AHA urges House appropriators to support HHS discretionary programs    07/26/2012
The AHA today urged the House Appropriations Committee to provide fiscal year 2013 funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, patient-centered outcomes research and programs to improve access to health care, while applauding the subcommittee's support for rural health programs, Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education, and policies to curtail National Labor Relations Board actions "that are detrimental to employers and hospitals." The panel's Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies last week approved an appropriations bill that would defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the prevention fund; terminate funding for AHRQ effective Oct. 1; and ban federal funding of patient-centered outcomes research. Among other provisions, the bill includes $275 million for CHGME and $139 million for rural health programs, and would prohibit certain changes to union elections and organizing through the regulatory process. In letters to committee  and subcommittee leaders, AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said the association "appreciates the support you have provided in the past to ensure that vital health care programs and services remain available to all. We hope you will take our views into consideration as your deliberations on the FY 2013 funding for the Labor-HHS bill moves forward."
GAO: Small, rural hospitals less likely to receive EHR incentive payments   07/26/2012
Large and urban hospitals were much more likely than small and rural hospitals to receive a Medicare incentive payment for meaningful use of electronic health records in 2011, the first year of the incentive program, according to a report released today by the Government Accountability Office. Just 16% (761) of the estimated 4,855 eligible hospitals received incentive payments in 2011, which totaled $1.3 billion, GAO found. Hospitals paid under the inpatient prospective payment system were more than twice as likely as critical access hospitals to receive an incentive payment. Hospitals in the top third in terms of numbers of beds were 2.4 times more likely than hospitals in the bottom third to have been awarded an incentive payment. About two-thirds of hospitals receiving incentive payments were in urban areas.
CMS announces IRF payment update for FY 2013   07/26/2012
Inpatient rehabilitation facilities will receive an estimated 2.1% ($140 million) increase in Medicare payments under the IRF prospective payment system in fiscal year 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced last night. The annual payment update includes a standard payment amount of $14,343, which reflects a net inflationary update of 1.9% and a 0.2% increase due to a higher outlier threshold. CMS updates the outlier threshold amount to $10,466 to maintain estimated outlier payments at about 3% of total IRF payments for the year. Unlike traditional rulemaking, the annual payment update includes no policy changes.
House panel holds second hearing on tax-exempt organizations   07/26/2012
The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight yesterday held the second in a series of hearings on tax-exempt organizations, this one focused on the increased complexity of public charity organizational structures, the rules governing profit-generating activities and whether the recently redesigned Form 990 is promoting increased compliance and transparency. "Given the size and scale of the operations of public charities, which in 2008 had over $2.5 trillion in assets, it is critical that the subcommittee continue its review of the tax-exempt sector," said Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany, M.D. (R-LA). Witnesses at the hearing included Steven Miller, deputy commissioner for services and enforcement at the Internal Revenue Service, who provided an overview of the agency's Exempt Organization activities. Other witnesses commented on how regulations and restrictions imposed on such organizations by states and other overseers contribute to their complexity, and that the Form 990 is too complex and lacks utility for smaller tax-exempt organizations.
HHS, DOJ announce partnership to combat fraud   07/26/2012
The departments of Justice and Health and Human Services today announced a public-private partnership to share information and best practices to prevent health care fraud. Participants include federal and state agencies, insurance groups, health plans and others. "This partnership puts criminals on notice that we will find them and stop them before they steal health care dollars," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Thanks to this initiative today and the anti-fraud tools that were made available by the health care law, we are working to stamp out these crimes and abuse in our health care system." About 20 organizations have signed onto the partnership, which is finalizing its operational structure and plans to meet in September.
Monograph helps hospital boards keep pace as health care transforms   07/26/2012
The latest monograph from AHA's Center for Healthcare Governance reviews the dramatic transformation taking place in health care and how trustees at public and nonprofit hospitals and health systems can keep pace. Author Larry Gage, a partner at Ropes and Gray LLP and former president of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, looks at six building blocks for transformational governance and how trustees and boards can focus on the right trends to achieve it. To order the monograph, "Transformational Governance: The Challenges Facing Trustees of Nonprofit and Public Hospitals," visit www.americangovernance.com. The Center is AHA's resource for information, tools and counsel to promote excellence in health care governance.