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Archive for September, 2015

CMS Awards $110 million in ACA Funding for Patient Safety

Friday, September 25th, 2015

On September 25, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded $110 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 17 national, regional, and state hospital associations and health system organizations to continue efforts in reducing preventable hospital-acquired conditions and readmissions. Through the Partnership for Patients initiative – a nationwide public-private collaboration that began in 2011 to reduce preventable hospital-acquired conditions by 40 percent and 30-day readmissions by 20 percent – the second round of the Hospital Engagement Networks will continue to work to improve patient care in the hospital setting.

 

Round two of the Hospital Engagement Networks will continue to work to develop learning collaboratives for hospitals and provide a wide array of initiatives and activities to improve patient safety. They will be required to: conduct intensive training programs to teach and support hospitals in making patient care safer; provide technical assistance to hospitals so that hospitals can achieve quality measurement goals; and establish, implement, and improve the system to track and monitor hospital progress in meeting the Partnership for Patients’ quality improvement goals. The activities of the Hospital Engagement Networks will be closely monitored by CMS to ensure that they are generating results and improving patient safety.

The press release can be found at https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2015-Press-releases-items/2015-09-25.html

 

EHR Website Changes Announced

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has reorganized its website for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs to locate all information on requirements and resources for previous years in one place. The new web page contains information from 2011 to 2014, including Frequently Asked Questions and other guidance.

The new web page can be found at https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/RequirementsforPreviousYears.html

Federal Plan for Health IT Updated by ONC

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology (IT) has updated the federal government’s five year plan for using health IT to improve health care quality, lower costs, and engage patients. The report states that the work described in this Plan aims to modernize the U.S. health IT infrastructure so that individuals, their providers, and communities can use it to help achieve health and wellness goals. The report’s four goals are supported by 13 objectives and numerous strategies, such as finalizing and implementing ONC’s Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap and encouraging the adoption and use of common standards through health IT certification, federal regulations and programs, and funding mechanisms.

For more information, visit http://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/9-5-federalhealthitstratplanfinal_0.pdf

Draft Recommendations on Low Dose Aspirin Issued

Monday, September 14th, 2015

According to a draft recommendation issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, certain individuals at increased risk for cardiovascular disease should take low-dose aspirin daily to prevent heart attack, stroke, and colorectal cancer. The recommendation would apply to individuals between 50-59 years old with a greater than 10% chance of developing cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years who are likely to live that long, willing to take aspirin for at least 10 years, and not at increased risk for bleeding. Aspirin also may help individuals between the ages of 60-69. However, according to the Task force Panel, the decision to do so should be an individual one based on the patient’s risk and preferences. Comments on the draft recommendation will be accepted through October 12.

The draft recommendation can be found at http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Name/us-preventive-services-task-force-opportunities-for-public-comment

 

MedPAC Discusses Payment Model for Post-acute Care

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) discussed its progress toward meeting the IMPACT Act mandate to develop a prototype for a new unified payment system for post-acute care services provided by home health agencies, skilled nursing facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and long-term care hospitals. The commission’s report on the prototype is due to Congress next June, and will be the subject of ongoing analysis and multiple MedPAC sessions until its submission. The commission reviewed an initial framework designed to address wide variation in post-acute care use and costs, a misalignment between payments and costs, and payments based in part on site-of-service rather than patients’ clinical characteristics, among other concerns. The preliminary approach would establish two models: one for SNF, IRF and LTCH patients, which includes an add-on for non-therapy ancillary services such as ventilator services and drugs, and a second component for Home Health (HH) patients that, like current HH payment policy, does not pay for non-therapy ancillaries. Commission staff explained that the separate treatment of HH services was driven by significantly lower HH costs in comparison to those of the other facility-based post-acute settings.

For more information, go to http://medpac.gov/

Medicare Health Equity Plan Released

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Office of Minority Health has released a plan to reduce health disparities in Medicare. The CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare aims to expand the collection, reporting, and analysis of standardized data; evaluate disparities impacts and integrate equity solutions across CMS programs; develop and disseminate promising approaches to reduce health disparities; increase the ability of the health care workforce to meet the needs of vulnerable populations; improve communication and language access for people with limited English proficiency or disabilities; and increase physical accessibility of health care facilities.

Further details can be found at https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2015-Press-releases-items/2015-09-08.html

Value-based Medicare Advantage Model Announced

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

On September 1st, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced The Medicare Advantage Valued-Based Insurance Design Model. The model will test whether encouraging plan enrollees with certain conditions to consume high-value clinical services through reduced cost sharing and other approaches improves quality and reduces costs. Interventions will target enrollees with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, past stroke, coronary artery disease and mood disorders. Eligible Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans in Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee may submit proposals to participate in the model. The Model testing is scheduled to being on January 1, 2017.

The announcement can be found by visiting http://innovation.cms.gov/Files/x/mavbid-announcement.pdf