Attestation deadline for hospitals fast approaching; CMS issues HIE tip sheet;

News From Around the Web

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued a reminder that hospitals participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program must attest to Meaningful Use by 11:59 p.m. ET on Nov. 30, in order to receive an incentive payment for 2013 participation. Hospitals can register on that date, as well. Hospitals participating in the Medicaid program need to refer to their state registration and attestation deadlines. Website

> CMS also has released a new tip sheet for eligible professionals regarding health information exchange requirements for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use. The tip sheet outlines the required data elements for the three Stage 2 objectives that address data sharing: summary of care, clinical summary and patient electronic access. Tip sheet (.pdf)

> CMS has issued nine new Frequently Asked Questions and Answers pertaining to the Meaningful Use incentive program. Some of the topics addressed include reporting to public health agencies, the ability to participate in the program after failing to meet Meaningful Use, and the CMS Meaningful Use audit team. CMS also updated three FAQs. Website

Health Finance News

> The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has made some small cuts to reimbursements for home health and end-stage renal disease services, although it spared hospitals from some larger cuts in the former category. In a final rule issued last week, CMS announced that it would reduce payments to home healthcare providers by 1.05 percent for the 2014 calendar year, a smaller cut than the 1.5 percent originally proposed. The payment includes a 2.3 percent market basket increase, minus 2.73 percent for rebasing adjustments, and another 0.62 percent reduction tied to refinements in the home healthcare prospective payment system. The cuts will total $200 million for the coming year. Article

> An Illinois hospital that is using a rare geothermal system for its heating and cooling needs has cut its energy costs by nearly $1 million a year. Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill., installed the system four years ago as part of a $310 million rebuild. A 15-acre, 18-foot deep artificial lake is used to heat and cool the facility in conjunction with a 185-mile-long network of pipes. It's the only geothermal system used by a hospital in Illinois, and cost about $6 million to install, including land acquisition for the lake. Article

Health Insurance News

> Insurers offering exchange plans could receive higher risk payments under a proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services on Monday. After overestimating the total covered claims costs of individuals enrolled in reinsurance-eligible plans in 2014, HHS wants to lower the attachment point at which risk payments kick in for high-cost members from $60,000 down to $45,000 next year. In 2015, insurers will have a $70,000 attachment point, a $250,000 reinsurance cap and a 50 percent coinsurance rate. Article

> Although lawmakers eventually will amend the healthcare reform law, Congress won't likely take any action until after the next presidential election in 2017, reported CQ HealthBeat. The substance of the reform law will remain whole, but changes to such a large legislative package are practically inevitable, experts told an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) panel. "This legislation is not going away," said Gail Wilensky, who previously ran CMS. "It has problems that at some point we'll start to get refocused on, and deal with." Article

And Finally... Maybe he shouldn't be the judge of who's naughty and nice. Article

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