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AHA president and CEO to retire at the end of 2015   11/21/2014
AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock today announced that he will retire at the end of 2015. The AHA Board of Trustees has formed a search committee and engaged Korn Ferry, a national executive search firm, to conduct the search for his successor. AHA chair-elect designee Jim Skogsbergh, president and CEO of Advocate Health Care in Illinois, will chair the search committee. “Being president of the AHA has been the highlight of my career,” Umbdenstock said in a message to AHA members. “For the past eight years, it has been my privilege to learn from you and to represent you. Together, we have accomplished a great deal – building a better health system for all. …I’ve been honored to be part of a field where doing the extraordinary is the ordinary. Your dedication and commitment to your mission, patients and community continue to inspire me.”
AHA recommends collaborative approach to medical device cybersecurity   11/21/2014
AHA today encouraged the Food and Drug Administration to continue taking steps to bring medical device security protections in line with state-of-the-art practice. Responding to the agency’s request for public comment on collaborative approaches for medical device and health care cybersecurity, AHA said the agency should hold device manufacturers accountable for cybersecurity, and encourage them to participate in existing activities to share information on cyber risk in the health care and public health sector. “Medical device manufacturers must embrace their responsibility to proactively minimize risk and continue updating and patching devices as new intelligence and threats emerge,” wrote Linda Fishman, AHA senior vice president of public policy analysis and development. They also “must participate in existing information-sharing activities, such as the Healthcare and Public Health Sector Coordinating Council, the Healthcare and Public Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center (NH-ISAC), the Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST), InfraGard and the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT),” she said. “These various public, private and joint forums allow participants to share the threats and vulnerabilities they observe, and learn how best to protect against emerging attacks.”
AHA webinar on Dec. 18 to review RAC survey data   11/21/2014
Hospital representatives are invited to learn more about recent activity impacting the Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor program and review results from the AHA's latest RACTrac survey during a webinar Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. ET. The free web-based survey helps AHA gauge the impact of Medicare RACs and advocate for needed changes to the program. For more on the AHA's RACTrac initiative, visit www.aha.org/ractrac.
CDC releases best practices for hospitals procuring PPE for Ebola response   11/21/2014
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a list of best practices to aid hospitals in obtaining personal protective equipment for responding to Ebola in the face of increased demand for the products since it issued updated guidance on Oct. 20. In the guidance, CDC states: “It is important to note that CDC guidance recommends use of either a PAPR or an N95 respirator, both of which provide a high level of protection that will allow health care workers to safely manage patients with Ebola. Therefore, if one option is not available, the other could be used instead.” The Department of Health and Human Services is working with distributors and manufacturers to increase the availability of supplies and CDC encourages hospitals to work through their state and local health departments, as well as any collaboratives or group purchasing agencies to which they may belong.
CMS issues memo on Ebola-related EMTALA requirements   11/21/2014
In a memorandum today to state survey agencies, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services outlined requirements and implications of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act related to Ebola. According to the memo, every hospital or critical access hospital emergency department should be able to apply appropriate Ebola screening criteria when applicable and immediately isolate individuals who meet the criteria for a potential Ebola case. In addition, CMS said EDs should contact their state or local public health officials to determine if Ebola testing is needed. When a decision to test is made, EDs should provide treatment to the individual for his or her symptoms, using appropriate isolation precautions, until it is determined whether the individual has Ebola, the memo states. In the case of individuals who have Ebola, hospitals and CAHs are expected to comply with the most recent state or local public health guidance in determining whether they have the capability to provide appropriate stabilizing treatment on site or whether to initiate appropriate transfers. AHA continues to work with both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and CMS to ensure that recommendations and guidance from the two agencies are aligned.
Congress extends direct supervision enforcement moratorium through 2014   11/21/2014
The Senate last night passed H.R. 4067, AHA-supported legislation that would extend to all of calendar year 2014 the enforcement moratorium on the outpatient therapeutic services “direct supervision” policy for critical access hospitals and rural prospective payment system hospitals with 100 or fewer beds. The bill passed the House in September and now goes to the president for his signature. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ direct supervision policy requires a supervising physician or non-physician practitioner to be immediately available whenever a Medicare patient receives outpatient therapeutic services; general supervision allows the service to be performed under the overall direction and control of a physician or non-physician practitioner without them being present. AHA also supports passage of the Protecting Access to Rural Therapy Services Act (H.R. 2801/S. 1143), legislation that would allow general supervision by a physician or non-physician practitioner for many outpatient therapy services, ensuring rural residents can continue to receive a range of outpatient services in their communities.
OPM proposed rule would amend certain standards for Multi-State Plans   11/21/2014
The Office of Personnel Management today issued a proposed rule amending certain standards related to coverage area, benefits and contracting provisions for insurers that contract with OPM to offer Multi-State Plan options under the Affordable Care Act. OPM contracts with private health insurance issuers to offer at least two MSP options in each state’s Health Insurance Marketplace to foster competition in health insurance for individuals and small businesses. The program will offer more than 200 MSPs in 36 states for the 2015 plan year, up from 150 in 31 states for plan year 2014.
Vermont hospital receives 2014 Partnership in Prevention Award   11/21/2014
The University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington today received the 2014 Partnership in Prevention Award from the Department of Health and Human Services, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, and Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. The award honors a hospital for sustained improvements based on the National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections. The 562-bed academic medical center “has created a culture of safety that encourages collaboration across ranks and disciplines, involving C-suite leaders, health care providers, caregivers, infection prevention experts, quality improvement experts, environmental services staff, and a team of infection prevention advocates from across the hospital, ambulatory clinics, and dialysis centers,” the co-sponsors said. “Since 2008, with C-suite support and leadership, they have engaged multidisciplinary teams that focus on infection prevention and control initiatives, significantly reducing central line-associated bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, and other HAIs in multiple patient populations.”
AHA toolkit targets preventable admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions   11/20/2014
The AHA today released a toolkit to help hospitals and health systems reduce preventable inpatient admissions for “ambulatory care sensitive conditions.” These are conditions that could be avoided with adequate primary care, such as asthma, low back pain and uncomplicated pneumonia. The toolkit includes resources from five national organizations that can help address the barriers to preventing such conditions, including a shortage of primary care physicians, ineffective communication between primary care and subspecialist doctors, and a lack of patient engagement. On Monday, Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. ET, AHA’s Physician Leadership Forum will host a webinar on how reducing preventable inpatient admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions can improve care and lower costs. According to a 2013 AHA Physician Leadership Forum white paper, reducing preventable inpatient admissions for these conditions 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. Previous toolkits are available at www.aha.org/appropriateuse.
CMS webinar Tuesday on 2016 payment adjustments for EPs, group practices   11/20/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host a Nov. 25 webinar to review the negative payment adjustments in certain Medicare quality reporting programs for physicians and other eligible professionals in 2016. Specifically, the presentation will cover guidance and instructions on how eligible professionals and group practices can avoid the 2016 negative adjustment for the Physician Quality Reporting System, satisfy the clinical quality measure component of the Medicare Electronic Health Records Incentive Program, and avoid the automatic Value-Based Modifier downward adjustment. To register for the 60-minute webinar, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET, click here.