News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel

News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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FDA Issues Proposed Rule on Medical Device UDI System That Will Also Apply to Clinical Pathology Analyzers and Lab Products

Many products that medical laboratories use will be covered under the new UDI system

You’re reading it here first! UPCs—universal product codes—are coming soon to the medical laboratory analyzers and other products that your clinical laboratory purchases. Under a proposed rule published by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), medical devices will soon have UDIs—universal device identifiers.

You know about UPCs. Those are the ubiquitous “universal product codes” that are found on literally every retail product. UPCs make scanning at the cash register possible. Now a similar system is coming to medical devices, including the lab analyzers, reagents, and other products used by medical laboratories and pathology. (more…)

Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA) Claims Hospitals and Clinical Laboratories Don’t Get Best Pricing from GPO Contracts

Researchers Offer Evidence that Hospitals and Pathology Labs Often Negotiate Lower Prices on Their Own

Even as Congress shines a spotlight on the business activities of group purchasing organizations (GPOs), the Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA) has made public a research study it initiated about GPO contract practices. This report says an inherent conflict of interest prevents GPOs from obtaining the lowest possible prices for its hospital and clinical pathology laboratory members.

On December 3rd, Dark Daily reported on the report published by the General Accountability Office (GAO) in response to a Congressional directive. The GAO determined that, during 2008, sales made under GPO contracts by members, including hospitals, clinical laboratories, and other types of healthcare providers, totaled $109 billion.

The six GPOs studied by the GAO earned a bit more than $2 billion in revenue for 2008. Of this, $1.7 billion came from administrative fees generated by contract purchases. The balance of $320 million was from fees generated by supply chain outsources, revenue cycle management, and consulting.


Do GPOs Help Hospitals and Clinical Laboratories Save Money? GAO Report Answers That Question

GAO investigates certain business practices of group purchasing organizations

For years, hospitals and clinical pathology laboratories have wondered exactly how much money is saved when they use the services of group purchasing organizations (GPOs). Now a newly-published government report provides interesting details about the financial activities of GPOs.

In response to a Congressional directive, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently studied GPOs and released a report on their findings. The GAO’s report will be of particular interest for pathologists and medical laboratory managers working in hospital laboratories.

GAO Report Looks at GPO Activities in 2008


New Report Claims HSAs Are Being Overused by Wealthy, Underused by Poor

With a national election approaching, political rhetoric about different views of current health programs is heating up. Two Democratic members of Congress from California released a report in May claiming that Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are used more often as a tax shelter for the wealthy than as a path to health benefits for working- and middle-class families. Their report was based on a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study that indicated that HSAs may not be benefiting the intended population.

The GAO study indicated that the average adjusted gross income for an individual with an HSA was $139,000 in 2007. Total contributions to these accounts in 2005 equaled twice that of withdrawals-$754 million compared to $366 million, respectively. Between the initial introduction of HSAs in 2004 and 2007, participation grew from 438,000 to 4.5 million accounts, according to the GAO study.

This GAO report came after the release, in April, of a Kaiser Family Foundation study determined that most uninsured households don’t have the assets to cover costs associated with consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs), including HSAs. Meanwhile, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) announced that more than 6.1 million Americans are covered by HSA-eligible insurance plans. Based on the GAO’s finding that 4.5 million Americans currently participate in HSAs, that means that some 1.6 million Americans are not taking advantage of their HSA plan. HSA plans were available to 35% more individuals than the previous year according to AHIP.

As this election cycle heats up, there is likely to more rhetoric about the advantages and disadvantages of consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs), high-deductable health plans (HDHPs), and health savings accounts (HSAs) for specific socio-economic groups. Laboratories and pathology groups have a stake in the healthcare debates that take place during this election cycle. After all, the political spectrum of ideas ranges from the ideal of a single payer system with mandated universal coverage to the ideal of a health system built around consumer choice, open networks, and a variety of health benefits plans and options to fit the needs and pocketbooks of different consumers.

Related Articles:
HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS: Participation Grew, and Many HSA-Eligible Plan Enrollees Did Not Open HSAs while Individuals Who Did Had Higher Incomes(GAO Report)

Modest Number Of Uninsured Families Have Sufficient Assets To Cover Cost Sharing In HSA-Qualified Plans (News Release about Kaiser Family Foundation Study)

Health savings accounts mostly used as tax shelter for rich: GAO (Modern Healthcare subscription required)