Supreme Court urged to reject FTC challenge to Georgia hospital acquisition   10/10/2012
The U.S. Supreme Court should affirm the dismissal of a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit challenging Phoebe Putney Health System's proposed acquisition of Palmyra Park Hospital in Albany, GA, the AHA and Georgia Hospital Association said in a friend-of-court brief filed yesterday. "AHA has a specific interest in this case, because many of its member hospitals are publicly owned and operated by state and local governments," the brief states. "It seeks to ensure that state-action doctrine is applied in a manner that does not impede the valuable work of America's public hospitals." The FTC alleged the health system structured the acquisition in a way that attempts to shield it from federal antitrust scrutiny under the "state action" doctrine, which provides an antitrust exemption for certain government actions. "Because the Eleventh Circuit's test is faithful to the plain-statement rule and the federalism principles that gave rise to it (whereas the FTC's proposed approach is not), the Court should reject the FTC's interpretation in this case," the brief states.
AHA launches health IT survey   10/10/2012
The AHA encourages all hospitals to complete the fifth annual Information Technology Supplement to the AHA Annual Survey, which will be mailed to CEOs beginning tomorrow. Recipients should forward the survey to their chief information officer to complete on paper or online by Monday, Nov. 12. "Even if your hospital has not adopted any or all of the specific technologies in the survey, your answers are extremely important," AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock said in the survey cover letter. "This is particularly true at a time when we are carefully monitoring the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' implementation of incentive programs on meaningful use of electronic medical records, which will be followed by penalties in 2015 and later." For more information, contact AHA survey support at (800) 530-9092 or surveysupport@healthforum.com.
Study: Payment penalties arent responsible for declining hospital infections    10/10/2012
Hospital infection rates continue to fall, but Medicare payment penalties have not contributed to the result, according to a study in the Oct. 11 New England Journal of Medicine. "In this national evaluation of the effect of the 2008 [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] policy to reduce additional payments for preventable hospital complications, we did not find any effect on rates of targeted healthcare-associated infections as measured with the use of clinical data," the authors report. The study found a strong downward trend for targeted infections well before the implementation or announcement of the CMS policy, with no measurable additional benefit of the policy. "As CMS continues to expand this policy to cover Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, require public reporting of [National Healthcare Safety Network] data through the Hospital Compare website, and impose greater financial penalties on hospitals that perform poorly on those measures, careful evaluation is needed to determine when these programs work, when they have unintended consequences, and what might be done to improve patient outcomes," the study concludes.