House leaders unveil 12-month physician fix bill   03/26/2014
House leaders today filed a revised bill that would stave off scheduled cuts to Medicare physician payments through April 1, 2015. Medicare physician payments are scheduled to be cut by 24% on April 1 without congressional action. The bill would extend the Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program, low-volume adjustment and ambulance add-on payments through April 1, 2015; extend the delay in enforcement of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ two-midnight policy for an additional six months, through March 31, 2015; and prohibit recovery audit contractors from auditing inpatient claims spanning less than two midnights for the six-month period. It also would delay implementation of ICD-10 for one year, until Oct. 1, 2015; delay the start of the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital cuts for one year, until 2017; and extend the DSH cuts for an additional year through 2024. AHA members received a Special Bulletin today with more information on the bill and its hospital-related provisions. The House could vote on the bill as soon as tomorrow, and Senate action is expected to follow. This morning, AHA hosted an Advocacy Day briefing to update hospital leaders on the latest developments in Washington before they met with their lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
CMS urged to extend documentation deadline for low-volume adjustment   03/26/2014
AHA today urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to extend to at least April 13 the deadline for inpatient prospective payment system hospitals to submit documentation to qualify for a six-month extension of the low-volume payment adjustment. “Specifically, CMS indicated that a hospital that previously qualified for the low-volume adjustment in fiscal year 2013 must send written verification that it continues to be located more than 15 miles from any other subsection (d) hospital to its Medicare Administrative Contractor no later than March 31,” wrote AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack. “A hospital that did not receive the low-volume adjustment in FY 2013, but that wishes to apply for this status now, also must request low-volume hospital status by March 31. However, given that CMS issued the rule on March 14, this March 31 deadline provides hospitals with only 17 days’ notice to qualify for this program. We urge CMS to extend this deadline to allow hospitals a minimum of 30 days to submit the documentation necessary to qualify for the low-volume payment adjustment.” The interim final rule implemented a six-month extension of the low-volume payment adjustment and Medicare-Dependent Hospital program, as required by the Pathway for SGR Reform Act of 2013.
CDC: Hospitals continue to reduce infections   03/26/2014
Hospitals reduced central line-associated bloodstream infections and surgical site infections by 44% and 20%, respectively, between 2008 and 2012, according to the latest annual progress report on healthcare-associated infections, released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, MRSA (methicillin-resistant staph) infections and C. difficile infections declined 4% and 2%, respectively, between 2011 and 2012. The findings are based on data from the CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network, which includes hospitals participating in the inpatient quality reporting program. CDC also released a second report on 2011 HAI estimates from a survey of hospitals in 10 states, which found overall infections declined to 721,800 in 2011 from 1.7 million in 2002. “Hospitals have worked hard to achieve these results but will not be satisfied until we reach zero infections,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “Preventing infections is a never-ending process with new challenges and situations emerging every day. Hospitals continue to learn from each other, see what works and implement best practices to improve and promote quality care. The positive results from today’s study are the product of this collaboration.”
HHS to extend Marketplace enrollment in certain cases   03/26/2014
Consumers who were “in line” but unable to complete enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace by the March 31 deadline through no fault of their own will be able to complete the process, the Department of Health and Human Services said in guidance issued today. In addition, CMS said some people with “complex cases” may be able to qualify for a special enrollment period, including victims of domestic abuse and consumers who were found ineligible for Medicaid but whose accounts were not transferred to the Marketplace in a timely way before March 31. The agency also issued tip sheets for these in line and complex cases.
AHA launches 'My Hospital' digital video campaign   03/26/2014
AHA today launched a digital video campaign highlighting the importance of hospitals in their communities, and encourages members to submit videos to the campaign using Instagram and other mobile video applications that are sharable through Twitter. AHA will promote the videos during its annual meeting May 4-7 in Washington, D.C., and share them on Facebook and through social media, tagging respective elected representatives for each hospital that participates. For more information, including participation instructions and a sample script, visit www.aha.org/myhospital.