OCR issues HIPAA privacy/security final rule   01/18/2013
The Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights yesterday released a final "omnibus" rule that updates several provisions in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations, as mandated by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. The rule replaces the harm threshold from the interim rule on breach notification with a more objective standard. It also requires business associates to comply with specific HIPAA privacy and security requirements, and imposes direct liability for their noncompliance with these regulatory standards. In addition, the rule incorporates the increased and tiered civil money penalty structure provided by the HITECH Act; makes changes to the use and disclosure of protected health information in certain circumstances; and prohibits most health plans from using or disclosing genetic information for underwriting purposes, as required by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. The final rule takes effect March 26; however, covered entities and their business associates generally will have until Sept. 23 to comply with most of the rule's provisions, including the changes to the breach notification requirements. AHA members today received a Special Bulletin with more information.
CDC: Flu hospitalizations rising, especially among seniors   01/18/2013
Hospitalizations for flu have surged in the past few weeks, especially among older Americans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today. The hospitalization rate for people age 65 and older is 82 per 100,000, which is typical to the rate seen in severe flu seasons such as 2007-2008, officials said. The agency continues to recommend vaccination as the best way to prevent the flu, and antiviral treatment within 48 hours of symptoms for all people with confirmed or suspected flu who are hospitalized, severely ill or at higher risk for complications. The Food and Drug Administration anticipates intermittent, temporary shortages of the oral suspension form of Tamiflu - the liquid version often prescribed for children - for the remainder of the flu season. For more information and instructions for the emergency compounding of an oral suspension from Tamiflu 75 mg capsules, visit www.fda.gov. While spot shortages of flu vaccine have also been reported, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D., said vaccine makers have produced up to 145 million doses, of which only 129 million have been distributed. She said health care providers can locate additional vaccine for purchase through the Influenza Vaccine Availability Tracking System, while consumers can use the Flu Vaccine Finder at www.flu.gov to locate a vaccine provider in their area.
Reminder: Hospitals encouraged to weigh in on outpatient supervision policy   01/18/2013
Hospital leaders have until Jan. 25 to submit presentations for the March meeting of the Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment, which reviews and advises the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services regarding the appropriate level of supervision for individual hospital outpatient therapeutic services. Interested parties must submit both an electronic and hard copy of their presentations for review and selection. The deadline for submitting an email copy of a presentation is Jan. 25; the deadline for submitting a hard copy of a presentation is Feb. 1. For detailed instructions on CMS' requirements, refer to the Federal Register notice. Individuals interested in attending the March meeting must register online between Jan. 9 and Feb. 22.
AMA announces grants to improve undergraduate medical education   01/18/2013
The American Medical Association will award $10 million in grants to medical schools over five years for projects to transform undergraduate medical education. Specifically, funding will be awarded to develop new methods to teach and assess key competencies; promote patient safety, performance improvement and patient-centered, team-based care; improve student understanding of the health care system and health care financing; and enhance professionalism throughout the learning environment. Applicants must submit brief proposals by Feb. 15. AMA will then invite some of the schools to submit a full proposal and expects to fund about 10 projects by July 1. For details, visit www.changemeded.org.
Hospital prices fall 0.2% in December   01/18/2013
Overall hospital prices declined 0.2% in December, and were 2.2% higher than a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week. Prices for the subgroup of general medical and surgical hospitals declined 0.2%, and were 2.1% higher than in December 2011, 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.
AHA psych section names 2013 leaders   01/18/2013
Paul Summergrad, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and psychiatrist-in-chief at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, is 2013 chair of the AHA's Section Council for Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Services. Among other roles, he also serves as chair of the American Psychiatric Association Board of Trustees ad hoc workgroup on the role of psychiatry in health care reform. James Eyler, CEO of Coliseum Center for Behavioral Health in Macon, GA, and Behavioral Health Quality Council member for Hospital Corporation of America, is the section's chair-elect and will become chair in 2014. For more on the section's governing council, see the AHA news release.