Proposed rules would extend EHR protections for hospitals   04/09/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General yesterday proposed extending through 2016 the regulatory protections under federal anti-kick and self-referral laws for hospitals that donate hardware, software or services to help physicians achieve meaningful use of electronic health records. In addition, software would be deemed as interoperable and permissible for donation under the rules if it meets any edition of the EHR certification criteria applicable when the software is donated. Currently, the protections are set to expire this year. The CMS and OIG proposed rules will be published in tomorrow’s federal register with comments accepted for 60 days.
Hospital groups urge CMS to withdraw medical staff proposal   04/09/2013
The AHA and four other national hospital organizations yesterday urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services to withdraw a proposal that would prevent hospitals in some multi-hospital systems from having an integrated, unified medical staff. The proposal was included in a recent proposed rule aimed at reducing regulatory burden. “This provision would remove the ability of hospital systems and their medical staffs to make their own determinations about the optimal medical staff framework and would prohibit medical staffs in some multi-hospital systems from having an integrated, unified organization across two or more hospitals,” the groups wrote. “CMS should enable hospital systems and their affiliated medical staffs to decide, together, what medical staff structure works best for their patients.”
AHA voices support for Tavenner nomination to Senate committee   04/09/2013
The Senate Finance Committee today held a hearing to consider the president’s nomination of Marilyn Tavenner as Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator, where committee members and witnesses expressed bipartisan support for the nominee. In a letter to the committee, AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock said the association "enthusiastically supports" Tavenner’s nomination. "As acting administrator, Marilyn has demonstrated that she is willing to listen to, learn from and work in partnership with the nation's health care providers," Umbdenstock wrote. "She has worked to reduce red tape and regulatory burden to ensure that more providers' time and resources are spent on caring for patients. She also has spearheaded the Partnership for Patients initiative, which through its Hospital Engagement Network, has helped hospitals and health systems dramatically lower infection rates. In addition, she has pioneered new payment methods that offer opportunities to provide better patient-centered care more efficiently. Marilyn's varied and rich background as a nurse, health care executive and government official at the state and national levels gives her a unique perspective on health care and the challenges facing health care providers at this critical time."
Hospital collaborative reduces early elective deliveries by 83%   04/09/2013
Twenty-five hospitals participating in a five-state collaborative reduced elective early-term deliveries by 83% in 2011, to 4.8% from 27.8%, according to a study published yesterday by the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Eight of the hospitals are affiliated with the AHA Hospital Engagement Network. Quality improvement teams at each participating hospital used a free toolkit developed by the March of Dimes, California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative and California Department of Public Health to guide changes in early-term delivery practices. The collaborative included hospitals in California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois, which together account for 38% of U.S. births. The AHA Board of Trustees last year adopted a formal position supporting policies to eliminate early-term, non-medically necessary deliveries, which research has shown can increase health complications for babies.
President announces three NLRB nominations   04/09/2013
President Obama today announced his intent to renominate Mark Gaston Pearce as chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, and to nominate two new members to the board. Pearce, whose current term as chair expires in August, previously was a founding partner of Creighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux and has served as a district trial specialist for the NLRB in Buffalo, NY. The new nominees are Harry Johnson III, a partner with Arent Fox LLP who specializes in labor and employment law; and Philip Miscimarra, a partner in the Labor and Employment Group of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP. The board’s two other members, whose recess appointments were invalidated by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in January, also await Senate confirmation. The board intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review that recess appointment decision.
CMS announces exchange navigator grants   04/09/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will accept applications through June 7 for a portion of $54 million in funding to support “navigators” authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide unbiased information to consumers about coverage options in health insurance exchanges, also known as marketplaces. Letters of intent are due by May 1. According to CMS, the funding opportunity is open to eligible self-employed individuals and private and public entities applying to serve as navigators in states with a federally-facilitated or state partnership marketplace. CMS will host calls for potential applicants on April 11 and 19 from 3:30-5 p.m. Eastern Time to answer technical questions. To access the calls, dial 877-267-1577; ID 5119 for the first call, and 2917 for the second. Last week, CMS released a proposed rule outlining standards for navigators in states with a federally-facilitated or state partnership marketplace. Navigator programs in state-based exchanges are governed by state rules.
AHA enhances Sustainability Roadmap website   04/09/2013
The AHA has enhanced its Sustainability Roadmap website, www.sustainabilityroadmap.org, to include an expanded set of free resources to help health care facilities reduce their environmental footprints and share their environmental successes with others. The AHA’s American Society for Healthcare Engineering, Association for the Healthcare Environment, and Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management collaborated on the new resources. “Hospitals are committed to creating healthy communities, and part of that mission involves being good environmental stewards,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “The expanded Sustainability Roadmap website provides easy-to-use resources that can help hospitals achieve their sustainability goals and provide economic, health and environmental benefits.”