111 members of Congress urge HHS to reform RAC program | For more: | Ex-British soldier receives prostheses with advanced software
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February 13, 2014
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111 members of Congress urge HHS to reform RAC program
A bipartisan group of 111 members of Congress sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing concerns with the Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor program and urging reform. The letter notes that the RAC payment system provides an incentive for auditors to deny claims even when they are correct, placing "a huge administrative burden" on providers who appeal denied claims. "An alternative payment arrangement with auditors should be considered by the Congress and CMS in order to ensure RACs are not improperly incentivized to deny claims for profit and to ensure they focus on prevention of errors," the letter states. Health Data Management (2/11)
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Science and Technology
Ex-British soldier receives prostheses with advanced software
Gregg Stevenson, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, is the first person in the U.K. to receive Ottobock's multiuse Genium X3 knee, which uses Wii gaming technology and can be controlled with a Bluetooth remote. The knee can be switched seamlessly among walking, running and different sports modes. It is waterproof as well as resistant to dirt and dust, and it allows Stevenson to walk backward, up and down stairs and over obstacles. The Daily Mail (London) (2/12), Lancashire Evening Post (U.K.) (2/13)
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Study on juggling may lead to advances in prosthetics
The repeated rhythmic pattern of juggling, which combines perceptions of sight and touch, can provide insights into the process of locomotion and may one day help in the development of better touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs, according to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. "It turns out that the art of juggling provides an interesting window into many of the same questions that you try to answer when you study forms of locomotion, such as walking or running," said study leader Noah Cowan. The study appeared in the Journal of Neurophysiology. RedOrbit (2/12)
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Medical News
Gel-filled bonnet could prevent plagiocephaly in infants
Medical-device startup Invictus Medical is creating a gel-filled bonnet aimed at preventing plagiocephaly in babies being treated in the neonatal intensive care unit. Up to 30% of newborns have some form of the condition, and most medical devices are centered on treatment, said company CEO Tom Roberts. Invictus is preparing to begin clinical trials of the bonnet and hopes to submit an application for FDA 510(k) approval by the end of June. MassDevice.com (Boston) (2/12)
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Study: Double mastectomy cuts death risk in some women with breast cancer
A study in BMJ found that women with early-stage breast cancer and BRCA gene mutations who had double mastectomies had a 48% reduced risk of dying from the disease during the next two decades. The procedure appeared to show the most benefit 11 to 20 years after diagnosis. HealthDay News (2/11)
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Obesity-diabetes link still unclear, study says
A study in PLoS Medicine says a majority of type 2 diabetes patients were not diagnosed with the disease until they had been overweight for many years. Researchers also found that patients with stable obesity and eventual diabetes did not have significant increases in insulin resistance prior to diagnosis. The results suggest that "strategies focusing on small weight reductions for the entire population may be more beneficial than predominantly focusing on weight loss for high-risk individuals," the researchers wrote. HealthDay News (2/12)
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Other News
Legislative and Regulatory
HHS: 3.3M enrolled in health plans through ACA exchanges
An additional 1.1 million people enrolled in health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act exchanges in January, bringing the total to about 3.3 million, according to an HHS report. About 25% of the enrollees are 18 to 34, HHS said. Bloomberg (2/13), MedPage Today (free registration) (2/12)
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Trend Watch
Bench for people with disabilities is designed by triple amputee
Former British soldier Alex Stringer, who lost both legs and an arm in Afghanistan, has begun a new career as a designer. His first project was a picnic bench, constructed of recycled materials, that has openings to allow someone in a wheelchair to pull in next to seated companions. "Certainly for the younger people who work in our factory, he's been an absolute inspiration," said Sarah Sharlott of the firm Realise Futures, which provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities. BBC (2/11)
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Charity aids Fla. student with prosthetic leg
When University of Central Florida student Tyler Ewles lost his lower right leg in a motorcycle accident, the charitable organization 50 Legs arranged for his first prosthetic limb and plans to cover the costs for a second specialized running leg. Ewles recently took his first steps on a temporary prosthesis at Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates in Orlando, Fla. The Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.) (2/11)
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Breaking news from AOPA
2014 AOPA Policy Forum dates have been announced. Make a difference and register now for the expanded 3-day program! For those interested in learning more about the appropriated monies for outcomes research in O&P, register for the 2014 Research Funding Update today! Learn more about the distance learning opportunities that AOPA offers and get your business credits today! Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman visits Ottobock -- all of this and more in today's AOPA Breaking News.
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Upcoming events
Feb. 20: 2014 Research Funding Update (Telephone audio conference) Learn more or register online
March 12: The ABC's of Audits: What to Expect and How to Respond (Telephone audio conference)
Learn more or register online.
April 7-8: Mastering Medicare: Essential Coding and Billing Seminar, Las Vegas Learn more or register online.
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