IRS issues guidance on one-year delay in ACA employer mandate   07/10/2013
The Internal Revenue Service yesterday issued guidance on its one-year delay in the requirement that certain businesses with more than 50 full-time employees provide minimum essential health coverage or pay a penalty under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “Both the information reporting and the employer shared responsibility provisions will be fully effective for 2015,” the notice states. “In preparation for that, once the information reporting rules have been issued, employers and other reporting entities are encouraged to voluntarily comply with the information reporting provisions for 2014.” According to the notice, the one-year delay in the employer mandate “has no effect on the effective date or application of other [ACA] provisions.” The House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee today held a hearing on the one-year delay in the employer mandate, and the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled a July 18 hearing on the issue.
Study: Americans living longer, but more years lived with disabilities   07/10/2013
U.S. life expectancy for both sexes combined increased by three years between 1990 and 2010, to 78.2, according to a study reported online today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. While healthy life expectancy also increased by 2.3 years over the period, to 68.1, the overall number of years lived with disability is increasing as the U.S. population ages, the study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington found. Diseases with the largest number of years lived with disability in 2010 were low back pain, major depressive disorder, other musculoskeletal disorders, neck pain and anxiety disorders. The leading risk factors related to disability-adjusted life years are dietary risks, smoking, high body mass index, high blood pressure, high fasting plasma glucose, physical inactivity and alcohol use. The study identifies the leading diseases and risk factors associated with the burden of disease in the U.S. and 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The authors say improvements in U.S. population health have not kept pace with those in other wealthy nations.
IOM report recommends criteria for population health quality measures   07/10/2013
The Department of Health and Human Services should work with public health agencies, health care organizations and others to adopt quality measures for the Leading Health Indicators in Healthy People 2020, the department’s 10-year agenda for improving population health, according to a report released yesterday by the Institute of Medicine. The IOM committee that developed the report said the conditions or outcomes measured should be preventable and account for considerable disease and death, and that the measures should be timely; usable for various populations; understandable; methodologically rigorous; and “accepted and harmonized,” such as those endorsed by the National Quality Forum or in standard use. The committee recommends that HHS convene stakeholders to help integrate such measures into all activities under the National Quality Strategy’s Three-Part Aim of better care, lower cost and healthy people/communities.
HHS awards health center grants to enroll uninsured in health coverage   07/10/2013
The Department of Health and Human Services today awarded $150 million in grants to 1,159 health centers to enroll uninsured Americans in health coverage options available under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “With these awards, which health centers in all 50 states have received, consumers will get help understanding their coverage options through the new Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program; determine their eligibility and what financial help they can get; and enroll in new affordable health coverage options,” the agency said.
Nations most wired hospitals demonstrate progress through innovation   07/10/2013
America’s hospitals and health systems have made great strides in establishing the basic building blocks for creating robust clinical information systems aimed at improving patient care, according to Health Care's Most Wired 2013 Survey, released today. Among other key findings, 69% of Most Wired hospitals and 60% of all surveyed hospitals report that medication orders are entered electronically by physicians, up from 27% of Most Wired hospitals and 12% of all hospitals in 2004. The AHA conducts the survey in cooperation with McKesson Corp., AT&T and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. “This year’s Most Wired organizations exemplify progress through innovation,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “The hospital field can learn from these outstanding organizations ways that IT can help to improve efficiency.” AHA's Hospitals & Health Networks magazine details the survey results in its July cover story, available at www.hhnmag.com.