1. US Govt Says Health Care Problems Remain A Y2K Risk
From the Dow Jones Newswires.
October 5, 1999
Dow Jones Newswires
US Govt Says Health Care Problems Remain A Y2K Risk
WASHINGTON (AP)--Medical care and bills could be disrupted by the Year 2000
computer bug, government investigators say, citing new surveys of health
"There are some significant gaps that have to be bridged yet," George Grob,
the Health and Human Services Department's deputy inspector general, said
The inspector general mailed surveys June 30 to 5,000 providers of health
care for elderly and disabled Americans covered by Medicare, including
doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies and medical equipment
Since nearly all health care providers participate in Medicare, the survey
results also give some idea of Y2K preparedness in the health care industry
Fewer than half of the 1,924 caregivers responding said all of their
biomedical equipment, such as X-ray machines and respirators, is Y2K ready.
About two-thirds said their billing and record-keeping systems are ready.
However, one-third said they had not tested information exchanges with
vendors or bill-processing contractors.
"We find a great lack of testing and, in the computer world in particular,
if you haven't tested, you don't know," said Grob.
In a separate IG survey of 161 HMOs participating in Medicare, 85% said they
were Y2K ready.
The health department, the Clinton administration's Y2K task force and
congressional auditors have previously raised concerns that the medical
industry isn't doing enough to address the year 2000 computer glitch.
Industry groups such as the American Hospital Association insist providers
are making progress and will be ready.
Nevertheless, Medicare, which pays insurance claims for 39 million
Americans, is warning providers of potential financial consequences if they
"If they can't get their bills to us, they just won't get paid," said Dr.
Robert A. Berenson, the director of Medicare's center for health plans and
Doctors, hospitals and others are barred by law from billing the elderly and
disabled up front for medical services.
Providers finding they must switch from filing electronic Medicare claims to
paper claims because they are unprepared will have to wait longer for
payment. By law, Medicare must pay bills submitted electronically within 14
days, but has 27 days to process old-fashioned paper bills.
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