CMS finalizes Medicaid payment rule for primary care physicians   11/02/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last night issued a final rule implementing a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provision requiring Medicaid to reimburse primary care providers at parity with Medicare rates in calendar years 2013 and 2014. The rule applies to Medicaid fee-for-service and managed care payment for primary care services delivered by physicians with a specialty in family medicine, general internal medicine or pediatric medicine; related subspecialists; and practitioners, such as nurse practitioners, working under the personal supervision of a qualifying physician. The difference between the Medicaid state plan payment amount as of July 1, 2009, and the applicable Medicare rate would be fully financed by the federal government. The rule also updates provider payment rates for administering pediatric vaccines through the federal Vaccines for Children Program.
CMS releases final CY 2013 home health, ESRD rules   11/02/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today released final rules for calendar year 2013 for the home health and end-stage renal disease prospective payment systems. The home health rule decreases payments by approximately $10 million in CY 2013 (about 0.01%) and includes new provisions related to the survey, certification and enforcement procedures for home health agencies. The ESRD rule increases payment rates for outpatient maintenance dialysis treatments by 2.3% in CY 2013. The rule also codifies a provision in the Middle Class Tax Extension and Job Creation Act of 2012 that reduces bad debt payments for eligible Medicare providers. The final rules will be available on the Federal Register's Public Inspection Desk. AHA members will receive a Special Bulletin Monday with further details.
Hospitals can apply for hurricane-related quality reporting waivers   11/02/2012
The Medicare inpatient and outpatient quality reporting programs allow hospitals to request an extension or waiver of data submission requirements due to extraordinary circumstances beyond their control, including natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy. For the inpatient reporting program, hospitals should submit a Disaster Extension/Waiver Request form to the state Medicare Quality Improvement Organization within 30 calendar days of the extraordinary circumstance. CMS also may decide to grant waivers or extensions to an entire region affected by a disaster or circumstance, which would be communicated to hospitals, vendors and QIOs through the program's routine communication channels. For the outpatient reporting program, hospitals should submit an Extraordinary Circumstances Extension or Waiver form and any supporting documentation to the support contractor within 45 calendar days of the extraordinary circumstance. Hospitals included under a blanket waiver will not be required to submit the Extraordinary Circumstances Extension or Waiver form.
HHS declares public health emergency in NJ, issues NY waiver   11/02/2012
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last night declared a public health emergency for New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The declaration enables the agency to temporarily waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program requirements to ensure that health care providers can continue to care for patients and be reimbursed for services. HHS issued a similar declaration Wednesday for New York, which was followed by a Section 1135 waiver of specific requirements retroactive to Oct. 27. A similar waiver announcement is expected for New Jersey soon.
Two more NECC drugs contaminated   11/02/2012
The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found bacteria in three lots of injectable betamethasone and one lot of cardioplegia solution recalled by the New England Compounding Center on Oct. 6. As of Nov. 1, CDC had received no reports of laboratory-confirmed cases of infection due to the bacteria, which are rarely reported as causing human disease, and said its recommendations for diagnosing and treating symptomatic patients who have received NECC products have not changed. "Fungal cultures for injectable betamethasone and cardioplegia solution are pending and the presence of additional microbial organisms and/or fungus in these products cannot be ruled out at this time," FDA said. The agencies last month confirmed the presence of fungus in two lots of injectable epidural steroid medication recalled by NECC on Sept. 26, linking injections of the medication to a multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and joint infections.
Hospital employment climbs by 6,200 in October   11/02/2012
Employment at the nation's hospitals rose by 0.13% in October to a seasonally adjusted 4,839,000 people, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. That's 6,200 more people than in September and 81,400 more than a year ago. Without the seasonal adjustment, which removes the effect of fluctuations due to seasonal events, hospitals employed 4,839,400 people in October - 9,300 more than in September and 80,400 more than a year ago. The nation's overall unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage point in October to 7.9%.
Reminder: AHA Town Hall webcast Wednesday   11/02/2012
Tune in for the next AHA members-only Town Hall Interactive webcast on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 4 p.m. Eastern Time. AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock, Executive Vice President Rick Pollack and Senior Vice President of Federal Relations Tom Nickels will discuss the election results and what they may mean for the hospital field. 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.