#PNN In Other News

Here are some other local, state or national stories we are reading that may impact you, your practice or your patients.

California Health Workers Split On Whether To Be Independent Contractors or Employees | California’s health care workforce is a scramble of independent contractors, part-time workers and full-time staff. Some people work directly for hospitals, while others work for medical groups that hospitals contract with. In clinical or group practice settings, anyone from a lab tech to a neurologist could be working independently. That's why some health professionals are taking issue with AB 5, a California bill that would require many employers to make their independent contractors employees, with a few exceptions. Some medical professionals say they want to be exempt so they can make their own schedules and work at multiple facilities. “It’s really because of the flexibility it provides in order to deliver the best patient accessibility and care as possible,” said David Monks, a California employment attorney. “It’s created a scenario where the use of independent contractor model has become so prevalent that there’s a great reluctance to give it up.” 

California Legislature passes transparency bill aimed at Kaiser | Kaiser Permanente may face a new California transparency law targeted at its finances. The state Legislature passed a union-sponsored bill that would force each of the health system's facilities to disclose its profits. The state Legislature sent the bill to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk on Monday [Aug. 26], where he has 12 days from receiving it to sign it into law. A spokesperson for Newsom said the governor is still evaluating the legislation. Under the bill, Kaiser would have to change how it releases financial information. Currently the health system lumps the data together for its 35 hospitals in the state, segmenting it only by those in Northern and Southern California. 

Here's what hospital groups had to say about CMS' plan to update Star RatingsThe Trump administration will finalize an update of its quality measurement methodology for its Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings in 2021. In the meantime, officials said, they will "refresh" the Star Ratings on its Hospital Compare website in early 2020. While the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said it has "full confidence in their accuracy and reliability," it also "routinely" refines the methodology used to calculate them to ensure they are as "helpful as possible." "CMS is empowering patients to make informed healthcare decisions, leading providers to compete on the basis of cost and quality," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. Hospital Compare rates hospital quality on a scale from one to five stars. CMS last updated the ratings this spring. At the time, healthcare groups including the American Hospital Association (AHA) called for major changes to how the federal hospital rating website calculates its comparisons for consumers and called for the site to be taken down until the changes are made

Kaiser, Samsung Tout Success of Telehealth in Cardiac Rehab Program | Kaiser Permanente is announcing the success of a cardiac rehabilitation telehealth program that saw increased patient engagement and reduced rehospitalizations among more than 2,300 Californians who took part in the project. The connected health program was such a success, officials say, that it will be expanded beyond Southern California. “This program took a fresh, digital-first approach to cardiac rehabilitation and put control in patients’ hands,” Peter Koo, Senior Vice President and head of the Mobile Communications Business Health Service Team at Samsung Electronics, which partnered with Kaiser, said in a press release. “It produced higher program completion rates than programs requiring excessive trips to the doctor’s office.”

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