Senate votes to reject proposals to avoid sequester   02/28/2013
The U.S. Senate today rejected both Democratic and Republican proposals to mitigate parts of the sequester scheduled to take effect tomorrow. Both proposals would have negated the sequester for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. The proposal by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), which failed 51-49 to gain sufficient support, would have split the cost 50/50 between new revenues and spending cuts, which would come from defense and agriculture programs and not impact Medicare and Medicaid funding. The alternate proposal by Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), which failed by a 38-62 vote, would have required the president to submit a "qualifying sequester replacement plan" by March 15 that would reduce FY 2013 budgetary resources by at least $85 billion and include no more than $42.6 billion in defense cuts. The remaining cuts could be taken from other discretionary and mandatory domestic spending, including Medicare and Medicaid, thereby potentially increasing providers’ vulnerability. The AHA opposes any proposal that would further cut Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for hospital care.
Senate passes preparedness bill   02/28/2013
The U.S. Senate last night approved by unanimous consent the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act (H.R. 307), which next goes to the House for final passage. AHA-supported provisions in the bill would reauthorize the Hospital Preparedness Program, Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals, Medical Reserve Corps and other critical preparedness activities through fiscal year 2018; clarify allowable activities for recipients of HPP funds; and permit national collaboration among HPP-funded entities.
Progress by hospitals cited at hearing on delivery system reform   02/28/2013
The hospital readmission rate declined in the final quarter of 2012, “an early sign” that health care payment and delivery reforms are having an impact, a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services official told the Senate Finance Committee today. “After fluctuating between 18.5% and 19.5% for the past five years, the 30-day all-cause readmission rate dropped to 17.8%,” CMS Acting Principal Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum told senators at the hearing on delivery system reform. Though payment adjustments under the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program took effect only recently, “hospitals have been preparing for this program for some time and results suggest it is already having a positive impact,” Blum said. Among other progress, Blum noted that 26 Hospital Engagement Networks are identifying ways to prevent hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions and sharing that information with other health care providers nationwide. AHA's Health Research & Educational Trust affiliate is a national partner in the initiative.
AHA seeks input on CMS medical staff proposal   02/28/2013
The AHA is surveying hospital system CEOs through March 15 to learn more about the potential impact of a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed rule affecting medical staff structure. Released Feb. 7, the Conditions of Participation rule includes a proposal that would force some health care systems with unified medical staffs to undo their organizational structures and create independent medical staffs for each of the hospitals in the system. Details on the survey were emailed today to leaders of AHA member systems. Responses will help AHA advocate for needed changes. For more information, contact AHA Member Relations at (800) 424-4301.
Most Iowa residents favor Medicaid expansion   02/28/2013
A majority of Iowans support expanding the state’s Medicaid program to cover an estimated 125,000-150,000 low-income adults, according to a poll released yesterday by the Iowa Hospital Association. Funded by the AHA, the poll by Essman/Research found that 56% of Iowa residents would support the Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while just 32% would not. “Most Iowans clearly want to expand insurance coverage through the Medicaid program,” said IHA President and CEO Kirk Norris. “What’s also clear is that the more Iowans know about the ramifications of either supporting or rejecting this opportunity, the more likely they are to get behind it.”
Arkansas voters support Medicaid expansion   02/28/2013
A large majority of Arkansas voters agree that the state’s Medicaid program should be expanded to cover individuals and families having incomes up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level, according to a new survey sponsored by the Arkansas Hospital Association. Funded by the AHA, the survey by Opinion Research Associates found that 90% of voters felt a moral obligation to take care of those in need and 70% said that they support expanding Medicaid.
Most Kansans support expanding Medicaid   02/28/2013
Seventy-two percent of Kansas residents think the state should expand Medicaid to maximize funds and prevent Kansas tax dollars from going to other states, according to a survey released this week by the Kansas Hospital Association and funded by the AHA. “Most people know someone who is uninsured in our state, so we're not surprised that people are supportive of expanding health coverage,” said KHA President and CEO Tom Bell. “Community hospitals feel Kansas should thoughtfully consider using Medicaid expansion as an opportunity to build upon and improve our current Medicaid program, KanCare.”