CMS issues proposed 2015 rule for Medicare Advantage program   01/07/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last night issued a proposed rule for private Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans beginning in contract year 2015, which the agency said would save $1.3 billion over five years. The proposed rule includes a host of technical and policy changes. According to a CMS factsheet, key changes include new criteria for identifying protected classes of drugs; changes to promote competition in Part D plans and ensure meaningful plan choices; and changes to the regulatory definition of negotiated drug prices, among other provisions. In addition, CMS proposes to expand prevention and health improvement incentives for beneficiaries, implement a variety of fraud and abuse enhancements, and increase the agency’s authority to remove poor performing plans from the MA program. The rule will be published in the Jan. 10 Federal Register with comments accepted through March 7.
Court urged to uphold Colorados authority to opt out of CRNA supervision   01/07/2014
The AHA yesterday filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Colorado Supreme Court to uphold a July 2012 appeals court decision supporting the governor's authority to exercise the opt out of Medicare's physician supervision requirement for certified registered nurse anesthetists to improve access to care for rural residents. “After proper consultation with the Colorado Medical Board and the Colorado Board of Nursing, the Governor chose to make use of the latitude provided under Medicare to permit States to make full use of CRNAs without risking their hospitals being found ineligible for reimbursement,” the brief states. “Governor Ritter specifically tailored his decision to rural general and Critical Access Hospitals that face the challenges identified above. The opt-out will improve access to health care for rural Coloradans. The Governor’s choice – which, as Respondent explains, is fully consistent with Colorado law – should be upheld by this Court.”
Webinar to review new outpatient quality reporting measure specifications   01/07/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ support contractor for the Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting Program will host a Jan. 15 webinar on new program measures and updates to the Hospital OQR Specifications Manual effective Jan. 1. The webinar will include information on three new measures that will affect Medicare payments in calendar year 2016. To register for the webinar, offered at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Eastern Time, click here.
Deadline for comments on draft revisions to NPDB guidebook extended   01/07/2014
The Health Resources and Services Administration recently extended through Jan. 31 the deadline for submitting comments on draft revisions to the National Practitioner Data Bank guidebook. The original deadline was Jan. 10. According to the agency, the revised guidebook incorporates legislative and regulatory changes since the 2001 edition, including the merger of the NPDB with the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank; improved examples and tables explaining data bank policies and requirements; and live links to cited statutes and regulations. To receive an electronic copy of the draft revised guidebook, email the Division of Practitioner Data Banks at Comments should be submitted to the same email address.
AHA to host Jan. 16 webinar on new RAC Analyzer tool   01/07/2014
Hospital staff are invited to attend a free Jan. 16 webinar on a new AHA online tool that allows hospitals to compare the impact of Medicare’s Recovery Audit Contractor program based on RAC region, bed size, ownership status and other variables. Participants will learn how to use the free RACTrac Analyzer with AHA’s existing RACTrac survey to create reports that compare their hospital’s RAC activity with those of similar hospitals. To register for the webinar, at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, click here. For more on the AHA’s free RACTrac survey, including the latest results and how to register, visit
AHA Committee on Governance names 2014 leaders   01/07/2014
Bina Eggensperger and Fred Gattas Jr. will serve as chair and chair-elect, respectively, for the AHA's 2014 Committee on Governance. Eggensperger, who joined the COG in 2010, is a trustee at Clark Fork Valley Hospital in Plains, MT; Gattas is a trustee at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. The COG is a specialty committee of the AHA Board of Trustees responsible for providing input into AHA's policy development, leading effective involvement of the nation's hospital trustees in grassroots advocacy, providing advice on AHA's trustee initiatives, and enhancing communication with and involvement of trustees in the AHA. For more information, see the AHA news release.
Reminder: AHA Town Hall webcast tomorrow   01/07/2014
Tune in to the next AHA members-only Town Hall Interactive Webcast – tomorrow at 4 p.m. Eastern Time – for a look at the year ahead in Washington and the rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Executive Vice President Rick Pollack will be joined by special guest Gary Cohen, deputy administrator and director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Click here or call (800) 424-4301 for more information.