Assemblymember Luis A. Alejo (D-Salinas) has introduced a new bill, AB 900, to stop Medi-Cal reimbursement cuts to distinct-part skilled-nursing facilities. The rate reductions, implemented by AB 97 in 2011, were initially blocked by a lawsuit filed by CHA and other health care organizations. A federal appeals court ruled in favor of the state in December 2012, clearing the way for implementation of the cuts. The state has indicated it plans to proceed with rate reductions — including making them retroactive to June 1, 2011 — in June of this year. Sponsored by CHA, AB 900 is eligible to be heard in an Assembly policy committee after March 22. Alejo’s press release on the bill is attached.
Sequestration – the broad federal spending cuts scheduled for March 1 – could potentially cause significant revenue and job loss for rural health care providers. If Medicare reimbursement is reduced by 2 percent as specified in the mandatory cuts, an estimated 63 rural hospitals nationally will no longer be profitable, and hundreds of rural health care jobs will be lost. Although California’s rural hospitals expect to fare better than those in the Midwest and the South, all health care providers who treat Medicare beneficiaries will be affected at some level. Of the critical access, Medicare dependent, sole community and rural prospective payment system hospitals in California researched by the National Rural Health Association, nearly half of those with negative operating margins will be further negatively impacted. These hospitals could lose more than 300 jobs and $6 million in total Medicare dollars. CHA is challenging the Medicare cuts legislatively and through the federal budget process.
Separate from sequestration but further threatening this dim financial forecast for California’s rural providers is the 10 percent reduction in Medi-Cal reimbursement. CHA is challenging the Medi-Cal cuts in court and through the legislative and budget process.
Covered California has released a recommendation to its board of directors for a bridge plan to provide an affordable health coverage option for individuals with incomes between 139 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The recommendation will be considered at the board’s Feb. 26 meeting in Sacramento. According to Covered California, the plan not only promotes continuity of coverage but ensures high enrollment and creates a more affordable product through contracts with Medi-Cal managed care plans.
California’s laws are sometimes more stringent than their federal counterparts, and providers are often confused about which laws to follow. A recent case in point is the federal HIPAA/HITECH final rule. To help providers compare the new federal rule to existing state laws and explain how to stay compliant, CHA will hold a webinar Feb. 27 from 10 a.m. to noon (PT). The webinar will review breach notification, uses and disclosures of protected health information, patient rights, and business associate requirements. Program presenters include Peggy Nakamura, RN, JD, DFASHRM, CPHRM, vice president, chief risk officer and associate counsel of Adventist Health and Lois Richardson, CHA vice president of privacy and legal publications/education. For more information or to register, visit www.calhospital.org/hipaa-hitech-web.
Overview of FY 2015 value-based purchasing provided
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host a national provider call on March 14 from 10:30 a.m. – noon (PT) featuring an overview of the federal fiscal year (FFY) 2015 hospital value-based purchasing program. The call will offer a preview of the FFY 2015 baseline measures report to help demonstrate how hospitals will be evaluated for each of the FFY 2015 domains. Inpatient hospital stakeholders and quality improvement organizations are encouraged to participate. To register for the call, visit www.eventsvc.com/blhtechnologies. CMS will e-mail presentation materials the day of the call and post them at www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Outreach/NPC/National-Provider-Calls-and-Events.html.
A statewide nonprofit consortium of California health care providers, payers, professional organizations and vendors launched the California ICD-10 Collaborative in November 2012 to increase efficiencies and significantly reduce implementation time and costs associated with ICD-10 compliance. On Feb. 27, the collaborative is hosting a webinar from 10 a.m. - noon (PT) for its members and organizations interested in joining. The webinar agenda will include an introduction to and overview of the collaborative, as well as updates from its three core workgroups – testing, education and training, and communications and outreach. For more information about the webinar, e-mail email@example.com.
Unlike in earlier rounds of budget brinkmanship, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans both seem content to fight out their latest showdown on the current terrain, let across-the-board spending cuts take effect on March 1 and allow them to stay in place for weeks if not much longer.
This time, there is no market-rattling threat of a government default to force the two sides to compromise, no federal shutdown on the short-term horizon and no year-end deadline for preventing a tax increase for every working American.
Gov. Jerry Brown said today that he remains concerned about California’s ability to control costs as the state moves to expand health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, seeking assurances from the Obama administration that California will have “broad authority” to curb future spending.
“We need to be able to control costs, period,” the Democratic governor told reporters at a meeting of the National Governors Association. “And the federal government has the tendency to send out broad mandates and limit the state’s authority, and then we have to come hat in hand and say, ‘Please, let us manage this thing that you have thrust on us.’”
California hospitals, under pressure to improve patient safety and cut unnecessary costs, reported a lower rate of early-elective deliveries last year, a new report shows.
Hospitals in the state reported that 8.8% of deliveries in 2012 were early by choice, including elective inductions or caesarean sections between 37 and 39 weeks without a medical reason, according to the Leapfrog Group, an employer-backed nonprofit group focused on healthcare quality.
Nearly 50 years ago, then-Gov. Pat Brown and the California Legislature took a giant leap of faith with an expansive new health care program for the state’s low-income residents that became known as Medi-Cal.
It was a leap of faith because, in reality, nobody knew how, or even whether, it would work. “No one in the world thought it through,” Gordon Duffy, who was then a freshman assemblyman and later became chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, recalled in a 2008 interview.