House passes Children's Hospitals GME reauthorization bill   02/05/2013
The U.S. House of Representatives last night voted 352-50 to approve 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 independent children's hospitals in more than 30 states train pediatric residents. "In the face of a nationwide physician shortage and increased demand for health care services, the need for pediatricians is greater than ever," AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said in a letter of support to the bill's sponsors. "The AHA was disappointed that President Obama's FY 2013 budget proposed to reduce CHGME funding. Not fully supporting the program would be detrimental to the mutual goals of strengthening the primary care workforce and ensuring timely access to critical, high-quality specialty care." Reps. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) recently reintroduced the bill, which passed the House last year but was not taken up in the Senate.
Medicare project to test ESRD payment, care delivery model   02/05/2013
Dialysis providers, including hospital-based facilities, may submit letters of intent through March 15 to participate in the Comprehensive End-Stage Renal Disease Care Model. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation project will test whether organizations comprised of dialysis facilities, nephrologists and other Medicare providers can reduce per capita costs and improve care coordination and quality for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease. Participants will share in Medicare savings and loss amounts based on the organization's performance on specified quality measures. For more information, see the CMS notice.
Center calls for national approach to health care workforce planning   02/05/2013
The Bipartisan Policy Center today called for a national planning strategy to address future demand for health care workers. "Fragmented and inconsistent data collection, variance in methodological assumptions and rigor, mistrust between professional groups, and wide differences in regulatory and educational context contribute to an incomplete understanding of workforce supply and demand," an associated report released by the center concludes. In a separate report, the center suggests a more integrated approach to projecting demand for health care workers. The reports also recommend that Congress allocate funding to the National Health Care Workforce Commission, created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and increase funding for the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis.
Tool lets providers enroll in EFT with multiple payers   02/05/2013
The Council for Affordable and Quality Healthcare today released a free online tool that allows health care providers to enroll in electronic funds transfer with multiple health plans. The tool allows providers to enter their EFT enrollment information into a secure utility and select the payers to which their information should be sent. Payers receive the enrollment information electronically from CAQH. Currently, Aetna and Cigna Health Plans offer EFT enrollment through the tool, which is financed by participating payers. Beginning in January 2014, all payers must offer EFT under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Medicare will only reimburse providers through EFT. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, only 32% of health care claims were paid electronically in 2010, partly due to cumbersome enrollment processes that require health care providers to enroll in electronic funds transfer separately with each payer.