Reports:  PGPs Say Pioneer ACOs Don’t Go Far Enough

The ACO Pioneer program may not go far enough for the participants in the Physician Group Practice demonstration project, according to news reports late last week.  PGP members are reported to have sent a letter to CMS saying the Pioneer program is positive, but not enough.  However, we are hearing that many hospital organizations from across the country will be submiting Letters of Intent to CMS and then working with the agency to get the changes they need to participate in the program.

CMS announced last week it will extend the the application deadline for the Pioneer ACO Model program to Aug. 19, and the deadline for submitting a letter of intent to June 30. For the latest information from CMS about ACOs, click here.

To read the insurance industry’s ACO response to CMS, click here.
To read the AMGA’s ACO reponse, click here.
To read the AMA letter, click here.

ACO fraud and abuse waivers don’t go far enough, according to a number of national provider organizations.  Read comments from the AHA here, from Premier here, from AMA here and from the MGMA here.


Senators Move Against Medicaid Block Grant Program

Will there be a Medicaid block program as part of the grand budget deal under discussion?  Not if 41 Democratic senators have their way.  They sent a letter to President opposing turning Medicaid into a block grant program.  Note that 41 is enough votes to stop anything in the Senate.  Click here to read the letter.


FQHCs Get Funding For New Primary Care Demo

HHS has announced the Federally Qualified Health Center Advanced Primary Care Practice (FQHC APCP) demonstration project, a new Affordable Care Act initiative that will pay an estimated $42 million over three years to up to 500 FQHCs to coordinate care for Medicare patients. This demonstration project will test the effectiveness of doctors and other health professionals working in teams to improve care for up to 195,000 Medicare patients. Click here to read more.


PODs Under Attack

A bipartisan group of senators last week called for an investigation into physician-owned medical device distributors, saying the potential for conflicts of interest raises concerns about patient safety.  Click here to read the Senator’s letter to CMS and review their investigation.  The senators said that existing guidance is insufficient to guard against potential physician-owned distributor (POD) abuses and asked OIG to conduct an inquiry into PODs and make recommendations about how to mitigate risks associated with them. In a POD arrangement, a physician purchases a share of a medical device distributor for products used by the physician in surgery.


Meaningful Use Stage 2 Could Be Delayed One Year

The Health IT Policy Committee, an advisory panel to the federal government last week voted 12-5 to delay Stage 2 Meaningful Use by one year – from 2013 to 2014.  This is a recommendation to the government, which has not made a final decision.  Click here to read more.


SHC Announces New Rural Hospital Grants Collaborative

With earmarked congressional appropriations on hold for now, funding for specific projects is in federal grants. The government will issue more than $80 billion in health care grants this year and millions of dollars are targeting rural America, for example:

  • USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine program offers $30 million in loans, grants, and grant/loan combinations to improve learning and access to medical services for rural residents through enhanced telecommunications technologies.
  • HRSA’s Rural Health Network Planning grant offers $1.3 million in funding to help rural entities develop formal health care networks that expand access and improve quality of care. Grant funds usually support staff acquisitions, assessments of HIT readiness, and the cost of resources used to build the network.
  • HRSA’s Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program offers $37 million in funding to programs that provide innovative and effective methods of outreach and care delivery to rural communities.

To help rural hospitals take advantage of these funds, Strategic Health Care’s Grants Division is starting a new Rural Hospital Grants Collaborative for rural hospitals with 60 or fewer (staffed or licensed) beds.  By working together, rural hospitals will receive professional grant writing services, development expertise, grant identification, ongoing training and consulting at a deeply discounted rate.

If you’re interested in learning more, Strategic Health Care is sponsoring two national webinars:

  • To register for the webinar on Wednesday, June 29th at 1 pm EDT, click here:www.meetme.net/shc1
  • To register for the webinar on Thursday, June 30th at 11 am EDT, click here:  www.meetme.net/shc2

If you have questions, please call either Gwen Mathews or Simone Hall at 202-266-2600.