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Policy

 

Under a newly proposed rule from HHS, short-term health insurance coverage that doesn’t comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be more widely available, which the agency admitted may lead to insurer losses on the ACA exchanges if younger, healthier customers leave that market to buy short-term plans.

For two decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has supposedly been blocked from conducting research into the health effects of gun violence by a budget amendment. HHS Secretary Alex Azar has a different opinion, telling members of Congress Thursday he would allow the CDC to conduct research which doesn’t veer into advocacy.

Providers have until March 12 to apply for CMS’s new Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) Advanced model, though the program was only unveiled on Jan. 9. Considering the details CMS has given about the model, that’s not enough time for hospitals to decide whether to participate, according to the American Hospital Association (AHA).

In his first congressional testimony since being confirmed as HHS Secretary, Alex Azar argued the department’s proposed budget would extend the life of Medicare while making HHS more efficient by cutting nearly $18 billion in funding.

The budget proposed by President Donald Trump involves several major cuts to Medicare payments for hospitals, reductions that are “unsustainable” and “staggering,” according to the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) and the American Hospital Association (AHA).

 

Recent Headlines

CMS drops two-midnight rule's inpatient payment cuts

Following industry criticism and legal challenges, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will no longer enforce an inpatient payment cut to hospitals under the two-midnight rule. Instead it will provide a onetime bump to hospitals to offset the cuts.

60 senators urge CMS to delay overall hospital quality star ratings

In wake of the April 21 release of the overall hospital quality star ratings system developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), sixty senators have advised a delay “to provide the necessary time to more closely examine the star rating methodology, analyze its impact on different types of hospitals, and provide more transparent information regarding the calculation of the ratings to determine accuracy.”

Study shows 37% of outpatient healthcare staff fail to follow hand hygiene recommendations

Staff at outpatient care facilities may need to brush up on hygiene basics, as a new study found a failure to follow recommendations for hand hygiene in 37 percent of observations.

New CMS multi-payer initiative to impact 20K doctors

CMS has unveiled a far-reaching multi-payer initiative that could have major implications for how primary care is delivered and reimbursed, affecting as many as 5,000 practices, 20,000 doctors and clinicians and 25 million patients.

Neb. governor signs bill allowing direct primary care

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has signed into law a new bill (LB 817) allowing medical practitioners to offer direct primary care agreements.

Author examines the development of medical physics as a true profession

Diagnostic medical physics has changed significantly over the years, according to a new editorial published by the Journal of the American College of Radiology. What was once an activity carried out by trained individuals is now a full-time profession.

Cost controls: Healthcare industry on a dangerous collision course

Two long-standing approaches to keeping healthcare costs down are on a “collision course” that could leave them both ineffective, according to a recent opinion piece in the New England Journal of Medicine. Do we have time to course correct or are we left to simply buckle our seatbelts and brace for impact? 

 

Cancer overtakes heart disease as leading cause of death in 22 U.S. states

Due to a sharp decrease in deaths resulting from cardiovascular disease, cancer has narrowed the gap and is challenging for the title of the nation’s number-one cause of mortality, according to research published online by the American Heart Association.

AMA, other orgs call for rejection of Aetna/Humana merger

The American Medical Association (AMA) has joined forces with the Florida Medical Association and Florida Osteopathic Medical Association, and written a letter to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, calling on her to reject the proposed merger of Aetna and Humana. 

 

Proposed ACO benchmarks may penalize the orgs serving the sickest patients

An analysis from Harvard’s department of healthcare policy shows such wide variation in baseline spending levels from one ACO to the next that any future benchmarking efforts, including those performed within single given regions, must roll out parity measures only gradually—or pay the price in the form of participation falloffs.  

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