NQF issues draft recommendations for sociodemographic risk adjustment   03/18/2014
The National Quality Forum today released for public comment through April 16 draft recommendations for adjusting certain health care performance measures to account for sociodemographic risk factors such as income, education, race/ethnicity and homelessness. Produced by an expert panel, the report recommends revising NQF criteria for endorsing performance measures for public reporting, pay-for-performance and other accountability applications to indicate that patient factors for risk adjustment should include both clinical and sociodemographic factors. The panel suggests using the same guidelines for selecting sociodemographic and clinical risk factors, and recommends identifying a standard set of sociodemographic variables to be collected and made available for performance measurement and identifying disparities. The report also recommends that NQF make explicit that its endorsement of a performance measure is for a specific context, patient population, data source, care setting and level of analysis, and should not be expanded without review and usually additional testing.
MACPAC issues March report to Congress on Medicaid, CHIP   03/18/2014
The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission Friday recommended that Congress require states to provide pregnant women the same Medicaid benefits as parents of dependent children. “To ensure the best possible pregnancy and birth outcomes, coverage for pregnant women should not be restricted to coverage of only pregnancy-related services,” the panel’s March report to Congress states. To promote continuity of coverage and align Medicaid and CHIP premium policies, the commission said Congress also should eliminate waiting periods for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and CHIP premiums for children with family incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level. In addition, the report recommends that the Department of Health and Human Services collect and make publicly available provider-level data on Medicaid non-disproportionate share hospital supplemental payments, a source of Medicaid payments for hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. “Without additional data on both health care-related taxes and supplemental payments, it is not possible to meaningfully analyze Medicaid payments at either the provider or state level,” the commission said.
Colon cancer rates on decline, especially for older adults   03/18/2014
Colorectal cancer rates for U.S. adults declined an average 3.4% per year between 2001 and 2010, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society. Rates declined 3.9% per year for adults 50 and older, but increased 1.1% per year among younger adults. The largest decline was in adults over age 65, which likely reflects higher screening rates for Medicare-eligible adults, the authors said. About 55% of adults aged 50 to 64 reported having a recent colorectal cancer screening in 2010, compared with 64% of older adults. Colorectal cancer mortality rates decreased about 3% per year over the decade, compared with about 2% per year in the 1990s. “Sustaining this hopeful trend will require concrete efforts to make sure all patients, particularly those who are economically disenfranchised, have access to screening and to the best care available,” said Richard Wender, M.D., chief cancer control officer for the ASC.
AHA launches 2014 survey on governance practices   03/18/2014
The AHA encourages all hospitals to complete the 2014 National Governance Survey, a research project initiated every three years by the AHA and its Center for Healthcare Governance to profile the changing landscape of governance in America’s hospitals and health systems. The survey will benchmark current board structures, practices and culture and compare them with previous AHA governance surveys, as well as highlight best practices and trends in the evolving environment. Both hospital CEOs and board chairmen are encouraged to complete the multiple-choice survey, which will close April 30. A letter containing instructions for accessing the electronic survey was recently emailed to hospital CEOs. For more information, call 800-530-9092 or email surveysupport@healthforum.com.  
AHA appoints new trustee   03/18/2014
Kimberly McNally, a trustee at UW Medicine in Seattle and president of executive coaching and consulting firm McNally & Associates, today was named immediately to a three-year term on the AHA Board of Trustees. McNally, who holds a master’s degree in nursing, also is a member of the AHA Center for Healthcare Governance National Board of Advisors and has chaired the AHA Committee on Governance and served on the AHAPAC Steering Committee. She also has served as board president for UW Medicine’s Harborview Medical Center and on the boards of the Washington State Hospital Association, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle Mental Health, and Washington Homecare Association. Before forming her consulting firm in 1998, she held leadership and clinical positions at several hospitals. “I’m honored to join the AHA Board at such an important time of challenge and change in health care,” McNally said.