AHA, others urge Congress to protect tax-exempt bond financing   04/12/2013
In a statement today to the House Ways and Means Committee, the AHA and 11 other associations urged Congress to protect tax-exempt bond financing for public and private non-profit hospitals, colleges and universities as part of the tax reform working group process. “A number of proposals are currently being considered by Congress to alter the tax treatment of tax-exempt bonds,” the groups wrote. “We believe a cap on the income tax exemption of tax-exempt municipal bond interest, or even a partial tax, will cause investors to demand higher returns, again leading to higher infrastructure costs.” The groups also urged continued support for qualified 501(c)(3) private activity bonds, which provide low-cost access to capital for private non-profit hospitals, colleges and universities “so they can focus on the work they do for the public good making our lives, our economy and our nation stronger.” Should direct pay bonds such as Build America Bonds be reinstated, the groups encouraged Congress to consider them as complements, not alternatives, to tax-exempt bonds and to expand eligibility to private 501(c)(3) organizations.
House votes to suspend NLRB actions requiring quorum   04/12/2013
The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 219-209 to approve legislation (H.R. 1120) that would require the National Labor Relations Board to cease all activity requiring a three-member quorum until either more board members are confirmed by the Senate, the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of three appointments to the board, or the congressional session ends. The bill also would prohibit the board from enforcing any action taken after January 2012 or making any interagency appointments that require a quorum. Last month, the board said it intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a January ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that found three NLRB members were not validly appointed. At issue was whether President Obama validly used his recess appointment authority to appoint three members to the board on Jan. 4, 2012 without Senate approval. If the ruling stands, it could invalidate all NLRB decisions made since the appointees joined the board due to lack of a legally required quorum for doing business. If the Supreme Court takes the case, it likely would be heard in the term beginning October 2013.
2nd year of Schedule H filings show many ways hospitals benefit communities   04/12/2013
Hospitals spend an average of 11.6% of their total expenses on benefits to their communities, according to a new report by Ernst & Young. Based on data from filed Schedule H forms representing more than 900 not-for-profit hospitals for tax year 2010, the estimate includes benefits such as free care and other financial assistance, Medicaid underpayments, community health improvement programs, health research and education, subsidized services, Medicare shortfalls and other community benefit and building activities. Starting in 2009, not-for-profit hospitals were required to file Schedule H with the Internal Revenue Service to show the benefits they provide to their communities. For two consecutive years, AHA has worked with Ernst & Young to collect and analyze the Schedule H data to better understand the diverse ways hospitals serve their communities. "The report demonstrates that, measured in dollars alone, hospitals of every size, type and general location are not only meeting, but are exceeding, the community benefit obligations conferred by their tax-exempt status," AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock states in the report. "A form filed with the IRS – even one as complicated as Schedule H – can never convey the full measure of the benefits a hospital provides to its community. That is why AHA believes that communities themselves are in the best position to determine whether the benefits provided by their local hospital match their needs and aspirations." The report is available at http://www.aha.org/scheduleh.
House holds hearing on proposed HHS budget   04/12/2013
The House Ways & Means Committee today held a hearing on the president’s fiscal year 2014 budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services. Released Wednesday, the budget proposal includes $374 billion in proposed reductions to Medicare – of which $306 billion would come from health care providers – and $18.9 billion in reductions to Medicaid. The budget also calls for $80.1 billion in discretionary funding, $3.9 billion more than the 2012 enacted level. A replay of the hearing, including testimony by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is available online.
CMS announces listening session on billing and coding with EHRs   04/12/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will host a May 3 “listening session” on billing and coding with electronic health records. Invited speakers include AHA Chairman Benjamin Chu, M.D., regional president for Southern California of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. Topics for the session include the impact of EHRs on clinical care, health care provider efficiency and coding, and coding challenges and opportunities. For more information and to register for the event, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time at the CMS campus in Baltimore, click here. Webinar and conference call options are presented during registration.
AHA members-only Town Hall webcast Tuesday   04/12/2013
Tune in for the next AHA members-only Town Hall Interactive webcast – Tuesday, April 16 at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock and Immediate Past Chair Teri Fontenot, president and CEO of Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, LA, will discuss the recent AHA Board of Trustees report “Ensuring a Healthier Tomorrow: Actions to Strengthen Our Health Care System and Our Nation's Finances.” Hosted by AHA leaders, members-only Town Hall Interactive webcasts focus on advocacy and other important developments in the hospital and health care field. To participate in the 2013 webcasts, register here. For more information, call (800) 424-4301.