CMS Redistributes 1,354 Residency Slots

CMS last week annouced that 267 teaching hospitals would see their FTE resident slots reduced and redistributed to 58 other hospitals.  This means CMS  has redistributed roughly 1,354 Medicare residency positions. The 628 indirect medical education and 726 direct graduate medical education positions were allocated from hospitals that were not training up to their residency caps.  Click here to review a CMS backgrounder.

Insurers Not Pleased With New ‘Plain English’ Requirements

Insurers are concerned while consumer groups are applauding the newly proposed regulations that would require insurers to make available to consumers a standardized summary of the benefits and coverage for each plan they offer.  These put-it-in-plaine-English rules are a requirement of the Affordable Care Act.  Click here to see a draft template the benefits and coverage form.  Click here to see what the Administration is saying.

Critical Access Hospitals to Get Some Financial Help

The Obama Administration last week announced new initiatives to boost rural America, including effort to help critical access hospitals recruit physicians and make it easier to invest in Health IT.  Click here for the White House announcment.  Click here for the 28-page report.

Major Expansion of DME Competitive Bidding Program Announced

CMS has announced a major expansion in its competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies.  The expansion begins this fall in at least 91 major metro areas across the U.S.  CMS hopes to save about $28 billion by forcing suppliers to compete more aggressively.  Click here for the annoucement.  Click here for a CMS backgrounder.

CDC Issues Public Health Grants

The CDC last week issued $49 million in grants to state and local public health programs.  Click here to see who got what.

Nursing Homes Hit with $79 Billion Cut:  New Study

The long term care industry continnues to reel from CMS’ reg announcement last week that it was reducing Medicare payments to nursing homes 11.1 percent starting October 1.  Nursing homes are shooting back saying those cuts, state Medicaid reductions and the current economic climate will put many out of business.  The industry asked a DC consulting firm to add it all up.  They say Medicare cuts will cost skilled nursing facilities about $79 billion over 10 years.  Click here to see details.

Drugs Cost Less Under Medicaid than Medicare: OIG

HHS’ Office of the Inspector General is out with a new report that will likely give ammunition to congressional budget cutters looking to take more from big pharma.   The OIG found that Medicaid’s net unit drug costs (i.e., pharmacy reimbursement minus rebates) were much lower than net unit drug costs under Medicare Part D because of substantially higher Medicaid rebates for brand-name drugs.  Click here to review the OIG report.

CT Use Increasing To Detect Lung Cancer

Hospitals and radiology practices around the U.S. are increasingly using high-tech CT scans to screen people for lung cancer despite intense disagreement about whether the testing should be done widely and, if so, who should undergo the exams.  Click here to read a good story about this in the Washington Post.  Click here to read the NCI report on CT use for lung cancer.  Also, comparative effectiveness research is well underway in the U.S. and the Post has an excellent story on this.  Click here.

Hospital Getting Gouged on Drugs

Hospitals across the country are being price gauged by suppliers of pharmaceuticals that are in short supply, making matters worse for all side.  Click here for the USA Today story.  Premier, Inc. issued a more detailed study on the growing problem.  Click here.

$40 Million Issued to Enhance Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment

HHS last week awarded $40 million in grants to 39 state agencies, community health centers, school-based organizations and non-profit groups in 23 states to use the money to help identify and enroll children in Medicaid and CHIP.  Click here to see who is getting the funds.  Meantime, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute released a new report on the success of the CHIP program through 2009.  Click here.

New Study:  To Many MA Choices Slow Enrollment

The many Medicare Advantage choices in a single market may actually be keeping people from enrolling, according to a new study in Health Affairs.  Seems as though persons with decision-making impairments give up rather than sift through all the offerings.  Click here for the study.