Labor-HHS spending bill advances in House   07/18/2012
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies today voted 8-6, mostly along party lines, to approve an appropriations bill for fiscal year 2013 that would defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the prevention fund, terminate funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality effective Oct. 1 and ban federal funding of patient-centered outcomes research. The bill would provide $150 billion in discretionary funding for the agencies, a decrease of $6 billion or 4% from FY 2012, and rescind funding for 38 programs across the agencies. Among other funding, the bill provides $623 million for health professions training, including $275 million for Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education, and $139 million for rural health programs. It also includes AHA-supported provisions that would prohibit the Department of Labor and National Labor Relations Board from advancing certain controversial changes to union elections and organizing through the regulatory process. The full committee could mark up the bill as soon as next week. If successful in the House, the measure is not expected to pass the Senate.
HHS revises dates for regional forums on ACA implementation   07/18/2012
The Department of Health and Human Services has revised the schedule for its four regional forums to address questions and concerns from state officials and others as the department moves forward in implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The forums now are scheduled for Aug. 14 in Washington, D.C.; Aug. 15 in Atlanta; Aug. 21 in Chicago; and Aug. 22 in Denver. To register to attend one of the forums, go to https://www.quickbase.com/db/bg92mriu2.
CDC: 55% of office-based physicians used EHRs last year   07/18/2012
An estimated 55% of office-based physicians used electronic health records in 2011, according to a new survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physicians under age 50 were more likely to use EHRs (64%) than older practitioners (49%), and the proportion of EHR adopters increased with the size of the practice. For example, respondents in practices with 11 or more physicians were nearly three times as likely to use EHRs (86%) as solo practitioners (29%). Primary care physicians also were more likely to use EHRs than surgical or medical specialists. The survey, a supplement to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, will be conducted annually through 2013.
CMS: Capital leases allowable cost for CAH EHR incentive payments    07/18/2012
After extensive meetings and discussions on the issue with the AHA, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has agreed to change its policy and to now allow critical access hospitals to include the cost of capital leases for certified electronic health record technology in their Medicare EHR incentive payments. A capital lease "is essentially the same as a virtual purchase agreement" and "meets the intent of the statute and regulation to qualify the leased asset as a purchased asset," CMS states in a new Frequently Asked Question on its website. "Therefore, the CAHs' incentive payment may include the 'cost' of such leased asset, which must be based on the fair market value of the asset…at the date the lease was initiated."
MI, SC hospital associations recognized for quality leadership   07/18/2012
 The Michigan Health & Hospital Association and South Carolina Hospital Association tomorrow will receive the 2012 Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership at the Health Forum/AHA Leadership Summit in San Francisco. "The works of these hospital associations are shining examples of what can be achieved in quality improvement," said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. "As leaders they inspire and enable their members to transform the care in their states." The annual award is named for AHA President Emeritus Dick Davidson, who strongly promoted the role of hospital associations in leading quality improvement during his tenure as AHA president and as president of the Maryland Hospital Association. 
Reminder: AHA members-only Town Hall tomorrow from San Francisco   07/18/2012
Join AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock for the next AHA Town Hall Interactive webcast tomorrow at the special time of 1 p.m. ET - live from AHA's Health Forum Leadership Summit in San Francisco. The event will feature a discussion with health policy experts on the political landscape heading into the election, deficit reduction and the implications of the Supreme Court's decision on health care and Medicaid in particular. Hosted by AHA leaders, members-only Town Hall Interactive webcasts focus on advocacy and other important developments in the hospital and health care field. For more information, call (800) 424-4301.