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Archive for Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

Senators Seek 340B Reprieve

A bipartisan group of senators has written to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer expressing concern about cuts in Medicare Medicare prescription drug payments to qualified providers as a result of new regulations governing the section 340B prescription drug discount program.  Those cuts have been adopted by regulation by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and will take effect beginning on January 1, 2018. Under the regulation adopted by CMS, Medicare payments for prescription drugs dispensed on an outpatient basis to low-income patients will be reduced to qualified providers by $1.6 billion in the coming year.  While acknowledging problems with how the 340B program has evolved over the years, the senators ask their leaders … Read More

Posted in Medicare, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

The Value-Based Payment Modifier: Program Outcomes and Implications for Disparities

Physicians who serve large numbers of low-income patients are more likely to incur penalties under Medicare value-based purchasing programs. So concludes a new study in Annals of Internal Medicine. According to the report, Performance differences between practices serving higher- and those serving lower-risk patients were affected considerably by additional adjustments, suggesting a potential for Medicare’s pay-for-performance programs to exacerbate health care disparities.  This result is based on a study of the Medicare Value-Based Payment Modifier program, which no longer operates, but could have implications for other programs that seek to reward or penalize practitioners based on the outcomes they produce. Such findings could lead practitioners to avoid serving such patients so they can avoid penalties, which in turn could jeopardize … Read More

Posted in Medicare, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, Uncategorized

New Help With Addressing Low-Income Patients’ Social Services Needs?

One of the long-time barriers to states and hospitals addressing low-income patients’ social services needs and the social determinants of health has been a lack of resources for such assistance.  Medicaid, in particular, has not been a financial participant in such efforts. But that may be changing. The new federal Medicaid managed care regulation, updated nearly two years ago, allows for the inclusion of some non-clinical services as covered Medicaid services and for funding for such services to be folded into Medicaid managed care plans’ capitation rates and medical loss ratios.  The updated regulation also encourages greater coordination of care for Medicaid patients and coverage for long-term services and supports in the home and community for medically qualified patients. Because … Read More

Posted in Federal Medicaid issues, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

The Battle Over 340B

Hospitals and other health care providers say it is an essential tool in ensuring access to care, and to prescription drugs, for their low-income patients. Pharmaceutical companies say it has expanded beyond its original purpose and is being used by hospitals to pad their profits. Members of Congress are divided:  some are supportive and some are skeptical. The section 340B program that requires drug companies to provide discounts to selected hospitals and other providers that serve large numbers of low-income patients has been the subject of controversy in recent years.  During that time, the administration has generally sided with hospitals and maintained the program. That support was tempered recently when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed a 28 … Read More

Posted in Medicare, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

Bill Seeks to Block 340B Cut

Legislation introduced in Congress would block the attempt by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to slash $1.6 billion in annual payments to hospitals for prescription drugs for outpatients prescribed through the federal section 340B prescription drug discount program. Earlier this month CMS finalized its plan to reduce controversial 340B payments and shift $1.6 billion in savings into Medicare provider payments.  If adopted, the bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) would prevent the reduction of 340B payments, which are made to hospitals that care for especially large proportions of low-income patients. The 340B program is an essential source of resources for private Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals and many stand to lose hundreds of thousands … Read More

Posted in Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

CMS Guidance on MCO Payments is Good News for PA Hospitals

New guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on the use of directing additional Medicaid resources to hospitals through Medicaid managed care organizations is good news for Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals. Such payments have been routed through the state’s Medicaid managed care plans for several years, but as the state and hospital industry continue negotiating renewal of the state’s hospital tax – its “Quality Care Assessment” – it was not entirely clear whether the federal government would permit continued use of this mechanism. An early November bulletin from CMS, however, clarifies that this approach is still permissible, which is good news for Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals and SNAP members hoping to benefit from the state’s hospital assessment. Go here to … Read More

Posted in HealthChoices, Pennsylvania Medicaid, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania

340B Changes Would Hurt Hospital Margins

Proposed changes in the federal section 340B prescription drug discount program would hurt hospital margins. So says Moody’s Investors Service, the credit rating agency. According to Moody’s, the margins of non-profit hospitals are already under pressure because revenue increases are not keeping pace with prescription drug costs.  Reductions of payments under the 340B program recently proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would make a challenging situation worse, Moody’s speculates. Under the 340B program, eligible hospitals purchase prescription drugs at a discount, supply them to eligible outpatients, and use the savings they gain to provide additional services and outreach to the low-income residents of their communities. Skeptics maintain that hospitals simply pocket the savings. Under the regulation proposed … Read More

Posted in Medicare, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

Leave 340B Alone, CMS Advisory Group Says

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should not significantly reduce Medicare payments for some prescription drugs. Or so says one of CMS’s own advisory panels. The agency’s Advisory Panel on Outpatient Prospective Payment reached this conclusion after listening to testimony from hospital industry stakeholders who told of the savings the federal government’s 340B prescription drug discount program produces and how those savings enable hospitals in low-income areas to help low-income patients who would not otherwise be able to afford their drugs and help improve access to care for low-income patients with very limited health care options. The panel’s recommendation came just a month after CMS proposed reducing Medicare reimbursement for 340B drugs from its current level, average sales price … Read More

Posted in Medicare, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, Uncategorized

SNAP Writes to House Ways and Means Committee About Medicaid DSH Audits

The federal government should give states the option of monitoring Medicaid disproportionate share payments (Medicaid DSH) to hospitals through prospective DSH limit calculations rather than through retroactive DSH audits. SNAP recently shared this view with the House Ways and Means Committee’s Health Subcommittee in response to that subcommittee’s request for suggestions from stakeholders on ways to improve the delivery of Medicare services and eliminate statutory and regulatory obstacles to more effective care delivery.  According to SNAP, retroactive DSH audits are cumbersome, burdensome, and expensive, give rise to many disputes and appeals, and in the end yield results very similar to much simpler prospective DSH limit calculations performed by the very state governments that distribute Medicaid DSH funds.  See SNAP’s comments … Read More

Posted in Federal Medicaid issues, Medicaid supplemental payments, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania, Uncategorized

Serving High-Risk Patients Leads to VPB Penalties

Practices that served more socially high-risk patients had lower quality and lower costs, and practices that served more medically high-risk patients had lower quality and higher costs. These patterns were associated with fewer bonuses and more penalties for high-risk practices. So concludes a new study that looked at the results of the first year of the Medicare Physician Value-Based Payment Modifier Program. The study looked at 899 physician practices serving more than five million Medicare beneficiaries, and it points to the continuing challenge of how best to serve patients who pose greater socio-economic risks than the average patient. Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals serve far more high-risk patients than the typical hospital. Learn more these findings and how they were reached in … Read More

Posted in Medicare, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals
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