Inside these posts: AMA

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Advocate to partner with CVS MinuteClinics in Ill.

A nurse practitioner checks a patient at the Minute Clinic on N. Southport in Chicago. (Nuccio DiNuzzo /Chicago Tribune)

Advocate Health Care, the state’s largest provider of medical care, has signed with CVS Caremark Corp. to provide medical directors and related clinical expertise to the pharmacy giant’s nearly two dozen retail clinics in Illinois.

The agreement calls for CVS’ 23 MinuteClinic brand clinics in the Chicago area and Bloomington, and Advocate, which operates 10 hospitals in Illinois, to work together on a variety of protocols in a more robust relationship between the traditional provider of inpatient and outpatient medical care and a retail clinic. Financial terms were not disclosed. Get the full story »

Blue Cross out-of-network costs rising

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois health plan members are facing higher out-of-pocket costs if they see a physician not in the health plan’s network under a new doctor payment system being rolled out by its parent company.

Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp., the nation’s fourth-largest health plan, has begun basing its doctor fee schedules on the lower rates paid by the Medicare health insurance plan for the elderly. Exactly how much more a patient will pay for out-of-network will vary. But the AMA said Medicare rates are often 20 percent below the cost of providing medical-care. Get the full story »

AMA sees cost of heart disease tripling by 2030

The costs of heart disease in the United States will triple between now and 2030 to more than $800 billion a year, a report commissioned by the American Heart Association predicted Monday.

Treating high blood pressure will be the most expensive part of the cost, rising to $389 billion by 2030, the report projects, with overall heart disease rising by 10 percent by then.

United pilot duped AMA with fake M.D. claim

William Hamman watches data on a computer as he supervises doctors during a cardiology simulation. (AP/Gregory Smith)

He seemed like Superman, able to guide jumbo jets through perilous skies and tiny tubes through blocked arteries. As a cardiologist and United Airlines captain, William Hamman taught doctors and pilots ways to keep hearts and planes from crashing.

He shared millions in grants, had university and hospital posts, and bragged of work for prestigious medical groups. An Associated Press story featured him leading a teamwork training session at an American College of Cardiology convention last spring.

But it turns out Hamman isn’t a cardiologist or even a doctor. The AP found he had no medical residency, fellowship, doctoral degree or the 15 years of clinical experience he claimed. He attended medical school for a few years but withdrew and didn’t graduate. Get the full story »

Doctors urge Congress to halt Medicare pay cuts

The American Medical Association unleashed its latest salvo Monday in its campaign against cuts in Medicare payments to doctors with a survey that finds overwhelming concern among Americans.

The physician’s group did an online survey of 1,000 Americans aged 18 and older and found 94 percent of them said they are concerned about the cuts to doctors who treat elderly patients.

The group released the findings at a meeting in San Diego to kick off a new advertising and lobbying push to convince lawmakers to block payment cuts — set to take effect Dec. 1 — before they recess for the Thanksgiving holiday later this month. Get the full story »

AMA exec says Medicare cuts will be ‘catastrophic’

The president of the nation’s largest doctors’ group says upcoming cuts in Medicare physician payments will be catastrophic for seniors. Dr. Cecil Wilson, president of the American Medical Association, says Medicare payments will drop by more than 20 percent by January unless Congress takes quick action. Get the full story »

American Medical Association CEO to step down

The chief executive officer of the American Medical Association will step down when his contract expires next June as the Chicago-based national doctor group embarks on an uncertain political environment for physicians under the health care overhaul law.

Dr. Michael Maves, who is 62 years old, has served as the organization’s top administrator since 2001, working under the direction of the AMA’s board of trustees. Maves said in a statement that the end of his contract presents an opportunity to transition to new leadership for the AMA, the nation’s largest doctor group with more than 200,000 member physicians. Get the full story »

AMA sued over ads portraying uninsured

The American Medical Association has been sued for using a girl’s image without authorization and in a false light in a marketing campaign launched in 2007, aimed at motivating politicians to tackle the issue of Americans without health insurance.

One of AMA’s print advertisements featured a girl named “Toya.” The ad says that Toya has a “severe” problem but her parents can’t afford health insurance. The same picture of Toya was featured on the AMA’s web site under a section called “stories of the uninsured.”

A Cook County lawsuit filed Friday said that Toya is China Travis, a girl from the Chicago area who has done some modeling. Her mother, Angela Wonsey, claims the ad is misleading and defamatory because Travis does not have a severe health problem and both of them are not “uninsured.” Get the full story »

AMA challenges insurer doctor ratings

The nation’s largest doctor group and state medical societies across the country are calling on health insurance giants to improve the accuracy of how they rate physicians for health plan enrollees and consumers.

Insurance companies say they rate physicians on quality and efficiency measures that allow consumers and health plan enrollees to then choose such a doctor for the price of a lower co-payment. A higher co-payment or deductible might be charged for a less efficient or lower quality physician, insurers and employers that are increasingly turning to such ratings, say. Get the full story »