Massachusetts bill to require electronic records by 2015
BOSTON Massachusetts Senate president Therese Murray recently proposed legislation that would require healthcare providers across the state to adopt electronic health records by 2015, according to published reports.
The bill would provide $25 million annually to help cover the cost of deploying a statewide EHR system, with the funds coming from a proposed $1 increase to the state cigarette tax.
The tax would generate $175 million for the project by 2015, if the tax increase takes effect this year.
The bill also would require physicians to show competency in EHR technology to gain medical board registration.
The Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, a not-for-profit organization focused on EHR adoption, said the bill would not provide sufficient funding for a statewide EHR system, estimating that the project would cost about $500 million.
Pharmacy organizations in California request CMS examination of Medi-Cal cuts
SACRAMENTO, Calif. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the California Pharmacists Association and the California Retail Association called on federal regulators Friday to carefully examine a state plan amendment for a 10 percent “across-the-board” cut to Medi-Cal reimbursements.
In a joint letter to the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Kerry Weems, the groups highlighted potential consequences of the reduction, which was enacted last month.
“We urge that CMS ensure that DHCS and the Medi-Cal program have performed their statutorily required due diligence under the Medicaid statute in evaluating the impact of each component provider reduction on beneficiary access. If they have not done so, we urge that the SPA be rejected,” the groups stated.
“Maintaining pharmacy access is important not only to Medi-Cal beneficiaries’ health and safety, but also to the Medicaid program’s overall ability to constrain costs at the ‘macro’ level,” they noted, citing studies that have found reduced access to prescriptions can result in increased emergency room visits and prolonged hospital stays, which are more costly forms of healthcare.
Pharmacies fill over 22 million prescriptions for Medi-Cal patients every year, and NACDS, CPhA, and the CRA represent approximately 5,000 pharmacies operating in California.
“Many California providers—and particularly pharmacy providers—have experienced repeated reductions in Medi-Cal reimbursement over the last few years,” the groups wrote. “[It] it is crucial that any additional cuts be performed in a measured and rational manner that takes beneficiary access levels into consideration. We trust that if the supportive documentation submitted by the state with the proposed SPA fails to meet the federal statutory standard, CMS will reject that submission and insist that the federal standard be met through a provider-by-provider evaluation of beneficiary access levels.”
Merck inks deal to commercialize future Marcadia products
INDIANAPOLIS Marcadia Biotech and Merck have signed a deal under which Merck will help the company test and commercialize its products.
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will pay Marcadia an initial upfront fee, as well as payments for exclusivity and ongoing research. Marcadia will also be eligible to receive future milestone and royalty payments associated with research, development and commercialization of certain new drugs. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Marcadia does not have any products on the market yet. It is developing a synthetic hormone that will be supplied in an injector pen, making it ready for quick use in emergency treatment of hypoglycemia.