CMS releases Medicaid DSH proposed rule   05/13/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today proposed a methodology for reducing federal Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital allotments to states by an aggregate $500 million in fiscal year 2014 and $600 million in FY 2015 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the amounts that were mandated in statute. The proposed rule establishes separate DSH reduction pools for “low-DSH” states and other states, then creates a formula for distributing the reductions in each pool based on five factors outlined in the law. CMS said the proposed methodology gives one-third weight to the uninsured percentage factor and one-third weight to each of the two DSH payment targeting factors; encourages states to target Medicaid DSH payments to high Medicaid volume hospitals and hospitals with high levels of uncompensated care; and contains a procedure for protecting allotments that support Section 1115 demonstration coverage increases. CMS will revisit the methodology and promulgate new rules for DSH reductions in FYs 2016 and beyond. “We continue to believe that both Medicaid and Medicare [DSH] cuts should be delayed for two years in order to better ascertain whether coverage expansions have been implemented,” said AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack, noting, however, that the proposed rule implementing the congressionally mandated cuts, “appears to have been accomplished in a responsible way” based upon AHA’s preliminary analysis. AHA supports the DSH Reduction Relief Act of 2013 (H.R. 1920), which would delay the cuts for two years. The proposed rule will be published in the May 15 Federal Register, with comments accepted through July 12. The final changes will take effect Oct. 1, unless Congress acts to delay the cuts.
HHS urged to permanently extend protections for health IT donations   05/13/2013
The AHA today voiced support for extending federal self-referral (or Stark) and antikickback protections for hospitals that want to help physicians adopt health information technology, but urged the Department of Health and Human Services to make the regulatory protections permanent. “We believe that they will continue for the foreseeable future to be of critical importance to the nation’s efforts to adopt and expand operation of a robust national health IT infrastructure,” AHA said in identical comments submitted to HHS’ Office of Inspector General and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Their proposed rules would extend the protections, set to expire at the end of this year, through 2016. Among other recommendations, AHA said the final rule should continue to explicitly include all hospitals and health systems within the scope of donors protected by the regulations; remove a confusing statement about covered technology from the rule’s preamble; and avoid adding unnecessary complexity and administrative burden to the existing regulatory requirements.
AHA ad, video spotlight essential role of hospitals, health systems   05/13/2013
An AHA ad running this week in inside the beltway publications highlights National Hospital Week and the life-giving services provided in America's Hospitals every week - from delivering babies to providing a health care safety net for 49 million uninsured Americans. In addition, a new 60-second AHA video, “Always Ready,” highlights the essential role that hospitals and health systems play in caring for patients and communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. National Hospital Week celebrates the history, technology and dedicated women and men that make America’s hospitals and health systems beacons of confidence and care.
NY hospital receives AHA Living the Vision award   05/13/2013
The AHA today presented its Carolyn Boone Lewis Living the Vision Award to St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, NY, for its work to improve the health of its community through actions that go beyond traditional hospital care. “St. Joseph’s neighborhood revitalization program fully reflects its philosophy of a lifelong commitment to the people and communities it serves,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “Their efforts touch every part of an individual’s health – from ensuring affordable housing development to job training.” The Living the Vision Award recognizes institutions or individuals living the AHA's vision of a society of healthy communities where all individuals reach their highest potential for health. In 2002, it was renamed the Carolyn Boone Lewis Living the Vision Award, in memory of the first hospital trustee to serve as AHA chair.
Reminder: Flu vaccination data due May 15   05/13/2013
Wednesday is the deadline for acute care hospitals participating in the inpatient quality reporting program to submit summary data on health care personnel flu vaccination to the National Health Safety Network for the 2012-2013 flu season. Participating hospitals must report summary data for health care personnel working in the hospital for at least 30 days between Oct. 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013 to avoid a 2% reduction in their Medicare inpatient payments for FY 2015 and exclusion from the Value Based Purchasing program. For more information, see the AHA Quality Advisory.