MedPAC finalizes 2015 post-acute, ASC, dialysis recommendations   01/17/2014
At a two-day meeting concluding today, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission adopted a final recommendation to freeze payments for long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, ambulatory surgical centers, home health, hospice and dialysis providers under Medicare prospective payment systems for 2015. In addition, the commission recommended creating a readmissions reduction policy that would apply a penalty to HH payments for HH readmissions to hospitals that exceed a risk-adjusted target, and finalized a recommendation to create a common post-acute assessment instrument for HH, skilled nursing facilities, IRFs and LTCHs in 2016. The commission also extended through 2015 its prior recommendation to freeze payments for SNFs and rebase the SNF PPS. As reported in AHA News Now yesterday, the commission also voted to phase in over three years a policy to pay LTCHs the same rates as general acute-care hospitals for patients who are not deemed “chronically critically ill,” defined as receiving at least eight intensive-care-unit days of service or prolonged ventilation services during the prior inpatient PPS hospital stay. MedPAC staff estimate that the policy would reduce overall LTCH payments by 36%. The savings would be redistributed to a new outlier pool for CCI cases treated in inpatient PPS hospitals.
Congress passes $1.1 trillion FY 2014 omnibus spending bill   01/17/2014
The U.S. Senate last night voted 72-26 to approve the Consolidated Appropriations Act, a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that will fund the government for fiscal year 2014. The legislation, which includes all 12 annual spending bills, provides $1.012 trillion in discretionary funding to operate federal programs, fulfilling the guidelines of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. Passed by the House Wednesday, the bill now goes to the president who is expected to sign it into law. It includes $156.8 billion in discretionary funding for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, $100 million less than the FY 2013 enacted level. The legislation also includes a number of hospital-related provisions that affect the 340B Drug Pricing Program, Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education, critical access hospitals, recovery audit contractors and other programs. AHA members received a Special Bulletin today with more information.
Surgeon general report highlights new smoking hazards   01/17/2014
About 5.6 million American children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-related diseases unless current smoking rates drop, according to the latest report on the health consequences of smoking by the U.S. surgeon general. The report comes 50 years after the release of the first report, which concluded that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer. Today’s report adds diabetes, colorectal and liver cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, age-related macular degeneration and other conditions to the list of diseases cigarette smoking causes. It also associates exposure to secondhand smoke with increased risk for stroke. “Over the last 50 years tobacco control efforts have saved 8 million lives but the job is far from over,” said Howard Koh, M.D., assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services. “This report provides the impetus to accelerate public health and clinical strategies to drop overall smoking rates to less than 10% in the next decade.” Since 1965, adult smoking rates have fallen from about 43% to 18%.
CMS video reviews ICD-10 coding basics   01/17/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released a video on “ICD-10 Coding Basics," which provides a basic introduction to the code set. Hospitals and other entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act must convert from the ICD-9 to the ICD-10 coding system for medical diagnoses and inpatient procedures by Oct. 1.
MO hospitals report on community benefit   01/17/2014
Missouri hospitals provided community benefits totaling $2.5 billion in 2012, according to a new report from the Missouri Hospital Association. The total includes $1.17 billion in uncompensated care (charity care and bad debt), and contributions such as absorbing the unpaid costs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, helping train the health care workforce, providing free clinic services and donating to local causes. “This year’s report demonstrates hospitals’ ongoing commitment to delivering care to members of their communities who are unable to pay,” said Herb Kuhn, MHA president and CEO. “However, it also underscores the need for expanded access to health insurance.”
Hospital prices rise 0.4% in December   01/17/2014
Overall hospital prices increased 0.4% in December, and were 1.5% higher than a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week. Prices for the subgroup of general medical and surgical hospitals increased 0.5%, and were 1.6% higher than in December 2012, 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.