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QIOs under fire, face reform

There is scant evidence that QIO interventions drive quality improvement, and QIOs appear to meet their beneficiary complaint review obligations poorly. Those findings were affirmed by an Institute of Medicine investigation, which will guide government reforms.

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State of Pa.’s mental health care

The report identifies strengths and weaknesses in a three-tiered system of state hospitals, county-level services and non-profit community-based providers in a uniquely diverse state of two large urban centers and the nation’s largest rural population.

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Medicaid reform time again

The medical community and other stakeholders believe that Pa.’s current Medicaid program structure is unsustainable, that mere fiscal tinkering will not fix a broken system, and that major structural reform is required.

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Pa.’s hospital-acquired infection battle

While hospitals have for years included infection control as part of their quality improvement programs, release of the PHC4 reports has called into question the adequacy of those efforts by tallying HAI frequency, decrying their cost, and heightening public awareness of their existence.

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Pharmacist scope of practice expansion

Pa. is in the final phases of expanding the scope of what pharmacists can do in collaboration with physicians, including managing drug therapy in an institutional setting and administering injectable medications at the retail level, while retail pharmacy chains are expanding their patient services and are poised to open primary care centers staffed by nurse practitioners.

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Are health savings accounts the answer?

Proponents hope HSAs will reduce over-utilization, increase access to health care, improve the physician-patient relationship, and lower overall health care costs. Critics argue that the plans jeopardize patients’ access to quality care and may actually end up increasing health expenses in the long term.

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Health Department overhauls regulations

Some stakeholders regard the draft regulations as representing bold and long-overdue change that is urgently needed to keep pace with a health care delivery landscape that has evolved significantly over the past 20 years, while others regard them as overly prescriptive and intrusive.

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Ambulatory surgery centers proliferate

While they offer physicians convenient and potentially lucrative practice opportunities, ASCs appear to be hurting hospitals’ margins, and are fueling concerns that their rapid growth may be outpacing quality oversight and regulation.

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