Thursday, April 26, 2007

Most Doctors get money or gifts from healthcare companies

Ninety four percent of physicians in a recent survey reported accepting money or gifts from companies providing drugs, medical equipment, supplies, or other healthcare services. The study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine was based on a national study of the relationships between physicians and suppliers to the healthcare industry.

The study surveyed 3167 physicians in six speciaties: anthesiology, cardiology, family practice, general surgery, internal medicine, and pediatrics. Here's a breakdown of what they accepted and how many:

  • Food or drinks in the workplace - 83%
  • Drug samples - 78%
  • Payments for consulting - 18%
  • Payments for speaking - 16%
  • Reimbursements for meeting expenses - 15%
  • Tickets to cultural or sporting events - 7%

source: New England Journal of Medicine

This data comes as no surprise to home care marketers. All of us have heard the phrase, "The doctor only sees sales reps who bring lunch."

Do you know that it is a violation of federal antikickback laws for the staff in a doctors office to request that you bring lunch in order to see the doctor if the purpose of the visit is to solicit Medicare or Medicaid patient referrals.

The OIG has ruled that small, non-cash gifts that total less than $326.00 per year may be acceptable to build relationships with physicians for educational purposes. However, it is our understanding that when a doctors office solicits gifts of any amount, that violates the law.

What's your view of this subject? How frequently are your sales reps solicited for meals or gifts in exchange for access to the doctor? What do you do to get around this sticky issue?

Give us your comments by clicking on the comment button below:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Another New Online Referral Service for Home Health Agencies

LOS ANGELES, CA, April 9, 2007 – Today, HomeCare Referral introduces to the public the HCR Preferred Providers Network, a gateway to the leading home care service providers across the United States. Providers can now be contacted directly by potential clients through a subscription-based listing in the Network. There are no lead fees and no referral fees - only heightened online exposure at www.homecarereferral.com.

Large For-profit Home Health Companies Explore Lobbying Options

Several large, for-profit home-health-services companies are considering joining forces to found a new lobbying entity after their trade association decided to stop representing them. Some of these firms may create a coalition separate from the industry’s leading trade association, an executive at one of the companies said.

Todd Brason, president and CEO of Buffalo, N.Y.-based WillCare, said that his company and others have talked about forming a coalition to represent their interests. But he emphasized that they are not contemplating founding a new trade association.

“We’ve had some conversations” in recent weeks, Brason said, adding the companies have not taken any formal steps to create an alliance. WillCare and other firms are weighing their options in response to the February decision by the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) to focus on the home-oxygen suppliers and other durable-medical-equipment companies that make up the bulk of its membership.

This change in strategy left out the group’s home-health members. Oxygen-supply companies had been agitating for a stronger lobbying presence, which instigated the shift at AAHomecare. In 2006, 11 members of the association formed a coalition called the Council for Quality Respiratory Care to advocate for their sector, which has been targeted for spending cuts under Medicare. The oxygen industry’s approach could serve as a model for large, for-profit home-health companies, Brason said.

Meanwhile, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), the main trade group for the home-health industry, may not benefit from the void created by the changes at AAHomecare. Brason said he was “kind of in the middle stage of considering NAHC.” But he emphasized that WillCare and other companies have concerns about the association’s priorities and its approach to lobbying.

NAHC “rides the fence a little bit,” Brason said, because its diverse membership includes both for-profit and not-for-profit companies and ranges from small businesses to large, publicly traded firms.

The NAHC is also not as aggressive in promoting the industry’s agenda as some companies would like, Brason said. “We feel it’s necessary to be more proactive than reactive,” Brason said, adding, “It’s time to move the industry up the food chain, so to speak.”

The chief executive of another large, for-profit home-health company agreed that the NAHC’s focus on the needs of smaller home-health agencies has led bigger firms to consider embarking on their own venture but expressed satisfaction with the existing association. “I think NAHC does a good job,” said David Geller, president and CEO of King of Prussia, Pa.-based Home Health Corporation of America. Home Health Corp. is an NAHC member.

The NAHC has concentrated on fighting proposed freezes or cuts in Medicare payments to home-health providers. But Brason indicated that other issues have become more important to his company. Specifically, firms such as WillCare are trying to adjust to the increasing role of private managed-care health-insurance companies in both the Medicare and Medicaid programs.“That’s our biggest headache right now,” he said.

-------------------

What's your take on this issue? Do you feel well represented in Washington by NAHC? What are the issues you feel need to be addresses?

What's your take on AAHomecare? Are you a member? If so, how come? If not, why not?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Home Care Overtime Case

Coverage & Access SCOTUS To Hear Case on Home Care Workers' Wages, Overtime
[Mar 27, 2007]

The Supreme Court on April 16 plans to hear oral arguments in a case that could determine whether federal minimum wage and overtime laws apply to home care workers. In the case, Evelyn Coke, a 73-year-old immigrant from Jamaica, filed a lawsuit against New York-based Long Island Care at Home to challenge regulations that exempt home care workers from the laws.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case after the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the regulations, which the court said conflicted with the congressional intent. Congress in 1974 amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to extend federal minimum wage and overtime laws to household workers but exempted baby sitters and "companions" for the elderly and those with illnesses. In 1975, DOL proposed regulations to implement the revisions to the law that exempted home care workers. In a brief, Long Island Care argued that the regulations were consistent with congressional intent because some lawmakers had raised concerns about the need to reduce costs.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Canada home care spending reaches $3.4 billion

Canadian Government spending on home care grew from $1.6 billion in 1994–1995 to $3.4 billion in 2003–2004, an average annual growth of 9.2%, according to a new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

In comparison, over the same time period, total government health spending increased by an average of 5.7% per year. Public-Sector Expenditures and Utilization of Home Care Services in Canada: Exploring the Data is CIHI’s first comprehensive report on public-sector spending on home care services—a combination of health care and support services provided in the home instead of in an institutional setting. Between 1994–1995 and 2003–2004, government home care spending per person increased on average by 6.1% per year after adjusting for inflation, while total government health spending per person increased by 2.7% per year.

Home care spending represented 4.0% of total government health spending in 2003–2004.The number of patients using government-subsidized home care increased from 23.9 per 1,000 in 1994–1995 to 26.1 per 1,000 in 2003–2004, representing an average annual increase of 1.0%. Over the study period, spending on home care increased faster than the number of patients did, suggesting that in general, home care users each consumed more resources in 2003 than they did a decade previously.

Care Pilot announces first vertical search engine for Home Health Agencies

For Home Health Agencies:

With eight in ten Internet users, or more than 110 million adults, going online for health information, CarePilot represents a new way for individuals to connect with local health services. Just as "Baby Boomers" have used the Internet to manage their communication, financial, shopping, entertainment, and travel-related activities, CarePilot believes that they will also turn to the Internet to research, select, and connect with home health providers.

Home health agencies are invited to create accounts and update their profiles on CarePilot.com. Agencies can create "Enhanced Listings" with personalized descriptions of their services and secure prominent placement within CarePilot's search results. CarePilot's "Patient Access Program" allows agencies to safely and securely receive detailed patient requests online and communicate with caretakers.

"CarePilot is an excellent resource for individuals as they begin to research their home health options," said Steven Nerayoff, President of New Jersey-based Freedom Eldercare, one of the largest private comprehensive geriatric care companies in the country. "By delivering relevant information in a user-friendly manner, CarePilot will help people make more informed decisions regarding home care."

For more information, visit http://www.carepilot.com/