Two members of Greater New Orleans, Inc. have been named to the “North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers” list, making GNO, Inc. one of the few organizations with multiple mentions. CEO Michael Hecht and SVP Business Development Grady Fitzpatrick are both on Consultant Connect’s 2015 ranking, which is developed based on voting from economic developers and site selectors in the USA and Canada. You can see the full list, along with podcast interviews, here
N.O. SCIENCE AND TECH
The New Orleans International Science & Technology Show 2016 connecting the supply and demand sides of innovation. www.technolagy.org
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a federally regulated insect pest of ash trees, has been confirmed in Union Parish making it the fourth parish in Louisiana to have EAB. EAB is a native insect of Asia. It was discovered in Michigan in 2002 and is now in 25 states, including Louisiana. EAB is a serious pest to all types of ash trees and the white fringetree, but does not attack other hardwoods or pine.
On April 28, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notified the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry (LDAF) of the confirmation. The identified specimen was trapped by the United States Forestry Service (USFS) which along with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), LDAF Forestry Division, and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine (APHIS PPQ) comprise the agencies that are trapping for EAB statewide. The four agencies have a total of more than 470 EAB traps deployed throughout the state.
In addition to the trapping and survey program, the LSU AgCenter and USFS began a biocontrol release program early last year to aid in the control of EAB. The USDA funds a program to rear tiny non-stinging wasps that, when released, aid in the control of EAB.
Dr. Rodrigo Diaz, LSU AgCenter entomologist and USFS employees made releases last year and will make additional releases this year. The releases will be made at two or three sites in northeastern Louisiana with more than 20,000 parasitoid wasps being released.
Currently, a quarantine is in place for EAB in Bossier, Claiborne, and Webster Parishes. Quarantine restrictions in Union Parish are pending at this time. The quarantine limits the movement of raw ash products to areas outside of the quarantine unless treated according to USDA requirements. Such treatments include but are not limited to fumigation, heat treatment, and chipping. Ash nursery stock is prohibited from being moved outside of EAB quarantine areas as there are no acceptable treatments for nursery stock.
Louisiana’s ash trees are primarily located along the Atchafalaya Basin and the Mississippi River Delta with many ash trees also planted in urban settings.
“Ash trees are commonly planted in urban areas because of their aesthetic appeal,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “It can be a costly effort to remove these trees when the EAB beetle attacks them.”
Ochsner Health System announces its partnership with TriNetX, a leader in international clinical research data networks and a breakthrough disruptor of clinical trial design. Through this agreement, Ochsner clinicians will have improved ability to participate in clinical trials, making new therapies available to Ochsner patients sooner. The TriNetX global network represents 27 healthcare institutions with over 37 million patient lives and is expanding monthly. Industry sponsors are currently leveraging the network to design protocols with real world data and to more accurately match industry-sponsored clinical trials with the right sites and the right patient populations. Ochsner is the first healthcare institution in Louisiana to join the TriNetX network.
“We expect the TriNetX partnership to help accelerate our physicians’ access to clinical trials, and thereby our patients’ access to leading edge care,” said Sohail Rao, MD, MA, DPhil, System Vice President for Research at Ochsner. “It also means that Ochsner researchers have access to new tools with which to analyze data on our own patients and refine treatments. It can also help connect them with other institutions to enhance our research potential.”
Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies design clinical trials and protocols without knowing exactly where the required numbers of patients meeting their criteria can be found. Now, anonymous Ochsner patient data will be more readily available via REACHnet (a local clinical research network funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute) and TriNetX to assist this process.
“Our mission is to disrupt the clinical trial design space by unleashing the power of data that is currently locked away,” said Gadi Lachman, CEO, TriNetX. “Through our network, healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations can create strategic partnerships to improve clinical research and patient care, and we are honored to have Ochsner as part of our network. We see this collaboration agreement as a win-win for Ochsner, TriNetX, our member institutions, and ultimately patients.”
Ochsner physician scientists, pharmaceutical company researchers and Ochsner clinicians can now analyze
patient populations with search criteria across multiple longitudinal data points. Each data point can ultimately be traced to healthcare providers who can, while maintaining patient privacy, identify individual patients for recruitment into clinical trials, confirm results and/or offer new treatment options.
ALLEGED LAFAYETTE GENERAL OVERBILLED
A report released this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that Lafayette General Medical Center in Lafayette, Louisiana overbilled Medicare $4,413,989 from 2013 to 2014. According to the OIG, 51 percent of the hospital’s Medicare claims were improperly billed.
According to the Supplementary Appendices for the Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) 2015 Improper Payment Report, Louisiana tops the list of states with above average improper payment rates, overbilling in 19.4 percent of cases – well above the national error rate of 12.1 percent – for a total of $1.25 billion lost from the Medicare Trust Fund stemming from the state alone.
According to the Council for Medicare Integrity, a nonprofit group that advocates for proper Medicare billing, Lafayette General Medical Center’s improper billing is part of a nationwide problem. Since 2011, the rate of Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) improper payments has risen steadily from 8.6 percent to 12.1 percent, with a loss of more $40 billion annually to the Medicare Trust Funds.
In an effort to reduce waste within Medicare, the Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) Program was put in place by Congress in 2009 to review Medicare FFS post-payment claims to identify and recover improper payments made to providers. The program currently reviews only 0.5 percent of a provider’s post-payment inpatient claims, meaning 99.5 percent of these claims go un-reviewed.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the Ranking Member on the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, has credited the RAC Program with returning $10 billion back to the program and extending its life by two years.
“Improper payments are a real cause of concern, especially in light of recent government reports predicting the end Medicare Part A in 2026 – just 10 years from now,” said Kristin Walter, spokesperson for the Council for Medicare Integrity. “As baby boomers in Louisiana increasingly become eligible for Medicare, and life expectancy continues to rise at the same time that costs of medical treatments are increasing, the question becomes, ‘Will Medicare be there when you need it?’”
In a recent interview, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) pointed to what the end of Medicare would mean for the 55 million Americans who rely on the program for healthcare coverage, “I believe that if we do not prevent Medicare from going bankrupt, it will go bankrupt. And that will be bad for everybody.”
For more information, please visit: www.medicareintegrity.org.