CMS urged to reconsider certain outpatient supervision levels   10/22/2012
The AHA today voiced support for a preliminary decision to allow general supervision for 15 hospital outpatient therapeutic services, and urged a different approach to assigning supervision levels to 13 other services, primarily drug administration codes, for which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rejected general supervision. "In our view, the clinical and other justifications presented by the hospital stakeholders and supported by the [Hospital Outpatient Payment Panel] for services that CMS rejected were equally compelling as the justification for the services that CMS preliminarily approved," AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack wrote. "The difference, we believe, is attributed to the non-specific nature of several of the [Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System] codes." AHA suggested that CMS consider a different approach in which the level of supervision is linked to the risk profile of the drug administered. The letter also offers suggestions for improving the HOP Panel process.
OIG surveying certain hospitals about EHR systems   10/22/2012
Hospitals that have received Medicare incentive payments for meaningful use of electronic health records have been asked by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services to complete a survey aimed at "identifying fraud and abuse vulnerabilities in electronic health record (EHR) systems." The OIG letter went to all hospitals that received an incentive payment between Jan. 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012, directed specifically to the CEO's or administrator's office. The letter requests that responses be submitted by Oct. 26. The OIG will use the information from the survey as part of a report expected out next year. OIG staff have informed the AHA that hospitals may take additional time to respond to the survey if needed. In addition, OIG will allow a health system to complete a single response for all facilities, where the survey responses would be the same for each entity in the system. Health systems that choose to submit a single response for all their facilities should contact Kim Yates at kim.yates@oig.hhs.gov prior to completing the survey to ensure that OIG properly accounts for their system-level response. AHA urges hospitals that respond to the OIG survey to e-mail a copy of their responses to the association at oigsurvey@aha.org.
FDA identifies providers who received NECC products   10/22/2012
The Food and Drug Administration today released a list of health care providers, by state, who received products shipped from the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, MA, on or after May 21, 2012. It also released a list organized by customer name that includes the products shipped, quantities and the shipping date. FDA said it cannot vouch for the completeness or accuracy of the lists, which were prepared based on information provided by NECC. FDA recommends that providers follow up with patients who were administered injectable products, including ophthalmic drugs that are injectable or used in conjunction with eye surgery, or a cardioplegic solution, purchased from or produced by NECC that were shipped on or after May 21. FDA further recommends that providers retain and secure, and contact NECC to return all remaining products purchased from NECC. For more information, see the FDA update. FDA last week confirmed the presence of fungus in unopened vials from one of three lots of injectable epidural steroid medication recalled by NECC on Sept. 26. The laboratory confirmation further links steroid injections from these lots of methylprednisolone acetate to the multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and joint infections. On Oct. 6, NECC recalled all of its products, and on Oct. 15, FDA notified providers that two of the other recalled products may be contaminated. Testing continues on the other two implicated lots of methylprednisolone acetate and other NECC injectables.
Reminder: AHA Town Hall webcast to provide pre-election snapshot   10/22/2012
Tune in tomorrow at 4 p.m. Eastern Time for the next AHA members-only Town Hall Interactive webcast, when premier pollsters Bill McInturff and Geoff Garin join AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock and Executive Vice President Rick Pollack to provide an up-to-the minute snapshot of public opinion and trends as the election approaches. Hosted by AHA leaders, members-only Town Hall Interactive webcasts focus on advocacy and other important developments in the hospital and health care field. For more information, call (800) 424-4301.
ND hospitals contribute $4.7 billion to state's economy   10/22/2012
Spending by North Dakota hospitals and their employees contributes an estimated $4.7 billion a year to the state's economy, according to a recent study conducted by the North Dakota Hospital Association. The state's 42 community hospitals employ more than 21,500 full-time equivalent employees. For each dollar the hospitals spend, an additional 68 cents is generated in other businesses and industries throughout the state, the study estimates. "Clearly health care is a significant contributor to the state's economy," said NDHA Vice President Tim Blasl. "Our hospitals provide a very high standard of care and serve as foundations for stability and viability in many North Dakota communities."