Hospital groups urge Congress to support DSH Reduction Relief Act   06/21/2013
The AHA, Association of American Medical Colleges, Catholic Health Association of the United States, and Federation of American Hospitals today urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to support the DSH Reduction Relief Act (H.R. 1920). The bill would delay for two years cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital programs, giving states additional time to determine the level of health coverage expansions under the law. “With the expectation of expanded health care coverage, Congress determined that the level of supplemental payments – such as those provided by the DSH program – would change,” the groups wrote. “...However, the Supreme Court’s decision on Medicaid expansion and subsequent uncertainty regarding the uptake in insurance coverage has reduced the estimate of those who will receive health care coverage to 25 million individuals, rather than the initial projection of 32 million covered lives. As a result, hospitals treating disproportionate shares of [low-income and uninsured] patients will see their payments reduced in ways unintended by policymakers.”
AHA urges CMS to focus on defining clinical characteristics of LTCH patients   06/21/2013
The AHA today expressed extreme concern with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposal to proceed with full implementation of the 25% Rule for long-term care hospitals in fiscal year 2014, and its current research agenda on major reforms for the LTCH prospective payment system. “Both of these changes would inhibit the ability of LTCHs to continue to treat the sickest patients – a role that is notably distinct from other provider settings,” AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack told CMS in a comment letter on the proposed LTCH PPS rule. He urged the agency to focus its research on identifying the types of patients who would benefit from the unique services of LTCHs. “The AHA continues to believe that the development and application of clinical patient and facility criteria to define LTCHs is far preferable to the 25% Rule.” The letter also comments on proposed changes to the LTCH quality reporting program. In separate letters this week, AHA submitted comments on CMS’ proposed inpatient PPS rule for FY 2014 and the rule’s two-midnights proposal. The association encourages hospital leaders to submit their own comments to CMS by the June 25 deadline, using the AHA letters as models. 
ACIP recommends flu vaccine option for adults with egg allergies   06/21/2013
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices yesterday voted to recommend a new flu vaccine for the 2013-2014 flu season for adults under age 50 with a severe egg allergy. The vaccine, called FluBlok, was licensed by the Food and Drug Administration in January. Unlike other seasonal flu vaccines, FluBlok does not use the flu virus or chicken eggs in its manufacturing process. For more on the vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov.
Guide helps health care organizations become culturally competent   06/21/2013
A new guide from the Equity of Care initiative and AHA’s Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence describes the benefits, steps and educational techniques of becoming a culturally competent health care organization. “The steps to becoming culturally competent begin with understanding the background of the community and patient population, the effect that cultural influences have on care delivery, and the skills needed by clinicians and staff,” the report notes. “Effective educational programs and training for hospital staff include a cultural assessment, multiple training methods, ongoing teaching, and measurement and tracking.” Launched in 2011 by the AHA, Association of American Medical Colleges, American College of Healthcare Executives, Catholic Health Association of the United States, and America’s Essential Hospitals, Equity of Care is a national call to action to eliminate health care disparities by increasing diversity in health care governance and leadership; cultural competency training; and collection and use of race, ethnicity and language preference data.
AMA names new president-elect   06/21/2013
The American Medical Association this week named as its president-elect Robert Wah, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist and ob-gyn who practices and teaches at Walter Reed National Military Center in Bethesda, MD, and the National Institutes of Health. An expert in health information technology, Wah also serves as chief medical officer for Computer Sciences Corp. He will become AMA president in June 2014.