Healthcare Roundup: Merger Guidelines Revisited, Insurance Antitrust Bill, California Health Jobs and More

Justice Dept., FTC Re-Examine Guidelines - The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission plan to update their "horizontal merger" guidelines regarding antitrust violations for the first time since 1992. Although the agencies said nothing about the insurance industry, the AMA said it hopes that the update will help stop further consolidation of health plans. [Sources: Fierce Healthcare, AMA]

Insurance Antitrust Bill - Meanwhile, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has introduced a bill that would end health and malpractice insurers' exemption from federal antitrust laws. Leahy says the measure would increase competition and perhaps drive down costs. [Source: Kaiser Health News]

California Health Jobs - To meet the needs of California's growing population, the number of workers in allied health professions-including such positions as lab and x-ray techs, medical secretaries and nursing aides-will have to expand to 988,000 by 2030, according to a report by Beacon Economics. But the state's educational system can train only 634,000 allied health workers by then, so one in three positions will be open unless they're filled by people from out of state or Californians who are educated elsewhere. [Source: Fierce Healthcare]

Billers Have ICD-10 On Their Minds - Although CMS has pledged there will be no delays in implementing the ICD-10 set of diagnostic codes and the 5010 transaction set, a spokeswoman for the Healthcare Billing and Management Association (HBMA) believes that there could be chaos when ICD-10 is implemented in 2013. Holly Louie, who chairs HBMA's ethics & compliance and ICD-10 committees, said that payers have informed her they plan to meet the deadline by using "crosswalks" between ICD-9 and ICD-10, which could be a nightmare for medical billers. [Source: Healthcare Finance News]