Proposed NLRB Rules Make Organizing Easier

The National Labor Relations Board last week issued proposed rules that could significantly enhance a union’s ability to organize a work place.  According to the only Republican member of the board, who voted against the proposal:
“Without any attempt to identify particular problems in cases where the process has failed, the majority has announced its intent to provide a more expeditious preelection process and a more limited postelection process that tilts heavily against employers’ rights to engage in legitimate free speech and to petition the government for redress.”  Click here to read more.  Click here to see a good summary of the proposed changes.

Government to Use “Secret Shoppers” to Find Physicians

The Obama Administration, concerned about growing physicians shortages, is planning a “secret shopper” type survey to determine just how difficult it is for patients to find physicians who will take them — this, according to a report in today’s New York Times…click here.

$500 Million in Hospital Quality Improvement Grants Announced
The CMS Innovation Center is awarding $500 million to organizations that can help hospitals improve healthcare and reduce harm to patients.  The program - Partnership for Patients - is a new public-private partnership with two goals:  reducing harm in hospital settings by 40-percent and reducing hospital readmissions by 20-percent over a 3-year period.? The program is seeking to contract with large healthcare systems, associations, state organizations, or other interested parties to support hospitals in redesigning care processes to reduce harm.? “Hospital Engagement Contractors” will be asked to do the following:


  • Design intensive programs to teach and support hospitals in making care safer;
  • Conduct trainings for hospitals and care providers;
  • Provide technical assistance for hospitals and care providers; and
  • Establish and implement a system to track and monitor hospital progress in meeting quality improvement goals.

Click here to review the detailed application.  If you are interested in pursuing this opportunity, Strategic Health Care’s 40 grant writers and developers are well prepared to help you.  Please call Gwen Mathews at 202-266-2600 for more information.

Exchange Rules Could Be Out July 7

Press reports last week said the Obama administration plans to release its proposed regulation on state health insurance exchanges July 7.  Under the law, states have until Jan. 1, 2013 to demonstrate to HHSofficials that they have a viable exchange in the works that can be operational by Jan. 1, 2014.

Hospitals Over-Utilizing CTs:  New Report

Hospitals may be over-utilizing CT scans, according to a report out last week and covered by the New York Times.  Click here.

New Bill Tackles Rx Shortages

Congress is attacking the worsening pharmaceutical shortage in the United States.  Rep. Diane Degette (D-CO) introduced new legislation last week, supported by many provider groups, that would:

  • Require manufacturers of all prescription drugs, including biologics, to notify the FDA of any discontinuance or interruption in the production of a drug at least six months in advance;
  • In the event of an unplanned discontinuance or interruption, require manufacturers to notify the FDA as soon as possible;
  • Require HHS to publish these notifications and any actual drug shortage on its website, and work to distribute this information to appropriate health care providers and patient organizations.  Click here for more details.  Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has a similar bill.

Large Bipartisan Group Opposes Potential Nursing Home Cuts

At least 107 House members have signed on to a letter to CMS urging the agency to drop plans that could cut Medicare payments to nursing homes by almost $4 billion.  At the same time, CMS could also increase payments to nursing homes by over $500 million.  The two difference approaches are contained in rules proposed in April.  The cuts would be in response to overpayments CMS says it made.

Will Massachussettes Cap Hospital and Doc Charges?

Massachussettes Attorney General last week said the state should impose a temporary cap on what hospitals and physicians can charge insurance companies.  The AG said high prices and quality don’t always correlate.  Insurers support the move.  Click here to read details.

Federal Spending Caps Would Gut Health Programs:  New Report

Health care organizations are pushing back against legislation that would cap federal spending, a move that is under consideration as a deal on the debt ceiling/budget deficit nears.  Provider groups commissioned a new study by the Lewin Group that details the impact caps would have on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  Click here to see the 49-page report.

AHA, AMA Differ on ACO Upfront Payment Proposal

The AMA and the AHA had differing views (imagine that) on the proposal from CMS that would pay providers upfront when they start an ACO.  The AHA was cautiously optimistic; the AMA said it was difficult to evaluate because the draft ACO regs are so filled with problems.  Click here to read the AMA comments.  AHA comments here.

Medicaid Proposal Would Hit States Hard:  New Report

One of the proposals on the federal deficit reduction table and under discussion would cut the federal Medicaid matching payment to the states.  How would that impact states?  A just-released study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington analyzes how big of a hit states would take.  Click here to see the 8-page report.

FDA Requires Graphic New Tobacco Warnings

Want to see the new anti-tobacco-use warning labels the FDA is requiring to be placed on all cigarette packages in the fall of 2012?  Click here.

PAs, Nurses Could Order Home Health Under New Bill

U.S. Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) and Greg Walden (R-OR), along with 26 co-sponsors, introduced bipartisan legislation last week to allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse midwives to order home health services for Medicare beneficiaries. Schwartz introduced similar legislation in the last two Congresses.  As the fight for scarce health care dollars heats up, expect to see more “scope of prcatice” legislation fought in Congress.  Click here for details.

CMS Rolling Out New Ad Campaign to Promote Wellness Benefits

CMS last week released a new report showing that more than 5 million Americans with traditional Medicare –or nearly one in six people with Medicare – took advantage of one or more of the recommended preventive benefits now available for freeunder the Affordable Care Act.  Medicare launched a nationwide public outreach campaign, including a letter to doctors and a new Public Service Announcement that will raise awareness about all of the important preventive benefits now covered at no charge to patients.  Click here to see the latest ad.

New Sleep Rules for First-Year Residents in Effect July 1

A group of 26 of the nation’s leaders in medicine, health care, patient safety, and research today called for sweeping changes in the design, supervision and financing of U.S. hospital residency care programs to protect patients from serious, preventable medical errors, and end dangerously long work hours for physicians in training.  As of July 1, 2011, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has agreed to limit the shifts of first-year residents to no more than 16 hours without sleep. However, it will continue to permit shifts of 28 consecutive hours for more senior residents, including surgical residents, because, the ACGME says, these residents are more experienced.  Click here to read more.

This Week:  Free Webinar on Rural Hospital Grants Collaborative

I would like to take this opportunity to invite rural hospitals to take part in a national webinar we are sponsoring for a new Rural Hospital Grants Collaborative. The government will issue more than $80 billion in health care grants this year to fund specific projects. Tens of millions of dollars are targeted forrural America, but too many rural hospitals find the cost and administration of grants development too expensive.

Strategic Health Care’s Grants Division is starting a 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.

Our 40 grant writers, developers and researchers now work with about 50 hospitals across the country securing grants funds for them. Our team has a stellar record of success.

  • 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.