HHS releases final EHB rule   02/20/2013
The Department of Health and Human Services today released a final rule pertaining to standards related to essential health benefits, actuarial value and accreditation of health plans. The rule spells out the administration's final core set of mandatory covered health benefits, and provides guidance on benefits required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that are not typically found in current employer benefit plans, as well as a standard method for computing the actuarial value of each health plan for consumer comparison purposes. The rule also finalizes a timeline for qualified health plans to be accredited in federally facilitated health insurance exchanges and amends regulations providing an application process for recognizing additional accrediting entities to certify qualified health plans. In addition, HHS released a report detailing how the rule applies to mental health and substance use disorder benefits and federal laws requiring that mental health benefits be provided at parity with other health benefits in the individual and small group markets. The rule will be published in the Feb. 25 Federal Register.
AHE seeks changes to proposed controlled substances disposal rule   02/20/2013
A proposal to require health care providers to use a paper form to record when controlled substances are destroyed fails to acknowledge that hospitals are using automated drug dispensing machines to document the information and would increase the paperwork burden for clinicians, the Association for the Healthcare Environment told the Drug Enforcement Administration yesterday. "Returning to a paper Form 41 would not only be burdensome and take away time from bedside care, it may provide decreased functionality with respect to identifying diversion," wrote AHE Executive Director Patti Costello, commenting on a proposed rule governing the secure disposal of controlled substances by DEA registrants and drug users. Among other issues, AHE requested changes to the rule's definition for "authorized employees" allowed to destroy controlled substances, and expressed concern that DEA does not specify what it considers to be a non-retrievable substance. AHE is an AHA personal membership group.
Medicaid expansion would produce net savings for Kansas   02/20/2013
Expanding Medicaid to another 169,000 Kansans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could save the state $82 million by 2020 while creating up to 4,000 jobs, according to a report released this week by the Kansas Hospital Association. The report estimates that expanding Medicaid would cost the state $343.2 million through 2020, which would be offset by $112.5 million in new state revenue and $312.7 million in savings from other health care programs. KHA President and CEO Tom Bell said the report "documents the importance of Kansas carefully considering all aspects of expansion." The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled the ACA's individual mandate and Medicaid expansion constitutional, but struck down a provision that allowed Congress to take all Medicaid funds from a state that refuses to participate in the Medicaid expansion. Under the ACA, the federal government will cover 100% of newly eligible enrollees through 2016 and 90% by 2020.
ASHE names 2013 Vista Award winners   02/20/2013
Hospital design and construction teams from Washington and Arizona will receive 2013 Vista Awards Monday from the AHA's American Society for Healthcare Engineering. The winners are MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, WA, for best new construction; John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital in Phoenix for renovation; and Swedish Issaquah Central Utility Plant, Issaquah, WA, for infrastructure. The awards will be presented at the International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design & Construction in San Francisco. For more on the recognized projects, see the ASHE news release.
Hospital prices climb 0.1% in January   02/20/2013
Overall hospital prices increased 0.1% in January, and were 2.0% higher than a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Prices for the subgroup of general medical and surgical hospitals increased 0.1%, and were 1.9% higher than in January 2012, according to the BLS' Producer Price Indices, which measure average changes in selling prices received by domestic producers for their output. For hospitals, this translates into actual or expected reimbursement for a sample of treatments or services. The PPI for hospitals measure changes in actual or expected reimbursement received for services across the full range of payer types. This includes the negotiated contract rate from the payer plus any portion expected to be paid by the patient.