News in Brief: Week of Feb. 10-14

February 12, 2014 09:28 am News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

AAFP to Comment on USPSTF's Draft HBV Screening Recommendation

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued a draft evidence report( and draft recommendation statement( on screening nonpregnant adolescents and adults for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. In its draft statement, USPSTF members recommend screening for HBV infection in people at high risk for infection.

In the Clinical Considerations section of the recommendation statement, the task force identifies two primary risk factors for infection as country of origin and lack of immunization during infancy. Other groups at risk for infection include people who are HIV-positive, injection drug users, household contacts of patients with HBV infection, and men who have sex with men.

The USPSTF last addressed screening nonpregnant individuals for HBV infection in 2004, when it recommended against routinely screening the general asymptomatic population for chronic HBV infection. Five years later, the task force further recommended screening pregnant women for HBV infection at the first prenatal visit.

The current AAFP recommendations on HBV screening align with those of the USPSTF. The Academy is reviewing the new draft recommendation and will submit comments to the task force by the March 10 deadline.

EHR Incentive Payments Top $19 Billion

CMS has released a 2013 end-of-year report( that shows the federal government paid out $19.2 billion in incentive payments to 340,046 of the nearly 441,000 registered providers participating in the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record incentive programs.

Of the total amount, nearly $3.7 billion was disbursed to physicians participating in the Medicare program, and more than $1.8 billion was paid to physicians participating in the Medicaid incentive program. Eligible hospitals received nearly $11.5 billion from the two programs combined.

Other health care professionals receiving incentive payments were dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, chiropractors, certified nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

CMS Seeks Input on Payment Model Proposals

CMS is requesting information from physicians and other health care stakeholders on new policies the agency is considering on the development of innovative payment and service delivery models for specialty health care services in the outpatient setting.

Specifically, CMS is considering two payment models: a procedural episode-based model and a complex and chronic disease management episode-based model.

A request for information and comments can be submitted to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation( Comments must be received by 5 p.m. EST on March 13 to ensure consideration.

Report Details Latinos' Opportunities to Secure Health Insurance

On Feb. 11, HHS issued a new report( that showed that about eight in 10 uninsured Latinos qualify for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program or subsidies for health insurance gained through the health insurance marketplace.

According to an HHS press release(, the report stated that one in four uninsured people who are eligible for insurance through the marketplace are Latino, or approximately 10.2 million individuals. In the same release, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "As many as 8 million of those could get a break on costs."

Of those 10.2 million Latinos, 62 percent live in just three states: California (28 percent), Texas (24 percent) and Florida (10 percent). About 46 percent of those eligible uninsured Latinos are between the ages of 18 and 35.