IHA Daily Briefing: Feb. 13

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Wilhelmi Testifies at House Committee Meeting
IHA Advocacy Alert: Support SB 1773
FFY 2019 Wage Index Reports Changes Due Feb. 16
Clear Up HR Confusion with IHA Webinar

Wilhelmi Testifies at House Committee Meeting
IHA President and CEO A.J. Wilhelmi gave testimony this morning to the Illinois House Appropriations – Human Services Committee on the redesign of the Hospital Assessment Program.

In his testimony, Wilhelmi described the urgent need to reauthorize the Hospital Assessment Program which brings in $3.5 billion in Medicaid funding to the state, including more than $800 million in Affordable Care Act (ACA) Access Payments.

“One of our top priorities and guiding principles for redesigning the Hospital Assessment Program is preserving access to quality healthcare for all Illinoisans – especially for vulnerable populations in urban and rural communities served by Safety Net and Critical Access Hospitals,” said Wilhelmi. “This plan includes substantial improvements to the funding levels for Safety Net and Critical Access Hospitals as a whole.”

Wilhelmi noted the challenges of redesigning a model that begins to shift from fixed payments to payments based on “live rates” where people actually receive care and the healthcare services they receive.

“I think we all recognize that this is not a perfect model. We are constrained by the limited amount of new spending that is available under the Upper Payment Limit or UPL. However, thanks to the collaborative efforts and deliberations of IHA, HFS [Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services] and the Legislative Medicaid Work Group, we believe we have made a reasonable effort to maximize funding under this plan.”

Wilhelmi also noted that the assessment program under this plan is being modernized as follows:

  • Payment streams are based on updated patient utilization data, replacing current payment streams that are based on obsolete data from more than 10 years ago;
  • More than $600 million will move from static supplemental payments to dynamic claims-based payments, where money follows the patient;
  • The $850 million in ACA Access funding is being preserved and rationalized;
  • The critical need for behavioral health services is addressed by enhancing funding streams for these services;
  • The shift to outpatient services in the healthcare delivery system is being recognized by designing payments that take that shift into account;
  • The high cost of specialty services is being addressed;
  • Support for Graduate Medical Education will be funded at levels never achieved before in previous assessment programs – to help hospitals train the State’s future healthcare workforce; and
  • The critical need for healthcare transformation is being addressed – the model includes a transformation program for hospitals interested in changing their delivery models to best meet the healthcare needs of their communities.

Today’s House committee hearing was a subject matter hearing, so a vote was not taken.

IHA Advocacy Alert: Support SB 1773
The General Assembly is preparing to take action on Senate Bill 1773 – legislation to continue the Hospital Assessment Program. IHA members are asked to contact your state Senator and Representative now and urge them to vote Yes on Senate Bill 1773 to continue the Hospital Assessment Program.

To place your calls, click the “Take Action” button and “Call”/Phone icon to see a phone script. See IHA’s alert for suggested talking points and background information. A fact sheet on the bill is available here.

FFY 2019 Wage Index Reports Changes Due Feb. 16
Today, IHA made available to its member hospital CFOs and other finance staff, via the IHA C-Suite on the IHA website, updated hospital-specific wage index and occupational mix reports. These reports, based on the Public Use Files (PUFs) that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published on Feb. 2, will be used in the Medicare wage index values calculations for federal fiscal year 2019. These reports should reflect any new information or corrections that hospitals submitted before Sept. 1, 2017 to their Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC), based on the preliminary reports that were sent to you in August 2017. At this point in the process, the only corrections that can be submitted are ones that are the result of the MAC’s omissions or errors.

IHA strongly encourages its members to review the information as soon as possible. Members must notify their MAC of any corrections no later than Friday, Feb. 16. Since Critical Access Hospitals are not paid by Medicare under the Prospective Payment System, they will not have any reports prepared for them.

Clear Up HR Confusion with IHA Webinar
State law requires hospitals to submit information on prospective employees who meet certain criteria to the Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) for a background check. However, there are frequent and growing misperceptions on what the Health Care Worker Registry is and which prospective hospital employees need to be submitted for background checks. IHA can help clear up the confusion.

On Thursday, March 15 from 10-11 a.m., join IHA and representatives from IDPH for Understanding Hospital Compliance with the Health Care Worker Background Check Act, a webinar to discuss the Health Care Worker Registry, the types of individuals who need to be reported and the hospital's role in the process. Registration is complimentary and open to chief operating officers, human resources directors and other staff at any Illinois hospital or health system. More information and registration is also available.