AHA: Delay compliance date for 340B GPO provision   04/03/2013
The Health Resources and Services Administration should delay by at least six months the date by which certain hospitals participating in the 340B drug pricing program must comply with new HRSA guidance regarding the statutory prohibition against obtaining outpatient drugs through a group purchasing organization, the AHA told the agency today. “This delay would allow hospitals time to work with their vendors and wholesalers to address the many process and procedural challenges brought on by the Feb. 7 notice, to properly train staff to manage the new processes, and to ensure that these revised internal processes are working well,” wrote AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack. AHA expressed concern that the HRSA notice poses a significant departure from previous agency guidance regarding the statutory GPO prohibition and said HRSA should have allowed for public notice and comment regarding these policy changes.
CDC: Teen birth rates declining, nearly 20% are repeat births    04/03/2013
While teen births have declined over the past 20 years, nearly one in five teen births is a repeat birth, according to a report released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 365,000 teens, aged 15 to 19, gave birth in 2010, and about 18% of those were repeat births – a second or more pregnancy resulting in a live birth before the age of 20. “Teen birth rates in the United States have declined to a record low, which is good news,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D. “But rates are still far too high. Repeat births can negatively impact the mother’s education and job opportunities as well as the health of the next generation. Teens, parents, health care providers, and others need to do much more to reduce unintended pregnancies.” The report says that repeat teen births decreased by more than 6% between 2007 and 2010, and there are substantial differences based on race, ethnicity and geography.
CMS proposed rule outlines standards for navigators of health coverage   04/03/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today issued a proposed rule adding to previously adopted standards for navigators, which are organizations authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide unbiased information to consumers about coverage options in the health insurance exchanges, also known as Health Insurance Marketplaces. The proposed rule also would apply to non-navigator assistance programs and personnel and contains standards for training, conflict of interests, and culturally and linguistically appropriate services. It also adds to the list of entities prohibited from becoming navigators. Finally, it clarifies that grant funding for navigators that operate in states with federally facilitated exchanges and state partnership exchanges will be handled by the federal government. The ACA requires states to establish exchanges to facilitate the purchase of qualified health plans in the individual and small group markets beginning in 2014. For states that do not create an exchange, the Department of Health and Human Services will create and operate a federally facilitated exchange. The proposed rule will be published in the April 5 Federal Register and comments will be accepted for 30 days.
Study: CAH mortality rates lag behind   04/03/2013
Mortality rates at critical access hospitals have increased relative to other hospitals, according to a study in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston conducting a retrospective analysis of data for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries found that, while 30-day mortality rates for acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure and pneumonia declined from 13% in 2002 to 11.4% in 2010 for non-CAH acute-care hospitals, they increased from 12.8% to 13.3% at CAHs. CAHs are small, rural hospitals with 25 or fewer beds. “The measures assessed in this study are not constructed in a way to give it an accurate representation of quality in small hospitals,” said AHA Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety Policy Nancy Foster. “We need more research that is specifically targeted to identifying care strategies that small, rural hospitals can adopt to improve outcomes for their patients.”