Congressional leaders urged to protect 340B drug discount program   08/06/2013
A bipartisan group of 84 representatives and 29 senators Friday urged leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to continue their support for the 340B drug discount program. In letters backed by the AHA, the senators and representatives said the program “has reduced federal and state spending on prescription drugs by billions of dollars and successfully increased access to drugs for low-income and other vulnerable patients served by 340B providers. Our 340B hospitals report that the program enables them to expand health care services to the community, increase the number of patients they serve, or offset losses from uncompensated care.” AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said, “This essential program helps safety-net providers stretch limited resources to better serve their communities, especially the uninsured and low-income patients, and we appreciate this strong showing of support by members of the House and Senate.”
National coordinator for health IT to step down this fall   08/06/2013
Farzad Mostashari, M.D., plans to step down this fall as national coordinator for health information technology, the Department of Health and Human Services announced today. Mostashari joined HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator in 2009 as principal deputy national coordinator and took over as national coordinator after David Blumenthal, M.D., stepped down in 2011. In an announcement to colleagues, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Mostashari’s “expertise, enthusiasm and commitment to innovation and health IT will surely be missed. In the short term, he will continue to serve in this role while a search is underway for a replacement.” Linda Fishman, AHA senior vice president of policy, said, “We appreciate the hard work of Dr. Mostashari in supporting the adoption of electronic health records and working toward our shared vision. America’s hospitals are on a pathway toward a reformed health system that is supported by the use of EHRs. We wish him the best of luck in his next endeavor and we will continue to work collaboratively with HHS to realize our shared vision.”
AHA responds to claim that hospitals misuse 340B program   08/06/2013
A July 31 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by Scott Gottlieb “claims that hospitals are misusing the 340B program,” AHA said today in a letter to the editor. “The truth is that the hospitals eligible for this necessary program use their scarce federal resources to do more for patients. For example, they are expanding care, providing services to more patients and reducing the price of pharmaceuticals. In addition, increasing patients’ access to drugs helps to improve health outcomes and reduce future health care spending … Only hospitals that meet the eligibility criteria established by Congress can qualify for the program. These hospitals care for a large number of the uninsured, Medicaid patients and low-income, disabled Medicare patients who may not otherwise get the care they need.”
CMS to host Aug. 22 National Provider call on ICD-10   08/06/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host an Aug. 22 National Provider Call on “ICD-10 Basics,” which will include an implementation update. For more information or to register for the call, from 1:30-3 p.m. Eastern Time, click here. Under a final rule issued last year, hospitals and other entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act must transition to the ICD-10 coding system for patient diagnoses and inpatient procedures by Oct. 1, 2014. For more information, visit www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coding/ICD10. 
CMS to host Aug. 22 National Provider call on ICD-10   08/06/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host an Aug. 22 National Provider Call on “ICD-10 Basics,” which will include an implementation update. For more information or to register for the call, from 1:30-3 p.m. Eastern Time, click here. Under a final rule issued last year, hospitals and other entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act must transition to the ICD-10 coding system for patient diagnoses and inpatient procedures by Oct. 1, 2014. For more information, visit www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coding/ICD10.