AHA asks CMS to speed EHR program fix for CAHs   01/09/2013
The AHA again urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today to quickly address a claims processing limitation that inappropriately excludes certain physicians providing services in the outpatient departments of critical access hospitals from the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record incentive programs. The affected physicians are those for whom a CAH bills Medicare for their outpatient department services using the optional Method II. "We request that the agency correct the error as quickly as possible so that 'Method 2' physicians are eligible for the EHR incentive programs and can receive incentive payments for 2012 and 2013," the AHA said in a letter to the agency. "By waiting until 2014 to fix this issue, Method 2 physicians would become eligible for incentives only the year before penalties begin." The letter notes that physicians and other eligible professionals must first attest to meaningful use in 2012 to fully benefit from the incentives, and that waiting until 2014 would reduce their incentives by almost half. "If we assume that each CAH is billing for an average of 20 EPs, a $20,000 loss per physician would amount to missed incentives of $312 million," AHA notes. "This is an unacceptable loss for financially strapped rural providers who maintain access to care in underserved areas."
NGA: Debt limit fight could hurt state budgets, economies   01/09/2013
Federal uncertainty about the debt limit and spending cuts could hurt state economies and budgets, National Governors Association Chair Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said today. Speaking at the association's first "State of the States" address, Markell and NGA Vice Chair Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin highlighted four points governors have urged the president and Congress to consider when addressing deficit reduction and sequestration. NGA says reforms should produce savings for the federal government and states; not shift costs to states; give states more flexibility to increase efficiencies; and not impose maintenance of effort provisions on states as a condition of funding. Fallin also spoke about an NGA initiative to tackle prescription drug abuse and unveiled a new NGA website featuring best practices from states working to improve health care access, affordability and quality.
NCSL: Medicaid/health care a top fiscal priority for states in 2013   01/09/2013
Medicaid and health care concerns will dominate legislative discussions in 2013, according to a new survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least 34 states expect to address health care issues ranging from rising costs to implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the fall survey found. Education was the second fiscal priority overall, with 23 states calling it a top issue. "[W]hile most states continue to report stable conditions - with solid revenue performance and spending in line with budgeted estimates through the first few months of fiscal year 2013 - states continue to face serious budget dilemmas that require tough choices," the survey report states.
Study compares U.S. lifespan, health status with 16 other countries   01/09/2013
On average, Americans die sooner and experience higher rates of disease and injury than people in 16 other high-income countries, according to a report released today by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. Specifically, the U.S. fared worse on average in the areas of infant mortality and low birth weight; injuries and homicides; teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections; prevalence of HIV and AIDS; drug-related deaths; obesity and diabetes; heart disease; chronic lung disease; and disability. However, the study also found that U.S. residents over age 75 live longer, and that Americans have lower death rates from stroke and cancer, better control of blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and lower rates of smoking. The report recommends an intensified effort to pursue established national health objectives; data collection and research to better understand the causes of these health differences and potential solutions; and outreach to inform the public and stimulate national discussion about the study's policy, practice and research implications.
CMS to host Jan. 16 provider call on EHR meaningful use   01/09/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host a Jan. 16 National Provider Call on the final rule for Stage 2 meaningful use, and other changes to the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. For more information or to register, click here.
AHA Section for Maternal and Child Health names 2013 leaders   01/09/2013
Rick Merrill, president and CEO of Cook Children's Health Care System in Fort Worth, TX, is the 2013 chair of the AHA's Section for Maternal and Child Health. As chair, Merrill will lead the section's governing council on public policy issues concerning women's and children's health, hospitals serving that patient population and AHA member service strategies. He also serves as chair of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council. Angela Scioscia, M.D., chief medical officer for University of California San Diego Medical Center, is the section's chair-elect and will assume the role of chair in 2014. For more on the section's governing council, see the AHA news release.