AHA: Outpatient payment proposals need more analysis, validation   09/13/2013
AHA today expressed major concerns with outpatient prospective payment system proposals for calendar year 2014 that would create seven new payment packaging categories and comprehensive ambulatory payment classifications, and collapse the clinic and emergency department visit codes. It also voiced continued reservations about the accuracy of data included in the proposed rule’s analysis. “While the AHA generally supports payment reforms that lead to larger units of payment, such as bundled payment, we cannot support the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ comprehensive APCs and packaging proposals for implementation in CY 2014,” AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said in comments submitted to the agency. “Our reservations about the data, the complexity of these proposals and the short timeframe until implementation cause us to be wary about the sweeping redistribution of funds across hospitals that would result from implementing these fundamental changes to the OPPS. Therefore, we believe that the hospital field and CMS would benefit from more time to analyze and validate the technical changes necessary to make these policies possible, as well as to study the impacts they would have on individual hospitals.” AHA also recommended that CMS not implement at this time its proposal to collapse the hospital outpatient visit codes to a single code for each type of visit. AHA submitted comments on other aspects of the proposed rule last week.
Commission on Long-Term Care issues summary of recommendations   09/13/2013
The federal Commission on Long-Term Care yesterday voted 9-6 to approve a package of recommendations for long-term care reform, which will be published Sept. 18 in a report to Congress. The recommendations, summarized online, include service delivery, workforce and financing proposals, and call for a subsequent national advisory committee to continue the commission’s work and consider potential financing frameworks. Among other proposals, the commission calls for “new models of public payment that pay for post-acute and long-term services and supports on the basis of the service rather than the setting.” Ashley Thompson, AHA vice president and deputy director of policy, said the association would be reviewing the recommendations but “opposes site-neutral policies which fail to take into account the different accreditation and regulation requirement of the facility setting, as well as the complex need and preferences of the patient.” The commission also recommends eliminating Medicare’s three-day hospital stay requirement for skilled nursing facility coverage, and reconsidering the Medicare requirement that individuals receiving home health services be “homebound.” The bipartisan commission was created by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
HHS awards $67 million for new, existing health centers   09/13/2013
The Department of Health and Human Services today awarded $19 million in Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act funding to establish 32 new health center sites. In addition, the agency announced $48 million to support ongoing operations and quality improvement activities at 1,200 existing health centers. “New health center sites in some of the neediest communities in the country will provide access to health care for individuals and families who otherwise may have lacked access to high quality, affordable and comprehensive primary care services,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
CMS to host call next week on Marketplace outreach strategies   09/13/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host a Sept. 19 teleconference on “Outreach and Education Best Practices for the Health Insurance Marketplace,” which will feature health coverage strategies from Arkansas, Connecticut, Kentucky and Minnesota. To participate in the teleconference, from 1-2 p.m. Eastern Time, register online.
Reminder: AHA HAVE Awards deadline approaching   09/13/2013
Applications for the 2014 Hospital Awards for Volunteer Excellence are being accepted online through Sept. 26. The awards recognize hospital volunteers and the significant work they do. Click here for the nomination form and instructions. For more information, contact Cynthia Washington at cwashington@aha.org or (312) 422-3996.  
AHA Twitter chat Monday on patient engagement   09/13/2013
AHA will host a Twitter Chat Monday on effective strategies to engage patients and families, based on the 2012 AHA Committee on Research report “Engaging Health Care Users: A Framework for Healthy Individuals and Communities.” Leading the chat will be AHA Board Chair Benjamin Chu, M.D., group president for Kaiser Permanente’s southern California and Hawaii regions and co-chair of the report committee, which focused on how to engage health care users to improve outcomes and reduce health care costs. To participate in the chat, at 11 a.m. Eastern Time, follow the AHA on Twitter @AHAhospitals and insert the hashtag #AHAengage in any tweets.