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AHA members-only Town Hall Wednesday on health IT    09/29/2014
Tune in to the next members-only AHA Town Hall webcast on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET for a discussion with Karen DeSalvo, M.D., national coordinator for health information technology at the Department of Health and Human Services. DeSalvo is leading federal efforts to spur the adoption of health information technology and collectively achieve interoperability. For more information, visit www.aha.org/townhall or call (800) 424-4301.
CDC issues advisory on pediatric neurological illness   09/29/2014
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Children’s Hospital Colorado are investigating a cluster of nine pediatric patients hospitalized with an acute neurologic illness of undetermined etiology, and CDC has issued a health advisory warning others to watch out for similar symptoms. Specifically, the agency is urging hospitals to report to their state and local health departments patients age 21 and under with acute onset of focal limb weakness occurring on or after Aug. 1 and an MRI showing a spinal cord lesion largely restricted to gray matter. For more details, see the advisory.
HHS issues Ebola checklists for health care coalitions, EMS agencies   09/29/2014
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued checklists to help health care coalitions and emergency medical services agencies prepare for possible Ebola patients. The coalition checklist suggests how groups might help their members detect possible Ebola cases, respond appropriately and protect employees. The EMS checklist suggests how U.S.-based EMS agencies and systems might collectively do the same for EMS personnel. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has increased the need for U.S. health care facilities to be prepared to safely manage patients with compatible illness who recently traveled to West Africa.
Report examines Louisiana hospitals' contribution to state's economy    09/29/2014
Louisiana hospitals generate more than $29.9 billion annually in economic activity and directly employ more than 98,000 people, according to a new report released this week by the Louisiana Hospital Association. Overall, "Hospitals and the Louisiana Economy, 2014” found that the health care sector was the largest employer in the state, employing 285,950 residents in 2012, of which more than a third are hospital employees. The report estimates hospitals support an additional 294,548 jobs in Louisiana through their economic activity. In addition, the report highlights include a series of responses from the 2014 LHA Annual Hospital Survey about the effects of current market conditions on hospitals.
CDC issues updated preparedness framework for flu pandemics   09/26/2014
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday issued an updated framework for pandemic flu preparedness and response, which incorporates information from new planning and response tools and aligns with the World Health Organization’s new pandemic phases. “Compared with the previous U.S. government stages, this updated framework provides greater detail and clarity regarding the potential timing of key decisions and actions aimed at slowing the spread and mitigating the impact of an emerging pandemic,” the agency said. The framework is intended to support and organize planning and response efforts at the federal, state and local levels. “The use of common concepts is critical for tracking the course of the pandemic, for communication, and for implementing timely, coordinated response efforts,” the authors note.
CMS announces provider call on HCAHPS star ratings   09/26/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host an Oct. 8 call on its planned star rating system for survey data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. For more information and to register for the call, from 1:30-3 p.m. ET, click here. CMS expects to begin reporting HCAHPS star ratings on Hospital Compare next April. Hospitals can preview how their data would appear in the star rating system, and provide feedback to CMS on how to improve the system, at the QualityNet portal through Oct. 14. At the same time they can preview and validate their quality data to be added to the Hospital Compare website in December. For assistance accessing preview reports, contact HospitalCompare@hsag.com.
HRSA awards $22 million to improve access to care in rural areas   09/26/2014
The Health Resources and Services Administration today awarded $22.1 million in rural health grants. The awards include $16 million to help rural health networks coordinate, expand and improve essential services; $2.3 million to support tele-emergency care; $1.5 million for the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program; $1 million to improve access to automated external defibrillators; and $600,000 for resource centers to help health care providers implement telehealth programs. For more information, see the HRSA press release.
AHA to CMS: Be clear about RAC fee under appeals settlement offer   09/25/2014
The AHA yesterday urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to be more transparent about whether the agency will require Recovery Audit Contractors to forfeit any of the contingency fee they received for denied claims included in the agency’s Aug. 29 settlement offer to hospitals appealing patient status denials. “Hospitals have informed us that they consider the decision on RAC fees to be one of fundamental fairness that will impact their evaluation of the terms of CMS’s offer,” wrote AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack. “While we have raised the issue with CMS staff in a number of forums, we have not, to date, received a definitive answer. Because hospitals have been asked to accept partial payment in order to alleviate the significant strain on the appeals system, we expect that CMS has required a corresponding financial sacrifice from the RACs.”
CDC awards grants to prevent chronic disease   09/25/2014
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today awarded $212 million in grants to state and local government and other organizations for programs to reduce obesity, tobacco use and death and disability due to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell called the action “important progress in our work to transition from a health care system focused on treating the sick to one that also helps keep people well throughout their lives.” The 193 grants are funded in part by the Affordable Care Act.
Coalition captures two awards for digital outreach   09/25/2014
The Healthcare Marketing IMPACT Awards this week presented its top honor for digital outreach advocacy to The Coalition to Protect America’s Health Care, a broad-based group including AHA and others dedicated to protecting access to quality health care. The Coalition, which also received a silver award for social media campaign of the year, has built a digital community of more than 800,000 hospital advocates across email and social media platforms. Through programs such as “Hospital Heroes,” showcasing hospital personnel who go above and beyond in their work to help patients and communities, these digital outreach efforts raise awareness of the serious problems created by continued cuts to hospital funding and encourage the public to contact Congress on hospitals’ behalf. The Healthcare Marketing IMPACT Awards, created this year by Modern Healthcare and Advertising Age magazines, recognize health care’s best advertising, marketing, promotion and communication campaigns across all media platforms.