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Medicaid rule could extend health IT support to behavioral health, long-term care

A newly proposed CMS rule governing Medicaid managed-care plans has implications on health IT. The rule authorizes state Medicaid programs to offer incentive payments for organizations that do not qualify to participate in the Meaningful Use program, like behavioral health providers and long-term care providers, to purchase and implement EHRs. The new rule also authorizes states to mandate participation in health information exchanges as part of their contracts with Medicaid managed care organizations.

Telemedicine exams result in antibiotics as often as regular exams, study finds

A new RAND corporation study published in JAMA Internal Medicine finds that antibiotic prescribing rates are comparable between office-based visits and telehealth visits, but notes that virtually-treated patients were more likely to be prescribed a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which is concerning because use of these drugs drives up costs and contributes to antibiotic resistance.

Antitrust Lawsuits Target Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Two antitrust lawsuits filed independently by health care providers and employers is advancing in federal court in Alabama. The suits charge Blue Cross and Blue Shield with acting as a single, illegal cartel, rather than as 37 independently owned companies to minimize competition. BCBS currently covers one-third of all Americans.

Early Marketplace Enrollees Were Older And Used More Medication Than Later Enrollees; Marketplaces Pooled Risk

Researchers assessed the medication needs of the 7.3 million Americans that signed up for health insurance through the 2014 Affordable Care Act marketplaces and found that marketplace enrollees had a lower average drug spending and were less likely to use most medication classes than an employer-sponsored comparison group.

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