Congress announces agreement to fund government through March   08/01/2012
House and Senate leaders yesterday announced an agreement to approve in September a continuing resolution funding government programs through March consistent with the $1.047 trillion spending cap level in the Budget Control Act. "During the August recess, committee members and their staff will write legislation that can be passed by the House and Senate in September and sent to President Obama to be signed into law," said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
MA passes health care payment, delivery system reforms   08/01/2012
Massachusetts lawmakers yesterday approved health care payment and delivery system reforms, including growth benchmarks for annual health care expenditures, which the governor is expected to sign into law. "In large part this legislation appears to achieve a balance that will advance meaningful payment and delivery system reform," said Lynn Nicholas, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, which advocated on behalf of the hospital community during the crafting of the legislation (SB 2400). She added, "While hospitals will do their part to get health care cost growth to the level of overall economic growth, with increased and changing demands such as the aging population and obesity epidemic, doing so by 2013 will be daunting. We remain opposed to the addition of costs on certain hospitals through the imposition of surcharge assessments, and will continue to advocate that the additional cost of implementing the bill not be placed upon providers who are already working diligently to lower costs."
CDC: West Nile virus cases up this year   08/01/2012
A total of 241 cases of West Nile virus disease have been reported through July of this year, the highest number since 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today. Almost 80% of the cases have been reported from three states: Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma. "It is not clear why we are seeing more activity than in recent years," said Marc Fischer, M.D., medical epidemiologist with CDC's Arboviral Diseases Branch. "Regardless of the reasons for the increase, people should be aware of the West Nile virus activity in their area and take action to protect themselves and their family." West Nile virus is transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes. To avoid mosquito bites, CDC advises people to use insect repellents and take other recommended precautions.
Report: AR hospitals contribute $10.3 billion to economy   08/01/2012
Arkansas hospitals contributed an estimated $10.3 billion to the economy in 2010, according to a new report by the Arkansas Hospital Association. The hospitals directly employ 42,300 people and indirectly support another 32,700 jobs for a combined payroll effect of $4.9 billion. In addition, they support the purchase of $4.9 billion in goods and services, and nearly $459 million in capital spending. The report concludes that hospitals are "instrumental to supporting the state and local economy" and urges lawmakers to "continue to invest in our state's health care system."