August 24, 2017
As part of our mission to transform healthcare, we want to keep you informed of regular industry updates. News You Can Use provides a brief overview of relevant healthcare topics.
In this issue, we cover new Medicare cards, three new VA initiatives, a rise in healthcare data breaches, and an audit of Colorado’s health exchange.
1) CMS to mail new Medicare cards
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is preparing to remove Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards. This is part of a fraud-prevention initiative to fight identity theft and safeguard taxpayer dollars. As part of this effort, CMS will issue new Medicare cards, which will use a unique, randomly assigned number instead of the current Social Security–based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN). CMS plans to begin mailing the new cards in April 2018 and finish by April 2019.
2) VA announces health initiatives
The White House and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced three initiatives designed to increase access to healthcare for Veterans. Those initiatives are as follows:
- The “Anywhere to Anywhere VA Health Care” initiative allows the VA to hire providers in large cities with plenty of clinical services and connect them with rural communities with insufficient clinical services.
- VA Video Connect currently enables more than 300 providers to connect with Veterans via video on mobile phones or computers. This effort is now being rolled out across the country.
- The Veteran Appointment Request app (VAR) allows Veterans to schedule or modify appointments at VA facilities via smartphone, tablet, or computer. This application will now be made available nationwide.
3) Healthcare data breaches increase by nearly a third
The number of data breaches in healthcare is up 30 percent in the first half of 2017, according to a report by the Identify Theft Resource Center. However, the medical/healthcare industry does better than most when it comes to reporting on the number of records compromised. This performance may be due, in part, to mandatory reporting in the healthcare industry of breaches that affect 500 or more people.
4) Audit of Colorado exchange reveals accounting flaws
A recent audit of Colorado’s health insurance exchange (HIX), known as Connect for Health Colorado, found that 11 percent of the payments authorized did not have the proper documentation. This was also true for nearly $4 million in contracts. Although the exchange has made progress in addressing accounting challenges, it does not always follow its own policies concerning contracts and purchases.