AHA comments on 2014 MAP draft report   01/24/2014
The Measure Applications Partnership should assess whether quality measures proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services address a consistent set of priorities across the health care system, AHA told the MAP today, commenting on the partnership’s 2014 pre-rulemaking report. “To provide a reference point for making such an assessment, we urge the MAP to identify, in collaboration with federal partners and other stakeholders, a small number of specific national priority areas for measurement each year, and recommend those measures that best address them,” wrote Linda Fishman, AHA senior vice president of public policy analysis and development. Among other recommendations, AHA said CMS should propose for MAP review only measures endorsed by the National Quality Forum; present stronger data demonstrating that electronic clinical quality measures are ready to implement; and suspend or remove the stroke mortality and readmissions measures from the inpatient quality reporting program until they adequately adjust for stroke severity. AHA also urged CMS not to recommend the hospital-wide all-cause, all-condition readmission measure for the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program until the measure’s methodological and implementation issues are addressed.
Eisenberg quality award winners announced   01/24/2014
The National Quality Forum and Joint Commission will present four 2013 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards on Feb. 13 at the National Quality Forum's annual conference in Washington, D.C. Awards for innovation at the national level will go the Minnesota Hospital Association, Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement and Stratis Health for their partnership to reduce avoidable readmissions, and to the Hospital Association of Southern California, Hospital Association of San Diego & Imperial Counties, Hospital Council of Northern & Central California, Anthem Blue Cross and National Health Foundation for their quality improvement initiative. Vidant Health in Greenville, SC, will receive an award for innovation at the local level, and Gail Warden, president emeritus of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, will receive an award for individual achievement. Warden served as executive vice president of the AHA from 1976-1981 and as AHA chairman in 1995.
Study: Hospital realignments enhance health care access and value   01/24/2014
Hospital realignments create significant benefits for patients and communities, according to a new study by the Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy. “This comprehensive analysis of consolidation studies reveals hospital realignment offers benefits including improved service offer­ings, cost reduction and enhanced competitiveness,” the authors state. “Importantly, the analysis underscores that without realignment, patients and communities could face disruption and instability, hospital closures and reduced access to care.” Commissioned by the Federation of American Hospitals, the study looks at major systemic changes occurring across the health care system, including the move toward more coordinated care and a spending slowdown that many experts believe is structural, and concludes that “many of the studies cited in recent media reports and by academia focus on…a data set that is old and not representative of the operating environment in which hospitals compete.” Along with the study, FAH released two infographics on the study highlights.
CMS: Hospitals can use service vendors to assist with PE determinations   01/24/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today clarified that hospitals can continue to use service vendors to assist them in making Medicaid presumptive eligibility determinations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. CMS’ clarification, which was requested by AHA, says “hospitals can rely on third-party contractors to help staff their in-hospital PE operations, by staffing welcome desks, meeting with consumers, and helping them fill out PE applications as long as the hospital takes responsibility for the PE determinations that result.” In addition, CMS says that states “should not unduly limit a hospital’s ability to rely on third-party contractors as long as the hospital is not delegating its authority to determine presumptive eligibility to a third party and is meeting appropriate state-established performance standards.” CMS issued the clarifications in a series of FAQs on hospital PE.
IRS notice exempts certain individuals from individual mandate   01/24/2014
Americans with limited health coverage under Medicaid or certain military health care programs will not be subject to the individual shared responsibility payment for not maintaining minimum essential coverage in 2014, according to an IRS notice released yesterday. People exempted from the payment include those with coverage under tuberculosis-related services Medicaid, pregnancy-related Medicaid, emergency medical conditions Medicaid, Section 1115 demonstration projects and coverage for medically needy individuals.
Hospitals encouraged to complete brief ICD-10 survey   01/24/2014
AHA is surveying hospitals through Feb. 7 to learn more about their ICD-10 implementation and testing efforts. Hospitals and other entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act must transition to the ICD-10 coding system for medical diagnoses and inpatient procedures by Oct. 1. Findings from the brief survey will help AHA advocate for sufficient external testing by Medicare and Medicaid, and design additional member resources. Instructions for accessing the online survey were mailed yesterday to all hospital CEOs. For more information, contact George Arges, AHA senior director of health data management, at (312) 422-3398 or garges@aha.org.
AHA RACTrac survey deadline extended to Jan. 31   01/24/2014
The AHA has extended to Jan. 31 the final deadline for hospitals to submit data to its quarterly RACTrac survey. The free web-based survey helps AHA gauge the impact of Medicare's Recovery Audit Contractor program on hospitals and advocate for needed changes. Additionally, hospitals that submit data to RACTrac are eligible to use the new RACTrac Analyzer, which allows providers to look at RAC data for peer groups and create their own RACTrac data reports. To register for the survey or for technical assistance, 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.
Court prevents MO from restricting ACA navigators   01/24/2014
A federal district judge yesterday granted a preliminary injunction preventing the state of Missouri from imposing additional requirements on navigators and certified application counselors authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. "The Court concluded that states that have opted to have the federal government run their Exchange cannot pass laws that make the operation of the Exchange more difficult or onerous," said Jay Angoff, counsel for the plaintiffs and former director of ACA implementation at the Department of Health and Human Services. The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, is St. Louis Effort for AIDS et al. v. John Huff.
AHA releases new community health resource   01/24/2014
AHA's Community Connections initiative recently released “Ideas & Innovations for Hospital Leaders," an annual publication highlighting innovative hospital programs to promote community health, access to health care, and other social and basic needs. Printed copies were mailed to all hospital CEOs to inspire and spark dialogue. For more on the AHA initiative and additional case examples, visit www.ahacommunityconnections.org.
AHA metro hospital section names 2014 leaders   01/24/2014
Reginald Coopwood, M.D., president and CEO of Regional Medical Center at Memphis, will lead the AHA's Section for Metropolitan Hospitals as 2014 chair of its governing council. He also serves as chair of the Tennessee Hospital Association board. Wright Lassiter III, CEO of Alameda Health System in Oakland, CA, is this year’s chair-elect and will become chairman in 2015. The section is a forum for suburban and urban hospitals to discuss common interests and concerns and to participate in the AHA policy process. For more on the section's governing council, see the AHA news release.