Medicare care transitions demonstration adds participants   08/17/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today selected 17 additional partnerships of hospitals and community-based organizations to participate in the Community-based Care Transitions Program, bringing the number of hospital participants to 200. Authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the demonstration program will provide $500 million over five years for care transition services. Under a two-year agreement with the CMS Innovation Center, the partnerships will be paid a flat fee to help coordinate care for Medicare patients at high-risk for readmission after a hospital stay. The 47 partnerships to date expect to serve about 185,800 patients annually in 21 states. Hospitals with 30-day readmission rates in the top quartile in their state for heart attack, heart failure and/or pneumonia are eligible to submit an application with community-based organizations that provide care transition services.
13% of hospitals surveyed last year were in ACOs or planned to be   08/17/2012
Only 3% of hospitals surveyed a year ago were participating in an accountable care organization, while another 10% were planning to participate and 12% were not sure, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Fund. Hospitals in both groups tended to be larger than other hospitals, belong to a health system, located in large urban areas, and teaching and nonprofit organizations. The findings are based on a survey by the AHA's Health Research & Educational Trust, which was completed before the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released its final rules for the Medicare Shared Savings Program. More than half of the hospitals in ACOs or planning to participate were pursuing ACO contracts with commercial payers and nearly one-third were pursuing contracts through CMS' Pioneer ACO program. Others were pursuing partnerships with Medicaid ACO programs (16%) and the MSSP (15%). The most common ACO governance models were joint ventures between physicians and hospitals (51%) or physician-led (20%). Only half of the hospitals in ACOs or planning to participate reported having the financial strength to accept risk.
FDA recommends imaging for patients with certain ICDs    08/17/2012
Patients who have implantable cardioverter defibrillators with certain wire leads made by St. Jude Medical should have X-rays or other imaging alternatives to check for abnormalities in the insulation surrounding the lead, the Food and Drug Administration said in a safety advisory yesterday. The manufacturer recalled the "Riata" and "Riata ST" leads last November after reports of premature erosion of the insulation around the electrical conductor wires, which may malfunction and lead to potentially life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms. The agency is requiring the device maker to conduct post-market surveillance studies, and cautioned against routine removal of leads without careful evaluation of benefits and risks to individual patients. "The majority of Riata and Riata ST leads, including those that show signs of electrical conductor migration or externalization, continue to function normally and provide life-saving support for patients," said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. "However, the agency does not have enough information to determine the frequency and timing of insulation failure in these leads; therefore, the post-market surveillance studies will ensure that health care professionals and patients get the data they need to better guide clinical management decisions."
Report: Older Americans living longer, but more obese    08/17/2012
Americans who survive to age 65 can expect to live an average 19.2 additional years, nearly 5 years longer than in 1960, according to the latest annual report by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Between 1981 and 2009, death rates for all causes of death among people age 65 and over declined by 25%. Death rates for heart disease and stroke declined by more than 50%, while death rates for chronic lower respiratory diseases increased by 57%. Death rates for diabetes were higher in 2009 than in 1981, but have declined since 2001. Nearly four in 10 seniors were obese in 2010, up from 22% between 1988 and 1994. The share of older Americans who received hospice care in the last month of life increased to 43% in 2009 from 19% in 1999, while the share that died in the hospital declined to 32% from 41% over the period.
Reminder: AHA HAVE Awards deadline approaching   08/17/2012
The AHA seeks nominations through Sept. 17 for its 2013 Hospital Awards for Volunteer Excellence. Hospital CEOs and directors of volunteer services are encouraged to nominate outstanding volunteer programs in the areas of community service, fundraising, in-service hospital volunteer, and community outreach/collaboration. For more information or to download an application, visit The awards will be presented on April 29, 2013 at the AHA Annual Membership Meeting in Washington, D.C.