House approves continuing resolution   03/06/2013
The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 267-151 to approve a continuing resolution (H.R. 933) to fund the government through the end of fiscal year 2013. The new CR reflects current funding for most government agencies (excluding the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, which would see increases in their funding), minus the $85 billion in cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act’s sequester, including a 2% reduction to providers’ Medicare payments. Under the bill, which next moves to the Senate, funding for military health programs would increase by about $233 million. The current CR expires March 27.
CMS to delay EHR Stage 3 rulemaking, but not ICD-10   03/06/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will delay any rulemaking on Stage 3 meaningful use of electronic health records until next year while the agency examines how the existing requirements are rolling out, CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said today at a HIMSS conference in New Orleans. AHA urged the agency to take similar action in a January letter to HHS’ Health IT Policy Committee. Tavenner also confirmed that the ICD-10 implementation deadline of Oct. 1, 2014 will stand firm. In addition, CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology today issued a notice seeking input on potential policy and program changes to accelerate electronic health information exchanges across providers. “To further accelerate and advance interoperability and health information exchange beyond what is currently being done through ONC programs and the EHR Incentive Program, HHS is considering a number of policy levers using existing authorities and programs,” states the notice, which will be published in tomorrow’s Federal Register with comments accepted through April 21.
Medicaid expansion would create jobs, net savings for Arkansas   03/06/2013
Expanding Medicaid in Arkansas under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would not only provide health coverage to more than a quarter million residents, but should save the state $664 million by 2020, according to a report released Friday by the Arkansas Hospital Association (ArHA) and funded by the AHA. “Medicaid expansion is about people, it’s about costs, it’s about jobs and it’s about economic growth,” said ArHA President and CEO Bo Ryall. The report projects that the Medicaid expansion should create more than 8,500 jobs in Arkansas in 2014 and about 10,600 jobs by 2020.