IHA Daily Briefing: March 12

HFS: More Time Needed to Consider Transformation
Nurse Staffing Ratios Hearing Postponed
AHA/FAH Release Medicare Public Option Study
HHS Tackles Drug Pricing: Poll Shows Drug Cost Impact
2019 Compensation Survey Sign Up Due March 15
Register for the IMEC Conference March 27
Register for IHA Webinars on CAH CoPs
Briefly Noted

HFS: More Time Needed to Consider Transformation
Illinois Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) Director Theresa Eagleson this morning told the legislative Hospital Transformation Review Committee that HFS needs additional time to review and consider several important issues before making its recommendations on rules for the Hospital Transformation Program.  The latest deadline for the submission of rules had been March 31.

Eagleson said HFS needs to conduct regional assessments and further evaluations to take a broader look at the state’s healthcare delivery system, including gaps in the system, community needs, social determinants of health, and behavioral health.  She also said HFS wants to look into seeking federal funding for hospital transformation. She indicated that this work will take several months.

IHA President and CEO A.J. Wilhelmi told the committee that IHA has already had good discussions with HFS about the transformation program and looks forward to working with HFS, the committee, and the administration.  He said that after receiving recommendations from a member task force and extensive feedback from the broader membership, the IHA Board in January agreed to take more time to consider hospital transformation in the broader context of Phases I and II of the redesigned assessment program – including looking at issues such as shifts in where Medicaid beneficiaries receive care, utilization and occupancy.

Wilhelmi said IHA supports HFS taking the time needed to consider the hospital transformation issue deliberately and thoughtfully, and also suggested that one of the options to enhance funding for the program should include capital funding.

House Majority Leader Greg Harris, co-chair of the Review Committee, said the Legislative Medicaid Work Group – consisting of legislators from all four caucuses – will again be engaging on key Medicaid issues.  He said the first two issues that the work group will be considering, starting at its meeting on Wednesday, are eligibility determination/redetermination and Medicaid managed care.


Nurse Staffing Ratios Hearing Postponed
Wednesday’s Illinois House Labor & Commerce Committee hearing on nurse staffing ratios has been postponed for a week. But it is likely that two staffing ratio bills – HB 2604 and 3558 – will be voted on by the committee after a hearing next week.

We need to keep up the pressure to oppose these onerous bills. Contact your state Representatives now and urge them to oppose both bills by clicking here.

See IHA's Fact Sheet and Advocacy Alert for more information.


AHA/FAH Release Medicare Public Option Study
Today, AHA and the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) released a report detailing the impact that “Medicare-X Choice Act,” a Medicare public option proposal, could have on the ability of hospitals and health systems to continue to provide access to high-quality care to their patients and communities.

Most notably, the proposal would create the largest ever cut to hospitals—nearly $800 billion over 10 years (2024-2033)—and be particularly disruptive to the employer-sponsored health insurance market. The study further finds these significant disruptions would result in only a modest drop in the number of uninsured compared to how many people would gain coverage through expanding the existing coverage framework.

The report noted Medicare and Medicaid underpayments to hospitals in 2017 totaled $76.8 billion and historically those programs reimburse providers at less than the cost of delivering services. The dramatic shift of tens of millions of Americans from private coverage to Medicare-like public coverage would destabilize commercial insurance markets and hospital finances alike, jeopardizing access to care.


HHS Tackles Drug Pricing; Poll Shows Drug Cost Impact
Following up on its proposed rule last month to eliminate prescription drug rebates in Medicare Part D and Medicaid managed care plans, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a blog post discussing the need for drug pricing transparency.

Penned by John O’Brien, senior advisor to the secretary for drug pricing reform, the post covers the need for patient relief from high prescription drug prices. “The current drug pricing system is broken and indefensible,” said O’Brien. “Right now, everybody but the patient benefits as list prices climb higher and higher.”

He noted that, “This proposal could usher in the single-biggest change to how drugs are priced at the pharmacy counter, delivering directly to patients and their pocketbooks the discounts drug companies currently give to middlemen today. And it provides a model for Congress to take bipartisan action to bring transparency and provide relief from high drug prices beyond just the Medicare program so that patients with employer-sponsored health plans also benefit.”

Comments on the HHS proposed rule are being accepted until April 8.

Meanwhile, results from a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll show that a fourth of people taking prescription drugs (24 percent) and seniors taking drugs (23 percent) say it is difficult for them to afford their medications. In addition, three in 10 (29 percent) of all adults report not taking their medicines, as prescribed at some point in the past year, due to cost.

Poll respondents favored having  drug companies list prices in their ads (88 percent), making it easier for generic drugs to come to market (88 percent), allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to get lower prices for people with Medicare (86 percent), and allowing Americans to buy drugs imported from Canada (80 percent).


2019 Compensation Survey Sign Up Due March 15
IHA’s affiliate, IHA Human Capital Services (IHA HCS), is again partnering with Sullivan Cotter to offer the 2019 Senior Executive Compensation Survey of Illinois Healthcare Organizations.

Members interested in participating are reminded to return your participation agreement to Maritza Medrano by March 15. The survey submission deadline is March 29. Invoices will be sent upon publication and delivery of survey reports.  Pricing details can be located in the participation agreement.

Reports will include a Chicago-area or Northeastern Illinois breakdown and an all-Illinois breakdown (at a minimum). If participation allows, a Southern Illinois breakdown and a net revenue report will be available.  Submission levels and participant characteristics will be reviewed in order to determine appropriate reporting segments.  Participation in the 2018 survey included over 90 Illinois healthcare facilities.


Register for the IMEC Conference March 27
Join IHA President and CEO A.J. Wilhelmi at the IMEC Conference on Enterprise Excellence on March 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Northern Illinois Conference Center in Naperville. Wilhelmi will be a presenter at the conference along with Eden Taksh, M.D., chief quality officer, Saint Anthony Hospital of Chicago.

The 2019 conference features four quality award recipients, including HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital – Effingham, who will receive the Bronze Award for Commitment to Excellence.

IMEC is the Illinois affiliate of the national Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, providing state-wide education based on the Baldrige Excellence Framework and sharing best-in-class strategies for improving organizational practices.

For more information and to register, click here.


Register for IHA Webinars on CAH CoPs
IHA's Critical Access Hospital CoPs Made Easy webinar series continues this month to offer you a close look at compliance areas commonly cited on Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services surveys. Join accreditation expert Sue Dill Calloway, RN, MSN, JD to explore the most pressing sections of the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) Conditions of Participation (CoP) manual.

The remaining webinars, held from 9-11 a.m., will cover many challenging standards:

Clinicians, managers and administrators in several departments are encouraged to attend, including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dietary, legal affairs and quality improvement. Register today.


Briefly Noted
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced today that National Cancer Institute Director Norman “Ned” Sharpless, M.D. will be the acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner when current Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. departs next month.