IRS announces hearing on proposed charitable hospital requirements   10/02/2012
The Internal Revenue Service has scheduled an Oct. 29 hearing on its June proposed rule implementing certain requirements for tax-exempt hospitals under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. AHA recently submitted comments on the proposed rule and plans to participate in the hearing. The association welcomes input from members on the most critical issues to address at the hearing; e-mail mmudron@aha.org.
Judge denies NH motion to dismiss Medicaid lawsuit   10/02/2012
A federal judge in New Hampshire last week denied the state's motion to dismiss claims by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic and other New Hampshire hospitals that significant rate reductions implemented by the state in 2008 violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Instead, the court will ask Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to comment on whether the rate reductions meet the requirements of the federal Medicaid Act and other questions raised by the lawsuit. The hospitals claim that rate reductions of 10% for inpatient services and 33.5% for outpatient services implemented by the state in 2008 violate the Supremacy Clause, in part because federal Medicaid law requires "that Medicaid reimbursement rates be set at a level sufficient to both assure quality of care and enlist enough providers to deliver medical services to Medicaid beneficiaries to the same extent such care is available to the general population." The lawsuit also challenged the state's failure to meet the procedural requirements for changing hospital payment rates. In March, the court ordered the state to initiate a public notice and comment process regarding its use of reduced Medicaid reimbursement rates for hospitals.
Study: Patients report benefits from online access to doctor's notes   10/02/2012
Giving patients electronic access to their doctors' notes may help them feel more in control of their care and increase medication adherence, according to a study reported in today's Annals of Internal Medicine. More than 20,000 patients at primary care practices affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Geisinger Health System in Danville, PA, and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle were invited to review their doctors' notes online after an office visit. Of 5,391 patients who opened at least one note during the one-year project, more than three-quarters said the open notes made them feel more in control of their care, and at least 60% reported increased adherence to medications. Few doctors reported longer visits or more time addressing patients' questions outside of visits, and none elected to stop providing access to notes after the study ended. For more on the project, visit www.myopennotes.org.
Leapfrog letter includes log-in for reviewing safety data   10/02/2012
The Leapfrog Group yesterday mailed CEOs at roughly 2,600 general acute-care hospitals instructions for reviewing the accuracy of their Leapfrog Hospital Safety Scores before they are publicly reported in mid- to late November. On receipt of the letter, which includes a username and password to access the data online, AHA encourages hospitals to preview and verify the data before the Oct. 24 deadline.
VA issues mental health toolkit for community providers   10/02/2012
The Department of Veterans Affairs last week released a toolkit to help health care providers treat veterans for mental health concerns. "Many veterans seek mental health care at VA, yet many also choose to go to providers in their community," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.  "This toolkit will enable those community providers who treat veterans to better understand the specific issues veterans face and help them access VA resources."
AHVRP elects new officers   10/02/2012
The AHA's Association for Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals recently chose as its president-elect for 2013 Kathy Moe, director of volunteer services/gift shop manager at Trinity Regional Medical Center in Fort Dodge, IA. Stacy Scott Berteau, director of volunteer services at Sarasota (FL) Memorial Healthcare, will become president Jan. 1. For more on the newly elected officers, visit www.ahvrp.org.