Today’s Top Story
Senate committee holds hearing on reducing Medicare fraud.
An article in MedPage Today reports on a hearing on Medicare fraud held by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that about 10 percent of Medicare payouts were improper during FY 2014. According to testimony from a representative of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency is seeking to improve and redesign its Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System to better match CMS’ needs, as well as those of the provider and supplier communities. In addition, CMS seeks to improve the data quality in the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System—the system that assigns National Provider Identifiers to providers and suppliers enrolled in the Medicare program. Read more…(registration may be required)
View the hearing testimony…
View the GAO report (PDF)…

Other News

Study: Patient satisfaction may be a good indicator of outcome after surgical spine care.
Data published in the August issue of the journal Neurosurgery suggest that patient satisfaction with outcome may accurately represent the effectiveness of surgical spine care in terms of 1-year improvement in pain and disability. The research team reviewed data from a prospective longitudinal registry on 1,645 elective spine surgery patients. They found that 83 percent of patients (n = 1,362) reported satisfaction with outcome at 12-month follow-up. After adjustment for patient-specific factors, the research team found that inability to achieve minimal clinically important difference for Oswestry Disability Index/Neck Disability Index (ODI/NDI), back/neck pain (BP/NP), and leg/arm pain (LP/AP); Medicaid/uninsured payer status; and higher baseline ODI/NDI and BP/NP scores were independent predictors of patient dissatisfaction at 12 months. Read more…
Read the abstract…

Study looks at long-term outcomes for ACL reconstruction using middle-third patellar tendon autograft.
A study published online in The American Journal of Sports Medicine examines long-term outcomes for patients who undergo anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction using middle-third patellar tendon autografts. The researchers conducted a longitudinal, prospective study of 90 patients who were evaluated at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years after surgery. At 20-year follow-up, they found that 32 (36 percent) patients had sustained another ACL injury: 8 (9 percent) to the index limb and 27 (30 percent) to the contralateral limb, with three injuring both knees. Overall, 50 percent of patients participated in strenuous or very strenuous activities, and kneeling pain was present in 63 percent. The researchers noted that female patients were less likely to injure the reconstructed ACL, had poorer International Knee Documentation Committee (IKDC) subjective scores, had more activity-related pain, and were less likely to participate in strenuous activities. The researchers found radiographic osteoarthritis in 61 percent of patients, but noted that symptomatic osteoarthritic symptoms were rarely reported. Read the abstract…

Study: Healthcare reform had little effect on femoral neck fracture care in Massachusetts.
According to data published online in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma, implementation of healthcare reform may have little effect on treatment of femoral neck fracture. The authors reviewed data on 23,485 patients treated for femoral neck fracture in Massachusetts before and after institution of statewide healthcare reform. They found no significant differences in the type of surgical intervention performed pre- and post-reform. However, after adjustment for case-mix and surgical intervention, they noted that length of stay and likelihood of failure-to-rescue were significantly reduced. In addition, they found that discharges to skilled nursing facilities significantly increased during the post-reform period. The authors state that noted differences in quality measures could not be necessarily attributed to healthcare reform. Read the abstract…

Report: Negotiating drug prices could save Medicare up to $16 billion per year.
A report released jointly by Carleton University School of Public Policy and Administration and the consumer group Public Citizen argues that Medicare Part D could save between $15.2 billion and $16 billion each year if it could secure the same prices that Medicaid or the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) receives on the same brand-name drugs. Additional findings from the report include:

  • After rebates, brand-name drugs cost Medicare Part D 198 percent of the median costs for the same brand-name drugs in the 31 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
  • Medicare Part D pays, on average, 73 percent more than Medicaid and 80 percent more than the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) for brand-name drugs.
  • Although Medicaid and VBA often are used as benchmarks, those organizations also pay higher prices than many OECD countries.

Read the report (PDF)…

ACA repeal effort falls short in Senate.
The Hill reports that, in a party-line vote, the U.S. Senate has rejected an amendment to a highway funding bill that, if enacted, would have repealed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Read more…

OKOJ August updates now online!
Check out the new topics and video in the Orthopaedic Knowledge Online Journal (OKOJ) on the AAOS OrthoPortal website. The following topics have been recently added or updated: “Common Benign Tumors of the Hand,” “Fractures of the Thoracolumbar Spine in Pediatric Patients,” and “Introduction to Hip Arthroscopy: An Instructional Video for Residents.” OKOJ now offers full-text, downloadable PDFs for articles in recent issues, with more on the way! View these topics and more…(member login required)

Call for volunteers: Diversity Advisory Board.
Aug. 15 is the last day to submit your application for a position on the Diversity Advisory Board. The Diversity Advisory Board serves as a resource to all AAOS bodies on issues involving diversity in the orthopaedic community and in the provision of culturally competent musculoskeletal care. The following positions are available:

  • Member-at-large
  • Member, Research and Quality Council liaison

Applicants for the member-at-large opening must be active fellows, candidate members, candidate members osteopathic, candidate member applicants for fellowship, candidate member applicants for fellowship osteopathic, associate members orthopaedic, or associate members osteopathic. Applicants for the liaison opening must be active fellows. Learn more and submit your application…(member login required)