Oct. 3, 2011

White House Medicare Cuts Detailed

President Obama last week proposed about $320 billion in Medicare and Medicaid reductions over 10 years.  These cuts would be in addition to those already in the health care reform law.  We reported the story to you last week, but click here to see the specific details from the White House.

MedPAC Medicare Cuts Detailed

MedPAC’s report last week calling for cuts to providers and physician specialists to pay for a 10-year Medicare fix for physicians is now under consideration by the congressional supercommittee for deficit reduction.  While it is unlikely to make the committee’s final version, it will certainly get their attention.  Click here to see a detailed list of the cuts called for by MedPAC.  So how does the government set physician Medicare payment rates today, click here for a nice summary in the NY Times last week.

Medicare Extender Package Reviewed

A House Ways and Means Subcommittee is working to clear the way for legislation that would extend a number of important provisions under current law.  At a one year cost of about $2.5 billion, the “extenders” include: Section 508 wage index adjustments (helps about 100 hospitals) , low volume adjustment (helps 500 hospitals), Medicare Dependent Hospitals (helps about 200 hospitals), outpatient hold-harmless payments (helps 258 small, rural and sole community hospitals), payment for the technical component of physician pathology services for hospital patients, ambulance add-on payments, physicians work GPCI, mental health add-on payment, direct billing for technical component of pathology services and cost based payment for outpatient clinical lab test in certain small and rural hospitals.  Click here to learn more.

$224 Million Announced for Home Visits

HHS announced last week $224 million to help at-risk families voluntarily receive home visits from nurses and social workers to improve maternal and child health, child development, school readiness, economic self-sufficiency, and child abuse prevention. Click here for details.

$109 Million Awarded for Rate Review

HHS also announced grant awards of $109 million to 28 states and DC that will help fight “unreasonable premium increases and protect consumers,” click here to review. Have the government’s previous rate review grants worked?  HHS put out a new report that says ‘yes’.  Click here to read the 37-page report.

National Conference Call Medicare Bundling Program

The Medicare bundled payments pilot program is here. There will likely be more bundled demos coming from CMS over the next year. What are the top five reasons you should participate? What are the reasons you should pass? Strategic Health Care’s experts will review the ins and outs of Medicare’s latest experiment in payment reform.

Did you know that just by filing a Letter of Intent, CMS will provide your organization with a Medicare data set that includes the date, site, type of service, diagnosis and procedures for all Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries in your service area in 2009.  This pilot program is not just for hospitals. If you’re part of the post acute care continuum, you should know everything you can about this government initiative.

Our webinar is schedule for Friday, September 30 at 2 p.m. EDT. There is no cost to you.

  • TO REGISTER for the Webinar, click here.

  • You will receive an email confirmation that will include the dial-in number, passcode, and PIN to be used when joining your event. You can sign up now or anytime until the event.


Affordable Care Act is One Year Old

Love it or hate it, the Affordable Care Act was a year old last week.  HHS put out a new report summarizing benefits so far.  Click here for the 13-page report.  A new Kaiser poll shows the public remains evenly divided over the law.  Click here.

Administration Explores Improving Health Through Faith-Based Groups

The White House last week invited 16 health systems to DC to discuss how working with faith-based groups can improve community health care.  Read the story here.

Text Messaging to Improve Health:  HHS Recommendations

Text messaging to improve health got the OK from HHS last week in a new study/report.  The agency provided a series of recommendation that can be read here.


Generics Save $$$:  New Study

Generic prescriptions drugs have save Americans about $1 trillion over the past decade according to a report out last week from the association representing generic drug companies.  Click here.

PA Considers Paying Medicaid Patients

In what may be a first, Pennsylvania is considering paying Medicaid recipients as much as $200 as an incentive to visit higher-quality and lower-cost hospitals and doctors.  Details here.

Pediatric Group Support FDA Monitoring of Antipsychotics

A national pediatric advisory committee voted 16-1 to support the FDA’s routine safety monitoring of the new generation of antipsychotics.  But they did so with a caveat that the agency specifically looks at how to clarify the drugs’ labels to highlight concerns of their impact on children, namely the risks of weight gain and diabetes.  The FDA in the next month to six weeks will release a revised label for Abilify, sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co and Otsuka Pharmaceutical, which is one of the antipsychotic drugs approved for use in children.  Click here for details.