Tort Reform Bill Would Cut Federal Deficit

The Congressional Budget Office is out with its latest score of the House GOP tort reform bill.  The bill would reduce federal expenditures by $57 billion over 10 years.  This is similar to a previous CBO analysis on similar legislation.  Click here to review the 8-page report.  Legislation has passed committee and is pending before the House where it is expected to pass.  Senate passage is unlikely.  A new report from Public Citizen says the number of malpractice payments on behalf of doctors is the lowest in 20 years, while the average payment is at a 20-year high. Read the 15-page study here.

GOP Senators Attack ACO Reg; Docs Want FTC Changes

Seven GOP senators are urging HHS to drop its draft ACO regulation saying “it is increasingly clear this proposed rule misses the target.”  The letter they sent to HHS and CMS last week is attached here.  The American Medical Association sent a 15-page letter to the FTC urging the agency to strengthen the proposed regs in a way that encourages physician participation but not to help hospitals. “Unfortunately, the proposed clinical integration rules unnecessarily require resources that many physicians do not have but that hospitals do possess,” AMA said. “If this issue is not adequately addressed, the ACO policy will have the unintended consequence of encouraging and facilitating hospital consolidation of physician markets by acquiring physician practices.”  The letter is attached here.
For a contrarian view supporting the need for a substantially regulated ACO program, a leading health care policy expert, Paul Ginsberg, from the Center for Studying Health System Change, has a report in the latest New England Journal of Medicine.  Click here to read.

Pioneer ACO Conference Call:  CMS

CMS is hosting a national conference call June 7 on its new Pioneer ACO program with a focus on the Application.  Click here for call in details.

IPAB Gets New Support

More than 60 health policy experts, mostly from universities across the nation, last week sent a letter to the congressional leadership urging them to keep the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the key tool the Obama Administration plans to use to reign in health spending.  Most congressional Repbulicans and a growing number of Democrats are call for its abolishment.  The IPAB is part of the Afforable Care Act.  The AHA opposes the IPAB, even though hospitals are currently exempt.  The letter is attached here with all signatories.

$35 Million in Grants Issued for Exchanges

HHS last week awarded Indiana, Rhode Island, and Washington more than $35 million in the first round of grants to establish health insurance exchanges in 2014.  Click here for details.

HHS, CMS Start Effort to Streamline Regs

CMS said last week it intends to conduct a major retrospective review of the conditions of participation it imposes on hospitals to remove or revise obsolete, unnecessary or burdensome provisions.  Click here to read the 89-page report.   CMS also intends to review its operations manuals and other documents “to coordinate and streamline as many of the Medicare and Medicaid beneficiary notice requirements as possible,” and to review current and future quality measure reporting requirements to determine “whether any measures might be eliminated or revised because they are outdated or redundant.

Hundreds Receive First Health IT Payments; List Attached

The Medicare electronic health record incentive program recently issued its first round of payments, totaling $75 million, according to CMS.  Click here to see the current recipient list of several hundred..  More than 42,600 eligible professionals and hospitals have registered for the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs to date, and 485,000 are potentially eligible to participate.

Hospitals, Others Push Municiple Bond Bill

Hospitals, cities and thousands of other organizations are pushing new legislation, the Municipal Bond Market Support Act of 2011, which would increase the bank-qualified debt limit from $10 million to $30 million and put in place other measures to encourage bond purchases from small borrowers.  Click hereto read the support letter to the six senate cosponsors.

Joint Commission Sets New Patient Safety Goal for 2012

The Joint Commission has approved one new National Patient Safety Goal for next year that focuses on catheter-associated urinary tract infection for the hospital and critical access hospital accreditation programs. There are no new NPSGs for the other accreditation programs.  Click here for details.

ACA Provides Significant Help to Young:  New Report

The Affordable Care Act is making a difference for young adults, among the groups most at risk for lacking health insurance in the United States. People up to age 26 may now stay on or join their parent’s health plans if they include dependent coverage, and early reports indicate that at least 600,000 have done so. Starting in 2014, of the 14.8 million uninsured adults ages 19 to 29, an estimated 12.1 million could gain subsidized coverage once all the law’s provisions go into effect: 7.2 million may gain coverage under Medicaid and 4.9 million may gain subsidized private coverage through state insurance exchanges. These are new findings from the 28-page 2010 Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey; a copy is attached here.