Congress approves bill extending debt ceiling through May 18   01/31/2013
The U.S. Senate today voted 64-34 to approve legislation (H.R. 325) to raise the nation's debt ceiling through May 18. The bill, which passed the House last week and the president is expected to sign, also requires each house of Congress to pass a budget resolution for fiscal year 2014 by April 15 or risk having its pay withheld. The debt ceiling - or legal borrowing limit - was technically reached Dec. 31, but the Treasury Department has taken measures to cover the nation's debts and keep the government from defaulting on its loans.
CMS selects providers for bundled payment initiative   01/31/2013
More than 500 organizations will participate in the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced today. The Medicare demonstration, announced in August 2011, will bundle payment for an episode of inpatient and/or post-acute care in an effort to better coordinate care for patients and reduce costs. Today's announcement includes 32 organizations that will begin testing bundled payments for acute care hospital stays as early as April 2013 under Model 1 of the program. It also includes participants for Phase 1 of Models 2, 3, and 4, which will run through July 2013. Phase 1 organizations will receive new data from CMS on care patterns and engage in shared learning in how to improve care. They generally are expected to participate in Phase 2, in which approved participants opt to take on financial risk for episodes of care starting in July 2013. In coming weeks, CMS plans to announce a second opportunity for providers to participate in Model 1, with an anticipated start date of early 2014.
Medicare prices for Round 2 of DME competitive bidding announced   01/31/2013
The anticipated expansion of the Medicare competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies will occur in July, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced yesterday. CMS estimates that Medicare will pay substantially less for products involved in the Round 2 expansion, including about 45% less for eight categories of products and 72% less for diabetic testing supplies. The new competitively bid products will include oxygen equipment; wheelchairs and scooters; enteral nutrients; continuous positive airway pressure devices and respiratory assist devices; hospital beds; walkers; negative pressure wound therapy pumps; and support surfaces such as mattresses. Round 2 also will expand the number of markets in the competitive bidding program to 91 from 70, and make diabetic testing supplies available through a nationwide mail-order program. Hospitals will retain the ability to provide walkers to discharged patients without being contracted DMEPOS suppliers.
AHRQ director to step down   01/31/2013
Carolyn Clancy, M.D., plans to step down after a decade as director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today. "I commend Carolyn for her leadership and service and am proud of the many accomplishments she has achieved in her role," Sebelius wrote in an announcement to colleagues. "She will continue to serve in this role for the next few months while a search is underway for a new Director." AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock commented, "Dr. Carolyn Clancy has been an inspiration and valued partner during her tenure at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Under Carolyn's leadership, AHRQ has led the charge in implementing key improvements in hospital quality and patient care. We at the AHA wish Carolyn the best of luck in her next endeavor and look forward to our continued relationship with AHRQ."
AHA long-term care/rehab section names 2013 leaders   01/31/2013
Lynn Jones, president of Christiana Care Home Health & Community Services and senior vice president of post-acute care services at Christiana Care Health System of Wilmington, DE, is 2013 chair of the AHA's Section for Long-Term Care and Rehabilitation. As chair, Jones will lead the section's governing council, which advises the AHA on public policy issues of concern to post-acute and continuing care providers. Catherine Barr, senior vice president of Health East Care System and president of Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, MN, is 2013 chair-elect and will chair the section in 2014. For more on the section and its governing council, see the AHA news release.