CMS delays deadlines for inpatient quality data submission, review   08/14/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today extended the deadline for hospitals submitting first-quarter data for the inpatient quality reporting program to Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. The original deadline was Aug. 15. Due to data submission challenges with both the Hospital Reporting and National Healthcare Safety Network systems, the extension applies to both clinical data and data on healthcare-associated infections, including 2012-2013 flu vaccination for health care personnel. In addition, CMS extended the deadline for reviewing and correcting the Fiscal Year 2014 Percentage Payment Summary Report for the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program from Aug. 24 to Aug. 26 due to scheduled weekend maintenance on the Hospital Reporting System.
IRS issues temporary, proposed rules for CHNA excise tax   08/14/2013
The Internal Revenue Service today issued identical temporary and proposed rules that provide guidance to charitable hospital organizations liable for an excise tax for failing to meet community health needs assessment requirements under section 501(r)(3) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under today’s rules, these organizations must file Form 4720 (“Return of Certain Excise Taxes Under Chapters 41 and 42 of the Internal Revenue Code”) by the 15th day of the fifth month after the end of the taxable year when the organization’s excise tax liability under ACA section 4959 was incurred. “Thus, for example, a hospital organization reporting on a calendar year basis that failed to meet the requirements of section 501(r)(3) by Dec. 31, 2013, would have to file a Form 4720 and pay the section 4959 tax due by May 15, 2014,” the rules state. The tax must be paid when the form is filed. The rules will be published in tomorrow’s Federal Register, with comments on the proposed rule accepted for 90 days.
AHA urges CMS to clarify sequester guidance to MA plans   08/14/2013
The AHA today asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to clarify how Medicare Advantage organizations are implementing their own 2% Medicare payment cut under the federal budget sequester. “Specifically, we are concerned that, in cases where provider contracts use the Medicare rates as a reference point, hospitals are unfairly being subjected to the 2% reduction even though Medicare rates themselves have not been reduced,” AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack wrote. “…We urge CMS to provide additional guidance to MA plans explaining that Medicare rates themselves have not been altered by sequestration and that CMS has not issued a ‘default Medicare rate’ that incorporates a 2% reduction.” In May, CMS instructed MA plans not to pass along the sequestration reduction without first reviewing their contracts with individual providers. AHA asked that CMS clarify the difference between “Medicare rates” and “what Medicare would otherwise pay.”
HHS settles photocopier HITECH breach case with health plan   08/14/2013
Affinity Health Plan Inc., a managed care plan serving the New York area, will pay $1.2 million to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s privacy and security rules, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights announced today. The health plan filed a breach report with OCR in April 2010, as required by the HITECH Act, after CBS Evening News indicated it had purchased a photocopier previously leased by Affinity that contained confidential medical information on the hard drive. The health plan estimated that 344,579 people may have been affected by the breach. OCR Director Leon Rodriguez said the settlement “illustrates an important reminder about equipment designed to retain electronic information: Make sure that all personal information is wiped from hardware before it’s recycled, thrown away or sent back to a leasing agent. HIPAA covered entities are required to undertake a careful risk analysis to understand the threats and vulnerabilities to individuals’ data, and have appropriate safeguards in place to protect this information.”
Collaboration speeds quality gains at Florida hospitals   08/14/2013
Over the past five years, Florida hospitals have reduced readmissions 15%, surgical complications 14.5%, blood stream infections 41% and urinary tract infections 37% by sharing best practices and implementing recognized methods of improving care, according to a new report by the Florida Hospital Association. Under FHA’s leadership, Florida hospitals were a leader in reporting readmissions rates publicly and the first to launch a statewide program to reduce readmissions. They also helped launch the nation’s largest statewide surgical quality collaborative and participate in the Partnership for Patients Hospital Engagement Network, coordinated through the AHA’s Health Research & Educational Trust. “In the past, our hospitals focused on individual quality efforts,” said Steven Sonenreich, CEO of Mount Sinai Medical Center and chair of FHA’s Board of Trustees. “We’ve now seen that we can achieve greater and faster improvement together than we could individually.” FHA last month received the 2013 Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership at the Health Forum-AHA Leadership Summit in San Diego.