CMS extends comment deadline for Emergency Preparedness CoP rule   02/20/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today extended the comment period for its proposed rule expanding emergency preparedness conditions of participation and conditions for coverage for hospitals and other health care providers that participate in the Medicare or Medicaid program. The original Feb. 25 comment deadline was extended through March 31. AHA encourages members to submit comments to CMS, and will make its own comments available soon. For more on the proposed rule, see the AHA’s recent Regulatory Advisory for members.
CDC: Flu hitting non-elderly adults hard this season   02/20/2014
Hospitalizations and deaths from flu have been unusually high among non-elderly adults this flu season, when the H1N1 virus that emerged in 2009 is predominating, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today. “While H1N1 viruses have continued to circulate since the 2009 pandemic, this is the first season since the pandemic they have been predominant in the U.S.,” CDC said. “Once again, the virus is causing severe illness in younger and middle-aged people.” Adults under 65 have comprised 61% of flu hospitalizations this season, up from 35% in the past three, and flu deaths have followed the same pattern, CDC said. “The good news is that this season's vaccine is doing its job, protecting people across all age groups,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D. “…It's important that everyone get vaccinated. It's also important to remember that some people who get vaccinated may still get sick, and we need to use our second line of defense against flu: antiviral drugs to treat flu illness.” According to CDC, this season’s vaccine has reduced the risk for flu-related medical visits by an estimated 60%.
Alert: Electronic medication history data may contain errors   02/20/2014
Surescripts has determined that one data source for its “Medication History Acute” and “Medication History Ambulatory” services may contain inaccurate information that could jeopardize patient safety, according to a new alert from the National Alert Network. The potential inaccuracy relates to the strength of a drug reported in the medication history drug description field, and results from missing special characters such as a decimal point, forward slash, or percentage in some records, the network said. According to the alert, Surescripts has disconnected the data source from the services until corrected, and communicated the potential risk to all electronic health record vendors. Meanwhile, the alert advises health care professionals to “question and confirm any medication dosages reported in electronic medication history information that appears inappropriate given the patient’s unique characteristics and current health status.” The alert also encourages health care providers that use the services to contact their EHR vendor to determine if the issue affects their systems. NAN is a coalition of members from the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention that distributes medication safety alerts in cooperation with the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
Registry aims to streamline coordination of benefits process   02/20/2014
CAQH, a nonprofit alliance working to simplify health care administration, yesterday launched a national registry aimed at streamlining the coordination of benefits process. The COB Smart registry helps providers and health plans identify patients with multiple forms of health coverage before care is delivered, so their claims can be processed correctly the first time. “Not knowing the COB details for a patient can cause significant claims processing inefficiencies, which cost providers and health plans more than $800 million annually,” the group notes. The registry is live in 15 states and will be rolled out nationally later this year. Participating health plans include Aetna; AultCare; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina; BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee; CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield; Cigna; Health Net; Horizon Healthcare Services; Kaiser Permanente; UnitedHealthcare; and WellPoint.
Hospital prices rise 0.2% in January   02/20/2014
Overall hospital prices increased 0.2% in January, and were 1.1% higher than a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday. Prices for the subgroup of general medical and surgical hospitals increased 0.2%, and were 1.0% higher than in January 2013, 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.