AHA backs emergency care liability bill   06/10/2013
AHA today voiced support for the Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act (S. 961/H.R. 36), legislation that would provide medical liability protections under the Federal Tort Claims Act to hospitals and physicians providing emergency care. Specifically, the bill would extend to hospitals, emergency departments and physicians who provide services pursuant to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act the same medical liability protections given to employees of Community Health Centers. “The increased costs that result from the current flawed medical liability system not only hinder access to affordable health care, they also threaten the stability of the hospital field, which employs more than 5 million people, and continues to be one of the largest sources of private-sector jobs,” AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack told the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA). “…We look forward to working with you to advance this legislation and other proposals that will deliver meaningful medical liability reform.”
CDC updates guidance on MERS virus   06/10/2013
Health care providers should evaluate for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome patients who develop unexplained severe acute lower respiratory illness within 14 days of traveling from the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries, according to a notice issued late Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 10 days previously, because the incubation period for the novel coronavirus may be longer than previously estimated, CDC said. The notice includes updated guidance on MERS surveillance, laboratory testing, case definitions and infection control. The virus has infected 55 people in eight countries in the past year, more than half of whom have died. No cases have been reported in the U.S. to date. On June 13, CDC will host a webinar for clinicians on how to recognize and prevent the spread of MERS. For more on the virus, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/MERS.
Report: Medicare Advantage enrollment continues to grow   06/10/2013
About 28% of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s 14.4 million people, 9.7% more than last year and 30% more than in 2010. Enrollment varies widely by state, from less than 4% of Medicare beneficiaries in Iowa and Alaska to 49% in Minnesota. About two-thirds of MA enrollees are in health maintenance organizations, 22% in local preferred provider organizations, 7% in regional PPOs, and 4% in private fee-for-service plans. Five firms or affiliates account for about two-thirds of MA enrollment: United Healthcare, BlueCross BlueShield affiliates, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and Aetna.
CDC announces participants in workplace wellness initiative   06/10/2013
More than 100 employers in eight counties will participate in the National Healthy Worksite Program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today. The $9 million initiative, funded by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act prevention fund and announced in 2011, will help the mostly small and mid-sized employers implement science-based strategies to promote physical activity, good nutrition and tobacco cessation and reduce chronic disease. A national evaluation will document successful practices and models to share in small worksites more broadly. The participating communities are Buchanan County, MO; Harris County, TX; Kern County, CA; Marion County, IN; Philadelphia County, PA; Pierce County, WA; Shelby County, TN; and Somerset County, ME.