Two hospitals among 2013 Baldrige Award winners   11/13/2013
Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano, TX, and Sutter Davis (CA) Hospital are among three organizations to win a 2013 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the U.S. Commerce Department announced today. The award is the nation’s highest presidential honor for quality and performance excellence. The winners will receive their awards at a ceremony next April in Baltimore. Baldrige also recognized two hospitals – Duke University in Durham, NC, and Hill Country Memorial in Fredericksburg, TX – for best practices in the award’s leadership criterion. Under the Baldrige process, award applicants are rigorously evaluated each year by a panel of experts on leadership; strategic planning; customer and market focus; measurement; analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; process management; and results. Organizations that pass an initial screening are visited by teams of examiners who spend hundreds of hours evaluating performance, interviewing personnel and preparing feedback on strengths and areas for improvement. To date, 96 organizations – including 18 hospitals and health systems – have received the award. “The AHA congratulates Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano and Sutter Davis Hospital on this tremendous honor,” AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock said. “As leaders in care improvement, innovation and patient satisfaction, they exemplify what hospitals can achieve through teamwork and a commitment to excellence. They are role models for organizations striving to improve performance and maintain sustainable results.”
AHA brief supports ACA subsidies   11/13/2013
The AHA today filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Department of Health and Human Services in a federal lawsuit (Halbig et al. v. Sebelius) seeking to prevent participants in federally-facilitated exchanges from receiving premium subsidies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “AHA writes to offer guidance, from hospitals’ perspective, on the disastrous impact plaintiffs’ position will have on American health care if they prevail,” the brief states. “…In short, the ACA will not work without subsidies, and Congress knew it. Yet plaintiffs insist that Congress designed the ACA so that tens of millions of Americans, in more than half the states, would be walled off from subsidies altogether. That interpretation should be rejected for many reasons: It would be devastating to the ACA and to that statute’s key goals. It would be equally devastating to America’s hospitals – especially to ‘safety-net’ hospitals, which care for large numbers of the poorest among us. And, critically, it bears no resemblance to what Congress intended.”
AHA comments on discussion draft of physician payment legislation   11/13/2013
Responding to the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees’ request for comments on their discussion draft for solutions to problems with the Medicare physician payment system, AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack said the association will continue to work with Congress to find a permanent solution to the Medicare physician payment problem. “[H]owever, we remain strongly opposed to additional cuts that could be harmful to hospitals’ ability to fulfill their mission of caring,” he added. “The AHA supports the general direction of the Committees’ proposal, but has concerns about specific proposals, such as the details of Alternate Payment Models, streamlining quality measures, impact on medical specialties, and potential offsets. In addition, permanent Medicare physician payment reform should remove barriers to clinical integration of health providers, and include medical liability reform.” For detailed comments, see the AHA letter.
AHA comments on laboratory, rural health clinic proposals   11/13/2013
AHA today commented on a proposed rule giving the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services more discretion in enforcing the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, as required by the AHA-supported Taking Essential Steps for Testing Act of 2012. “Overall, the AHA believes that the proposed rule largely aligns with the guidance that hospital and laboratory organizations have provided to CMS and Congress regarding sanctions for proficiency testing referrals,” wrote AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack. “While the categories that CMS establishes are reasonable, we are concerned that some of the corresponding sanctions remain too severe.” AHA also asks CMS to explain or clarify certain language related to the proposed sanction categories. The laboratory provisions were included in a proposed rule establishing a prospective payment system for Federally Qualified Health Centers under Medicare Part B. In addition, the rule would give rural health clinics more flexibility in meeting employment requirements under the Rural Health Clinic Services Act of 1977. “We are pleased that CMS now proposes to allow RHCs to contract with non-physician practitioners as long as the RHC meets the statutory requirement that at least one physician assistant or nurse practitioner is employed by the RHC,” AHA wrote.
Websites offer resources for assisting the Philippines   11/13/2013
Hospitals wishing to contribute to the relief effort for victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines are encouraged to visit the American Red Cross directly through its website, Hospitals are also encouraged to visit the U.S. Agency for International Development website,, which contains information on how best to donate and links to credible organizations supporting international relief efforts in the country. It also contains information on how to volunteer assistance. USAID is coordinating the U.S. government's efforts in support of relief. “The people of the Philippines are devastated by this enormous disaster and will need help for some time to come,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. "Hospitals, and the people that make them beacons of hope and caring, are among the most generous places in the world and are often the first place people turn in times of disaster. The international hospital community has reached out to the Philippine medical community to offer our assistance." AHA has made a $50,000 donation to the American Red Cross.
Congress sends PREEMIE Reauthorization Act to president   11/13/2013
The U.S. House of Representatives last night passed by voice vote the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act (S. 252), which would revise and reauthorize through fiscal year 2018 requirements for research on prematurity and preterm births. The bill now goes to the president to sign into law. Among other provisions, the legislation would reauthorize the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct demonstration projects related to preterm births, and require the secretary to designate an HHS agency to coordinate existing studies and report to Congress on hospital readmissions of preterm infants.
CMS call tomorrow on IRF quality reporting program   11/13/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services tomorrow will host a Special Open Door Forum conference call on the inpatient rehabilitation facility quality reporting program. The call will provide an overview of the program and review new quality measures and data reporting and submission timeframes included in the final IRF prospective payment system rule for fiscal year 2014. For details and dial-in information, click here.