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AHA seeks HAVE Award nominees   09/19/2014
The AHA seeks nominations through Sept. 26 for its 2015 Hospital Awards for Volunteer Excellence. Hospital CEOs and directors of volunteer services are encouraged to nominate outstanding volunteer programs in the areas of community service, fundraising, in-service needs or challenges, and community outreach/collaboration. For more information, and to view or submit a nomination form, click here. The awards will be presented on May 4, 2015 at the AHA Annual Membership Meeting in Washington, D.C.
CMS to host Oct. 9 call on appeals settlement offer   09/19/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host a call on Oct. 9 at 1:30 p.m. ET to review its offer to acute care and critical access hospitals to settle certain patient status claim denials. The call presents an additional opportunity for hospital leaders to ask questions before settlement requests are due to CMS on Oct. 31 deadline. Click here for details or to register. AHA has made a tool available to members to help them compare the settlement they might expect to receive under CMS’s offer with what they might recover if they choose to continue the appeals process for claims eligible for the settlement.
CMS webinar Wednesday on IPF quality reporting program   09/19/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host a Sept. 24 webinar on the Inpatient Psychiatric Facility Quality Reporting Program. Topics include the program’s fiscal year 2015 requirements and payment update, and new measures for FYs 2016 and 2017. For more on the webinar, at 2 p.m. ET, click here.
Congress approves CR funding government through Dec. 11   09/19/2014
The Senate last night voted 78-22 to approve a continuing resolution (H.J. Res 124) extending funding for all federal programs through Dec. 11. The measure was approved by the House Wednesday and now goes to the president for his signature. While extending funding at the current annual rate of $1.012 trillion, the bill provides $58 million to the Department of Health and Human Services to address Ebola therapies and $30 million to respond to the Ebola outbreak in Africa, as well as several other changes to existing law.
Congress sends IMPACT Act to president   09/19/2014
The Senate last night approved legislation (H.R. 4994) requiring long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies to report standardized patient assessment data and quality and resource use measures. The Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act now goes to the president for his signature. Its reporting requirements would be phased in over time, with initial reporting for some providers beginning Oct. 1, 2016. The legislation also requires changes to the Conditions of Participation for PAC providers, inpatient prospective payment system and critical assess hospitals which pertain to their discharge planning processes. In addition, the bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services and Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to report to Congress on recommendations for a PAC payment system based on patient characteristics rather than treatment setting. To offset the cost of the bill ($195 million over 10 years), the legislation lowers the hospice annual payment update and requires state survey agencies to conduct medical reviews of hospice providers with a high proportion of patients treated for more than six months.
HHS: ACA rate reviews reduced 2013 premiums by nearly $1 billion   09/19/2014
The rate review provision of the Affordable Care Act saved consumers and employers with individual or small group health insurance $993 million on premiums in 2013, according to a report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services. Implemented in September 2011, the federal rate review rules require health insurers in the individual and small group markets to submit for review and justify proposed premium increases of 10% or more. After rate review, the average rate increase in 2013 dropped from 11.2% to 10.3% in the individual market and from 8% to 7.1% in the small group market, HHS said. In related news, the agency today awarded about $25 million in grants to 21 states to improve their rate review capabilities: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Reminder: AHA webinar to review RAC program developments   09/19/2014
Hospital representatives are invited to attend AHA’s RACTrac quarterly webinar on Sept. 24 for an update on developments in the Recovery Audit Contractor program, including information on the status of Medicare RAC contracts. The webinar also will review changes effective in October to AHA’s free RACTrac survey and claim level tracking tool, which help hospitals track and report their RAC activity. To register for the webinar, click here.
White House issues strategy, order to prevent drug-resistant infections   09/19/2014
President Obama yesterday released a national strategy for combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria and directed an interagency task force to develop a five-year plan for implementing the strategy by Feb. 15, 2015. The executive order also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a presidential advisory council on the issue. Among other actions, the order directs HHS before 2017 to review existing regulations and propose new regulations or other actions, as appropriate, that require hospitals to implement “robust” antibiotic stewardship programs that adhere to best practices. It also directs the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to do the same for their hospitals and long-term care facilities. In July, the AHA and six national partners released a toolkit to help hospitals and health systems enhance their antimicrobial stewardship programs. According to a 2013 AHA Physician Leadership Forum white paper, appropriate use of antibiotics is one of five areas where hospitals, in partnership with their clinical staff and patients, should look to reduce non-beneficial care through appropriate use of medical resources.
AHA report examines value of CME   09/18/2014
A new report from the AHA’s Physician Leadership Forum recommends ways to improve the value of continuing medical education to hospitals. Hospitals provided 35% of the accredited CME in 2013, investing close to $1 billion. “CME allows physicians to reach their full potential both as caregivers and leaders of the health care field,” said AHA Senior Vice President John Combes, M.D. “We have an opportunity to use CME strategically to achieve the goals not only of individual physicians but the entire delivery system to meet the needs of the patients and communities we serve.” To improve the use of CME as a strategic resource for hospitals, the report recommends greater use of performance-based CME; more streamlined accreditation standards; broader sharing of best practices; increased communication between CME departments and senior leadership; and greater involvement of physician leaders as CME champions. The report “Continuing Medical Education as a Strategic Resource,” is available at www.ahaphysicianforum.com.
CDC revises pneumococcal vaccination recommendations for seniors   09/18/2014
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today published revised pneumococcal vaccination recommendations for adults aged 65 and older. The recommendations call for adults 65 and older to receive first one dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and then one dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, ideally six to 12 months later. Adults 19 or older with compromised immune systems also should receive both pneumococcal vaccines. Depending on risk factors, some adults may need as many as three doses of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine in a lifetime, but only one dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended. The vaccines protect against pneumococcal disease, which can cause a severe type of pneumonia, as well as meningitis, blood poisoning and other infections. Either pneumococcal vaccine can be given at the same time as the flu vaccine.