Update

October 5, 2007

Practice and financial news you can use

HOSPITALS

Safety protocols aren't firmly in place

DEBIT CARDS

Watch out for overdraft fees!

Debit cards are surely convenient, but they can be pretty darn expensive if you're not careful about monitoring your balance. That's the warning from the Center for Responsible Lending, which reports that US banks and credit unions are using "abusive overdraft loans" to reap $17.5 billion in fees each year. The Center says the largest source of those fees-which can top $30 for an overdraft of just a few pennies-is debit cards.

MEDICARE

CMS issues final rules on self-referrals

Tired of hearing about the Stark law? On Dec. 4, the third and final phase of the rules governing referrals of Medicare and Medicaid patients will go into effect, ending more than six years of comment and implementation. While CMS would like you to believe that very little has changed between the second and third phases, not everyone agrees. The national law firm of Arent Fox, for one, feels that some of the new requirements are more stringent and may require existing arrangements to be revised or unwound. So you may need to consult a health law attorney to review your particular situation, especially in regard to direct vs indirect compensation arrangements. For an overview of the self-referral law, go to http://www.cms.hhs.gov/physicianselfreferral.

PRIVACY

Identity theft a greater concern