TEST Act passes House, advances in Senate    09/20/2012
The U.S. House of Representatives last night approved the Taking Essential Steps for Testing Act (H.R. 6118/ S. 3391), AHA-supported legislation that would give the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services more discretion in enforcing the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments to preserve patient access to laboratory services. The legislation also passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee yesterday and next goes to the Senate floor. In a recent letter to lead sponsors Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and John Boozman (R-AZ) and Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said the TEST Act would give CMS "much-needed discretion so that laboratories of all types, including hospital and independent laboratories, would not have their CLIA certificates revoked for the unintentional referral of proficiency testing samples or for laboratory referrals that occur without the intent to subvert the rules."
CBO updates tax penalty estimates under ACA   09/20/2012
The Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that about 6 million uninsured people will pay a tax penalty under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act because they are uninsured in 2016, according to a report released yesterday by the CBO. That's about 2 million more people than they estimated in April 2010. According to the report, about 85% of the increase stems from changes in CBO and JCT's baseline projections, including a higher unemployment rate and lower wages and salaries, while the rest results from the recent Supreme Court decision. "As a result of that decision, CBO and JCT now anticipate that some states will not expand their Medicaid programs at all or will not expand coverage to the full extent authorized by the ACA," the report states. "Such state decisions are projected to increase the number of uninsured, a small percentage of whom will be subject to the penalty tax." The ACA requires most legal residents to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty tax. According to the report, CBO and JCT now estimate that penalty collections will total about $7 billion in 2016 and average about $8 billion annually over the 2017-2022 period, about $3 billion more per year than their earlier estimate.
Center issues report on health care cost drivers   09/20/2012
The Bipartisan Policy Center today released a report identifying key drivers of health care cost growth, which it said will serve as a starting point for a BPC initiative that will "prioritize cost containment strategies with the greatest potential for bipartisan support and political success in 2013." The initiative is led by former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Bill Frist (R-TN), former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and former Congressional Budget Office Director Alice Rivlin, who have been leading the center's health and economic policy programs for the past few years.
SHSMD announces new president-elect, board members   09/20/2012
The AHA's Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development has elected as its 2013 president-elect Mark Parrington, vice president of strategic transactions and development at Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives. Parrington will become president of the 4,000-member organization in 2014. The AHA personal membership group also elected four members to its board of directors for three-year terms beginning Jan. 1. The society is holding its annual conference this week in Philadelphia.
AHE honors members for excellence, service to profession   09/20/2012
The Association for the Healthcare Environment honored three members for outstanding service at its annual conference this week in Phoenix. Michael Bailey, director of environmental services for Greenville (SC) Hospital System University Medical Center, received the James Wolfbrandt Mentor Award for his commitment to the environmental services profession. The waste management team at VA San Diego Healthcare System received the Environmental Stewardship Award for implementing and sustaining robust environmentally friendly programs. And, the MRSA prevention team at Hunterdon Healthcare in Flemington, NJ, received the Excellence in Safety and Quality Improvement in Environmental Services award for refining protocols and processes to reduce healthcare-associated infections. For more on AHE, visit www.ahe.org.