AHA urges FDA to increase U.S. supply of saline, other IV solutions   03/20/2014
AHA today urged the Food and Drug Administration to vigorously pursue additional supplies and suppliers of normal saline and other intravenous fluids that are fundamental to patient care in hospitals to ease the severe, long-standing shortage of these products and prevent future shortages. "The current shortages of IV fluid are unacceptable and must be resolved quickly to prevent a negative impact on patient care," wrote AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack. "Currently, hospitals are scrambling to manage the shortfall and have employed strategies including using smaller IV bags, switching patients to appropriate alternatives and prioritizing patients based on clinical factors. While these strategies have somewhat mitigated the problem to date, the AHA is concerned that patients could face harm in the future if these shortages are not resolved quickly." AHA today sent members a Quality Advisory on IV fluid conservation strategies.
FTC workshop on health care competition commences   03/20/2014
The Federal Trade Commission today began a two-day workshop examining health care competition with sessions on professional regulation of health care providers, innovation in health care delivery and advancements in health care technology. FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez opened the workshop noting that health care is a “top priority” for the commission and a significant part of its “competition policy agenda.” Gail Finley, vice president of rural health and hospitals for the Colorado Hospital Association, participated in the panel on professional regulation. She discussed access problems for patients in rural Colorado and the importance of using Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists to meet those needs. CHA and AHA have supported easing certain practice restrictions for CRNAs in a legal challenge ongoing in that state. During the panel on innovations in health care, Lee Sacks, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer for Advocate Health Care, discussed innovations in Tele-ICUs. The workshop continues tomorrow with sessions on quality assessment and price transparency.
CMS finalizes enhanced QHP provider network requirements   03/20/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services late Friday released a final letter to insurers describing 2015 certification requirements for Qualified Health Plans in federally facilitated marketplaces or the Small Business Health Options Program. Like the draft letter, the final letter requires QHPs with provider networks to maintain a network that is sufficient in number and types of providers, including those providing mental health and substance abuse services, to assure that all services will be accessible to enrollees without unreasonable delay. In addition to state review, CMS will evaluate QHP networks itself to ensure adequacy and use what it finds to determine whether further rulemaking is warranted for subsequent years. To determine whether an issuer meets the “reasonable access” standard, CMS said it “will focus most closely on those areas which have historically raised network adequacy concerns,” which may include hospital systems, mental health providers, oncology providers and primary care providers. For the 2015 benefit year, CMS said issuers applying to certify a QHP will be required to demonstrate that at least 30% of available Essential Community Providers in its service area participate in its provider network (an increase from 20%). The ECP hospital category includes Disproportionate Share Hospitals, children’s hospitals, Rural Referral Centers, Sole Community Hospitals, Free-standing Cancer Centers and Critical Access Hospitals. Other ECP categories include Ryan-White HIV-AIDS providers, federally-qualified health centers and others.
CMS announces call on Shared Savings Program application process   03/20/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host an April 8 National Provider Call on the Medicare Shared Savings Program application process for 2015. Hospitals, physicians and other Medicare providers participate in the program’s accountable care organizations, which share with Medicare savings from lowering the growth in health care costs while coordinating care for patients and meeting certain quality and performance standards. To register for the conference call, from 1:30-3 p.m. ET, click here. Presentation materials for the call will be posted online in advance. For details on the application process, visit www.cms.gov.