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Archive for September, 2014

PCORI to Fund New Research Projects

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

On September 30, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) announced it is providing $102 million to fund 46 new research projects, including $20 million to compare the effectiveness of obesity treatment options for underserved adults in primary care settings, and $15 million for a comprehensive study of transitional care services to prevent hospital readmissions and improve outcomes for at-risk patients.

For more on the funding announcement, visit www.pcori.org.

HHS Announces Grants to Prevent Chronic Diseases

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced nearly $212 million in grant awards to support programs aimed at preventing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.  A total of 193 awards are being made to states, large and small cities, and counties, tribes and tribal organizations, and national and community organizations, with a special focus on populations hardest hit by chronic diseases. The goals of the grant funding are to reduce rates of death and disability due to tobacco use, reduce obesity prevalence, and reduce rates of death and disability due to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

For state-by-state lists of funding awards, visit http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/2014-foa-awards.htm.

CMS Announces Medicare Advantage Premiums

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

On September 18, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the average Medicare Advantage (MA) premium submitted by health plans for 2015 would increase by $2.94, to $33.90 per month. However, CMS estimates the actual 2015 MA average premium may increase by only $1.30, as more beneficiaries elect to enroll in lower cost plans. The vast majority of MA enrollees will experience little or no premium increase for next year, with 61% of beneficiaries not experiencing any increase. According to CMS, enrollment is projected to increase to a new all-time high.

The press release can be found at http://cms.hhs.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2014-Press-releases-items/2014-09-18.html

Preview of Quality Data and HCAHPS Star Rating Available

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Hospitals can preview and validate their quality data through October 14th. The data are scheduled to be added to the Hospital Compare website in December.  Hospitals can also preview how their Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) data would appear in an HCAHPS star rating system which will be added to Hospital Compare in April 2015. In addition, they can provide feedback to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on how to improve the star rating system. Hospitals may access their preview reports at the QualityNet portal.

For more information, go to http://www.hcahpsonline.org/home.aspx, and for assistance accessing reports, contact HospitalCompare@hsag.com

CDC Issues Enterovirus D68 Guidance

Monday, September 15th, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued recommendations for clinical care, laboratory testing, infection control, and reporting for enterovirus D68. Hospitals in Missouri and Illinois have seen more children than usual with severe respiratory illness caused by the virus, which was first isolated in California in 1962 but has been rarely reported in the U.S. It primarily causes respiratory illness, although the full spectrum of disease remains unclear. There are no vaccines or specific treatments for the virus, and clinical care is supportive. Prevention tips include washing hands often with soap and water.

For more on the recommendations, visit http://emergency.cdc.gov/HAN/han00369.asp

Voluntary EHR Certification Final Rule Released

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (HIT) has released a final rule governing voluntary updates to the certification criteria for 2014 edition electronic health record technology. The 2014 Edition Release 2, previously named the Voluntary 2015 Edition Electronic Health Record Certification Criteria, provides voluntary alternative approaches, including 10 optional and two revised certification criteria for EHRs

The rule is available at https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2014-21633.pdf.

Marketplace Navigator Grants Awarded

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $60 million in navigator grants to 90 organizations in states with federally-facilitated and state partnership Health Insurance Marketplaces. The navigators serve as an in-person resource for those who require additional assistance with Marketplace enrollment. In addition, they will provide unbiased information to help eligible individuals and families enroll in coverage, compare their coverage options, and determine whether they are eligible for public programs. The grant recipients must also maintain a physical presence in the Marketplace service area, be trained on and comply with security and privacy standards, and submit weekly progress reports to HHS. This year’s required training includes a course on advanced Marketplace issues, among other new elements, HHS said. In addition to navigators, Marketplaces will again make other resources available to help consumers access Marketplace coverage, such as certified application counselors (a role played by many hospitals), non-navigator assistance personnel (also known as in-person assisters), and agents and brokers.

For further details, go to http://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/Health-Insurance-Marketplaces/Downloads/navigator-list-09-08-2014.pdf

ICD-10 Testing Weeks Announced

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced three weeks of ICD-10 acknowledgement testing. CMS is instructing all Medicare Administrative Contractors (MAC) to promote the testing with their health care providers and suppliers. The weeks are November 17-21, 2014, March 2-6, 2015, and June 1-5, 2015. CMS stated that during the testing weeks, test claims will receive the appropriate acknowledgement to confirm that the claim was accepted or rejected by Medicare. MAC help desks will also be staffed to handle increased call volume.

For more information on the testing process, go to http://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNMattersArticles/Downloads/MM8858.pdf