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CMS announces funding for learning networks to transform clinical practice   10/23/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today announced the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, which will provide up to $840 million over four years to help 150,000 clinicians improve patient outcomes and lower costs for Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollees. Through a multi-pronged approach to technical assistance, the initiative will identify existing health care delivery models that work and rapidly spread these models to other health care providers and clinicians, the agency said. As part of the initiative, CMS expects to award up to $670 million to networks formed by hospital and health systems, large group practices and others to help clinician practices transform; and up to $30 million to networks formed by professional and other organizations to support the transformation networks and practices. Letters of Intent to apply for the network cooperative agreements are due Nov. 20, and applications are due Jan. 6. For more information, see the CMS factsheet.
Final deadline for AHA RACTrac survey is Oct. 31   10/23/2014
The AHA has extended to Oct. 31 the final deadline for hospitals to submit data to its quarterly RACTrac survey. Hospitals are asked to submit data, even if they are not currently experiencing Recovery Audit Contractor audits. The 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.
HPOE guide offers hospital-based strategies for creating a culture of health   10/23/2014
A new guide from the AHA's Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence initiative provides strategies for hospitals and health care systems to consider as they strive to foster a culture of health in their communities. Produced in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the guide also identifies trends in community health needs, partnerships and measurement approaches, and outlines factors hospitals and health systems can consider as they determine their role in fostering a culture of health. Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence is the AHA’s strategic platform to accelerate performance improvement and support delivery system transformation in the nation’s hospitals and health care systems. For more information, visit www.hpoe.org.
Study: Less restrictive caps on medical liability noneconomic damages have no effect   10/23/2014
A $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages reduces the average payment for a medical liability claim by 20%, while a $500,000 cap has no effect, according to a new study reported online by Health Affairs. The study looked at the effect of noneconomic damages caps on the average payment size of medical liability claims for 10 physician specialties between 1985 and 2010, using data from the Physician Insurers Association of America Data Sharing Project and Database of State Tort Reform Laws. The findings “suggest that only more restrictive caps – such as the $250,000 non-economic damages limit used in California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act and adopted by seven other states – are likely to have a significant effect” on medical liability payments, the authors state. AHA supports the Medical Care Access Protection Act (S. 44), federal legislation that would establish a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases, among other medical liability reforms.
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.