AHA files amicus brief in Supreme Court Medicare DSH case   10/23/2012
Hospitals should be able to appeal Provider Reimbursement Review Board decisions beyond the usual time limit in extraordinary circumstances, the AHA said today in a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the Supreme Court in Sebelius v. Auburn Regional Medical Center, a case involving Medicare Disproportionate Share Hospital payments. The Court should reject the government's interpretation of the Medicare statute, which would lead to the conclusion that "[s]o long as a [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] mistake in payment calculation goes undetected for over 180 days - even if providers could not have discovered the error at that time - the federal courts must stand idly by," the brief states. Responding to the government's argument that allowing equitable tolling could result in "billions" in claims, the brief counters that even if that were the case, "every dollar of DSH money that CMS improperly retains is a dollar that should have gone to hospitals already struggling to provide care to the financially vulnerable," a reason to allow equitable tolling rather than rule it out.
DOL ruling on contractor status of TRICARE providers overturned   10/23/2012
The Department of Labor's Administrative Review Board Friday overturned an administrative law judge's ruling that Florida Hospital of Orlando is a federal subcontractor because it is a TRICARE in-network provider. The DOL's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs had sought to impose federal contractor status on the hospital, which would make it subject to various paperwork burdens and regulatory oversight by the agency. The ARB determined that passage in December 2011 of a provision in the "Defense Authorization Act," clarifying that TRICARE network providers are not federal subcontractors under the Federal Acquisition Regulation or other law, precludes OFCCP from exercising jurisdiction over the hospital and rejected the OFCCP's position that the law's passage does not affect the agency's jurisdiction. The AHA supported the legislation providing the TRICARE exemption, and earlier this year filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Florida Hospital's request for dismissal of OFCCP's case because of the new law.
FDA removes posting of providers who received NECC products   10/23/2012
The Food and Drug Administration has removed a posting from its website that sought to identify health care providers who received products shipped from the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, MA, on or after May 21, 2012. "FDA has found some technical problems with the list and the data are incorrect," the website notes. "FDA is working to correct the list and will re-post when we are sure it is accurate." The agency 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, linking steroid injections from these lots of methylprednisolone acetate to the multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and joint infections. Testing continues on the other two implicated lots of methylprednisolone acetate, and on other NECC injectable medications included in an Oct. 6 recall of all NECC products. FDA recommends that providers follow up with patients who were administered injectable products, ophthalmic drugs that are injectable or used in conjunction with eye surgery, and cardioplegic solution purchased from or produced by NECC and shipped on or after May 21. It also advises providers to secure and then return all remaining products to NECC. For more information, see the FDA update.
Medical school enrollment climbs 1.5%   10/23/2012
First-time enrollments at U.S. medical schools grew 1.5% in 2012 to a record 19,517 students, the Association of American Medical Colleges announced today. Applications to U.S. medical schools rose by 3.1% to 45,266. All major racial and ethnic groups saw increases in applicants and enrollees. "Given the urgent need our nation has for more doctors to care for our growing and aging population, we are extremely pleased with the continued growth in size and diversity of this year's entering class of medical students," said AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch, M.D. "…But we are nearing a critical deficit of residency training positions. Without support from Congress to lift the 15-year cap on residency training, some future M.D.s may not be able to complete their education and care for patients." AHA continues to recommend that the cap be lifted to create at least 15,000 new resident positions, as included in the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2011 (S. 1627).