Health care spending growth back below 4%   04/11/2013
National health care spending in February was 3.9% higher than a year ago, falling from 4.1% in January to the record low rate recorded for the years 2009 to 2011, according to the latest economic indicators from Altarum Institute's Center for Sustainable Health Spending. Spending for hospital care grew 4.7% in February, down from 6% a year ago. Despite the recent pattern of historically low spending growth, the health sector in March accounted for nearly 1 in 9 U.S. jobs, a record high share of total employment, the center notes. Hospitals added 8,000 jobs, surpassing the 24-month average of 6,000. Health care prices in February were 1.7% higher than a year ago, the second lowest rate since December 1997. Prices for hospital care grew 2.6% in February.
Project updates clinical practice guidelines for palliative care   04/11/2013
The National Consensus Project for Palliative Care has updated its “Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care” to reflect the continuing maturation of the field, changes in practice and developments in the palliative care evidence base. Last updated in 2009, the guidelines provide information on populations best served by palliative care; the structure and processes of care; physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of care; ethical and legal aspects of care; and care of patients at the end of life. The guidelines are produced through a consensus process among leading professional hospice and palliative care organizations. AHA encourages hospital leaders to share the revised guidance with their clinical leadership and update their hospital policies or procedures as appropriate.
Report: Employer-based coverage falls by 11.5 million over decade   04/11/2013
The proportion of Americans with health coverage through an employer declined from 70% in 2000 to 60% in 2011, or by 11.5 million people, according to a report released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The largest decline occurred in Michigan (15.2 percentage points) and the smallest in Nebraska (4.3 percentage points). According to the report, the average annual premium for employee-only coverage doubled over the period to $5,081, while family premiums increased 125% to $14,447. “Higher costs naturally translate into fewer employers offering insurance coverage, and fewer employees accepting it, even when it is offered,” said RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D. “That is why it is so important that people have options for purchasing affordable health insurance that meets their needs.” The report was prepared by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center using state-level data from two federal surveys.
AHA to honor health care leaders, programs at annual meeting   04/11/2013
American College of Healthcare Executives President and CEO Thomas Dolan will receive the AHA's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, at the AHA Annual Membership Meeting, April 28-May 1 in Washington, D.C., the association announced today. In addition, Reach Out and Read, Boston, and Kaiser Permanente President and CEO George Halvorson will receive the AHA Award of Honor for exemplary contributions to the health and well-being of people through leadership on major health policies or social initiatives. Jeffrey Selberg, executive vice president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, will receive the AHA Board of Trustees Award for substantial and noteworthy contributions to the work of the association. AHA also will present Hospital Awards for Volunteer Excellence to programs at United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, WA; Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, IL; Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago; and John C. Lincoln Health Network in Phoenix. For more information, visit www.aha.org/press-center.
Hospitals given extra week to complete AHA RACTrac survey   04/11/2013
The AHA has extended to April 19 the deadline for hospitals to submit data to its quarterly RACTrac survey. Hospital responses to the free web-based survey are vital to AHA’s education, legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts. Hospital leaders are encouraged to fill out the survey even if their hospital did not experience any recovery audit contractor activity last quarter. To register for the survey or for technical assistance, participants should contact RACTrac support at (888) 722-8712 or ractracsupport@providercs.com. For more on the survey, including the latest results, visit www.aha.org/ractrac.