Noteworthy News

Archive for December, 2012


Safety-Net Hospitals and Readmissions

Safety-net hospitals are 30 percent more likely to have readmission rates that exceed the national average – always a problem, but a greater problem than ever now that Medicare is penalizing hospitals for readmissions through its new Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program. A recent Commonwealth Fund study quantified the degree to which safety-net hospitals’ readmissions exceed national averages, citing as the reason for those reasons that Safety-net hospitals care for a disproportionate share of vulnerable populations who are low-income, uninsured, underinsured, or on Medicaid.  They have substantially higher rates of chronic health problems, disability, mental illness, and substance abuse, compared with [&hellip

Medicare Doc Fix: Robbing Peter to Pay Paul?

Finding $25 billion to implement a Medicare “doc fix” may necessitate cutting other payments vital to health care providers – and to the nation’s private, non-profit urban safety-net hospitals According to observers in Washington, D.C., among the areas where Congress may look for savings to pay for another Medicare doc fix are Medicare outpatient evaluation and management (E&M) fees; Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments (Medicaid DSH); and the enhanced payments to Medicaid primary care providers that are supposed to take effect on January 1, 2013. Medicaid DSH and the enhanced primary care payments are considered especially important by urban safety-net [&hellip

HHS Nixes Partial Medicaid Expansion

States must opt into the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion or opt out, the federal government has informed the nation’s governors.  They may not implement a partial expansion. That was the message conveyed to governors by Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Services (HHS). The Medicaid expansion, made mandatory in the 2010 health care reform law, has been the subject of much debate since the Supreme Court ruled the mandate unconstitutional in June and instead left the decision on whether to expand to the individual states.  Some governors have already declared that their states will expand [&hellip

IOM to Examine Graduate Medical Education

The Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Governance and Financing of Graduate Medical Education will hold a public meeting on December 19 and 20 in Washington, D.C. Among the topics to be addressed during the meeting is “Understanding the Costs and Financing of GME.” A number of proposals have been put forward in recent years to reduce Medicare GME payments to hospitals, and such a reduction is widely thought to be among the ideas policy-makers are considering to help pay to avoid the current fiscal cliff. Medicare GME payments are a vital tool in helping many urban safety-net hospitals care for [&hellip

Uninsured Rate for Children Declines

The number of uninsured children who are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) fell ten percent between 2008 and 2010 despite the struggling national economy. As a result, only 4.4 million such children were uninsured in 2010. A significant number of the children covered by Medicaid and CHIP are served by the nation’s private, non-profit urban safety-net hospitals. Observers credit the increased enrollment to stronger outreach efforts and streamlined Medicaid and CHIP enrollment practices facilitated by passage of the 2009 Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. Learn more about the decline in the number of uninsured [&hellip

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