Senate Finance Committee approves Tavenner nomination   04/23/2013
The Senate Finance Committee today voted unanimously to approve the president’s nomination of Marilyn Tavenner as Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator, which next moves to the full Senate for consideration. In a letter to the committee this month, 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."
AHA advertorial: Hospitals are 'bending the cost curve'   04/23/2013
Hospitals are transforming health care in ways that are “bending the cost curve downward,” AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock notes in an AHA advertorial today in the Wall Street Journal. “Hospitals and their clinicians are increasing teamwork, making huge investments in health information technology, and improving data collection and use – leading to better value care,” he writes. “They are also making major strides in engaging patients, families, and communities in their health and health care. Dramatic improvements in quality and safety are occurring in virtually every American hospital.…Working together, we can achieve a sustainable level of health care spending by better managing advanced illness, engaging individuals in their health care, and using limited health care dollars wisely. Further ratcheting down Medicare and Medicaid payments for hospital care won’t ensure a healthier tomorrow.”
PCORI announces funding to develop national research network   04/23/2013
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute will accept applications through Sept. 27 for up to $68 million in phase-one funding to develop a national network for conducting patient-centered clinical research. Letters of intent are due June 19. Most of the funding will support up to eight Clinical Data Research Networks, each involving two or more health care systems, which will conduct randomized comparative effectiveness studies using data from clinical practice in large defined populations. Up to $12 million will support Patient-Powered Research Networks, groups of patients interested in forming a research network and participating in research. For more information, see the funding announcements. Later this spring, PCORI plans to announce funding for a Coordinating Center to provide management support for collaborative projects, technical resources and program evaluation.
Senate Finance Committee chairman to retire in 2014   04/23/2013
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) today announced he will not seek reelection in 2014. “Deciding not to run for re-election was an extremely difficult decision,” Baucus said. “After thinking long and hard, I decided I want to focus the next year and a half on serving Montana unconstrained by the demands of a campaign.” AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said Baucus “has left his imprint on virtually every piece of health care legislation over the past few decades. He has provided important leadership in expanding health care coverage for millions of Americans, and he has been a tireless advocate to ensure access to care in rural and frontier communities. His door has always been open to the hospital community because of his sincere interest in understanding our challenges and concerns. He will be missed."
FDA announces compounding pharmacy recall   04/23/2013
Balanced Solutions Compounding Pharmacy, a division of Axium Healthcare Pharmacy Inc., has voluntarily recalled all lots of its sterile non-expired drug products due to a lack of sterility assurance and concerns with product quality controls, the Food and Drug Administration announced Sunday. Health care providers should immediately quarantine the products and follow the company’s recall instructions, the agency said. During an FDA inspection, investigators observed practices and conditions that may have exposed the company’s sterile products to microbial contamination, the agency said. FDA also identified gram-negative bacteria, a type of contaminant, in chromium chloride injection sampled from the company, but said the bacteria found does not usually cause infection in humans. Adverse reactions to any Balanced Solutions products may be reported to the FDA's MedWatch program.