AHA to Congress: IRS should adhere to Administrative Procedures Act   04/15/2013
The current community benefit standard for hospital tax exemption, which allows the community in which a hospital operates to determine the needs of its residents and the hospital to tailor its activities accordingly, “still works well for communities across the nation,” AHA told the House Ways and Means Committee’s Working Group on Charitable and Exempt Organizations in comments submitted today. Congress and the courts “have examined, refined and affirmed hospital tax exemption” since the 1960s, and “decades ago rejected setting a percentage of charity care as a condition for hospitals’ gaining or maintaining tax-exempt status,” AHA wrote. However, AHA urged the committee to consider a proposed amendment to Internal Revenue Code section 6033 that would require the Internal Revenue Service to adhere to the Administrative Procedures Act and Paperwork Reduction Act. The proposal “would rectify the IRS’ lapse in process for issuing informal guidance that binds tax-exempt organizations without any formal opportunity for input,” and “ensure public participation and transparency in the IRS’ process for issuing new or materially amended forms to collect information from tax-exempt organizations,” AHA said.
Summit issues recommendations for pharmacy sterile compounding   04/15/2013
The Pew Charitable Trusts, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and AHA today released initial consensus recommendations for addressing safety concerns associated with pharmacy sterile compounding. Developed at a stakeholder summit convened by the groups in February, the report calls for clarifying the role of federal and state bodies with oversight of sterile compounding; strengthening federal oversight of higher risk compounding activities; standardizing licensing categories for patient care sites, companies and others involved in compounding activities; exploring a single set of quality standards to facilitate oversight of large-scale sterile compounding activities; and standardizing training of pharmacy inspectors, survey processes and assessment tools. The summit was prompted by a fungal meningitis outbreak last May involving contaminated medication made by a New England compounding pharmacy. According to a study released last week by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, an estimated 92% of hospitals used compounded sterile preparations last year.
HHS promotes breastfeeding among African American women   04/15/2013
Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., today announced a public education campaign to raise awareness among African American women of the health benefits for mothers and babies associated with breastfeeding. The campaign, www.womenshealth.gov/ItsOnlyNatural, includes video testimonials from new moms, radio public service announcements, fact sheets, a poster and other materials. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the breastfeeding rate among African American women is about 55%, compared with 80% for U.S. women overall.
Hospital prices rise 0.2% in March   04/15/2013
Overall hospital prices increased 0.2% in March, and were 2.7% higher than a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Prices for the subgroup of general medical and surgical hospitals increased 0.2%, and were 2.6% higher than in March 2012, according to the BLS' Producer Price Indices, which measure average changes in selling prices received by domestic producers for their output. For hospitals, this translates into actual or expected reimbursement for a sample of treatments or services. The PPI for hospitals measure changes in actual or expected reimbursement received for services across the full range of payer types. This includes the negotiated contract rate from the payer plus any portion expected to be paid by the patient.