Nov. 14, 2011

Supercommittee Democrats Outline New Provider Cuts

The latest proposal on the Supercommittee deficit reduction table came from Democrats last week and includes $250 billion in Medicare cuts to providers.  A one page summary seen here was floated on the Hill late last week.  It also includes $50 billion in Medicaid cuts that includes $13 billion in changes to provider tax programs, $5 billion from DME and $4 billion from Disproportionate Share payments.  The proposal also indicated it would help pay for the physician payment fix with savings from the withdrawal of troops from overseas.

This proposal came a day after the GOP agreed to $300 billion in revenue increases, if the Bush tax cuts are extended.  Democrats panned the GOP plan as adding to the deficit.  The GOP will likely oppose the new Dem proposal because it also includes revenue increases of $1 trillion.  The Dem analysis of the GOP proposal can be found here.  All of these numbers are the impact over 10 years. The Supercommittee has until November 23 to produce an agreement. If they fail, an automatic 2 percent cut – excluding Medicaid and Social Security — is implemented in 2013.

Innovation Center Challenged by 3 GOP Senators

Three GOP Senate Finance Committee members have requested a GAO probe of the Innovation Center at CMS.  In letters to the HHS Secretary and to GAO which can be found here, Senators Hatch, Enzi and Coburn have questioned the value of the Innovation Center.  “We are concerned that at a time of significant uncertainty for the fiscal health of the U.S. Government, funds are being expended by the Innovation Center with little or no actual value provided.”

States Cut $1.6 Billion in Mental Health Funding; State-by-State Breakout

Our nation’s mental health programs are not getting the support they did only three years ago, according to a new report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  State’s with the biggest budget reductions:  South Carolina, Alabama, Alaska, Illinois, Nevada, DC, California, Idaho, Kansas.  Those with the biggest budget increases:  North Dakota, Georgia, Oregon, Maine, West Virginia, Rhode Island.  Click here for the complete state-by-state report.

New Patient Satisfaction Analysis Shows Differences Across Country

Those all-important hospital patient satisfaction numbers are all over the map…really.  According to a new analysis of 295 hospital markets, Medicare patients are least satisfied in Manhattan, Takoma Park (MD), Bronx, Chicago and Newark.  They are most satisfied in Mason City (IA), Houma (LA), St. Cloud (MN), Monroe (LA) and Topeka (KS).  Clickhere to see the complete rankings.

CMS Says Medicaid, CHIP Patients Satisfied

Speaking of patient satisfaction, CMS reported last week that 66 percent of low-income parents surveyed were very satisfied with the Medicaid and CHIP programs, compared with 48 percent of low-income parents who said they were very satisfied with employer coverage.  Click here for details.

FQHCs May Compete More with Private Providers: Study

According to a new report from the Center for Studying Health System Change, FQHC leaders have some concern about possible increased competition with private health care providers. As coverage expansions turn many charity patients into paying patients, private physicians and hospitals may compete more for these traditional FQHC patients. Click here to review the FQHC study.

HHS HIPPA Audits Begin This Month

The HHS Office of Civil Rights is expected to begin its pilot phase of HIPPA compliance audits this month, according to HHS.  As many as 150 pilot audits will be conducted.  Click here to see a draft audit notification letter.  Click here for more info.

Medicare Expands Coverage for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Cardiovascular disease prevention was CMS’ focus last week as it announced another coverage expansion.  CMS will now cover one face-to-face visit each year to allow patients and their care providers to determine the best way to help prevent cardiovascular disease. The visit must be furnished by primary care practitioners, such as a beneficiary’s family practice physician, internal medicine physician, or nurse practitioner, in settings such as physicians’ offices. Click here for more.

Debate Continues Over Provider Data Bank Disclosure Policies

The National Practitioner Data Bank’s public use file is back online after a two month hiatus, according to the Health Resources Services Administration that manages the information.  However, the debate over the public availability of data that includes malpractice payouts, hospital discipline and regulatory sanctions against providers appears to be far from over. U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says he’s not pleased with the new restrictions placed on data use. Click here to see his comments.  Read more about the issue here.

Dems Refute GOP Claim that ACA Discourages Marriage

A week after House Republicans issued a report claiming the Affordable Care Act would have a negative impact on marriage, House Democrats said it isn’t true.  Read their report here.

Medical Homes Make the Difference in All Major Countries:  New Survey

Patients who have a medical home reported better coordination of care, fewer medical errors, and greater satisfaction with care than those without one — according to a new international survey.  And the United States didn’t fare as well as most other major countries because of cost issues.  See the new Commonwealth Fund report here.

IOM Makes Health IT Safety Recommendations

The Institute of Medicine last week made 10 recommendations it believes will improve the use of health IT in patient care.  Although the extent of patient injuries cause by health IT are not known, according to IOM, there are many examples — such as dosing errors, failure to detect life-threatening illnesses, delayed treatment due to poor human/computer interactions or loss of data — that have led to serious injury and death. Click here for a report summary.

Where is the Government Headed with Health Care?

So, where is the government headed with health care? How will it impact your organization?  If you’re interested in having your board or executive team hear directly from one of our firm’s dynamic speakers on the subject, please contact me at Paul.Lee@Shcare.Net. We present a concise, politically neutral view of what the government will likely do with health care – and what it means to you.