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AHA: Information greatest weapon in fighting infections such as Ebola   10/22/2014
The evolution of knowledge about Ebola is leading to better protocols for hospitals, writes AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock in a column today for Morning Consult. “Information is the greatest weapon we have in fighting infectious diseases and responding to emergencies of all kinds,” he writes. “We embrace the responsibility to keep learning – and to act to put learning into practice….We pledge to continue to bring hospitals’ concerns to federal officials and to inform hospitals about all new guidance and protocols that become available. We’ll keep coordinating with state hospital associations, physician and professional nursing organizations and the many local, state and federal government organizations that bear responsibility for aspects of Ebola response.”
CMS proposes 2016 Basic Health Program funding methodology   10/22/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services yesterday issued a proposed methodology for determining federal payment amounts to states that establish a Basic Health Program for 2016. CMS proposes to use the same payment methodology as established for 2015, along with updated values for several factors. The Affordable Care Act program allows states to offer an alternative to the Health Insurance Marketplace for citizens or lawfully present non-citizens with household incomes between 133% and 200% of the federal poverty level who are not eligible for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or affordable employer-sponsored coverage. CMS will accept comments on the notice for 30 days after publication in tomorrow’s Federal Register, and plans to issue a final notice by February 2015.
Group practices, ACOs can preview PQRS quality data through Nov. 7   10/22/2014
Group practices and accountable care organizations participating in the Physician Quality Reporting System group practice reporting option have until Nov. 7 to preview and report any errors in their 2013 quality measures before they are reported later this year on the Physician Compare website. Group practices that have not received instructions for previewing their data should email the Physician Compare Support Team at PhysicianCompare@Westat.com. ACOs can preview their quality measure data using their 2013 ACO Quality Reports. For more information, visit www.cms.gov.
HHS webinar tomorrow on Ebola preparedness for health care coalitions   10/22/2014
The Department of Health and Human Services will host an Ebola preparedness webinar for health care coalitions tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. ET. The 60-minute webinar will review a checklist developed by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help coalitions prepare to help members detect possible Ebola cases, protect employees and respond appropriately. Other topics include lessons learned from Dallas; an overview of updated personal protective equipment recommendations and considerations; and considerations for managing staffing concerns. To access the webinar, learn more or submit questions in advance, click here.
HRSA: 340B hospitals should get refunds for overcharged orphan drugs   10/22/2014
Some drug manufacturers should refund hospitals participating in the 340B Drug Pricing Program for certain orphan drugs they charged hospitals at non-discounted prices, the Health Resources and Services Administration told drug manufacturers this month. HRSA, which oversees the 340B program, sent letters to more than 50 drug manufacturers on Oct. 7 regarding this issue. In the letter, HRSA asked the drug manufacturers within 30 days “to notify HRSA of plans to repay affected covered entities and to institute the offer of the discounted price in the future.” The Department of Health and Human Services and HRSA in July issued an interpretive rule that continues to allow hospitals subject to the orphan drug exclusion to purchase “orphan drugs” through the 340B program when the drugs are not used to treat the rare conditions for which the orphan drug designation was given. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America this month filed a lawsuit challenging the interpretative rule.
States to actively monitor all travelers from Ebola-outbreak countries   10/22/2014
Public health authorities will begin active post-arrival monitoring of travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today. Beginning Monday in six states and later in others, travelers without febrile illness or symptoms consistent with Ebola will be followed up daily for 21 days from the date of their departure from West Africa. Specifically, state and local authorities will require travelers to report their temperature and other Ebola symptoms, and their intent to travel in- or out-of-state. “If a traveler begins to show symptoms, public health officials will implement an isolation and evaluation plan following appropriate protocols to limit exposure, and direct the individual to a local hospital that has been trained to receive potential Ebola patients,” CDC said. According to the agency, about 70% of incoming travelers are headed to the first participating states: New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia. If a traveler does not report in, public health officials will take immediate steps to locate the individual to ensure daily monitoring continues, CDC said. Currently, five U.S. airports are receiving all travelers from the affected countries, which are screening all outbound passengers for Ebola symptoms and contact.
AHA becomes lead sponsor for Baldrige health care criteria   10/21/2014
The AHA has partnered with the Baldrige Foundation to become the lead sponsor of the 2015-2016 Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence, the Foundation announced today. A cornerstone of the Baldrige program, the criteria are a set of questions that focus on improving an organization’s results and building alignment across the organization. “The AHA has begun its Baldrige journey and is implementing strategies that have advanced organizational excellence, innovation and effectiveness,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “Through this partnership with the Baldrige Foundation, the AHA can better help hospitals and other providers with tools and resources as they continue to improve quality and reduce costs.” Foundation President and CEO Al Faber said AHA’s “advocacy for performance excellence through sponsorship of the Health Care Criteria will have a profound impact in creating healthy communities across the nation.” When the new criteria are released in 2015, AHA will provide a digital copy to each of its institutional members. The association also will participate in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program and Examiner Training as part of the sponsorship.
CDC issues detailed guidance on hospital PPE for Ebola   10/21/2014
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last night issued enhanced guidance on the recommended personal protective equipment for health care workers entering an Ebola patient’s hospital room. The guidance emphasizes the importance of training, practice, competence and observation of health care workers in the correct donning and removal of PPE selected by the facility. AHA sent a special advisory to all hospitals today with further details. AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock said the guidance will help hospitals in the battle against Ebola. “The AHA is urging hospitals to use the resources at their disposal to continue to train their nurses and staff and drill again and again on the entire course of care from diagnosis to final waste disposal, using the same equipment on which they will rely in order to safeguard their staff, patients and communities,” he said. “Hospitals will protect patients and staff while achieving the ultimate goal – caring for patients. This includes proper procedures for putting on and taking off personal protective equipment under the watchful eye of a trained observer.”
Emory launches website to share Ebola preparedness protocols   10/21/2014
Emory Healthcare in Atlanta yesterday launched a website to share with other health care organizations its processes and experience on how to provide safe, effective care for patients with Ebola virus disease. The website, which will be updated as more information is available, provides guidance on initial screening of patients at all entry points into hospitals and clinics, as well as detailed protocols including confirmation of diagnosis, treatment, waste management, clinical laboratories, advanced supportive care, potential complications and discharge. The website also includes a detailed description of the components and appropriate use of personal protective equipment, correct methods of donning and doffing, and proper disposal of PPE, the organization said. Emory University Hospital’s Serious Communicable Disease Unit has treated and discharged three patients with Ebola virus disease, and continues to treat a fourth patient who arrived on Oct. 15.
Reminder: Submit data to AHA RACTrac survey by Friday   10/21/2014
The AHA encourages all hospitals to submit data to the quarterly RACTrac survey, available through Oct. 24. The free web-based survey helps AHA gauge the impact of Medicare's Recovery Audit Contractor program on hospitals and advocate for needed changes. For more information on the RACTrac initiative, including a new RACTrac claim-level tool, data definitions and question list, visit www.aha.org/RACTrac. To register for the survey or for technical assistance, contact RACTrac support at (888) 722-8712 or ractracsupport@providercs.com.