(Click to read AHA News newspaper stories)





Trying to find a story from a past AHA NewsNow? Use the button below to search the NewsNow archives by date or key word.

CMS revises application request for ESRD payment, care delivery model   04/15/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today released a revised Request for Applications for the Comprehensive End-Stage Renal Disease Care Model. Announced last February, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation project will test whether organizations comprised of dialysis facilities (including hospital-based facilities), nephrologists and other Medicare providers and suppliers can reduce costs and improve care coordination and quality for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease. Among other changes, the revised RFA removes a requirement that participating nephrologists and nephrology practices be independent entities, and offers two payment tracks based on the size of the participating dialysis facilities. Organizations that include at least one dialysis facility owned by a large dialysis organization must submit a letter of intent and application by June 23 and others by Sept. 15. For more information, see the CMS factsheet.
Members encouraged to submit videos to AHA's 'My Hospital' campaign   04/15/2014
AHA recently launched a digital video campaign highlighting the importance of hospitals in their communities, and encourages members to submit videos to the campaign using Instagram and other mobile video applications that are sharable through Twitter. AHA will promote the videos during its annual meeting May 4-7 in Washington, D.C., and share them on Facebook and through social media, tagging respective elected representatives for each hospital that participates. For more information, including participation instructions and a sample script, visit www.aha.org/myhospital.
Reminder: Submit data to AHA RACTrac survey by Friday   04/15/2014
The AHA encourages all hospitals to submit data to its quarterly RACTrac survey by April 18. Participants are asked to answer a new survey question measuring the number of claims withdrawn from the appeals process in order to rebill for Part B payment. The free web-based survey helps AHA gauge the impact of Medicare's Recovery Audit Contractor program on hospitals and advocate for needed changes. To register for the survey or for technical assistance, contact RACTrac support at (888) 722-8712 or ractracsupport@providercs.com. For more on the survey, including the latest results, visit www.aha.org/ractrac.
AHA urges NQF, CMS to adopt sociodemographic risk adjustment proposal   04/14/2014
The AHA today urged the National Quality Forum and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to adopt an expert panel’s recommendations for adjusting quality measures to account for sociodemographic risk factors such as Medicaid status, income, education and homelessness. “A large body of evidence demonstrates that sociodemographic factors such as income and insurance status affect many patient outcomes, including readmissions and costs,” wrote AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack. “…We strongly urge CMS to adopt the NQF panel’s recommendations and adjust its measures in its many quality reporting and pay-for-performance programs. Moreover, we urge NQF to place a high priority on working with CMS to rapidly address its measures. Lastly, we concur with the panel’s recommendation that NQF expand its role by developing more detailed implementation guidance for measures, and clarifying for what uses a measure is endorsed.” NQF is accepting public comment on the expert panel’s recommendations through Apr. 16. For more on the draft recommendations, see the AHA Quality Advisory for members.
CMS issues proposed rule updating Medicare/Medicaid fire safety standards   04/14/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today proposed adopting the 2012 edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s Life Safety Code, with certain exceptions, and the majority of the 2012 edition of the Health Care Facilities Code (NFPA 99) for hospitals and seven other provider types participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The proposed rule would update CMS standards from the 2000 edition of the LSC. The LSC includes general requirements for all new and existing buildings, while the HCFC contains more detailed provisions for health care building systems and equipment. “We are pleased that CMS has proposed to update its fire safety regulations, a long-awaited improvement that should make it easier for hospitals to comply with the most recent standards for keeping patients safe,” said Nancy Foster, AHA vice president for quality and patient safety policy. AHA will review the rule in more detail in the coming weeks and provide comments to CMS about the need to routinely update such standards. AHA is likely to provide additional comments about specific provisions contained in the proposed rule and the implications of those proposed changes. The rule will be published in the April 16 Federal Register with comments accepted for 60 days.
Challenges to two-midnight and related policies filed   04/14/2014
The AHA, four hospital associations and a number of hospitals today challenged in federal court the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ new two-midnight rule and a related offset to Medicare payments, which they claim burden hospitals with arbitrary standards and documentation requirements and deprive them of Medicare reimbursement to which they are entitled. The rule requires for inpatient payment the admitting physician’s expectation that a beneficiary’s stay will last at least two midnights, which the group claims is “arbitrary” and “capricious” and therefore invalid under federal law and regulation. The rule applies regardless of the “level of care” the physician expects the patient to need and “unwisely permits the government to supplant treating physicians’ judgment,” the complaint states. “The word ‘inpatient’ simply doesn’t mean ‘a person who stays in the hospital until Day 3,’ and CMS is not at liberty to change the meaning of words [in the Medicare statute] to save money.” The group also says it is arbitrary for CMS to apply a one-year time limit from the date of care to requests for outpatient payment when inpatient payment is denied by a Recovery Audit Contractor, and to require, in direct contradiction of Medicare law, a written physician order for every inpatient stay as a condition of Medicare payment. A separate but related complaint contends that CMS’s decision to cut Medicare reimbursement rates in response to alleged increased costs from the two-midnight rule violates federal law and regulation.
AHA names 'grassroots champions'   04/11/2014
The AHA, in partnership with the state hospital associations, will present its Grassroots Champions Award to 51 individuals May 6 at the AHA Annual Membership Meeting in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes those hospital leaders who most effectively educate elected officials on how major issues affect the hospital's vital role in the community, do an exemplary job in broadening the base of community support for the hospital and are tireless advocates for hospitals and their patients. "We depend upon strong local voices to help tell the story of hospitals as cornerstones of the communities they serve," said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. "This award is a small token of our appreciation for the hard work and dedication of these individuals to improving health and health care in America."
Hospital prices rise 0.1% in March   04/11/2014
Overall hospital prices increased 0.1% in March, and were 1.3% higher than a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Prices for the subgroup of general medical and surgical hospitals increased 0.1%, and were 1.1% higher than in March 2013, according to the BLS' Producer Price Indices, which measure average changes in selling prices received by domestic producers for their output. For hospitals, this translates into actual or expected reimbursement for a sample of treatments or services. The PPI for hospitals measure changes in actual or expected reimbursement received for services across the full range of payer types. This includes the negotiated contract rate from the payer plus any portion expected to be paid by the patient.
Reminder: Submit data to AHA RACTrac survey by next Friday   04/11/2014
The AHA encourages all hospitals to submit data to its quarterly RACTrac survey by April 18. Participants are asked to answer a new survey question measuring the number of claims withdrawn from the appeals process in order to rebill for Part B payment. The free web-based survey helps AHA gauge the impact of Medicare's Recovery Audit Contractor program on hospitals and advocate for needed changes. To register for the survey or for technical assistance, contact RACTrac support at (888) 722-8712 or ractracsupport@providercs.com. For more on the survey, including the latest results, visit www.aha.org/ractrac.
Sebelius to leave HHS; president nominates OMB director to post   04/11/2014
President Obama today announced that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will step down after five years of service, and nominated Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to fill the post. Sebelius, formerly governor of Kansas, joined the president’s Cabinet in April 2009. Burwell, whose nomination must be confirmed by the Senate, joined OMB last year and previously served as president of the Walmart Foundation and president of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She also held several positions in the Clinton administration, including deputy director of OMB and deputy chief of staff to the president. “The AHA applauds Kathleen Sebelius’s commitment to improving health care and expanding access to care for all,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “Her work to extend coverage to millions of Americans will be part of her legacy. While shepherding through some of the biggest changes in health care, Sebelius always had an open door and listened to hospital leaders on issues affecting the field. We look forward to working with Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell to advance better health for the patients and communities we serve.”