Congress clears legislation funding government through FY 2013   03/21/2013
The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 318-109 to approve a continuing resolution funding the government through September while adding appropriations and flexibility for certain agencies, without increasing overall funding. The bipartisan legislation (H.R. 933) next goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it before the current CR expires on March 27. The new CR includes a $71 million increase for the National Institutes of Health and would require the administration to obligate all fiscal year 2013 funds appropriated for community health centers. The legislation retains the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that took effect March 1 under the Budget Control Act, including the 2% reduction to providers’ Medicare payments.
House passes FY 2014 budget resolution   03/21/2013
The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 221-207 to pass a fiscal year 2014 budget resolution that would cut more than $4.6 trillion in government spending over the next 10 years. About $2.7 trillion of the spending reductions would come from health care, much of which is achieved by savings attributed to repealing the coverage provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act while maintaining the ACA’s reductions. The budget plan also recommends reforming the medical liability system; increasing means testing for Medicare Parts B and D; repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board; and establishing a deficit-neutral reserve fund to address the “doc-fix.” Starting in 2024, Medicare would transition to a premium support program, with workers currently under age 55 choosing between private plans and a traditional fee-for-service option through a newly created Medicare Exchange. The budget also would convert Medicaid into a block grant program and reduce federal Medicaid spending by $756 billion over 10 years. The Senate is expected to consider its own budget resolution later this week.
AHA issues revised readmissions penalty calculator   03/21/2013
The AHA has revised its readmissions penalty calculator to incorporate additional corrections to the hospital readmissions adjustment factors for fiscal year 2013. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently published the corrected adjustment factors in a revised impact file for the FY 2013 inpatient prospective payment system final rule. The AHA calculator, available to members at www.aha.org/readmissionscalc, helps hospital leaders estimate the dollar amount of their readmissions penalty under the policy.
Reminder: Friday is deadline to request low-volume status for FY 2013   03/21/2013
Hospitals must submit a request for low-volume status to their fiscal intermediary or Medicare administrative contractor by March 22 to receive a Medicare low-volume payment adjustment for fiscal year 2013. On March 4, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services extended the Medicare-Dependent Hospital program and payment adjustment for low-volume hospitals through FY 2013, as required by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The notice explains how CMS will implement the provisions, noting two situations in which the effective date of MDH status may not be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2012.