OMB urged to evaluate burden of proposed IRS rule on hospitals   06/04/2013
The AHA yesterday urged the Office of Management and Budget to evaluate the time commitment and commensurate costs imposed on hospitals by a notice of proposed rulemaking issued by the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service to implement new requirements for tax-exempt status under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “We appreciate the important improvements the agencies made in this NPRM to the prior guidance regarding Section 501(r)(3) issued in Notice 2011-52,” wrote Melinda Reid Hatton, AHA senior vice president and general counsel. “However, many of the requirements continue to be extremely detailed and in some instances very prescriptive.” The letter urges OMB to review the comments AHA will submit to the IRS “as evidence of improvements that can be made to reduce the burden while achieving the goals of Section 501(r)(3), to which the AHA remains fully committed.”
House approves 'track and trace' drug distribution bill   06/04/2013
The U.S. House of Representatives last night approved by voice vote legislation to increase the safety and security of the nation’s drug distribution system. Among other provisions, the “track and trace” bill (H.R. 1919) would establish lot-level tracing requirements for manufacturers, wholesale distributors, pharmacies and repackagers based on changes in ownership, and establish a collaborative process between the Food and Drug Administration and stakeholders to better understand how and when to move to unit-level traceability. FDA then must issue a proposed regulation on unit-level traceability in 2027. Last month, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved legislation (S. 959) that would clarify federal and state oversight of compounded drugs and require interoperable, electronic unit-level product tracing within 10 years.
Study: Expanding Medicaid best financial option for states   06/04/2013
An estimated 3.6 million fewer people would gain health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if 14 states were to opt out of the Medicaid expansion as proposed, according to a study published yesterday in Health Affairs. In addition, those states would forego $8.4 billion annually in federal payments and collectively spend $1 billion more on uncompensated care in 2016 than they would if Medicaid is expanded, the study by RAND Corp. estimates. “Our analysis shows it’s in the best economic interests of states to expand Medicaid under the terms of the federal Affordable Care Act,” said RAND mathematician and lead author Carter Price. The study looks at 14 states whose governors once threatened to opt out of the Medicaid expansion.
AHA survey shows increase in RAC activity   06/04/2013
Hospitals continue to experience rapid growth in recovery audit contractor reviews, according to the latest results from the AHA's quarterly RACTrac survey. While a lack of medical necessity was the top reason Medicare RACs denied claims, nearly two-thirds of those denials were for care found to be provided in the wrong setting rather than medically unnecessary. Survey respondents appealed 44% of denials with a success rate of 72%. New questions in the survey this quarter found that hospitals face widespread delays when they attempt to appeal a RAC denial. Hospital representatives are invited to attend a free June 19 webinar to review recent RAC policy developments and results from the free web-based survey, which helps hospitals monitor the impact of RACs and advocate for needed changes to the program. For more information, visit www.aha.org/rac.
CDC: Americans living longer; deaths from heart disease, cancer decline   06/04/2013
U.S. life expectancy at birth increased 2.1 years for males and 1.7 years for females between 2000 and 2010, according to the latest annual report on the health of the nation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The infant mortality rate decreased 11% over the decade, while death rates for heart disease and cancer decreased 30% and 13%, respectively. One in five U.S. adults reported at least one emergency department visit in the past year when surveyed in 2011, according to the report’s special section on emergency care. Children and non-elderly adults on Medicaid are more likely to visit the ED than uninsured Americans and those with private insurance. Cold symptoms are the most common reason for visits by children and injuries the most common reason for adults. About 35% of ED visits include an x-ray and 17% an advanced imaging scan. Eight in 10 ED visitors are discharged for follow-up care and 16% are admitted to the hospital.
CMS updates checklists for end-to-end testing project   06/04/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has posted updated checklists for its end-to-end testing project based on feedback from health care providers, payers and vendors. The project is using ICD-10 testing to develop a “best practice” for faster and more efficient testing of administrative simplification standards. Under a final rule issued in August, hospitals and other entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act must transition to the ICD-10 coding system by Oct. 1, 2014. For more information, visit www.cms.gov.
Groups issue workplace tools for depression   06/04/2013
The American Psychiatric Foundation’s Partnership for Workplace Mental Health and the Employers Health coalition recently launched an initiative to raise awareness about depression in the workplace. The Right Direction initiative includes a free employer toolkit and other resources to promote early recognition of symptoms and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.