QIOs adopt new "code of conduct" policy

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The board of directors of the American Health Quality Association has approved a new policy to help all Quality Improvement Organizations to "respond to public expectations for greater transparency and accountability," according to an association release.

Earlier this month, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) asked Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials for inquiry into "lavish" QIO conferences and spending. He wants to ensure that Medicare dollars are not being used to fund the expensive retreats in exotic locales.

The new policy addresses board and executive compensation, board diversity and independence, travel expenses and procedures to prevent and mitigate conflicts of interest. The formal adoption of the code of conduct is intended to clear up misperceptions about whether QIOs are properly using federal funds as Medicare contractors and fully serving the public interest as nonprofits, according to AHQA.

The AHQA, which represents the national network of QIOs, is asking all QIOs to "embrace and promptly implement" this formal code of conduct. So far, 17 of the 40 AHQA members, with Medicare QIO contracts in 24 states covering more than half of the nation's Medicare beneficiaries, have signed onto the policy.