AHA-supported bill would help critical access patients   11/06/2013
AHA today expressed support for the Critical Access Flexibility Act (H.R. 3444), which would give Critical Access Hospitals needed flexibility to accommodate fluctuations in patients through the option of meeting an average annual daily census of 20. “Under the current requirements for a CAH, a hospital can have up to 25 patient beds per day,” noted AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack in letters of support to Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ron Kind (D-WI), the bill’s sponsors. “Unfortunately, hospitals cannot always anticipate the patient count and find that turning patients away is unavoidable. This additional flexible option would allow for hospitals to appropriately accommodate daily and seasonal fluctuations.”
AHA, others discuss hospital efforts to prepare for newly insured   11/06/2013
Continued collaboration and performance improvement will be critical as hospitals absorb millions of newly insured patients under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock and other hospital leaders said at a panel discussion today on the future of hospital care. Collaboration with community stakeholders will grow as hospitals redesign care to make better use of personnel and resources and engage patients in their health and health care, Umbdenstock told participants at the U.S. News & World Report “Hospital of Tomorrow” conference. “The reality is many hospitals, because of the impact of uncompensated care, have been making the changes necessary” to respond to a changing health care environment and will continue to do so to accommodate the ACA’s expanded coverage, Umbdenstock said. Wright Lassiter III, CEO of Alameda Health System in Oakland, CA, and Nancy Schlichting, CEO of Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System, described how they are working with caregivers near them to get better care and coverage to indigent populations. “We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve,” Lassiter said. Added Schlichting, “We have to be creative along the whole continuum of organizations because of the very fundamental needs” of the low-income residents who will be receiving health care coverage.  
CMS updates FAQ document on two-midnight policy   11/06/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has updated a document containing written answers to Frequently Asked Questions about its two-midnight policy for hospital inpatient medical review and admissions criteria. These questions were received from the hospital field and verbally reviewed by CMS at its Sept. 26 Open Door Forum. AHA continues to review these ongoing updates and will provide more information to members as it becomes available.   
AHA report promotes good stewardship of health care resources   11/06/2013
AHA today released a white paper on appropriate use of medical resources, which includes a “top five” list of hospital-based procedures or interventions that should be reviewed and discussed by a patient and physician before proceeding. Specifically, the report calls for appropriate blood management in inpatient services; appropriate antimicrobial stewardship; reducing inpatient admissions for ambulatory-sensitive conditions; appropriate use of elective percutaneous coronary intervention; and appropriate use of the intensive care unit for imminent terminal illness. In coming months, AHA will release additional resources and best practices to support appropriate use of these procedures and interventions. “By reducing the utilization of non-beneficial care – care that increases costs without a concomitant increase in value – we can have a delivery system that achieves the Triple Aim...improved health, a quality patient experience, and lowered costs,” the report states. Developed with guidance from AHA’s Committee on Clinical Leadership and Physician Leadership Forum, the report builds on the 2013 AHA Board of Trustees report "Ensuring a Healthier Tomorrow."
Sebelius: Early enrollment on federal exchange low   11/06/2013
Early enrollment numbers for the federal health insurance exchange will be “very low” but include breakdowns by state and by private and Medicaid coverage, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the Senate Finance Committee today at a hearing on the health insurance exchanges that launched Oct. 1. “The consumer experience on the web gets better every day and…by the end of November we’re committed to having the site working smoothly for the vast majority of users,” Sebelius said. “But we don’t have the fully functioning system yet that consumers need and deserve. We do have a plan in place to identify, prioritize and manage the remaining fixes across the system.” The agency expects to release the early enrollment numbers next week.
HRET to develop AHRQ patient safety/medical liability toolkit   11/06/2013
AHA’s Health Research & Educational Trust affiliate will develop a toolkit for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that highlights successful projects to improve patient safety and communication and reduce medical liability costs. “HRET has a long track record of accelerating quality improvement, and we are therefore pleased to support AHRQ’s efforts in this area,” said Maulik Joshi, president of HRET and senior vice president of AHA. “This toolkit will help distill ongoing research in a way that can contribute to better patient care, lower costs and more effective use of limited resources.” The contract was awarded under AHRQ’s Patient Safety and Medical Liability Reform Initiative, an effort to move the health care system toward a non-punitive, systems-oriented approach and away from defensive medicine that may impede best care practices. HRET will administer the contract in partnership with the University of Illinois Institute for Patient Safety Excellence and others.
Coalition names Skogsbergh chair   11/06/2013
The Coalition to Protect America's Health Care has named Jim Skogsbergh, president and CEO of Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, IL, as its new chair, effective Nov. 19. Skogsbergh, who is also a member of the AHA Board of Trustees, succeeds Thomas Zenty III, CEO of University Hospitals in Cleveland. “Jim’s understanding of the political environment and public policy issues, and the high regard for him across the field will make him a great chair during the challenging times ahead,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. The Coalition, of which the AHA is a founding member, is a broad-based group of hospitals, businesses and national, state and local hospital associations dedicated to educating the public about issues affecting hospitals’ financial situation and what this means for patients and their families.