CMS proposes changes to reduce regulatory burden   02/04/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today released a proposed rule aimed at reducing burden and promoting efficiency for hospitals, critical access hospitals and other providers. In addition to changes and clarifications to selected requirements for providers, the rule addresses stakeholder concerns about governance-related provisions in the most recent changes to the Medicare Conditions of Participation. Specifically, the rule would rescind a recently adopted hospital regulation requiring that a hospital's governing board include a member of the medical staff. CMS instead proposes to require that a hospital's governing body periodically consult with a designated member of the medical staff. For multi-hospital systems with a single governing body, the governing body would need to consult with a member of the medical staff from each hospital in the system. The proposed rule also contains regulatory changes stipulating that each hospital, including those within a multi-hospital system, must have its own medical staff. "Today's proposed rule is an important step forward in further reducing burdensome requirements to hospitals," said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock, adding that the changes will be particularly welcomed by small and rural hospitals. "We especially applaud CMS for proposing to rescind the regulation that hospital governing boards must include a member of the medical staff. While most hospitals have physicians on their governing boards, CMS recognized that the requirement was not feasible for all hospitals. CMS revamped the requirements to focus on the need for good communication between governing boards and medical staff members about patient care. However, we are disappointed that CMS did not allow hospitals in multi-hospital systems to have single integrated medical staff structures if that's how those providers choose to be organized. Hospitals are delivering more coordinated, patient-centered care and CMS should not let antiquated organizational structures stand in the way."
CMS seeks comments on aligning physician quality measures   02/04/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeks information on how physicians and other eligible professionals might use clinical quality measures reported to non-federal programs to satisfy reporting requirements in the Physician Quality Reporting System and Electronic Health Record Incentive Program. Among other questions, CMS seeks information on how data reported to the American Board of Medical Specialties, clinical data registries, regional health care quality organizations and other non-federal reporting programs may be similar, different or duplicate reporting requirements for clinical quality measures in the federal programs, the selection of measures related to registry reporting and the registry measures reporting criteria. The request for information will be published in the Feb. 7 Federal Register with comments accepted for 60 days.
AHA proposes additional steps to ensure health IT safety   02/04/2013
AHA today urged the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to assume a coordinating role in ensuring that health IT systems mitigate harm and promote patient safety, cautioning against an approach that leads to duplicative efforts. Commenting on the agency's proposed patient safety plan, AHA concurred with the agency's proposal to build on existing patient safety efforts across government programs and the private sector, adding that "health IT is most appropriately considered as one of many factors affecting safety, rather than a topic on its own." AHA also commended ONC for recognizing that health IT vendors, clinicians, health care organizations and federal agencies share responsibility for ensuring the safety of health IT systems, and for establishing specific steps to encourage EHR vendors to take responsibility for safe design, implementation and use of their products. In addition, the association voiced support for developing a voluntary code of conduct for EHR vendors; called for a single, national approach to matching patients to their record; and urged ONC to focus on developing a more robust infrastructure for sharing health information.
CMS finalizes ACA 'physician sunshine' rule   02/04/2013
A final rule issued Friday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requires makers of drugs, devices, biological and medical supplies covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program to report payments or other transfers of value made to physicians and teaching hospitals. The rule also requires manufacturers and group purchasing organizations to disclose physician ownership or investment interests. The rule implements a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act intended to help reduce the potential for conflicts of interest. Applicable manufacturers and GPOs will report data to CMS for August through December 2013 by March 31, 2014. Organizations and physicians will be able to review and correct the data before it's published on a public website by Sept. 30, 2014, CMS said. The agency is developing an electronic system to facilitate the reporting process.
CMS issues guidance on preventive services FMAP increase   02/04/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Friday issued guidance to state Medicaid programs on the one percentage point increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage applicable to expenditures for certain preventive services and adult vaccines provided without cost-sharing. To claim the FMAP increase, which took effect Jan. 1 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states must cover in their standard Medicaid benefit package all preventive services assigned a grade of A or B by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, as well as adult vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Reminder: Physician EHR attestation deadline approaching   02/04/2013
Feb. 28 is the last day physicians and other eligible professionals can attest to meaningful use of electronic health records in calendar year 2012 under the Medicare EHR incentive program. To benefit fully from Medicare EHR incentives, EPs must complete a 90-day reporting period for meaningful use by Dec. 31, 2012 and attest by Feb. 28, 2013. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services encourages Medicare EPs to register and attest as soon as possible to resolve any potential issues that may delay their payment. EPs participating in the Medicaid EHR program should check the attestation deadline for their state. For more information, visit