AHA provides input on post-acute care reform to congressional committees   08/19/2013
The AHA supports efforts to bring meaningful reforms to post-acute care, but many current proposals under consideration include arbitrary cuts that would threaten patients’ continued access to medically necessary services, AHA told leaders of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees today in a letter with detailed attachments. AHA expressed particular concern with proposals to establish site-neutral payment for inpatient acute and long-term care hospitals under the inpatient prospective payment system and for inpatient rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities. “The AHA does not agree with the structure of these proposals, and instead supports alternative quality and payment reform proposals discussed in this letter and related attachments,” wrote AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack. Among other proposals, AHA supports providing ongoing opportunities for post-acute care providers to learn from innovators in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ bundled payment and shared savings programs; reducing barriers to clinical integration; and establishing patient criteria for LTCH admissions. In addition, AHA said that measures adopted for public reporting and pay-for-performance should be tested and then endorsed by the National Quality Forum for the specified post-acute setting.
AHA guide offers strategies to promote patient and family engagement   08/19/2013
A new guide from the AHA's Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence initiative offers evidence-based strategies to help hospital leaders promote patient and family engagement in their organizations. The guide builds on previous work by the AHA Committee on Research aimed at more engagement with patients and earlier intervention in disease management. “Patients and families have different beliefs, preferences and values that can affect their choices for end-of-life care, communication with providers, diet and family presence,” the report notes. “Creating an organization with systems and processes that can identify and adapt to diverse patient needs and with staff trained to effectively use these systems is a priority” of every hospital leader. The guide was produced by the AHA’s Health Research & Educational Trust affiliate with funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Both groups are currently surveying the field about their implementation of different engagement practices.
AHA webinar to review latest RAC survey data   08/19/2013
Hospitals are invited to review results from the AHA's latest RACTrac survey and learn more about recent regulatory activity impacting the recovery audit contractor program during a webinar on Sept.19 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. The free web-based survey helps gauge the impact of Medicare RACs and helps AHA advocate for needed changes to the program. The latest results include new data on delays hospitals are experiencing during the appeals process. For more on the AHA's RACTrac initiative, visit www.aha.org/ractrac.
Slower health care price, spending growth continue   08/19/2013
Health care prices grew 1.1% during the 12-month period that ended in July, according to the latest economic indicators from Altarum Institute's Center for Sustainable Health Spending. That’s only 0.1 percentage point above the May growth rate, the lowest recorded since Altarum began its database in 1990. Hospital price growth fell to 1.7%, its lowest rate since January 2011. National health expenditures grew 4.3% in June and an average 4.1% for the first half of 2013, which is close to the record-low levels seen annually since 2009, Altarum said.