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Healthcare Roundup: United Proposes Reforms, Medical Home Update, Tenet Teams with Med3000, and More

United The Reformer â€" UnitedHealth Group has proposed reforms that it says could save government health programs more than $540 million over the next decade. Under the big insurer's approach, Uncle Sam would help healthcare providers reduce medical errors, improve chronic disease care, and do better case management. Adoption of evidence-based clinical guidelines and medical homes would also play important roles. Most of the changes would be based on United's experience with similar programs. But if United has been so successful in holding down costs, why are its commercial insurance premiums still so high? And why is the government paying United and other carriers so much to cover Medicare Advantage members? [Sources: Fierce Healthcare, UnitedHealth Group]

Medical Home Update - Small private practices and rural practices were able to adopt electronic health records, disease registries, and patient portals in the TransforMED medical home demonstration project. But the 31 practices that completed the two-year pilot, which ended last year, found it was more difficult than expected to implement the EHRs and integrate them into their workflow. Also, it was frustrating for the practices to do double data entry in registries that were not connected to their EHRs. However, those that persevered found registries useful in doing population health management. [Sources: AAFP press release, BNET Healthcare]

Tenet, Med3000 Hook Up â€" Tenet Healthcare Corp., one of the nation's largest for-profit hospital chains, will own 20 percent of a new joint venture with Med3000, a leading revenue cycle management firm. The joint venture, labeled Med3000 Practice Resources, will provide services to independent physician practices as well as groups employed by Tenet hospitals in 12 states. The emphasis will be on health IT services, including practice management systems and electronic health records. [Source: Modern Healthcare]

Goin' South â€" Back in 2001, when health care was cheaper and there were fewer uninsured, nearly a million Californians sought health care in Mexico, according to a new UCLA study. The study found that just over half of those going south for care--488,000 people--were Mexican immigrants. Which makes a lot of sense, since 51 percent of immigrants who had been in the U.S. less than 15 years--and 29 percent of longer-term residents--were uninsured. But what's more intriguing is that almost half a million non-immigrant state residents traveled to Mexico for health care, presumably because they couldn't afford it in the U.S. [Source: Modern Healthcare] Health Net Settles Suit â€" Health Net has agreed to pay California hospitals nearly $2 million for services provided to patients whom it dropped after they received that care. The insurer will also pay up to $14 million to settle claims by 800 former members who were kicked out of Health Net after they submitted substantial medical bills. The settlement follows a two-year crackdown by the state on the practice of rescission by health plans. As a result of that campaign, Health Net and other plans have agreed to change the way they sell individual coverage. [Source: Los Angeles Times]

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