HHS asked to detail Medicaid/CHIP blended rate proposal   07/19/2012
Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Finance Committee yesterday asked the administration to provide by July 27 the data and formula it used to estimate federal savings from a proposed blended matching rate for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. "We believe the administration should release all the legislative and policy specifications for its blended rate proposal as governors and state legislatures prepare to make a decision on whether or not to implement the largest expansion of Medicaid in history," the committee leaders said in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The blended rate proposal was included in the president's fiscal year 2013 budget plan, and a similar proposal was included in his deficit reduction recommendations last year.
CMS announces grants for states to improve health care delivery, payment   07/19/2012
States can apply through Sept. 17 for $275 million in Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act grants to design and test improvements to health care delivery and payment for Medicare, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program beneficiaries, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced today. The State Innovations Models initiative will award up to $225 million to help up to five states implement existing models, and the rest to help up to 25 states plan and design proposals in partnership with health care providers and others. "These awards are an incentive for states to recruit partners and accelerate the work that many of them are already doing to improve health care and lower costs," said CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.
Imaging efficiency measures added to Hospital Compare    07/19/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today added two medical imaging measures to the Hospital Compare website, which also has been redesigned for easier navigation. The new measures show the proportion of Medicare outpatients receiving cardiac stress tests before low-risk surgical procedures, and the proportion receiving brain CT scans and sinus CT scans at the same time.
GAO report reviews bond disclosure requirements, potential changes   07/19/2012
A new report from the Government Accountability Office examines options for improving the information that municipal bond issuers must disclose for investors. According to the report, potential changes include requiring certain borrowers to comply with corporate disclosure requirements. However, GAO notes, "Survey respondents and issuers with whom we spoke did not advocate changes to the exemption for nonprofit conduit borrowers." The report was required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Four hospitals honored for commitment to quality   07/19/2012
University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland today received the 2012 AHA-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize for its culture of quality and efforts to achieve the Institute of Medicine's six quality aims for health care. The $75,000 annual prize honors hospitals that are making progress in quality improvement and offer models that can be replicated by others in the hospital field. Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, NY, and University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill, NC, were honored as finalists and will each receive $12,500, while Meriter Hospital in Madison, WI, received a Citation of Merit. "Providing safe, patient-centered care that is effective, efficient, equitable and timely is of the upmost importance for hospitals," said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. "Improving patient care is the nation's hospitals' highest priority." 
Study: Safety net hospitals face value-based purchasing challenge   07/19/2012
Hospitals that serve a disproportionate share of low-income and Medicaid patients generally scored lower than other hospitals on the HCAHPS patient experience of care survey in 2007 and 2010, and were 60% less likely to meet HCAHPS performance benchmarks under the Medicare value-based purchasing program, according to a new study published online by the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health compared HCAHPS performance and improvement for safety net hospitals (defined as those in the highest quartile of the Disproportionate Share Hospital index) with other hospitals over the four-year period. Although HCAHPS scores for both groups of hospitals improved, the performance gap between them increased. "Safety net hospitals play a critical role in providing medical care to vulnerable populations and ensuring that efforts to improve the quality of care at U.S. hospitals do not worsen existing disparities will be a key challenge to policy makers," the authors conclude.
AHA chair-elect for 2013 named   07/19/2012
The AHA Board of Trustees has selected as its chairman-elect for 2013 James Hinton, president and CEO of Presbyterian Healthcare Services in Albuquerque, NM. He will succeed Benjamin Chu, M.D., group president of Southern California and Hawaii for Kaiser Foundation's Hospitals and Health Plan in Pasadena, CA, who will become AHA chairman on Jan. 1. Hinton served on the AHA's Task Force on Payment Reform and Task Force on Delivery System Fragmentation and joined the AHA board in 2011. He said he looks forward to serving as AHA's 2014 chairman "at such an important time in the hospital field ... and a time of great change and opportunity in health care." Hinton also serves on the board of Premier Inc. and has held leadership roles on the board of the New Mexico Hospitals and Health Systems Association. He joined Presbyterian Healthcare Services, a not-for-profit system with eight hospitals, a statewide health plan and medical group, in 1983 and has served as its president and CEO since 1995.