, analysis and information about the uninsured and health reform, consult the Foundation’s Health Reform Source page.

December 1, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 29, 2010

OIG Issues Roadmap on Avoiding Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Abuse for New Physicians

A new resource and educational guide for new physicians to help them better understand the key Federal fraud and abuse laws has been issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (OIG). Bob Coffield at Health Care Law Blog reports:

The new OIG document is titled, "Roadmap for New Physicians: Avoiding Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Abuse." The physician education roadmap document summarized the five main Federal fraud and abuse laws, including the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Stark Law, the Exclusion Statute, and the Civil Monetary Penalties Law. The roadmap document provides tips to physicians on how they should comply with these laws in their relationships with payers (like the Medicare and Medicaid programs), relationships with vendors (like drug, biologic, and medical device companies), and relationships with fellow providers (like hospitals, nursing homes, and physician colleagues).

The roadmap guide was developed as a result of a survey conducted by OIG of medical school deans and designated institutional officials at institutions that sponsor residencies and fellowships to learn what types of instruction medical students, residents, and fellows receive on Medicare and Medicaid fraud, waste, and abuse. Nearly all respondents (92% of deans and 90% of designated institutional officials) reported they would like OIG to provide educational materials they can use. The complete survey, "Medicare and Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Training in Medical Education," was recently issued in October, 2010.

You can view online or download a PDF version of the roadmap guidance materials.

November 29, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New AMA Policy Guides Physicians’ Use of Social Media

Today the American Medical Association announced that it has adopted and issued a new policy offering guidance to physicians on the use of social media. The new policy focuses on helping physicians to "maintain a positive online presence and preserve the integrity of the patient-physician relationship."

The press release indicates that the policy encourages physicians to:

• Use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the fullest extent possible on social networking sites.
• Routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.
• Maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship when interacting with patients online and ensure patient privacy and confidentiality is maintained.
• Consider separating personal and professional content online.
• Recognize that actions online and content posted can negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, and may even have consequences for their medical careers.

Below is a copy of the complete AMA Policy on Professionalism in the Use of Social Media.


The Internet has created the ability for medical students and physicians to communicate and share information quickly and to reach millions of people easily. Participating in social networking and other similar Internet opportunities can support physicians’ personal expression, enable individual physicians to have a professional presence online, foster collegiality and camaraderie within the profession, provide opportunity to widely disseminate public health messages and other health communication. Social networks, blogs, and other forms of communication online also create new challenges to the patient-physician relationship. Physicians should weigh a number of considerations when maintaining a presence online:

(a) Physicians should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online, and must refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.

(b) When using the Internet for social networking, physicians should use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible, but should realize that privacy settings are not absolute and that once on the Internet, content is likely there permanently. Thus, physicians should routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and, to the extent possible, content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.

(c) If they interact with patients on the Internet, physicians must maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship in accordance with professional ethical guidelines just, as they would in any other context.

(d) To maintain appropriate professional boundaries physicians should consider separating personal and professional content online.

(e) When physicians see content posted by colleagues that appears unprofessional they have a responsibility to bring that content to the attention of the individual, so that he or she can remove it and/or take other appropriate actions. If the behavior significantly violates professional norms and the individual does not take appropriate action to resolve the situation, the physician should report the matter to appropriate authorities.

(f) Physicians must recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, may have consequences for their medical careers (particularly for physicians-in-training and medical students), and can undermine public trust in the medical profession.





November 28, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)