Hospitals encouraged to review 'dry run' reports on three quality measures    09/04/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today launched "dry runs" for the hospital-wide readmission measure and hip and knee replacement complications and readmissions measures to be added to the Hospital Compare website in 2013. Hospitals will have until Oct. 3 to review and download mock hospital-specific reports and other data from the dry run at My QualityNet and submit questions. In addition, CMS has scheduled a Sept. 11 conference call on the hospital-wide readmission measure, and a Sept. 14 call on the hip and knee replacement measures to provide guidance and answer stakeholder questions. For more on the dry run and calls, see the QualityNet notice. AHA urges hospitals to review and provide feedback on the data to, as the measures are likely to be added to the readmissions penalty provision in the future and the association has raised concerns that other readmissions measures have included unrelated and planned readmissions and failed to account for the impact of community factors that make it more difficult for some hospitals to prevent readmissions. The current dry run excludes a wider array of principal diagnoses for readmission in an effort to address the issue of unrelated and planned readmissions. 
CMS advised to reduce supervision level for 28 outpatient therapeutic services    09/04/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment last week recommended reducing the supervision level for 28 outpatient services from direct to general supervision, meaning the service could be performed under the overall direction of a physician or non-physician practitioner without requiring their presence. The proposed services include certain vaccine immunizations; IV infusion hydration, therapeutic infusions and push injections; various urological services; vascular access services; skin or wound care services; and direct admission to observation services. CMS' preliminary decisions on the panel's recommendations will be posted to the panel's website soon with a 30-day comment period. Three rural hospitals and health systems - Avera Health, Carrington Health Center and Mission Health System - testified in support of the changes at the panel's Aug. 28 meeting. In response to AHA and rural hospitals' concerns with CMS' direct supervision policy, CMS this year established a process to obtain advice from the panel on the appropriate supervision levels for individual hospital outpatient therapeutic services.
AHA urges CMS to clarify certain home health rule provisions   09/04/2012
The AHA today urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to clarify its proposed survey, certification and enforcement regulations for home health agencies. Commenting on the proposed home health prospective payment system rule for calendar year 2013, AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said the final rule should explain the skills and experience surveyors need to accurately evaluate compliance with the Conditions of Participation, and how it will ensure that the process for informal dispute resolutions is unbiased. In addition, AHA urged CMS to give HHAs time to correct deficiencies before implementing civil monetary penalties or suspending payment, and to revise the way immediate jeopardy citations are handled. AHA last week submitted comments on CMS' proposed hospital outpatient/ambulatory surgery center rule and physician fee schedule rule for CY 2013.
HHS awards public health training, fellowship grants   09/04/2012
The Department of Health and Human Services last week awarded $48 million in grants to train public health workers and place fellows in state and local public health departments. The funds include $23 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration and $25 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CMS awards two CO-OP loans   09/04/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Friday awarded $162 million in loans to help two organizations establish Consumer Oriented and Operated Plans in Tennessee and Massachusetts. The Community Health Alliance Mutual Insurance Company in Tennessee will receive $73.3 million and Minuteman Health Inc. in Massachusetts will receive $88.5 million. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides $3.8 billion for the CO-OP program, which offers start-up and solvency loans to help eligible private, nonprofit organizations become health insurance issuers and sell coverage through state insurance exchanges and Small Business Health Option programs. Twenty CO-OPs in 20 states have received funding under the ACA.