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  • AMA: Massive CMS Data Release Could Be Misleading

    With the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) release of provider payment data now 3 days old, media attention is turning to discussions of what the data really mean, and the American Medical Association (AMA) is facilitating the discussions by way of media guidelines and a webpage that explains how the data could be easily misinterpreted.

    On its "9 ways CMS' claim data could mislead patients, reporters" page, AMA walks readers through issues of accuracy and context that should be considered before drawing conclusions from the massive amounts of data on payments to over 880,000 health care providers. AMA was opposed to the data release.

    According to the AMA webpage, the "key takeaway" from the data is to "verify the data before you publish." The physicians' group cites problems from potential errors in actual numbers to the ways in which the data may not accurately represent a physician's entire patient population. Other shortcomings of the data, according to AMA, include its lack of information on patient demographics, the effects of geographic differences in coding and billing, and a lack of specificity around specialty descriptions. "Physicians who appear to have the same specialty could serve very different types of patients and provide a dissimilar mix of services, making some subspecialists appear to be 'outliers,' " the webpage states. APTA has similar concerns about the limits of the data.

    APTA staff members are continuing to review the data, which contains information on some 37,000 physical therapists (PTs), and will share findings and updates in News Now and other APTA resources.

    Burwell Nominated to Replace Sebelius at HHS

    President Barack Obama moved quickly today to nominate a replacement for Kathleen Sebelius, who announced her resignation as Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Thursday, by nominating Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell for the post.

    The Sebelius announcement came about 6 months after the flawed rollout of HealthCare.gov, the federal insurance marketplace intended to serve uninsured Americans. Although problems were fixed and the program met its goal of getting 7 million signups by March 31, Sebelius weathered harsh criticism for the initial problems.

    Burwell has been involved in the federal government since the Clinton administration, having served as chief of staff to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Before taking the OMB job, she ran the Walmart Foundation and served as president of the Gates Foundation's Global Development Program. She received unanimous consent from the Senate for her appointment to OMB.

    Foundation Ready to Move Ahead on 'Groundbreaking' Center of Excellence Project

    A groundbreaking plan to jumpstart physical therapist research in health services and health policy is about to take a big step toward becoming a reality. The Foundation for Physical Therapy has announced that is has released its request for applications for a $2.5 million grant to create a "Center of Excellence" (COE) that would serve as a one-of-a-kind center focused on providing physical therapists with the training they need to expand the profession's research portfolio into underrepresented areas.

    The 5-year grant will be awarded to an institution or health systems network to create and oversee the Center of Excellence in Physical Therapy Health Services and Health Policy Research and Training, whose goal is to "develop sustainable research infrastructure and centralized resources to enhance interdisciplinary health services/health policy research by physical therapist scientists," according to the request document.

    Letters of Intent to apply to this funding mechanism are being accepted until 5:00 pm June 30. The full application deadline is September 30. The final selection will be announced in early 2015.

    “The COE will provide the skills and training to a whole new generation of physical therapists who will produce research that identifies the most efficacious and effective ways to provide high-quality care for our patients,” said Foundation Board of Trustees President William G. Boissonnault, PT, DPT, DHSc, FAPTA, FAAOMPT, in a press release (.pdf).

    In 2013, the Foundation raised $3 million, including a $1 million pledge from APTA and donations from over 40 APTA components, to fund the COE and will continue to raise funds for this campaign.