FEMA reports continued progress in hospital preparedness   05/30/2013
The Hospital Preparedness Program has strengthened health care systems’ overall resilience and capacity to respond to disasters, according to the second annual National Preparedness Report, released today by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Overall HPP performance has improved since 2011,” the report states. “…All HPP-funded states, localities and territories can report data on available beds within four hours of a request, and 88% of participating hospitals can report data on available beds to state emergency operations centers within 60 minutes. In addition, a 2012 state-by-state study by the CDC reported continued progress in public health preparedness activities.” However, the report cautions that “continued job losses and funding cuts at state and local health departments, coupled with uncertainty in federal funding could stall recent progress.” In other preparedness news today, Rx Response announced that its two key programs to help communities recover from the impact of hurricanes – Rx Open and Rx on the Run – are ready for the hurricane season. AHA is a national partner in the Rx Response coalition, dedicated to continuing the flow of medicine during severe public health emergencies.
CMS announces calls on Shared Savings Program application process   05/30/2013
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will host National Provider Calls June 20 and July 18 on the 2014 application process for the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Participants in the program, authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, agree to be held accountable for improving the health and experience of care for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries while reducing the rate of growth in health care spending. Notices of intent to apply for the 2014 program year are due tomorrow, and applications will be accepted throughout July. For more on the calls and to register, click here.
HHS seeks input on regulatory strategy for health IT   05/30/2013
The Department of Health and Human Services seeks stakeholder comments through Aug. 31 on elements to include in a risk-based regulatory framework for health information technology and mobile medical applications that promotes innovation, protects patient safety and avoids regulatory duplication. The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act requires FDA, in consultation with the Federal Communications Commission and Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, to propose a strategy and recommendations for the framework. In April, the organizations formed a workgroup to advise the agency on the issue. The group, which includes hospital members, is meeting this week in Washington, D.C.
Study: ACA coverage protects young adults from emergency medical costs   05/30/2013
An estimated 22,072 nondiscretionary emergency department visits during 2011 involved young adults who were newly insured under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s dependent-coverage provision, according to a study published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine. In September 2010, the ACA extended the eligibility age for dependent coverage under private health plans to all adults under age 26. The study estimates the provision extended private coverage of nondiscretionary ED visits by 3.1 percentage points, compared with similar visits by adults aged 26 to 31. “Our findings show that young adults not only are more likely to have insurance coverage after the provision went into force, but they and hospitals also have improved financial protection,” said lead author Andrew Mulcahy, a health policy researcher at RAND.
HCA finds universal approach reduces ICU bloodstream infections by 44%   05/30/2013
Forty-three HCA hospitals reduced MRSA and other bloodstream infections in intensive care units by 44% by using antimicrobial soap and ointment to decolonize all ICU patients, according to a study published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine. Universal decolonization was more effective than two other prevention strategies studied: screening all ICU patients and isolating MRSA carriers; and screening, isolating and decolonizing MRSA carriers. The study was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Oklahoma association creates new hospital employee relief fund   05/30/2013
The Oklahoma Hospital Association this week partnered with the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma, a charitable organization in Oklahoma City, to create a fund to assist hospital employees who experienced significant loss due to recent tornados in Moore and other central Oklahoma communities. “Oklahoma hospital employees came to the needs of their patients, even when they had their own destruction at home,” said OHA President Craig Jones. “We are tremendously proud of the care hospital employees provide every day but especially during catastrophic events. We want to help them rebuild their lives with the creation of the Oklahoma Hospital Employee Relief Fund.” Donations can be made to “OK Hospital Employee Relief Fund - CFO” and mailed to: Oklahoma Hospital Association, 4000 Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105. The AHA previously reported a donation of $50,000 to the Norman Regional Health Foundation to assist hospital employees and their families affected by the May 20 tornado in Moore. At the request of OHA, AHA will send the donation to the Oklahoma Hospital Employee Relief Fund instead which will assist all impacted hospital employees.