AHA comments on FDA drug shortages task force, strategic plan   03/14/2013
The AHA today submitted recommendations in response to a Food and Drug Administration request for comments on the Drug Shortages Task Force and Strategic Plan, noting that the nation’s hospitals and health systems continue to experience drug shortages. “The FDA’s formation of a Task Force and Strategic Plan on this issue comes at a critical time and is welcome news for both hospitals and patients,” AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack wrote. “We are hopeful that the task force, with help from the private sector stakeholders contributing to its work, will be successful in developing and implementing a strategic plan to enhance the FDA’s ability to prevent and mitigate drug shortages.” The letter notes, “While the number of drugs newly in shortage began to decline in 2012, many of the existing shortages have not been resolved. There were 299 active drug shortages in the last quarter of 2012, the highest quarterly number to date.”
President signs Preparedness Reauthorization Act   03/14/2013
President Obama yesterday signed into law the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 (H.R. 307). AHA-supported provisions in the bill 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. “Thousands of hospitals and communities across the country participate in these programs, and because of this participation they now have stronger capabilities and better planning to respond to disasters,” said HHS Assistant Secretary Nicole Lurie.
FTC, Idaho sue to stop health system from acquiring physician group   03/14/2013
The Federal Trade Commission and Idaho Attorney General this week filed a complaint in federal district court seeking to block St. Luke’s Health System in Boise from acquiring a multispecialty physician group, claiming the December acquisition would lead to higher costs for primary care services. “St. Luke’s and Saltzer [Medical Group] affiliated because each of us believes that the coordinated delivery system that we are creating through the affiliation, will improve care for patients, help to contain costs, and ensure better health outcomes for the people we serve,” the health system said in a statement. “…This action by the FTC and AG is particularly disturbing because it seems directly contrary to the goal of health reform to develop physician-hospital relationships in which providers work as an integrated team to improve outcomes and reduce costs.”
CMS updates ICD-10 implementation guides   03/14/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has posted updated implementation guides to help small hospitals, physician practices and payers transition to ICD-10 for reporting patient diagnoses and inpatient procedures. Under a final rule issued in August, hospitals and other entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act must transition to the ICD-10 coding system by Oct. 1, 2014. For more information, visit www.cms.gov.
Hospital prices climb 0.6% in February   03/14/2013
Overall hospital prices increased 0.6% in February, and were 2.6% higher than a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Prices for the subgroup of general medical and surgical hospitals increased 0.7%, and were 2.5% higher than in February 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.