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Healthcare Roundup: Advantage Commissions Targeted, Identity Rules Delayed, Death by Credit Crunch and More

Humana, UnitedHealth call for caps on Medicare Advantage commissions -- Insurance agents who enroll seniors in Medicare Advantage plans --which are subsidized by the government but offered by private health-insurance plans -- are getting sizeable commissions from those insurers. Medicare will look into the commissions and whether they prompt overzealous selling of the plans. Some insurers, meanwhile, would like to see the commissions capped, apparently because some of their competitors have hiked them in order to win new members. [Source: AP via FierceHealthcare, Modern Healthcare]

FTC's identity-theft rules postponed -- Regulations that require financial institutions to implement anti-identity-theft measures now go into effect as of next May 1, instead of Nov. 1. The delay partly reflects the fact that many hospitals may qualify as creditors based on their outstanding patient accounts, but were unprepared to meet the stricter requirements. [Source: Healthcare Finance News]

Ascension Health to inject $100M into Boston hospital -- The Catholic hospital chain Ascension Health will invest $100 million to support Caritas Christi Health Care, a six-hospital group in Boston. A year ago, Ascension backed out of a tentative plan to acquire Caritas Christi because of debt and a shrinking patient population. The funding will support a restructuring plan aimed at getting Caritas Christi out of debt. [Source: Modern Healthcare]

Pitt medical center seeks $650M, lays off 500 -- The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center plans a $650 million bond offering to pay for expansion projects and to refinance long-term debt. Late last week, the medical center laid off 500 employees as part of its cost-cutting efforts.[ Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Credit crunch kills doctor-group acquisition of Michigan hospital -- A Pontiac, Mich., hospital, North Oakland Medical Centers, is slated to close today after a deal to sell itself to a 100-member physicians group fell through. Financing the deal during the credit crunch proved impossible, however. [Source: Modern Healthcare]

HealthSouth gets $100M settlement from UBS -- The two companies settled a shareholder-related lawsuit that claimed UBS helped HealthSouth executives perpetrate an accounting fraud that inflated profits at the inpatient-rehabilitation provider. UBS will pay HealthSouth $100 million and forgive an earlier $33 million judgment in UBS' favor. [Source: Birmingham Business Journal]

FDA's oversight of medical devices cursory -- Although the Food and Drug Administration approves thousands of medical devices each year, it usually does so on the basis of scant testing that usually offers no clue as to whether the devices are actually effective. The FDA has little interest in changing the way it reviews devices. [Source: NYT]

Two Texas hospitals consider consolidation under Christus -- Christus St. Michael Health System and Wadley Regional Medical Center, both in Texarkana, Tex., have signed a nonbinding agreement to consolidate operations as a single community-health center under Christus Health of Irving, Tex. [Source: Modern Healthcare]

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