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The CMS has re­moved the provider re­view ver­sion of a new data­base that de­tails fi­nan­cial re­la­tion­ships

be­tween health­care providers and drug and med­i­cal-de­vice man­u­fac­tur­ers. It’s un­clear how pulling the sys­tem off­line will af­fect the CMS’ timetable for mak­ing Sun­shine Act-man­dated in­for­ma­tion about pay­ments to physi­cians and teach­ing hos­pi­tals from man­u­fac­tur­ers pub­licly avail­able Sept. 30 as orig­i­nally sched­uled. “We don’t know if that means there will be a de­lay in the launch of the en­tire web­site,” said Dr. Daniel Car­lat, direc­tor of the Pre­scrip­tion Project at the Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trusts. In an Aug. 7 e-mail, the CMS said the sys­tem has been tem­po­rar­ily taken off­line to in­ves­ti­gate a re­ported is­sue.

McKesson Corp. will pay the fed­eral govern­ment $18 mil­lion to set­tle al­le­ga­tions

tied to a whis­tle-blower law­suit. The suit in­volved a com­pany ship­ping con­tract with the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. Terms of the set­tle­ment were an­nounced last Fri­day. San Fran­cis­cobased McKesson, a health­care tech­nol­ogy and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal dis­tri­bu­tion con­glom­er­ate, said in a state­ment the deal rep­re­sents an “ex­press de­nial of li­a­bil­ity of any kind.” But due to the “un­cer­tainty of lit­i­ga­tion” and its on­go­ing re­la­tion­ship with the CDC, “a set­tle­ment was in the best in­ter­est” of the com­pany. The false­claims case stemmed from a 2012 qui tam, or whis­tle-blower, law­suit that claimed dur­ing an eight-month pe­riod in 2007 McKesson did not com­ply with the govern­ment’s ship­ping and han­dling re­quire­ments for vac­cines.

In­vest­ment gains com­bined with a tight rein on ex­penses helped raise the sur­plus of Scripps Health in its fis­cal third quar­ter,

the San Diego-based sys­tem re­ported last Thurs­day. How­ever, sim­i­lar to other Cal­i­for­nia sys­tems like Dig­nity Health, San Fran­cisco, and Sut­ter Health, Sacra­mento, Scripps is con­tend­ing with a loss of rev­enue from the state’s provider-fee pro­gram. Cal­i­for­nia and sev­eral other states run a provider-fee pro­gram, which levies a tax on hos­pi­tals. States then use those pooled funds to re­ceive fed­eral matches for Med­i­caid dol­lars, which are then dis­trib­uted back to hos­pi­tals based on how many in­di­gent pa­tients they treat. Last fall, Cal­i­for­nia ap­proved a new three-year hos­pi­tal-fee pro­gram, run­ning from Jan. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31, 2016, but the CMS is still re­view­ing the plan.

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