AHA urges changes to proposed IRF rule   07/01/2013
The AHA today expressed deep concern with a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposal to remove certain diagnosis codes from the 60% Rule for inpatient rehabilitation facilities in fiscal year 2014. “The AHA is concerned that several of the proposed coding changes are unwarranted and inappropriate,” AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack told CMS, commenting on the proposed IRF prospective payment system rule. “Specifically, we are concerned that they are clinically irrelevant, administratively unrealistic, and do not further CMS’ ability to ensure that IRFs are treating medically appropriate patients.” AHA also expressed concern about proposed changes to CMS’ methodology for calculating the IRF PPS rural, low-income patient and teaching status adjustments, and urged CMS to delay updating the adjustments “until a viable alternative to the current approach is identified.” Among other changes, AHA urged CMS to allow IRF units within acute-care hospitals to attest that they report the proposed FY 2016 flu vaccination for health care personnel measure through the impatient quality reporting program. In addition, AHA said it opposes CMS’ proposal to add a readmissions measure to the IRF quality reporting program in FY 2017 that has not yet been endorsed by the National Quality Forum.
USDA announces $17.5 million in rural health telemedicine grants   07/01/2013
Hospitals and others can apply through Aug. 12 for grants of up to $500,000 each for equipment and technical assistance to provide telemedicine services in rural areas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday. The agency expects to award about $17.5 million in fiscal year 2013 grants through its Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program, which provides funds to improve telemedicine and distance learning services in rural areas. Applicants must serve a rural area, demonstrate economic need and provide at least 15% in matching funds. For more on the program and how to apply, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/UTP_DLTResources.html.
CMS finalizes hospice rule for long-term care providers   07/01/2013
Under a final rule published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last week, skilled nursing and other long-term care facilities that provide hospice care through a Medicare-certified hospice provider must have a written agreement with the hospice specifying the roles and responsibilities of each entity. CMS said the rule would improve the quality and consistency of hospice care provided to long-term care residents, and reduce duplication, by increasing care coordination and communication between the two providers.
CMS partners with libraries to educate public about Marketplace options   07/01/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced an initiative to inform librarians about the new Health Insurance Marketplace, and help them connect the public with information and trained enrollment assistors beginning Oct. 1. As providers of Internet access and digital literacy training for people who lack Internet connections at home, libraries can anticipate increased demand for computer services when people begin to access the Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov, the groups said. The initiative will help CMS navigators, certified application counselors and others connect at the community level and share information on health insurance options, CMS said. IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.
Free HPOE guide offers compendium of patient safety checklists   07/01/2013
A new guide from the AHA’s Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence initiative offers patient safety checklists for each of the 10 focus areas in the Partnership for Patients campaign. The focus areas are: adverse drug events; catheter-associated urinary tract infections; central line-associated blood stream infections; early elective deliveries; injuries from falls and immobility; hospital-acquired pressure ulcers; preventable readmissions; surgical site infections; ventilator-associated pneumonias and ventilator-associated events; and venous thromboembolisms. The AHA’s Health Research & Educational Trust affiliate operates a Hospital Engagement Network to support the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ campaign, which aims to reduce inpatient harm by 40% and readmissions by 20%. For more information on HRET's HEN, including toolkits and resources click here.
Hospitals urged to participate in AHA RACTrac survey   07/01/2013
The AHA encourages all hospitals to submit data by July 19 to its quarterly RACTrac survey. The free web-based survey helps AHA gauge the impact of Medicare's Recovery Audit Contractor program on hospitals and advocate for needed changes. To register for the survey or for technical assistance, participants should contact RACTrac support at (888) 722-8712 or ractracsupport@providercs.com. For more on the survey, including the latest results from the first quarter of this year, visit www.aha.org/ractrac.