Bill would delay ACA DSH cuts until FY 2016   05/09/2013
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) today introduced the DSH Reduction Relief Act (H.R. 1920), AHA-supported legislation that would delay for two years cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital programs under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “The [ACA] contains reductions to the DSH programs based on the assumption that many of the uninsured and underinsured would receive coverage under the law,” said AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack. “However, the Supreme Court’s decision that the federal government could not compel states to expand their Medicaid programs has negatively impacted projected health insurance coverage. The DSH Reduction Relief Act of 2013 will help hospitals and the patients they serve by delaying the Medicaid and Medicare DSH funding cuts for two years. This will allow for coverage expansions to be more fully realized.”
Health centers can apply for funding to help enroll uninsured in coverage   05/09/2013
The Health Resources and Services Administration today announced $150 million in funding to help health centers provide eligibility and enrollment assistance to uninsured patients and residents in their approved service areas. According to the agency, the funding will help health center staff provide unbiased information to consumers about health insurance, the new Health Insurance Marketplace, qualified health plans, and Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Organizations receiving Health Center Program operational funds are eligible to apply through May 31. For a list of eligible health centers, visit www.hrsa.gov.
House passes bill extending benefit option to private sector workers   05/09/2013
The U.S. House of Representatives last night voted 223-204 to approve the Working Families Flexibility Act (H.R. 1406), legislation that would allow private sector employers to offer employees the added option of taking paid time off in lieu of cash wages for overtime hours worked. The bill also includes employee protections for those who choose to participate in a compensatory time program. For example, employees may reconsider at any time how they wish to receive overtime compensation, and any unused compensatory time hours are automatically paid out to the employee in cash at the end of the year. In a letter of support, AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack and ASHHRA Executive Director Stephanie Drake said the bill would “extend to private sector workers the benefit that has long been enjoyed by government employees.”
Senate committee holds hearing on drug compounding proposal   05/09/2013
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today held a hearing on draft legislation to improve the safety of compounded drugs by clarifying the oversight responsibilities of state and federal authorities. Based on feedback from the Food and Drug Administration and other witnesses, Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) said the committee would work to refine the draft in an open process with the goal of holding a markup soon. The current proposal would distinguish between traditional compounding pharmacies and “compounding manufacturers,” which make sterile products without or in advance of a prescription and sell them across state lines. Traditional compounding would continue to be regulated primarily by state pharmacy boards, while compounding manufacturers would be regulated by the FDA. Health systems that engage in sterile compounding would be considered traditional compounders, regulated by the states as they are now, even if they ship interstate for dispensing within their system. “Hospital-based compounding will continue under the exact same state pharmacy board, Joint Commission, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services standards that exist today,” noted Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS).
OIG updates guidance on federal health care program exclusion   05/09/2013
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General yesterday issued updated guidance on the scope and effect of the legal prohibition on payment by federal health care programs for items or services furnished or prescribed by people excluded from the programs or at their medical direction. The advisory describes how exclusions can be violated and the administrative sanctions OIG can pursue against those who have violated an exclusion. It also provides guidance on screening employees and contractors to determine whether they are excluded from federal health care programs.
Hospitals critical to PA communities, economy   05/09/2013
Pennsylvania hospitals provided more than $5 billion in charitable community benefits and nearly $98 billion in economic benefits in 2011, according to a new report by the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP). Among other community benefits, the state’s nonprofit hospitals provide more than $1 billion in charity care and bad debt, and nearly $2 billion to subsidize care for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. The state’s 255 non-profit and investor-owned hospitals also support more than 585,000 direct and indirect jobs and $26.5 billion in wages. “It is imperative that government leaders, policymakers, and the public recognize and protect one of our state’s most vital community resources – Pennsylvania’s hospitals and health systems,” said HAP President and CEO Andy Carter.