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Healthcare Roundup: Wal-Mart Offers Employee PHRs, Health Plan Collapses, and More

Wal-Mart offers employees personal-health records -- The retail giant said it would offer its employees electronic PHRs based on technology from WebMD and Dossia, an employer coalition. The company will pre-fill those records with prescription-drug and medical-treatment information from pharmacies and health-insurance companies. Of course, there's a catch: The plan only applies to employees who qualify for health insurance; Wal-Mart has taken flack from critics for restricting the availability of coverage. [Source: Health Data Management]

Health plan goes bust following Lehman collapse -- Tampa, Fla.-based MD MedicareChoice was judged insolvent after it lost access to $27 million in reserves that were invested in the Primary Fund of Reserve Management Corp. The plan's access was frozen by the SEC because the fund was exposed to the collapse of Lehman Brothers. HHS subsequently canceled the plan's Medicare Advantage contract and reassigned patients to Humana. [Source: Modern Healthcare]

FTC takes a whack at medical-identity theft -- The Federal Trade Commission has issued a rule aimed at stemming identity theft via medical records, which turn out to be excellent sources of financial information that can be used to obtain credit or to commit healthcare fraud. The rule would require healthcare providers to establish systems for detecting possible identity theft and taking countermeasures. [Source: FierceHealthcare]

"Never events" a major cause of hospital liability -- Hospital-acquired infections, injuries and related problems accounted for 12 percent of total hospital-liability costs in 2007, according to a new study by the insurer Aon. Such "never events" -- so termed because they should never happen -- are a major focus of efforts to cut medical errors; Medicare and most major insurers have recently agreed not to pay for care that results in such errors. [Source: Modern Healthcare]

Schwarzenegger strengthens patient-privacy law, vetoes rescission bill -- The California governor signed two bills that hike fines for those who repeatedly access patient records inappropriately and create a state office to oversee patient-privacy issues. But Schwarzenegger vetoed bills that would have made it more difficult for health-insurance companies to retroactively cancel individual coverage, constrained insurance-company profits and reformed the practice of "balance billing," in which hospitals bill patients for services not covered by their insurance. [Source: LAT]

Walgreens settles Medicaid false-billing claims -- The giant drugstore chain agreed to pay $9.9 million to the federal government and four states to settle charges that it defrauded the Medicaid program. Walgreens stood accused of charging Medicaid for prescription-drug costs not covered by private insurance. [Source: Healthcare Finance News via FierceHealthcare]

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