AHA urges Congress to retain hospital mortgage insurance program   07/17/2013
As Congress works to reform the nation’s housing finance system, AHA strongly recommends retaining the hospital mortgage insurance program, the association told the House Committee on Financial Services today in advance of a hearing on proposed legislation that would repeal the program. “At a time when hospital revenues are already strained, hospitals must respond to rapidly changing market and government forces, including: (1) reimbursement reductions and changes; (2) an increasing necessity to provide access to a broad range of health services to a growing population; and (3) limited access to capital,” wrote AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack. “These market forces are driving an urgent need for hospitals to make significant capital investments while reducing costs, both of which require continued access to low-cost capital through the hospital mortgage insurance program.” The Federal Housing Administration operates the program, known as Section 242.
Senate hearing examines health IT issues   07/17/2013
The Senate Finance Committee today held a hearing on challenges and opportunities for using health information technology to improve health care quality. Among other concerns, committee members asked National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Farzad Mostashari, M.D., and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, M.D., how they plan to address the lower health IT adoption rates among small and rural hospitals and providers, and the need for interoperable health IT systems and software and for electronic health records to support quality measures. Mostashari said he is in open dialog with rural providers and hopes to get 1,000 critical access hospitals to meaningful use by the end of this year. To accelerate interoperability and health information exchange, he said the Department of Health and Human Services “is considering a number of policy levers using existing authorities and programs.” Conway said, “For the hospital setting, CMS is also beginning to align measures across the applicable programs as more measures become electronically specified.”
House subcommittee holds hearing on drug compounding legislation   07/17/2013
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee yesterday held a hearing on two bills (H.R. 2186 and S. 959) and one legislative proposal for reforming drug compounding regulation and clarifying the authority of state and federal regulators. Witness Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said FDA supports a risk-based approach to legislation. “Sterile products produced in advance of or without a prescription and shipped interstate should be subject to the highest level of controls, established by FDA and appropriate to the activity, similar to [current Good Manufacturing Practice] standards applicable to conventional drug manufacturers,” she said. Kasey Thompson, vice president of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, said S.959, which was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in May, “appears to address the need for clarity in distinguishing between compounding by a pharmacy and the activities of a compounding outsourcer.” Others testifying at the hearing included brand name and generic drug manufacturers, community and compounding pharmacists and state boards of pharmacy. In April, the Pew Charitable Trusts, ASHP and AHA released initial consensus recommendations for addressing safety concerns associated with pharmacy sterile compounding, which were developed at a stakeholder summit convened by the groups.
CMS announces stakeholder calls on Health Insurance Marketplace   07/17/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced its next quarterly state-by-state calls with stakeholders on the new Health Insurance Marketplace, or health insurance exchanges. The calls, beginning July 29, will provide an update on implementation of the marketplace and opportunity for feedback. CMS encourages individuals and organizations that will interact with and use the Marketplace to participate.