Senators urge support for Medicare/childrens GME, rural hospitals   04/17/2013
Several senators today urged the administration to increase funding for the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education program and showed support for Medicare GME and critical access hospitals during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the administration’s proposed Health and Human Services budget for fiscal year 2014. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) noted that the budget includes just $88 million in funding for the CHGME program, which trains nearly half of all pediatricians. “I think that’s a mistake,” he told HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the hearing. “I don’t know how we’re going to get the trained pediatricians we need.” Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) also expressed concern about proposed Medicare GME cuts. “We can’t keep cutting graduate medical education, which is Medicare’s subsidy for residents,” Nelson said. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) expressed concern that the budget takes a “Lizzie Borden whack” at Medicare reimbursement for critical access hospitals and proposes a CAH mileage requirement. “I hope we’re not going to go back to that,” Roberts said. “I wish you would take a look at the critical access situation.”
AHA issues 2013 advocacy agenda   04/17/2013
The AHA today released its annual advocacy agenda outlining the association's key advocacy priorities for 2013. The agenda, which members will use to explain the hospital field's concerns to their legislators, will be highlighted at the AHA Annual Membership Meeting April 28 to May 1 in Washington, D.C. Topics include: delivery system reform programs; linking quality to payment; improving quality and patient safety; enhancing coverage; health information technology; hospital price transparency; Medicare; Medicaid; small or rural hospitals; physicians and non-physician practitioners; annual appropriations; workforce; hospital emergency preparedness and response; federal tax reform and its implications for hospitals; immigration reform; program integrity; administrative simplification and ICD-10 implementation; and medical liability reform. For more on the AHA meeting, or to register to attend, visit www.aha.org.
Group issues guidance for assessing health care cybersecurity   04/17/2013
The Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) last week released guidance health care organizations can use to assess the state of their cybersecurity preparedness. The guidance identifies a subset of controls within the HITRUST Common Security Framework that are most directly related to detecting and thwarting cyber-related breaches. HITRUST is soliciting input before it finalizes the guidance later this spring. It established the certifiable framework in collaboration with health care, business, technology and information security leaders for organizations that create, access, store or exchange personal health and financial information.
Study: Post-surgical complications cost hospital system more   04/17/2013
A 12-hospital health system had an average total margin of negative 6.4% for patients with certain post-surgical complications in 2010, while its average reimbursement for patients without these complications covered the cost of care, according to a study reported in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association. The complications included certain types of infections, heart attack, pneumonia, deep vein thrombosis and stroke. The study compared hospital costs, revenues, and contribution margin (defined as revenue minus variable expenses) for patients with and without these complications according to payer type, including private health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. While the contribution margin was higher for patients with complications, they stayed an average 11 more days in the hospital than patients without complications, were older and had higher costs. “The overall conclusion of the report can be easily misunderstood,” said Nancy Foster, AHA vice president of quality and patient safety policy. “To clarify, the report found that while payers such as Medicare and insurance companies may pay more to cover patients who have experienced post-surgical complications, the cost of caring for the patient is higher.” She also emphasized that hospitals “are actively engaged in a wide variety of safety improvement efforts because it is the right thing to do for patients.”