Coalition urges Senate to act on mental health bill   05/10/2013
Forty members of the Mental Health Liaison Group, including the AHA, recently urged Senate leaders to schedule a final vote on the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act (S. 689). Sponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the legislation “takes significant steps toward improving school-based mental health care in the United States while renewing critical programs under the jurisdiction of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,” the groups wrote. Noting that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously approved the bill last month, the letter urges Senate leaders “to move expeditiously with final Senate floor action on this important measure.”
Senate Finance leaders seek input on physician payment reform   05/10/2013
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) today urged physicians and other stakeholders to submit specific suggestions on how to improve Medicare payment for physicians. In a letter to the health care provider community, the senators seek input on recommended reforms to the physician fee schedule to ensure physician services are valued appropriately, as well as policies to reduce unnecessary use of services within the current physician fee-for-service system and encourage structural and behavioral changes needed to participate in alternative payment models. “While the ultimate end is new payment models, we recognize that the current fee-for-services system will continue to be the standard in the short term and, for certain physician practices, for the longer term as well,” the senators said. “…We must improve the current system to ensure that it makes appropriate payments for physician services, reduces unnecessary utilization, and improves quality while also easing the transition to new payment models.” Comments should be emailed to sgrcomments@finance.senate.gov by May 31.
Most hospitals implementing team-based care, AHA survey finds   05/10/2013
Nearly 75% of AHA member hospitals are implementing multi-disciplinary care teams and another 62% are training them, according to a survey on workforce planning conducted by the AHA Workforce Center in March. Nearly half of these hospitals are implementing the teams throughout their facility. The most common team member roles are registered nurse, physician, social worker, pharmacist, nutritionist/dietician and physical therapist. Multi-disciplinary care teams are one of the key roles that hospitals and health systems can play in effectively delivering primary care, according to a January report by the AHA Primary Care Workforce Roundtable. The AHA Workforce Center plans to issue a report this fall on the future bedside care team, based on findings from a roundtable of physicians and nurses convened last May.
Groups announce maternal health initiative   05/10/2013
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine today announced an initiative aimed at reducing U.S. maternal morbidity and mortality by 50%. Other participating organizations include the American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Nurse Midwives, Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Health Services and Resources Administration, Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As part of the initiative, representatives of more than 100 stakeholder groups, including the AHA, have begun to work together to consider appropriate protocols to address the leading causes of maternal harm or death, including hemorrhage, hypertension, thromboembolism, cardiac disease, sepsis and obesity.
FDA alerts providers to recall by drug compounder   05/10/2013
The Compounding Shop of St. Petersburg, FL, has recalled all of its sterile products due to Food and Drug Administration concerns about a lack of sterility assurance at the facility, the FDA announced this week. Health care providers should not administer any of the recalled products, but should quarantine them and await further instructions from the company, FDA said. “We do not have reports of patient infections,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “However, due to concerns about a lack of sterility assurance at the facility and out of an abundance of caution, we have advised the firm to remove its sterile products from the market to protect patients.” Adverse reactions or quality problems experienced with use of the products may be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch program.
CMS to host call on Stage 1 EHR meaningful use for eligible professionals   05/10/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host a May 30 conference call for physicians and other eligible professionals on Stage 1 meaningful use of electronic health records. The call is the first in a series of six national provider calls on the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs. Topics for future calls include Stage 2 meaningful use, clinical quality measures, hardship exceptions, payment adjustments and certification.