Legislation would help protect access to laboratory services    07/23/2012
The AHA today voiced support for the Taking Essential Steps for Testing Act (H.R. 6118/ S. 3391), legislation that would give the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services more discretion in enforcing the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments to preserve patient access to laboratory services. In a letter to lead sponsors Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and John Boozman (R-AZ) and Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), AHA said the TEST Act would give CMS "much-needed discretion so that laboratories of all types, including hospital and independent laboratories, would not have their CLIA certificates revoked for the unintentional referral of proficiency testing samples or for laboratory referrals that occur without the intent to subvert the rules. It is important that laboratories not be unfairly punished for following their usual protocols, which sometimes result in the unintentional referral of a proficiency test specimen to another laboratory."
Hospital groups meet with HHS on Medicaid expansion issues   07/23/2012
Leaders from several national hospital groups, including the AHA, today met with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss issues surrounding the expansion of Medicaid after the Supreme Court's ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Among the topics discussed were how to keep the lines of communication open regarding the many yet-to-be-answered questions concerning federal and state negotiations, advocacy at the state level, the connection between coverage and payment reductions, and how other issues in the ACA may affect the expansion. Representing the AHA were board Chair Teri Fontenot, president and CEO of Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, LA, and AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock, who pledged to stay in close contact with HHS and the state hospital associations as states make decisions about whether to engage in the Medicaid expansion.
FCC seeks further comment on proposed rule for rural health care program   07/23/2012
The Federal Communications Commission will accept additional comments through Aug. 23 on a 2010 proposed rule to reform its Rural Health Care program, which uses universal service fees to support expanded broadband access in rural areas. The proposed changes seek to make greater use of available funds, which have not historically been fully deployed. Among other topics, the FCC seeks input on the broadband needs of rural health care providers, including telemedicine, electronic health records and other telehealth applications, such as training. The notice also asks for comments on issues such as inclusion of urban providers and how to structure the permanent program. Participants in the current pilot program are especially encouraged to comment. AHA submitted comments on the initial notice of proposed rulemaking in September 2010.
AHA members-only webinar: EHR meaningful use for hospital physicians   07/23/2012
A Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services representative will review meaningful use requirements for physicians and the registration/attestation processes for hospitals supporting employed or affiliated physicians during an AHA members-only webinar Aug. 2 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. AHA staff will moderate the session, intended for technical and clinical staff responsible for implementing meaningful use. To register and suggest specific topics for the session, click here. For more information, contact AHA Member Relations at (800) 424-4301.
PCORI issues draft methodology report for public comment   07/23/2012
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute today released for public comment through Sept. 14 a draft report proposing 60 standards for the conduct of patient-centered outcomes research. The report was developed by PCORI's 17-member Methodology Committee, which will present a revised report to the PCORI Board of Governors for consideration in November. "We believe that methods matter - that patients deserve research results that meet the highest scientific standards," said Committee Chair Sherine Gabriel, M.D., professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic.  "We now need the input of all health care stakeholders to ensure that their perspective is reflected in this resource."