MedPAC considers documentation and coding cut for FY 2014   12/06/2012
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission today considered a draft recommendation to Congress that would increase 2014 inpatient and outpatient hospital payments by 1%. The recommendation is below the update in current law and includes a 0.8% documentation and coding cut for inpatient services. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has already cut hospital payments many times to offset changes stemming from the introduction of a better coding system in 2008. "We fundamentally disagree with the assertion that hospitals have continued to benefit from documentation and coding cuts years after the switch to MS-DRGs," said Caroline Steinberg, AHA vice president of trends analysis. "There are real increases in patient severity linked to trends in obesity, growing shares of patients with multiple chronic diseases, and more patients dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. These trends need to be recognized in reimbursements. Plain and simple:  today's hospital patients are sicker." MedPAC indicated that hospital margins fell considerably in 2011 - to negative 4.0% for inpatient services, negative 11.0% for outpatient services, and negative 5.8% for overall Medicare services. The commission also considered a draft recommendation that would increase Medicare payments to ambulatory surgical centers by 0.5% in 2014. The recommendations may be revised before the commission votes on them in January.
AHA: Better collaboration means better health care   12/06/2012
Collaboration is good for health care, AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock notes in an AHA advertorial today in the Wall Street Journal. "That's not just our opinion: nearly everyone, from the Institute of Medicine to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, has identified fragmentation as one of the main culprits of higher cost, lower quality health care. When doctors, nurses and other caregivers work as a team, patients receive more convenient care with less duplication and fewer adverse prescription drug interactions. By coming together, these same caregivers can avoid duplicating the huge cost of investing in care improvements such as electronic health records.…This is a new world for all stakeholders: hospitals, physicians, nurses and other caregivers. But most recognize that working together to build a true system of health care is the best way to meet their commitment to provide high-quality patient care, especially in this era of decreasing resources." For more information, visit
CDC reports on EHR use among office-based physicians   12/06/2012
Two-thirds of office-based physicians intended to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid electronic health records incentive programs in 2012, according to a survey released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, only 27% of these physicians reported having EHR systems able to support 13 of the meaningful use Stage 1 core objectives for eligible professionals. The proportion of physicians using a basic EHR system, as described by the survey, rose to 40% in 2012 from 34% in 2011.
Community Connections unveils new website   12/06/2012
AHA's Community Connections initiative today launched a new website,, which offers tools, resources and hundreds of case examples to help hospitals meet the needs of their communities in areas that extend well beyond the walls of the hospital. Community Connections supports and highlights the work that America's hospitals do every day to help make their patients and communities healthier.