Deadline for submitting LTCH, IRF quality data extended   08/16/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services yesterday extended the deadline for long-term care hospitals and inpatient rehabilitation facilities submitting first-quarter data for the LTCH and IRF quality reporting programs to Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. The original deadline was Aug. 15. Due to data submission challenges with both CMS reporting and the National Healthcare Safety Network system, the extension applies to both clinical data and data on healthcare-associated infections. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, LTCHs and IRFs must submit certain quality data to avoid a 2 percentage point reduction in their annual payment update beginning Oct. 1.
CMS announces DHS data sharing agreement for exchanges   08/16/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today announced plans to establish a computer matching agreement with the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to electronically access USCIS data to determine applicants’ eligibility for health coverage offered through the new health insurance exchanges. CMS will accept comments on the notice for 30 days after publication in the Aug. 19 Federal Register. Similar agreements with the Veterans Health Administration and Internal Revenue Service were announced Tuesday.
HRSA to host call on ACA topics for rural stakeholders   08/16/2013
The Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office of Rural Health Policy will host an Aug. 21 conference call and webcast on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health insurance exchanges. Topics will include community needs assessments, navigator grants and training for certified applications counselors. To access the call, from 3-4 p.m. Eastern Time, dial (800) 857-3749; passcode ORHPACA.
Adult obesity rates level off, but remain high   08/16/2013
After three decades of increases, adult obesity rates last year remained level in every state except Arkansas, according to a new report from Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Still, obesity rates exceed 30% in 13 states and 25% in 41 states, putting Americans at risk for a range of health problems. In 1980, no state was above 15%. “After decades of unrelenting bad news, we’re finally seeing signs of progress,” said RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., noting that childhood obesity rates also are declining. “…We’ve learned a lot in the last decade about how to prevent obesity. Now it’s time to take that knowledge to scale.”
Colorado hospitals reduce avoidable readmissions   08/16/2013
Nineteen Colorado hospitals reduced readmissions by more than 40% in one year as part of a Colorado Hospital Association collaborative, the association announced recently. “Same cause” readmissions within 30 days of discharge dropped from 9.8% to 5.18% for target populations, while “all cause” readmissions fell from 14.9% to 8.5%. Over the 12-month period, CHA estimates the project saved $2.9 million in health care expenditures by preventing 312 avoidable readmissions. “The data clearly illustrate Colorado hospitals are making tangible progress in preventing readmissions, and it’s saving both payers and patients money in the process,” said Nancy Griffith, R.N., CHA director of quality improvement and patient safety. The hospitals implemented strategies based on a Boston University School of Medicine program called Project RED (ReEngineered Discharge), which among other steps include scheduling follow-up tests and care prior to patient discharge, confirming medication plans and following up with patients by phone. The project is supported by a grant from UnitedHealthcare.
Hospital prices rise 0.3% in July   08/16/2013
Overall hospital prices increased 0.3% in July, and were 1.7% higher than a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week. Prices for the subgroup of general medical and surgical hospitals increased 0.2%, and were 1.6% higher than in July 2012, according to the BLS' Producer Price Indices, which measure average changes in selling prices received by domestic producers for their output. For hospitals, this translates into actual or expected reimbursement for a sample of treatments or services. The PPI for hospitals measure changes in actual or expected reimbursement received for services across the full range of payer types. This includes the negotiated contract rate from the payer plus any portion expected to be paid by the patient.