AHA comments on proposed quality rating system for exchange health plans   01/21/2014
The Quality Rating System for Qualified Health Plans on health insurance exchanges should focus on the most important national quality improvement priorities, accurately reflect health plan performance, and provide patients with meaningful information, AHA told the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in comments submitted today. “The AHA supports several aspects of CMS’ proposed framework and measures list for the QRS,” wrote Linda Fishman, AHA senior vice president of public policy analysis and development. “However, we are concerned that the measures list seems more like a list of available and potentially implementable measures, rather than a list chosen to advance underlying strategic priorities.” Among other changes, AHA recommended that CMS annually submit QRS measures under consideration to the Measure Applications Partnership; use only measures endorsed by the National Quality Forum; and consider including more meaningful measures of access and affordability, such as wait times for primary and specialist care and out-of-pocket costs for services. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires CMS to develop a system to rate the quality of health plans on the exchanges to assist consumers with comparing and selecting plans.
Altarum: Health spending on track for 5th year of slow growth   01/21/2014
National health care expenditures grew at an annual rate of 4.0% for the first 11 months of 2013, according to the latest economic indicators from Altarum Institute's Center for Sustainable Health Spending. “Depending on the December data, 2013 could be the fifth consecutive year of health spending growth below 4%, a rate that had not been seen before in the 50-plus years of national health expenditure accounting,” Altarum said. “The health spending share of gross domestic product was 17.2% in November, the lowest reading since September 2012 indicating that health care may be absorbing a smaller share of the economy, especially if GDP growth accelerates in 2014, as widely predicted.” Health care lost 6,000 jobs in December, representing the first decline in a decade, the center said. Health sector job growth for the year was down 35%, “with particular slowing in hospitals and nursing homes,” Altarum said.
CMS announces webcast on electronic reporting of clinical quality measures   01/21/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host a Jan. 22 webcast for hospitals on electronic reporting of clinical quality measures. Planned topics include the inpatient quality reporting program and CMS efforts to align the program with eCQM reporting requirements for meaningful use of electronic health records, as well as eCQM submission options and timelines. To register for the one-hour webcast, scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern Time, click here.
Hospitals reminded to participate in AHA RACTrac survey   01/21/2014
The AHA encourages all hospitals to submit data to its latest quarterly RACTrac survey by Jan. 24. The free web-based survey helps AHA gauge the impact of Medicare's Recovery Audit Contractor program on hospitals and advocate for needed changes. To register for the survey or for technical assistance, participants should contact RACTrac support at (888) 722-8712 or ractracsupport@providercs.com. For more on the survey, including the latest results, visit www.aha.org/ractrac.
Reminder: AHA quality leadership award deadline approaching   01/21/2014
The AHA invites applications through Jan. 24 for the 2014 Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership. Named after AHA President Emeritus Dick Davidson, the annual award honors a state, regional or metropolitan hospital association that demonstrates exceptional organizational leadership and innovation in quality improvement and has made significant contributions to measurable quality improvement in its geographic area. For more information and an application, click here.