House passes Children's Hospitals GME reauthorization bill   04/02/2014
The House of Representatives last night passed the Children's Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act (S. 1557), AHA-supported legislation that would reauthorize the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education program through fiscal year 2018. The bill passed the Senate last November and now goes to the president for his signature. Enacted in 1999, the program provides funding to freestanding children's hospitals for direct and indirect expenses associated with operating their medical residency programs, which train 49% of general pediatricians, 51% of all pediatric specialists and the majority of pediatric researchers and do not receive GME funding from Medicare. The president’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal would eliminate $265 million in funding for the CHGME program and would instead create a new competitive grant program, funded by Medicare GME cuts, for which $100 million would be set aside for CHGME.
CMS accepting comments on proposed outpatient supervision changes   04/02/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is accepting comments through April 30 on its preliminary decision to allow general supervision for six additional services provided in hospital outpatient departments, meaning the service could be performed under the overall direction of a physician or an appropriate non-physician practitioner without requiring their presence. CMS’s Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment last month recommended reducing the supervision level for 18 outpatient services to general supervision from direct supervision or the two-tiered “extended duration” supervision level. CMS proposes to accept six of the recommendations but reject the panel’s recommendation to allow general supervision for eight chemotherapy services, a wound debridement service and two services involving administration of a new drug or substance. CMS also does not accept the panel’s recommendation of general supervision for blood transfusion, but instead proposes to allow extended duration supervision for this service. In addition, the agency seeks clinical input on the appropriate supervision level for initial and subsequent administrations of chemotherapeutic or biological agents provided in hospital outpatient departments, adding that it may reassess these services at the panel’s next meeting. AHA urges hospitals, especially small or rural hospitals and critical access hospitals, to weigh in. For more information, see today’s AHA Regulatory Action Alert for members.
CMS delays hospital outpatient, ASC quality measure for cataract care   04/02/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has delayed until Jan. 1, 2015 data collection for a new cataract care measure in its quality reporting programs for hospital outpatient departments and ambulatory surgical centers. Data collection for the measure of improvement in a patient’s visual function after cataract surgery (OP-31/ASC-11) was scheduled to begin April 1. In a letter to CMS last week, AHA and seven other national health care organizations urged the agency to withdraw or suspend the measure, which was adopted without being specified for or tested in the hospital outpatient and ASC settings. CMS acknowledged “operational difficulties” with the measure and said it intends to issue proposals regarding the measure in its outpatient prospective payment system/ASC proposed rule for calendar year 2015. The delay does not affect the data collection period for any other hospital or ASC measure. For more information, contact the support contractor for the programs at 866-800-8756 or cms-ocsq.custhelp.com.
AHA comments on MedPACs March discussion of site-neutral IRF-SNF payment   04/02/2014
AHA yesterday told the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission that it supports the “cautious exploration” of a site-neutral payment policy for inpatient rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities “that applies exclusively to patients who are clinically similar and can safely be treated in either setting.” However, the association expressed concern that MedPAC has not targeted appropriate patients and urged the commission to refine its approach. Specifically, AHA Senior Vice President of Public Policy Analysis and Development Linda Fishman said the panel should use the most recent data when comparing the mix of patients treated in more than one post-acute setting, and avoid solely relying on the prior acute-care hospital discharge diagnosis to find similar IRF and SNF patients. In addition, AHA urged that any MedPAC proposal incorporate robust risk adjustment; capture the longer SNF average lengths of stay; and apply only to conditions that fall outside the IRF “60% Rule.” AHA also urged that any future IRF-SNF site-neutral policy exclude stroke patients and remove key Medicare regulations such as the 3-hour rule and other requirements for more intensive IRF care.
AHA announces Distinguished Service, Board of Trustees Award recipients   04/02/2014
Thomas Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles, will receive the AHA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, at the association’s annual membership meeting May 4-7 in Washington, D.C., the AHA announced today. In addition, AHA announced that Russ Harrington, president and CEO of Baptist Health in Little Rock, AR, and Daniel Sisto, former president of the Healthcare Association of New York State, will receive the AHA Board of Trustees Award for substantial and noteworthy contributions to the work of the association. For more information, visit www.aha.org/press-center.
HARI president to retire   04/02/2014
Hospital Association of Rhode Island President Edward Quinlan will retire May 1, the association announced this week. Michael Souza, previously HARI senior vice president, was named acting president effective today. “Ed Quinlan has served our association with distinction for nearly two decades,” said Dennis Keefe, chair of the HARI Board of Trustees and president and CEO of the Care New England Health System. “Mike’s background and skills in hospital finance and reimbursement have strengthened the association and will assist him in leading HARI during this tumultuous time of change.” Quinlan’s diverse career has included serving as vice president of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, press secretary for former Sen. John Chafee, and director of public relations for hospitals and a business. His professional commitments have included service to the AHA Regional Policy Board. Souza joined HARI in 2009 from Signature Healthcare in Brockton, MA, where he served as corporate controller. He also served as director of financial planning at Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, RI.