Congress urged to preserve tax deduction for charitable giving   12/07/2012
The AHA today urged congressional leaders to preserve the charitable tax deduction as they work with the administration to resolve current deficit and tax reform issues. "Recent proposals to limit the federal tax charitable deduction will significantly reduce the level of philanthropic support to hospitals when they can least afford it," wrote AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack. "In a 2012 report, the rating agency Moody's maintains a negative outlook for U.S. not-for-profit hospitals and concluded that the outlook is expected to remain negative for at least the next several years. At the same time, Congress is debating additional cuts to hospital funding, which would cost jobs and jeopardize access to care.…. As hospitals face new challenges to provide high-quality care to everyone who needs it, the support they find from generous members of the communities they serve is needed now more than ever. We urge you to continue to encourage private giving by excluding charitable giving from any limitations on deductions, thereby maintaining the existing federal tax charitable deduction."
MedPAC considers 2014 payments for post-acute care   12/07/2012
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission yesterday and today considered draft recommendations for updating payments to post-acute care providers in 2014, which could change before the panel votes on them in January. The discussion included repeated commentary on the need for comprehensive reforms to ensure that each post-acute setting is treating a unique case mix, providing only medically necessary care, and bringing overall value to the Medicare program. Commissioners restated their support of prior MedPAC recommendations for home health and skilled nursing facility payments, and discussed preliminary recommendations for inpatient rehabilitation facility and long-term care hospital payments. They voiced support for a two-year rebasing process for the HH prospective payment system starting in 2013 and eliminating the 2014 HH marketbasket update, based in part on MedPAC's estimate that HH Medicare margins would average 11.8% in 2013. Commissioners also supported eliminating the 2014 marketbasket update for SNFs and rebasing the SNF PPS to better align payments with costs, which would result in an initial annual reduction in payments of 4% plus subsequent reductions. Draft recommendations for both LTCHs and IRFs call for a 0% marketbasket update in FY 2014. The commission projects 2013 Medicare margins will average 11%-14% for SNFs, 5.9% for LTCHs and 8.3% for IRFs.
AHA members urged to weigh in on MAP review of quality measures   12/07/2012
The Measures Application Partnership will hold workgroup meetings Dec. 10-19 to review roughly 500 quality measures under consideration by the Department of Health and Human Services and recommend which of the measures should be included in federal health care payment and reporting programs. Nearly 100 measures spanning several programs affect hospitals. The MAP Coordinating Committee will issue a draft report on the recommendations for public comment Jan. 14-28. AHA members are encouraged to participate in the measures review process by providing feedback on relevant measures as early as Dec. 11. To learn how, see today's AHA Quality Advisory. MAP is a public-private partnership convened by the National Quality Forum to advise HHS on the selection of quality measures for public reporting and performance-based payment programs.
Hospitals encouraged to review new VBP resource   12/07/2012
Hospitals participating in the Value-Based Purchasing Program can download their fiscal year 2014 baseline measures reports at the QualityNet website. The report allows participants to monitor their baseline period performance for all VBP domains and measures. It is available to My QualityNet users with the Hospital Reporting Feedback-Inpatient role. For technical help accessing the report, contact the QualityNet Help Desk at qnetsupport@sdps.org.
AHA to host special webcast Tuesday   12/07/2012
AHA members are invited to join AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time for a special interactive webcast in conjunction with AHA's Advocacy Day. The Web session will enable hospital leaders who could not travel to Washington, D.C. for the Advocacy Day to participate virtually, in preparation for making phone calls and sending e-mails to Congress and meeting with members of Congress at home. The message: no more cuts to payments for hospital care. AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack will provide a legislative update. 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.
Report reveals how gray market drives up shortage-drug prices   12/07/2012
Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) yesterday released findings of a recent joint congressional investigation into the prescription drug "gray market," which documents how some companies take advantage of drug shortages by buying short-supply drugs and reselling them to hospitals and other health care providers at huge markups. "In more than two-thirds (69%) of the 300 drug distribution chains reviewed in this investigation, prescription drugs leaked into the gray market through pharmacies. Instead of dispensing the drugs in accordance with their professional duties, state laws, and the expectations of their trading partners, these pharmacies re-sold the drugs to gray market wholesalers," the report states. "…As the drugs pass through these gray market distribution chains, they are significantly marked up, sometimes to prices that are hundreds of times higher than the prices that hospitals and other health care providers normally pay." The senators shared the report with state pharmacy oversight agencies.
Webinar reviews certain ACA requirements for tax-exempt hospitals   12/07/2012
A new webinar from the AHA's Center for Healthcare Governance reviews the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act's new requirements related to community health needs assessment, and the board's role in implementing these new requirements for hospital tax exemption. Available free to all AHA members at www.americangovernance.com/policy, the webinar includes key compliance and strategic planning questions for trustees to consider, a board action checklist, and sources for additional information on hospital tax-exempt status. The webinar is part of CHG's Health Care in Transition education series, which brings the AHA's policy expertise and center's educational expertise to bear on critical policy and regulatory issues for trustees.
Hospital employment climbs by 8,300 in November   12/07/2012
Employment at the nation's hospitals rose by 0.17% in November to a seasonally adjusted 4,847,400 people, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. That's 8,300 more people than in October and 82,200 more than a year ago. Without the seasonal adjustment, which removes the effect of fluctuations due to seasonal events, hospitals employed 4,852,200 people in November - 13,500 more than in October and 81,400 more than a year ago. The nation's overall unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage point in November to 7.7%.