The newsroom includes access to CHA News, which provides timely information to members every Monday and Thursday and is at the core of CHA benefits. In addition, it is also home to resources such as toolkits and talking points designed to help member hospitals and health systems communicate with internal and external audiences on a range of current health care-related issues. Links to CHA media statements and press releases can also be found here.
The House narrowly passed the Senate’s fiscal year 2018 budget resolution, House Concurrent Resolution 71, by a vote of 216-212 with 20 Republicans voting “no.” The budget resolution allows Congress to use the reconciliation process, which only requires a majority vote, to move forward on a tax reform bill that could increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion. CHA will continue to monitor tax reform legislation, expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has updated its instructions for Worksheet S-10. The update, attached, clarifies definitions and instructions for uncompensated care, non-Medicare bad debt, non-reimbursed Medicare bad debt and charity care to include uninsured discounts. It also modifies the calculation relative to uncompensated care costs. The changes are effective for cost reporting years from Oct. 1, 2013, onward. CHA is currently reviewing the revisions and will provide members with more detail in the coming weeks.
In addition, CMS has extended the deadline for hospitals to revise and submit amended cost reports for federal fiscal years (FFY) 2014 and 2015 from Sept. 30 to Oct. 31. CHA urges members to review Worksheet S-10 of their FFY 2014 and 2015 cost reports and submit amendments to their respective Medicare administrative contractors before the Oct. 31 deadline. More information is available in the attached MLN Matters article.
Yesterday, CHA met with representatives from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at its headquarters in Baltimore to discuss the Medicaid managed care rules finalized in May 2016 and January 2017 and, specifically, their impact on the Quality Assurance Fee (QAF) program. CHA was represented by Senior Vice President of Health Policy and Innovation Anne McLeod; Vice President of Federal Regulatory Affairs Alyssa Keefe; and Vice President of Finance Amber Ott.
CMS was responsive to questions and concerns raised by CHA, and provided helpful clarifying information that CHA believes supports the QAF program’s current direction and compliance with these new federal requirements CHA will continue discussions with CMS and the Department of Health Care Services over the next several months as the state plan amendment, tax waiver and managed care rates are submitted to CMS for review and approval.
As part of the House budget resolution process, the Energy and Commerce Committee announced earlier today the Common Sense Savings Act of 2016 (H.R. 4725), legislation introduced by Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) to reduce the federal deficit by almost $25 billion through cuts to Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The legislation, opposed by CHA, would:
- Eliminate the enhanced federal Medicaid matching funds available for the coverage of prisoners as a result of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. States would continue to be allowed to receive federal funds for Medicaid coverage for prisoner inpatient services, but at the traditional federal matching rate.
- Reduce the amount of the non-federal share that can come from providers by gradually reducing the Medicaid provider tax threshold from its current 6 percent of the net patient service revenues to 5.5 percent (the amount that was in place until Oct. 1, 2011).
- Eliminate the 23 percentage point increase in the CHIP matching rate implemented in the Affordable Care Act.
- Repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which amounts to more than $14 billion over the next 10 years.
- Close a loophole in a current statute that has allowed lottery winners to retain taxpayer-financed Medicaid coverage.While the provider tax provision wouldn’t immediately impact the current Medi-Cal hospital fee, the provision sets a dangerous precedent and threatens the program that California hospitals depend on. Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) offered an amendment, which failed, to strike the provider tax provision. H.R. 4725 was passed out of committee along party lines. All four Californians on the committee — Reps. Cardenas, Capps, Eshoo and Matsui — voted no.
The budget trailer bill adopted as part of the state’s final 2015-16 budget amends Section 1220 of the Business and Professions Code pertaining to clinical laboratories. Specifically, the budget trailer bill allows clinical laboratories to establish an alternative quality control program that meets federal regulations under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act and that may include the use of alternative quality control testing procedures already recognized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Until now, the California Department of Public Health has interpreted regulations in a way that did not recognize federally approved alternative quality control methods, requiring labs to perform frequent quality control tests, which are substantially more expensive than the current federally recognized equivalent quality control (EQC) procedures and the impending individualized quality control plans (IQCPs).
Alternative quality control procedures now in state statute under the budget trailer bill include those recognized by CMS, which are EQC procedures until Dec. 31 and, beginning Jan. 1, 2016, an IQCP as incorporated in Appendix C of the State Operations Manual adopted by CMS.
Hospitals interested in implementing an IQCP may want to refer to the guide released by CMS in May in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last night the House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The Senate is expected to do so today, and the President has indicated he will sign the measure. The vote in the House was 332-62; nine Californians voted against passage. The legislation contains both good news and bad news for California’s hospitals.
Also this week, the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees reported bipartisan legislation to repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) for physician Medicare payments. They will continue to work toward a permanent solution during the first quarter of 2014. The financing mechanisms for offsetting the cost of repeal have not been released. Payments to hospitals continue to be vulnerable as the committees look for as much at $150 billion over the next 10 years to pay for the SGR repeal.
CHA has provided the attached summary of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 with additional information about the hospital-related provisions.
CHA President/CEO C. Duane Dauner was joined by 10 representatives of CHA member hospitals in Washington, D.C., Dec. 3 for the CHA and American Hospital Association hospital advocacy day. The group met with about half of the California Congressional delegation, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Sens. Boxer and Feinstein.The meetings came at a critical time in the budget negotiations between the House and Senate, with the Dec. 13 deadline for a conference committee deal looming. CHA members urged their representatives not to cut payments to hospitals to pay for a budget deal or fix the flawed sustainable growth rate for physician payments. Hospital leaders also urged their representatives to support several pieces of legislation, including the Recovery Audit Contractor program (H.R. 1250) and the DSH Reduction Relief Act of 2013 (H.R. 1920).
Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013-14 state budget proposal, released Jan. 10, includes a delay in implementing the Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI), which will transition individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medi-Cal —dual-eligibles — into managed care. It will also integrate long-term care services and supports into managed Medi-Cal. CCI implementation is now scheduled for September 2013, rather than June 2013 as originally planned. Under the revised timeline, beneficiaries will receive notice of changes no sooner than June 2013. Beneficiary enrollment schedules have also been modified and will vary among the designated counties: in Los Angeles County, enrollment will be phased in over 18 months; in the County of San Mateo, beneficiaries will be enrolled at once; and in Orange County, County of San Diego, County of San Bernardino, County of Riverside, Alameda County, and the County of Santa Clara, enrollment will be phased in over 12 months.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education, and Related Agencies held a mark-up of its fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill today, reducing the HHS discretionary budget by $1.3 billion below current levels. If signed into law, the bill would restrict use of any HHS funds to implement the Affordable Care Act and would rescind funds authorized for the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) Program, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, Prevention and Public Health Fund and Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund. The legislation also would eliminate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality effective Oct. 1, 2012. Members of the California congressional delegation on the subcommittee voted along party lines, with Rep. Jerry Lewis (R) joining the majority to pass the bill, and Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D) and Barbara Lee (D) opposing the bill. While the legislation will likely pass the full appropriations committee, it will not pass the Senate. CHA expects a final budget to be resolved in a conference committee.