CMS announces hospice wage index, payment update for FY 2013   07/25/2012
Hospices will receive a 0.9% ($140 million) increase in Medicare payments in fiscal year 2013 under the annual update to the hospice wage index and payment changes required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced yesterday. The net increase is based on a 2.6% increase in the inpatient hospital market basket (the proxy for hospices) minus a 0.7% productivity adjustment and 0.3% adjustment required by law; a 0.6% decrease as part of the agency's seven-year phase-out of the wage index's budget neutrality adjustment factor; and a 0.1% decrease due to the use of updated wage data. While the ACA requires CMS to reform the hospice payment system sometime after FY 2013, the notice says only that CMS is considering multiple approaches to reform - including a case-mix adjustment and recommendations from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General, and Government Accountability Office - and that it plans to seek input from hospice providers.
Senate hearing examines 'gray market' impact on drug shortages    07/25/2012
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation today held a hearing examining how alternative distributors drive up the cost of prescription drugs in short supply, an issue the panel is investigating with the Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions and House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform. "We have carefully mapped out dozens of cases where prescription drugs that should have been delivered to hospitals and administered to sick patients instead spent weeks circulating in the gray market," said Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). "…By the time the 'gray market' has done its work, a cancer drug that originally cost $10 or $12 has become a drug that cost $500 or even $1,000." Witness David Mayhaus, chief pharmacy director for Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said his hospital actively manages about 30 shortage drugs a day, resorting to alternative wholesalers only when the absence of a drug could cause patient harm. "In some cases their prices have exceeded 35 times the normal pricing," he said.
SAMHSA awards ACA prevention funds for substance abuse program   07/25/2012
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration today awarded $22 million from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's prevention fund to help New Jersey, Arizona and Iowa expand an early intervention program for substance abuse in primary care and community settings. Under the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment program, people reporting misuse of alcohol and drugs receive brief intervention to address harmful behaviors and referral to treatment if needed.