doctors

Medicare has online tool to compare nursing homes, doctors

Suppose you or a loved one needed to get cardiac bypass surgery. Wouldn’t it be useful to be able to consult one online tool to find and evaluate a surgeon and hospital as well as a nursing home and home health services for rehabilitation after this surgery?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is betting the answer is yes.

Last month, CMS unveiled Care Compare, a streamlined redesign of eight existing CMS healthcare compare tools available on Medicare.gov.

Care Compare aims to give Medicare patients and family caregivers a user-friendly online tool to make informed decisions about healthcare based on location, cost, quality of care, volume of services, and other data, and the site is compatible for use on smartphone and tablets.

Patients can find information in eight areas: doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, home health, dialysis centers, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation and hospice groups.

“By aggregating all eight of CMS’ quality tools into a single interface, patients can easily research different providers and facilities before they entrust themselves to their care.” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma, in announcing the new tool. The goal, she said is “ensuring the tools are robust and beneficial to patients.”

The consolidation could also boost patient awareness.

Emma Boswell Dean, assistant professor of Health Management and Policy at University of Miami’s Miami Herbert Business School, said before Care Compare, the tools were somewhat underutilized separately. “In talking to Medicare patients, they don’t even know all the tools available. Bringing them together in one tool is a really smart idea.”

Still, Dean and other experts gave Care Compare mixed reviews. While all agreed the amount of information available is important and deep, some said the tool could be easier to manipulate for seniors, while others question aspects of the underlying data. However, they all

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Howard Levitt: Why the independent contractor status of doctors leave them vulnerable in the workplace

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At trial, the judge acknowledged that both physicians would be required to “consider new career paths” as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario required that they complete extensive retraining to practice in emergency of family medicine, as they had spent their careers specializing in urgent care and found themselves with nowhere to practice. Dr. Luczkiw developed cancer shortly after the urgent care centre closed.

Despite the, frankly, tragic result and unfavourable outcome for the physicians in this case, the Court took an important step in finding that the physicians were dependent contractors due to their economic dependence on the hospital and their high level of exclusivity. As a result, where privileges are cancelled, revoked, refused or substantially altered, absent this limited statutory exemption, physicians would be entitled to damages for reasonable notice, as dependent contractors, in the same way as employees — and potentially for dramatically more if their loss of hospital privileges prevented them from getting back on their financial feet for years.

The case exposes the cracks in our system by which independent contractor status leaves our physicians vulnerable and unprotected. For a society that has become acutely aware in recent months of the importance of physicians to the health and functioning of our society, we must ensure more fair and equitable treatment of our healthcare heroes. The court in this case, as in others, has increasingly filled in the gaps and provided deserved protection for a group which was historically, to the surprise of many, vulnerable.

Got a question about employment law during COVID-19? Write to me at levitt@levittllp.com.

Howard Levitt is senior partner of Levitt LLP, employment and labour lawyers. He practises employment law in eight provinces. He is the author of six books including the Law of

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Why the independent contractor status of doctors leave them vulnerable in the workplace



Most physicians are not employees in the traditional sense, but rather are independent contractors with hospital 'privileges'.


© Provided by Financial Post
Most physicians are not employees in the traditional sense, but rather are independent contractors with hospital ‘privileges’.

The pandemic has shone a light on many aspects of society, but nowhere more brightly than on our healthcare system.

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Exposing both its frailties and resilience, COVID-19 has made it clear that the strength of our hospitals lies with our frontline staff: physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals. However, the independent contractor status of physicians can leave them vulnerable to unfair practices in the workplace. Recently, however, our courts recognized one of the challenges physicians practicing in hospitals face: the dependent nature of many physicians’ practices and the lack of financial protection if their privileges are terminated. Shouldn’t a physician be entitled to compensation if a hospital effectively terminates their job?

Hospitals, and in particular academic hospitals, are complex work environments. Most physicians are not employees in the traditional sense, but rather are independent contractors with hospital ‘privileges’. A hospital grants its physicians the ‘privilege’ of using its resources to provide care to patients. Privileges are very valuable to the physicians who hold them as they have significant financial, professional and reputational benefits.

Increasingly, due to financial considerations, hospitals are seeking to limit the number of physicians on staff. But the loss of privileges has dramatic negative financial consequences for physicians who earn the bulk of their income in a hospital environment, particularly physicians requiring a hospital setting to perform aspects of their jobs, such as complex surgeries.

As privileges are now much harder to come by, some physicians who lose their hospital privileges can find themselves without the ability to earn a living. Recently, the courts acknowledged that some physicians have a relationship of dependence on hospital resources and therefore should be entitled to the

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