CMS releases Medicaid DSH final rule   09/16/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services late Friday issued a rule finalizing its methodology for reducing federal Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital allotments to states by an aggregate $500 million in fiscal year 2014 and $600 million in FY 2015, the amounts mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As proposed, the final rule establishes separate DSH reduction pools for “low-DSH” states and other states, and creates a formula for distributing the reductions in each pool based on factors outlined in the law. The formula, which applies only for FYs 2014 and 2015, gives one-third weight to the uninsured percentage factor and one-third weight to each of two DSH payment targeting factors. AHA continues to strongly support the DSH Reduction Relief Act of 2013 (H.R. 1920), which would delay the DSH cuts for two years. The final changes will take effect Oct. 1, unless Congress acts to delay the cuts.
Study: MRSA infections during hospital stay decline 54%   09/16/2013
Hospital-onset cases of MRSA, a staph infection resistant to the antibiotic methicillin, decreased 54% in the U.S. between 2005 and 2011, according to a study reported today in JAMA Internal Medicine. Cases involving healthcare-associated community-onset decreased 28% over the period, while community-associated cases decreased only 5%. The large decrease in hospital-onset infections “is highly encouraging and may be attributable to increased awareness and implementation of local and nationwide infection prevention measures in many health care settings, including those targeting intravascular catheter-related infections and health care transmission of multidrug-resistant organisms,” the authors said. “…Significant progress in preventing invasive MRSA infections in the dialysis and post-discharge settings is needed to substantially reduce the overall burden of invasive MRSA infections.” In related news, CDC today released a report aimed at increasing awareness of the threat that antibiotic resistance poses to the treatment of bacterial infections, and what states, communities, health care providers and others can do to combat antibiotic resistance.
Group alleges hospital consolidation study violates Data Quality Act   09/16/2013
A 2012 study asserting that health insurance companies have insufficient leverage when negotiating with health care providers should not be used by any federal agency because it violates the Data Quality Act, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness said in a letter today to the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition. The study was published in Health Affairs and discussed in other publications. After “an exhaustive analysis” of the study, CRE said it concluded that the study is not compliant with the DQA. CRE invites members of the public to review and comment on its findings.
Hospital prices fall 0.1% in August   09/16/2013
Overall hospital prices declined 0.1% in August, and were 1.5% higher than a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Prices for the subgroup of general medical and surgical hospitals were unchanged for the month, and 1.5% higher than in August 2012, according to the BLS' Producer Price Indices, which measure average changes in selling prices received by domestic producers for their output. For hospitals, this translates into actual or expected reimbursement for a sample of treatments or services. The PPI for hospitals measure changes in actual or expected reimbursement received for services across the full range of payer types. This includes the negotiated contract rate from the payer plus any portion expected to be paid by the patient.
Reminder: AHA webinar on Thursday to review latest RAC survey data   09/16/2013
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.
AHE honors outstanding environmental services technicians   09/16/2013
The AHA’s Association for the Healthcare Environment today announced the recipients of the second annual Heart of Healthcare Awards, honoring outstanding frontline environmental services technicians who make a difference for patients and residents across all care settings. Jean Azor, floor care technician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, FL, received the first place award. Receiving honorable mentions were Annette Dejesus, housekeeping aide supervisor at James J. Peters VA Medical Center in Bronx, NY; Tammi Ulrey, environmental services technician at Skiff Medical Center in Newton, IA; and Rosemarie Shifflett, environmental services attendant at Fairfield Medical Center in Lancaster, OH. “We were thrilled to receive triple the number of nominations for this year’s Heart of Healthcare Awards,” said AHE Executive Director Patti Costello. “Engagement in this campaign is a reflection of a growing awareness of and appreciation for the integral role environmental services departments play in supporting a culture of quality outcomes and patient safety satisfaction.” AHE is an AHA personal membership group.