AHA presses HHS, DOJ for electronic billing guidance   11/13/2012
 The AHA yesterday in a letter to the departments of Health and Human Services and Justice reiterated the important role of electronic health records and the hospital field's commitment to combating fraud and abuse while calling for further guidance. The letter, the second in response to the departments' Sept. 24 letter stating that trends in increased levels of severity for emergency department coding suggest that some providers may be using automated tools to inappropriately increase their Medicare reimbursements, highlights three areas where AHA believes "additional discussions and cooperative actions would lead to greater mutual understanding of the rules and how they are enforced": development of national guidelines for hospital coding of evaluation and management services provided in clinics and emergency departments; greater understanding of functionalities that vendors embed into EHRs and other automated tools used by hospitals; and further discussion of law enforcement concerns, with the goal of jointly developing compliance guidance for hospitals. "Hospitals share the administration's goal of a health system that offers high-quality, affordable care and work hard to ensure billing is correct the first time," said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. "Working together, we can undertake a set of activities to provide national guidelines for E/M coding by hospitals, create greater certainty that products sold by the vendors of EHRs and other automated tools promote compliance with those guidelines, and develop meaningful guidance on compliance."
Leapfrog posts confidential updated safety scores for all hospitals   11/13/2012
 The Leapfrog Group late yesterday posted for hospitals' review updated raw safety scores to its confidential website. These scores have been updated to reflect corrections to the preview data received by Oct. 28. Because changes were made to some hospitals' data, the means and standard deviations have changed slightly. The standard measure weights also may have changed. Thus, almost every hospital's raw safety score may be different from what was originally posted in October. Hospitals are urged to review their updated scores at www.leapfroggroup.org/data-validation/hospital_data_review using the username and passwords they received in October. For assistance, contact the Safety Score Help Desk at https://leapfrogscore.zendesk.com/. The scores will be translated into a letter grade and made public in the next few weeks.
Payment summary report for FY 2013 hospital VBP program available   11/13/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has made available the Actual Percentage Payment Summary Report for the fiscal year 2013 Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program on My QualityNet. The report informs eligible hospitals of their total performance score and their value-based incentive payment adjustment for the first year of the program. This report updates the preliminary adjustment that was included in the Aug. 1 inpatient prospective payment system final rule. For more information about the review and corrections period and/or appeals period, as well as other support resources, visit www.QualityNet.org. For technical questions or issues related to accessing the report, email qnetsupport@sdps.org.
Report: Preterm birth rate falls to lowest level in decade    11/13/2012
The U.S. preterm birth rate fell for the fifth straight year in 2011 to 11.7%, the lowest in a decade, according to a report released today by the March of Dimes. The report card graded each state on its preterm birth rate compared to the March of Dimes' goal of lowering the rate to 9.6% of all live births by 2020. Forty-five states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico saw improvement in their rates between 2009 and 2011. The largest declines in premature births occurred among babies born at 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy.
Report examines governance of safety net hospitals and health systems   11/13/2012
The latest special report from the Center for Healthcare Governance looks at the legal and governance structures of safety net hospitals and health systems. In the report, author Larry Gage, former president of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, provides an overview of key trends that safety net and nonprofit hospital boards and leaders must be familiar with to govern effectively in transformative times. The report includes case studies of more than 30 organizations and perspectives from executives and board members about the special challenges these organizations face in continuing to provide care for vulnerable populations. The report concludes with a discussion of best practices to ensure governance accountability and transparency. The report, produced in conjunction with NAPH, is available for free but requires registration to download. The Center is an AHA affiliate.