House committee issues draft tax-reform legislation   02/26/2014
The House Ways and Means Committee today released its fourth discussion draft of tax reform legislation, which includes several health care-related provisions. Among other changes, the legislation would eliminate the tax exemption for private activity bonds; restructure the tax rules for charitable contributions and unrelated business income; tax nonprofit organizations for certain executive compensation in excess of $1 million; and repeal the itemized deduction for medical expenses and Affordable Care Act excise tax on medical devices.
Groups agree on single GME accreditation system    02/26/2014
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, American Osteopathic Association, and American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine have agreed to a single accreditation system for their U.S. graduate medical education programs, the groups announced today. The single accreditation system will allow graduates of allopathic and osteopathic medical schools to complete their residency or fellowship education in ACGME-accredited programs and demonstrate achievement of common milestones and competencies. Currently, the ACGME and AOA maintain separate accreditation systems for allopathic and osteopathic educational programs.
Study: PA medical home pilot fails to reduce hospital use, health care costs   02/26/2014
A three-year study of patient-centered medical homes in southeastern Pennsylvania yielded few improvements in quality of care and no reductions in hospitalizations, emergency department visits or total costs of care, according to a study reported in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association. Thirty-two primary care practices, three commercial health plans and three Medicaid managed care plans participated in the pilot project between June 2008 and May 2011. Rates of monitoring for kidney disease among patients with diabetes improved, but performance on other measures for asthma care, cancer screening and diabetes control did not. “It is possible that the pilot we evaluated had some, but not all of the ingredients necessary to produce broad improvements in quality and efficiency,” said lead author Mark Friedberg, M.D. “Findings from this evaluation and others should help refine the medical home model.”
Iowa HEN improves care, saves $51 million   02/26/2014
Hospitals participating in the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative Hospital Engagement Network improved care for more than 4,300 patients in 2013 while reducing health care costs by more than $51 million, the Iowa Hospital Association reports. Among other improvements, participating hospitals reduced early elective deliveries (which can increase complications) by 90%; catheter-associated urinary tract infections by 44%; adverse drug events by 28%; central line-associated blood stream infections in intensive care by 24%; surgical site infections by 24%; patient falls by 23%; and avoidable readmissions by 11%. The program is part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Partnership for Patients initiative. “Through the HEN program, Iowa hospitals and their 71,000 employees are ensuring that patients are safer when they are in the hospital and less likely to return to the hospital, all of which reduces the cost of care,” said IHC CEO Tom Evans, M.D. 
Indiana hospitals campaign for expanded health coverage   02/26/2014
The Indiana Hospital Association yesterday launched Expand Indiana, a campaign to help residents, lawmakers and business leaders understand the need to expand health coverage in the state. “Thousands of Indiana families are unable to earn enough to qualify for tax credits and subsidies through the Health Insurance Marketplace,” said IHA President Doug Leonard. “But they earn too much to qualify for Indiana’s existing health care programs for the poor. Expanding coverage in Indiana would protect as many as 300,000 Hoosiers caught in the coverage gap without affordable health insurance options.” Gov. Mike Pence is negotiating with the Department of Health and Human Services to expand the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan as an alternative to Medicaid.