October 22, 2020
It seems like just a few days ago, Americans were barbequing and watching fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July in the warmth of summer. Now fall is here, bringing with it cooler temperatures across most of the country, the return of children to school – some of them virtually – and at least the beginning of the football season.
The medical world continues to react, adapt and evolve amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In this blog, we highlight relevant recent news affecting the health care industry.
In early September, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced the 2021 FY IPPS Final Rule, which raises Medicare payment rates for acute care hospitals and applies to discharges occurring on or after Oct. 1, 2020.
The rule is expected to have an impact on the more than 3,000 acute care hospitals in the United States. It also includes new technology add-on payments, makes Medicare hospital payments more market-based and contains a diagnosis related group (DRG) for Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), the American Hospital Association (AHA) appealed for certain telehealth services to remain billable and reimbursable after the COVID-19 pandemic. Regulations for these services were revised at the beginning of the novel coronavirus outbreak to promote the use of virtual care so that patients could receive medical care without in-office appointments.
At the top of the AHA’s list of requests to the HHS was “to expand the list of Medicare telehealth services to include services that were added during the COVID-19 pandemic and maintain the subregulatory process for adding additional services to the list.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent monthly jobs report, the health care industry added 75,000 jobs in August after losing 43,000 in March. Approximately 27,000 of these jobs were in physician offices and 14,000 in hospitals. Employment in nursing and residential care facilities, however, continues to decline.
The HHS recently released its Rural Action Plan, a four-point strategy to “better meet the needs of the 57 million Americans who live in rural communities.” The four primary points were building a sustainable health model for rural communities, leveraging technology and innovation, focusing on preventing disease and mortality, and increasing rural access to care.
Data from the Association for Executives in Health Care Information Security (AEHIS) revealed the number of health care breach reports was down 10.4% during the first half of this year, compared to the second half of 2019. In addition, the number of breached records has declined almost 83%. According to AEHIS, the improvement in the figures was due to health care entities enhancing their cybersecurity programs as part of a greater effort to support remote work.
Representatives from health care industry groups recently met with Office of the National Coordinator for Information Technology (ONC) members to debate the merits of repealing a ban on federal funding to create a national unique patient ID system.
Industry groups cite the reduction of avoidable medical errors, duplicate records and wrongful billing as reasons to implement the proposed system. Opponents maintain that unique patient identifiers could be stolen and/or misused.
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