CMS Proposes Increased Hospital Fees for Improved Patient Care

Monday, April 30th, 2012
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Hospitals are getting a raise, of sorts. CMS has proposed a rule that would update Medicare payment policies and increase rates for inpatient stays at general acute care and long term care hospitals. The ruling, if finalized, is designed to strengthen patient care and promote quality over volume, CMS officials say. Included are quality measures regarding hospital-acquired infections, and a new HCAHPS survey measure regarding care transitions. Public input will be accepted until June 25th.

Care transitions is the subject of a new report from Avalere Health for the Alliance of Community Health Plans. It proposes five ways to enhance the transition from hospital to home. Among them: engaging patients early on in their transition period, prior to discharge, and encouraging providers to become program partners. Health systems whose transition programs are perceived favorably are also mentioned in the report; details in this issue.

The chronically ill are the target of a new Commonwealth Fund report, which seeks to launch a care plan over the next 12 months in 50 to 100 communities around the country that have significant concentrations of patients with multiple chronic conditions and high medical costs. Such a plan could save $184 billion in health spending over the next 10 years, commission officials say.

Text message reminders to parents about flu vaccinations may help boost the number of children vaccinated, according to a recent report from Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Texting is considered an effective tool given its ability to reach large numbers of people, researchers say. The study focused on hard-to-reach, low-income, urban children and adolescents, because they are more at risk for acquiring influenza due to their crowded living conditions. And while a higher percentage of families receiving the message did vaccinate their children, overall, vaccination rates remain low.

This might be good news to a group of Vermont-based residents advocating against a law that would make vaccinations in their state mandatory. According to a recent story from ABC World News the debate over the bill has divided Vermont’s families over the benefits and risks of vaccines. It has also pitted the state House — whose majority voted down the bill — against the state Senate, which voted to approve it. The debate will most likely continue, lawmakers say.

And lastly, if you haven’t already, please take part in our second annual Accountable Care Organizations survey. The last 12 months have been a hotbed of ACO activity. In addition to the many private pilots of this collaborative care model, CMS kicked off its Medicare Shared Savings Program on April 1st. Participants get a FREE executive summary of the compiled results and year-over-year ACO trends.

These stories and more in this week’s issue of Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

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