Archive for April 2019

Safety-Net Hospitals, Others Benefit From Changes in Medicare Readmissions Program

Safety-net hospitals are among the leading beneficiaries of changes implemented this year in Medicare’s  hospital readmissions reduction program. According to a new study, safety-net, academic, and rural hospitals have enjoyed improved performance under the program since Medicare began organizing hospitals into peer groups based on the proportion of low-income patients they serve rather than simply comparing individual hospital performance to that of all other hospitals. While the current fiscal year is still under way, it appears that safety-net hospitals will enjoy a collective decline of $22 million in Medicare readmissions penalties while 44.1 percent of teaching hospitals and 43.7 percent of rural hospitals will face smaller penalties than last year. Learn more about the readmissions reduction program and how changes … Read More

Posted in Medicare

SNAP Asks Congress for Help on Medicaid DSH

Prevent Medicaid DSH cuts:  that is the message the Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania conveyed to Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation this week. In a message sent to every member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania, SNAP asked members to sign onto a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking her to delay Affordable Care Act-mandated cuts in Medicaid disproportionate share payments (Medicaid DSH) that are scheduled to take effect in October of this year. If implemented, the cut would hurt 179 of Pennsylvania’s 213 hospitals, including all safety-net hospitals, and cost the state approximately $240 million in Medicaid DSH revenue in FY 2020 and $480 million a year in FYs 2021 through 2025. See the letter requesting action on Medicaid … Read More

Posted in Affordable Care Act, DSH hospitals, Federal Medicaid issues, Medicaid supplemental payments, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania

MACPAC Recommends Changes in Medicaid Shortfall Definition

Hospitals’ calculation of their Medicaid shortfall would change under a recommendation that MACPAC voted to make to Congress.  That change, in turn, could affect hospitals’ future Medicaid disproportionate share payments. Last week the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission voted overwhelmingly to change how hospitals calculate their Medicaid shortfall:  the difference between what they spend caring for their Medicaid patients and what Medicaid pays them for that care.  Under MACPAC’s proposal, hospitals would need to deduct from their shortfall total all third-party payments they receive for the care they provide to their Medicaid patients. If this proposal were to be adopted, it has the potential of changing Medicaid DSH allocations among the states and change the distribution of Medicaid … Read More

Posted in DSH hospitals, Federal Medicaid issues, Medicaid supplemental payments


The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission met for two days last week in Washington, D.C. The following is MACPAC’s own summary of the sessions. The Commission wrapped up its work on the June 2019 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP at the April meeting, with sessions reviewing four of the report’s five draft chapters on Thursday morning, and votes on potential recommendations later in the afternoon. First on Thursday’s agenda was a draft June chapter on Medicaid prescription drug policy, which contained draft recommendations to provide states with a grace period to determine Medicaid drug coverage and raise the cap on rebates. The Commission then revisited hospital payment policy, with a draft chapter and recommendation on how … Read More

Posted in Uncategorized

SNAP Endorses Governor’s Proposal for Paying for Tobacco Borrowing

Debt service on the state’s borrowing against future proceeds from the national master tobacco settlement agreement should be paid using state sales and use tax revenue, SNAP has declared in a new position statement. Last year the state borrowed $1.5 billion against future proceeds from the tobacco settlement.  Some tobacco settlement money is used to help hospitals with the cost of uncompensated care they provide via tobacco uncompensated care payments and tobacco extraordinary expense payments made to hospitals that meet specific criteria:  how much uncompensated care they provide, the proportion of their patients insured by Medicaid, and the proportion of low-income seniors they serve.  All Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals qualify for these payments. Because the state’s borrowing against future tobacco settlement … Read More

Posted in Medicaid supplemental payments, Pennsylvania Medicaid policy, Pennsylvania proposed FY 2020 budget, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, Pennsylvania state budget issues

Delay Medicaid DSH Cut, Pelosi Says

Medicaid DSH cuts should be delayed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told a gathering of hospital officials. According to Speaker Pelosi, DSH cuts threaten to erode the health of community hospitals, safety-net hospitals and rural hospitals, [affecting] the health of not only the families that rely on Medicaid, but any person who relies on these hospitals for care. SNAP members all receive Medicaid DSH payments and would be harmed if the scheduled cut takes effect on October 1. Learn more about Speaker Pelosi’s remarks in the Becker’s Hospital Review article “House speaker urges Congress to ease Medicaid payment cuts to hospitals serving low-income patients.”

Posted in DSH hospitals, Federal Medicaid issues, Medicaid supplemental payments, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

Medicare Advantage Permitted to Address Non-medical Needs

Starting in 2020, Medicare Advantage plans will be permitted to provide non-medical benefits to their chronically ill members. As described in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ “final call letter’ for 2020, MA [Medicare Advantage] plans are not prohibited from offering an item or service that can be expected to improve or maintain the health or overall function of an enrollee only while the enrollee is using it.  In other words, the statute does not require that the maintenance or improvement expected from an SSBCI [special supplemental benefits for the chronically ill] result in a permanent change in an enrollee’s condition.  Items and services may include, but are not limited to:  meals furnished to the enrollee beyond a limited … Read More

Posted in Medicare, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, social determinants of health

Groups Work to Create New Codes for Social Determinants

Social determinants of health could have their own ICD-10 codes if a new initiative from the American Medical Association and United Healthcare succeeds. The two are working together to develop new ICD-10 codes that would take into consideration social determinants of health such as housing and food security, access to transportation, and ability to pay for medicine. The project launches at a time when research suggests that social determinants of health can affect nearly 80 percent of health care outcomes. Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals struggle more than other hospitals, and must work harder to address, the social determinants of health that play such a major role in the health and well-being of the residents of the low-income communities they serve. Learn … Read More

Posted in Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, social determinants of health

Bill Would Enable Foreign-Born Docs to Work in Underserved U.S. Areas

More foreign-born, U.S.-trained doctors would be permitted to remain in the U.S. if they practice in medically underserved areas under a bill unveiled last week in Congress. Introduced with bipartisan support, the legislation would extend for two years the current “Conrad 30” program that allocates 30 slots to each state so foreign-born doctors can work in medically underserved areas under J-1 visas.  The program, which already exists but will soon expire, permits such physicians to remain in the U.S. for three years after their training ends to work in underserved areas.  The legislation also would establish criteria under which more than 30 such physicians can be employed in a given state. Some Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals are located in and around … Read More

Posted in Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

New Web Site Shows Maximum 340B Prices

Providers can now see the maximum prices for 340B-covered drugs on a new web site established by the federal Health Resources & Services Administration. The web site, mandated by Congress after the U.S. Department of Health and Services’ Inspector General found that some providers are being overcharged, will enable 340B-eligible providers to identify the maximum price they can be charged for covered drugs.  This, HRSA believes, will help providers avoid being overcharged in the future. Most Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals participate in the 340B program and consider it a vital tool in helping them serve their low-income communities. Learn more in the Becker’s Hospital Review article “HRSA launches 340B ceiling price website” and visit the new web site itself (registration required).

Posted in 340b, Medicare, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals
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2012 Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania