CMS names 89 new Medicare ACOs   07/09/2012
Eighty-nine new accountable care organizations began participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program effective July 1, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced today. Participants in the voluntary Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act program, which include hospitals and physicians, 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. The new ACOs will coordinate care for about 1.2 million beneficiaries in 40 states and the District of Columbia, bringing total participation in the MSSP to 154 ACOs serving more than 2.4 million Medicare patients. Five of the new ACOs applied for a version of the program that allows them to earn a higher share of Medicare savings by being held accountable for a share of any losses if the costs of care for beneficiaries assigned to them increase. From Aug. 1 through Sept. 6, CMS will accept applications to participate in the program beginning in January.
President signs drug shortages bill    07/09/2012
President Obama today signed the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, legislation that includes AHA-supported provisions to help alleviate critical drug shortages. Approved by Congress June 26, the bill requires drug makers to report production interruptions and discontinuations to the FDA in advance; codifies FDA's authority to speed approval of applications to make drugs in short supply; lifts caps on narcotic ingredients to ensure sufficient supply for anesthesia, pain management and other critical uses; and improves communications with providers and patients about the reason for potential drug shortages and how long they may last. The legislation also creates a user fee program that will help speed FDA approval of generic drugs, and allows hospitals within health systems to conserve their inventory of shortage drugs by sharing repackaged drugs. "We thank President Obama for signing The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act into law today," said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. "The number of drug shortages has tripled in the last six years and they are having an impact on patient care. However, the new law is a concrete step in the right direction in addressing this issue."
Report examines physician competencies for value-driven health care    07/09/2012
A new white paper from the AHA's Physician Leadership Forum examines the core competencies needed to deliver coordinated, team-based, value-driven care and recommendations for how hospitals and physician-associated organizations can develop these skills in the next generation of physicians. Produced with input from the AHA's regional policy boards, governing councils and committees, the PLF Advisory Committee and a clinical task force, the paper includes case examples of activities underway at hospitals and health systems as well as hospital and medical association efforts throughout the U.S. to embrace the core competencies. "We encourage AHA members and physician groups to collaborate on ways hospitals can begin to ingrain the competencies into their organizations and create a workforce of the future," said John Combes, M.D., AHA senior vice president and coauthor of the paper. To access the white paper, "Lifelong Learning - Physician Competency Development," visit www.ahaphysicianforum.org.
NH enacts 'early offer' alternative to medical liability litigation   07/09/2012
New Hampshire recently became the first state to adopt an "early offer" program for medical liability claims after state lawmakers overrode the governor's veto of the legislation (SB 406). Effective in January, the voluntary program allows patients to settle medical liability claims with health care providers within 90 days to receive payment from the provider for their economic damages (medical expenses and lost wages) plus an additional payment based on the level of harm. "For those who endure a medical mistake, a settlement within 90 days is far better than a lawsuit that could drag on for years," said Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, a key supporter of the bill. "Early Offer also defines precisely what the settlement terms will be, so that an injured person can be fully informed before entering the voluntary early offer process."
Hospitals reminded to complete RAC survey by Friday    07/09/2012
The AHA encourages all hospitals to complete its quarterly RAC Trac survey by Friday, July 15. The free web-based tool measures the impact on hospitals of Medicare's Recovery Audit Contractor program, educates the hospital field on RAC vulnerabilities and helps AHA advocate for needed changes. If you have not previously reported, Registration information is available from RAC Trac Support at (888) 722-8712 or ractracsupport@providercs.com. For more on the survey, visit www.aha.org/aha/issues/RAC/ractrac.html.