House committee passes Children's Hospitals GME reauthorization bill   01/22/2013
The House Energy and Commerce Committee today approved by unanimous consent AHA-supported legislation (H.R. 297) to reauthorize the Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education program through fiscal year 2017. The program provides funding to help freestanding children's hospitals train pediatric residents. Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said he hopes the bill will move to the House floor as soon as possible. A similar measure passed the House last year, but was not taken up in the Senate. Reps. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) reintroduced the legislation last week.
Supreme Court reverses decision in Medicare DSH case   01/22/2013
In a unanimous opinion today, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded a Circuit Court ruling that hospitals could appeal Provider Reimbursement Review Board decisions beyond the usual time limit. Hospitals had urged the Court to uphold the court of appeal's decision that the time period should be "tolled" in extraordinary circumstances. Delivering the opinion for the Court, Justice Ginsburg said "that the presumption in favor of equitable tolling does not apply to administrative appeals of the kind here at issue." The Court also held that the Secretary reasonably construed the statute to permit a regulation extending the time for a provider's appeal to the PRRB from 180 days to three years for good cause. In a separate concurring opinion, Justice Sotomayor said, "I write separately to note that the Court's decision in this case does not establish that equitable tolling principles are irrelevant to internal administrative deadlines in all, or even most, contexts." Noting that the decision addressed the 1974 version of the regulation and not the 2008 version that placed limits on good cause, Justice Sotomayor wrote, "We would face a different case if the Secretary's regulation did not recognize an exception for good cause or defined good cause so narrowly as to exclude cases of fraudulent concealment and equitable estoppel." Hospitals in the case challenged their Medicare disproportionate share adjustments for 1987 through 1994 after the PRRB found in 2006 that errors in CMS' methodology resulted in a systematic under-calculation of the DSH adjustment and corresponding underpayments to providers. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the case, AHA said that hospitals should be able to appeal PRRB decisions beyond the usual time limit in extraordinary circumstances.
Reminder: Dick Davidson quality award applications due Friday   01/22/2013
The AHA invites applications through Jan. 25 for the 2013 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.
Kansas hospitals boost state economy   01/22/2013
Kansas hospitals directly employ 81,931 people and support another 61,855 jobs in other sectors, according to a new report from the Kansas Hospital Association. This employment generates $7.2 billion in income and $2.2 billion in sales for the state's economy. "Hospitals and health services truly represent an economic anchor in our state," said KHA President and CEO Tom Bell. "…While the estimates of economic impact are substantial, they are only a partial accounting of the benefits that health care in general, and community hospitals in particular, provide to the state." The report can be found at www.kha-net.org.