AHA urges FCC to streamline rural health care program   08/22/2012
The AHA today urged the Federal Communications Commission to move quickly and streamline administrative requirements under its Rural Health Care program, so that program funds can be fully deployed and connect rural health care systems with broadband services to support electronic health records, telemedicine and other patient needs. "Complex rules and administrative burden have previously limited participation in the program, despite demonstrated need for assistance," wrote Linda Fishman, AHA senior vice president for public policy analysis and development. "Steps to streamline should be taken in the application, reporting and competitive bidding requirements." In addition, AHA said urban and for-profit providers should be allowed to participate in consortia that apply for funding under the program - "as long as controls are in place to ensure that rural providers receive the preponderance of the benefit."  The AHA notes that broadband support is crucial to address the growing digital divide between rural and urban providers.
AHA report helps hospitals care for patients as illness advances   08/22/2012
Hospitals should examine how they can increase access to services that help caregivers, patients and families manage advanced illness, according to a report released today by the AHA Committee on Performance Improvement. "The goals of advanced illness management (AIM) are to improve patient and family satisfaction, increase quality of care, reduce inefficiencies and increase care coordination," said Committee Chair Jim Diegel, president and CEO of St. Charles Health System. "This report provides strategies for large, small and rural hospitals, health systems and care centers to develop and implement AIM initiatives." A future committee report will examine health care workforce education and community awareness strategies to support AIM initiatives. The Committee on Performance Improvement provides guidance to the AHA Board of Trustees on strategies to support hospital performance improvement and the AHA's Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence initiative.
AHA survey shows dramatic increase in RAC activity   08/22/2012
The number of RAC claim denials is up 24% relative to last quarter, according to the most recent results of the AHA's RACTrac survey. Medical necessity denials represented the top reason for RAC denials, however, two-third of these were for care found to be provided in the wrong setting, not because the care provided was medically unnecessary. Survey respondents are appealing more than 40% of denials with a success rate of 75%. Hospital representatives are invited to attend a free Sept. 18 webinar on the survey results and how to participate in the free web-based survey, which helps hospitals monitor the impact of RACs and advocate for needed changes to the program. For more information, visit www.aha.org/aha/issues/RAC/ractrac.html.
CMS selects primary care practices for care management demo   08/22/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has selected 500 primary care practices to participate beginning this fall in the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation demonstration project, announced last year, will pay primary care practices in seven regions to manage care for their patients. Participating health plans include federal, state and commercial insurers in Arkansas; Colorado; New Jersey; Oregon; the Capital District-Hudson Valley region of New York; Cincinnati-Dayton region of Ohio and Kentucky; and Tulsa, OK region. The monthly fee per beneficiary will average $20 for the first two years of the initiative, and $15 for years three and four, when practices will be able to share in a portion of the Medicare savings in their market.