IHA Daily Briefing: Oct. 11

Friday, October 11, 2019
Judge Blocks Public Charge Rule
New Training Requirements for Phlebotomists
IHA Issues Hospital Impact Estimates
Briefly Noted

Judge Blocks Public Charge Rule
This afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels of the Southern District of New York issued a preliminary nationwide injunction blocking the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule that was set to take effect on Oct. 15. The ruling temporarily prohibits the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from denying green cards and visas filed by low-income legal immigrants based on their potential use of public benefits (Medicaid, foods stamps, housing assistance) when applying for residency or citizenship. Nine lawsuits have been filed against the rule by several states, including Illinois, and advocacy organizations since the rule was finalized on Aug. 14.


New Training Requirements for Phlebotomists
Legislation recently enacted into law will require certain initial and ongoing training for phlebotomists in the hospital setting. PA 101-0542, effective Jan. 1, 2020, requires the Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) to make available training materials that ensure all phlebotomists are trained in the most current blood drawing methods for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These training materials, which have not yet been made available, are to be used by hospitals upon the hiring of a phlebotomist and as part of any ongoing training to maintain competencies or certifications for those phlebotomists. IHA will inform members when the training materials become available.

Through IHA’s advocacy efforts, more onerous and vague requirements were removed from the final legislation, including hospitals developing their own training materials and being required to maintain certain blood drawing equipment for “finger-pricking” and “hemoglobin testing.”


IHA Issues Hospital Impact Estimates
Yesterday, IHA made available to its member hospital CEOs, CFOs and other finance staff updated hospital-specific Medicare inpatient prospective payment system reports for psychiatry, inpatient rehabilitation, long-term care hospital and skilled nursing facilities via the C-Suite on the IHA website. The hospital-specific reports compare estimated payments under the federal fiscal year (FFY) 2020 final rules to the payments made under the FFY 2019 final rules. Estimates for Illinois and the U.S., as well as report descriptions and a summary of the final rules, are also available.


Briefly Noted
The Partnership for a Connected Illinois is holding its third Annual Telehealth Awards Luncheon on Nov. 18 in Chicago, honoring telehealth practitioners in Illinois who have improved care for underserved populations. Leadership awards will be presented to Jessie Brown VA Medical Center and Thresholds. Illini Community Hospital and Southern Illinois Healthcare will be presented with achievement awards. Registration is now open.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday that it has granted permission allowing the marketing of a rapid diagnostic test to detect Ebola virus antigens (proteins) in human blood from certain living individuals and samples from certain recently deceased individuals suspected to have died from Ebola. The OraQuick Ebola Rapid Antigen Test is the first rapid diagnostic test the FDA has allowed to be marketed in the U.S. for the Ebola Virus Disease. The test provides a rapid, presumptive diagnosis that must be confirmed. Also, the Illinois Dept. of Public Health recently updated its Ebola Virus Disease preparedness and response plan.

A statistical brief by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project on Characteristics of Inpatient Hospital Stays Involving Sickle Cell Disease (2000-2016) reports that there were 134,000 sickle cell disease-related inpatient hospital stays in 2016, with more than 75% of those stays involving a pain crisis. About 33% of those hospital stays resulted in a 30-day readmission and aggregate costs for inpatient stays for sickle cell disease totaled more than $811 million, with an average length of stay of five days. In 2016, sickle cell disease hospital patients were discharged against medical advice at a rate four times higher than patients with non-sickle cell disease (4.1% versus 1.2%). Most sickle cell disease patients were blacks from low-income communities.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has updated its 2019 Quality Payment Program alterative payment model (APM) participation status tool. The tool identifies eligible clinicians who qualify as advanced APM participants and will receive a 5% incentive payment in 2021, based on Medicare Part B claims data through June.