CMS: Calendar year 2014 payment rules will be delayed   10/24/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will not publish final rules for Medicare’s calendar year 2014 outpatient prospective payment system, physician fee schedule, home health PPS and end-stage renal disease PPS until after Nov. 1, the agency announced today. The final calendar year rules are typically released by Nov. 1, but CMS now plans to issue them by Nov. 27 due to the recent government shutdown. Despite the delay, the rules generally will be effective on Jan. 1. "Such late issuance will put providers in the very difficult position of having to implement new policies, procedures and payment formulas with only five weeks’ notice,” said Joanna Hiatt Kim, AHA vice president of payment policy. “We urge CMS to issue the final rules as soon as possible."
GAO: 48% of eligible hospitals receive Medicare EHR payment for 2012   10/24/2013
Nearly half of eligible hospitals (48%) were awarded Medicare incentive payments for meaningful use of electronic health records for 2012, up from 16% in 2011, according to a report released today by the Government Accountability Office. That represents 2,291 hospitals, up from 777 in 2011. Inpatient prospective payment system hospitals were nearly twice as likely as critical access hospitals to receive a 2012 payment. Similarly, hospitals in urban areas were 1.2 times more likely to have been awarded a payment compared to hospitals in rural areas. In looking at physicians, fewer than one-third of eligible professionals (31%) were awarded EHR incentive payments for 2012, up from 10% in 2011. General practice physicians were 1.5 times more likely than specialty practice physicians to receive a 2012 incentive payment.
Medical school enrollment climbs 2.8%   10/24/2013
Enrollment in U.S. medical schools grew 2.8% in 2013 to a record 20,055 students, the Association of American Medical Colleges announced today. Four new medical schools welcomed their first classes this year, contributing to about half of the enrollment increase. Applications to U.S. medical schools rose by 6.1%, to 48,014. “At a time when the nation faces a shortage of more than 90,000 doctors by the end of the decade and millions are gaining access to health insurance, we are very glad that more students than ever want to become physicians,” said AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch, M.D. “However, unless Congress lifts the 16-year-old cap on federal support for residency training, we will still face a shortfall of physicians across dozens of specialties.” 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 (S. 577/H.R. 1180).
House hearing focuses on federal health insurance exchange    10/24/2013
The House Energy & Commerce Committee today held a hearing on the federal health insurance exchange launched Oct. 1 at www.healthcare.gov. Representatives from several Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services contractors testified on their role in implementing the website or enrollment process, including CGI Federal, Quality Software Services, Equifax Workforce Solutions and Serco. “While the [Federally Facilitated Marketplace] contained the required functionality, we acknowledge that issues arising in the federal exchange have made the process for selecting and enrolling in qualified insurance plans difficult to navigate for too many individuals,” said Cheryl Campbell, senior vice president of CGI Federal. Representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services are scheduled to testify at a similar hearing Oct. 30.
AHA to host special members-only Advocacy Day webcast   10/24/2013
AHA's hospital and health system members are invited to join AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock, Executive Vice President Rick Pollack and Senior Vice President of Federal Relations Tom Nickels for an interactive members-only webcast on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time in conjunction with AHA's Advocacy Day. The webcast will allow hospital leaders who could not travel to Washington, D.C., for Advocacy Day to participate virtually. To access the special webcast, participants must be registered for AHA's 2013 Town Hall Interactive webcasts. To register, click here.