CMS drops hospital outpatient quality measure for CY 2013   08/14/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services yesterday removed outpatient quality measure OP-16 from the calendar year 2013 hospital outpatient quality reporting program based on patient safety concerns. The measure is used to report Troponin results received for heart attack and chest pain patients within 60 minutes of arrival in the emergency department. Hospitals began collecting data for the measure in January for payment determination in CY 2013. On July 11, the Food and Drug Administration recalled several point-of-care testing kits, including those for Troponin, due to false results. "While OP-16 does not specify which type of laboratory equipment should be used to obtain Troponin results, hospitals may be using these POC tests in order to expedite results," CMS said. "In view of the recent Class I recall, CMS is concerned that continued collection of the measure may potentially impact patient safety because of the high probability of false results associated with such equipment. CMS will not publically report, validate or use in CY 2013 payment determination any data collected on this measure." Due to constraints on the CMS data processing system, hospitals in the outpatient quality reporting program must continue to submit a number for the measure, but may simply plug a "dummy" number into the field.
FCC report looks at successes, challenges of rural health care pilot    08/14/2012
The Federal Communications Commission's Rural Health Care Pilot program has helped health care providers establish broadband networks to improve health care quality and reduce health care costs in rural areas, according to a new report from FCC staff. The report looks at successes and challenges of funded projects as the commission considers potential changes to the permanent program. "According to many pilot participants, the key features of the Pilot Program were the consortium approach, the inclusion of urban providers, the broad definition of eligible expenses, the use of multi-year commitments [such as indefeasible rights of use and long-term prepaid leases], the use of a flat-rate discount approach, and the size of the discount," the report states. "...Some of the projects also identified several challenges, including the exclusion of administrative expenses and the difficulty of predicting the long-term sustainability of the pilot projects." AHA has urged the FCC to streamline the program so that available funds can be fully deployed in support of a broadband-connected rural health care system.
HRSA awards grants for HIV/AIDS care   08/14/2012
The Health Resources and Services Administration today awarded $68 million in Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program grants to 114 organizations, including hospitals, that provide primary care and support services for women and children with HIV/AIDS. "With these investments, we're targeting our resources to the communities that need them most," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Report looks at primary care models that redefine nursing roles   08/14/2012
A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation looks at innovative models that redefine nursing roles to address primary care challenges. Implemented in Nebraska, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Vermont, the District of Columbia and Veterans Administration, the models emphasize care coordination, interprofessional teams and information technology. Some of the models include payment reforms or remove barriers to allow nurses to practice to the full extent of their training. The report is part of an RWJF series on implementing the 2010 Institute of Medicine report on "The Future of Nursing."
AHA webinar to review latest RAC survey data   08/14/2012
Hospitals are invited to review results from the AHA's latest RACTrac survey and learn more about the initiative during a Sept. 18 webinar. The free web-based survey helps gauge the impact of Medicare's recovery audit contractors and advocate for needed changes to the program. The latest results include new data on RAC denials, appeals, and administrative burden. The webinar also will provide an update on RAC program developments. For more on the AHA's RACTrac initiative, visit