CMS issues tip sheet on MU broadband hardship exception; AMA holds another physician town hall meeting;

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> The American Hospital Association (AHA) has weighed in with its comments on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' request for information on certification frequency and requirements for reporting quality measures. Among other things, AHA asks CMS to consider providers' experience and information from electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) pilot programs and demonstrations when it creates new rules on eCQM reporting. It also asks for more education and to align the reporting by eligible professionals with reporting by eligible hospitals. Letter (.pdf)

> CMS has released a new tip sheet to help providers determination their eligibility for the broad band access exclusion from the Meaningful Use requirements. The exception could apply to object 8 regarding patient access, and to objective 9 for eligible professionals regarding secure messaging. According to CMS, there are only four states--Alaska, Idaho, Texas and Utah--where there are areas of such low broadband speed that the exception could apply. Tip sheet (.pdf)

> The American Medical Association (AMA) held another town hall meeting to enable physicians to share their experiences with electronic health records. The meeting, held in Seattle, focused on how EHRs should be redesigned to reduce administrative burdens and make them more usable and interoperable, according to Physician's Briefing. Article

> Cloud-based EHR vendor eClinicalWorks was one of seven new members of the CommonWell Health Alliance announced on Thursday. Announcement

Health Finance News

> Hospitals are continuing to hire large numbers of new workers, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), while other healthcare professions continue to add jobs as well. Altogether, hospitals employed a seasonally adjusted 5.023 million people nationwide at the end of January. Article

> A new index by iVantage Health Analytics concluded that there are 673 financially vulnerable rural hospitals in the United States, of which 210 are on the brink of closing immediately. That is based on an examination of 71 factors in nine areas, including cost, charge, outcomes and financial stability. Article

Health Insurance News   

> Some states have denied Medicaid coverage for effective yet expensive hepatitis C drugs to patients and prisoners, and class-action lawsuits challenging those decisions could end up costing the states hundreds of millions of dollars. Article   

> Presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle, including the winners of last night's New Hampshire primary, have supported allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. But a brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation says the financial windfall may be limited. Article

And Finally... Home is where the heart--or the toilet paper--is. Article