AHA urges HIT panel to study, address meaningful use issues   01/14/2013
The AHA today urged the Health Information Technology Policy Committee to recommend that the Department of Health and Human Services fund a comprehensive external study of progress toward meaningful use of electronic health records, and why the large majority of hospitals and physicians have yet to attest to meaningful use more than two years into the Medicare EHR incentive program. "We urge the HITPC to refrain from finalizing Stage 3 recommendations until it has reviewed the results of such an evaluation and can develop an implementation plan for Stage 3 that addresses the issues raised in Stage 1," AHA wrote, responding to a request for public comment on the committee's draft recommendations for Stage 3 meaningful use. The association also urged the panel to focus on its mandate to make recommendations for a nationwide health IT infrastructure. "Addressing the current limits to interoperability will bring far greater benefits than rushing into a definition for Stage 3 that is not built on lessons learned from Stage 1, let alone Stage 2," AHA wrote. The letter notes that the costs of EHRs are growing significantly at a time when policymakers are cutting Medicare payments.
CMS issues proposed rule for Medicaid, CHIP, exchanges   01/14/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today released a proposed rule implementing the Medicaid benefit options available to low-income adults beginning in 2014 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Specifically, the rule modifies existing "benchmark" regulations applicable to Medicaid programs, as previously described in a State Health Officials letter, to implement the benefit options available to low-income adults. Among other provisions, the rule proposes a single set of rules for Medicaid premiums and cost sharing, while allowing states to impose higher cost sharing for non-emergency use of hospital emergency departments and non-preferred drugs. In addition, the rule proposes to streamline eligibility categories for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, and specifies a process and options for coordinating eligibility notices and appeals in Medicaid, CHIP and state insurance exchanges. The rule also details how exchanges would verify access to employer-sponsored coverage; and proposes certification standards for counselors who help people apply for qualified health plans through an exchange or insurance affordability program. For more information, see the CMS factsheet.
AHA Town Hall Interactive webcasts resume   01/14/2013
AHA members are invited to join AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock for the first members-only webcast of 2013 on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack and Senior Vice President of Federal Relations Tom Nickels will provide an update on the latest from the legislative and regulatory fronts. All participants must register to take part in 2013 webcasts (even if they have registered for past webcasts). To register, click here.
AHA Committee on Governance names 2013 leaders   01/14/2013
Katherine Keene and Bina Eggensperger will serve as chair and chair-elect, respectively, for the AHA's 2013 Committee on Governance. Keene, who joined the COG in 2009, is a trustee at Salem (OR) Hospital; Eggensperger is a trustee at Clark Fork Valley Hospital in Plains, MT. 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.