IHA Daily Briefing: Oct. 4

Friday, October 4, 2019
Special IHA Member Meetings Begin
President Issues Order Expanding Medicare Advantage
CDC: Vaping Lung Injuries Continue to Rise
Gun Violence Hearing Held in Chicago
Briefly Noted

Special IHA Member Meetings Begin
The first of five special IHA member meetings being held across the state in October kicked off this afternoon with a session in Springfield.  Twenty hospital leaders and IHA discussed key issues, including implementation of Medicaid MCO reforms, nurse staffing ratios and Phase II of the Hospital Assessment Program.

The special meetings will continue next week and the following week, and members can attend at any of these locations:

  • Benton on Oct. 10—12:30-2 p.m.;
  • Edwardsville on Oct. 11—8 to 9:30 a.m.;
  • Naperville on Oct. 14—12:30 to 2 p.m.; and
  • Chicago on Oct.15—9 to 10:30 a.m.

Hospital and health system CEOs, CFOs, CNOs and Government Relations staff are encouraged to attend the meetings, held regionally to allow for full member participation. IHA President and CEO A.J. Wilhelmi and IHA Board Chair Mary Starmann-Harrison, president and CEO, Hospital Sisters Health System, will be at each meeting to hear your ideas and input.

Breakfast or lunch will be served, depending on the meeting time. All IHA members are encouraged to participate, especially to discuss IHA’s key upcoming advocacy efforts. See our program webpage for more information on locations. Register today.

President Issues Order Expanding Medicare Advantage
President Trump issued an executive order (EO) on Thursday directing the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to take regulatory action to expand Medicare Advantage plans by increasing access to supplemental benefits and telehealth services, reducing administrative burden on providers and allowing enrollees to share in savings when they choose higher value care, among other provisions.

The directive—Protecting and Improving Medicare for Our Nation's Seniors—instructs the Secretary to issue rulemaking and take other action to:

  • Encourage new benefit structures and plan designs in Medicare Advantage plans, such as increased access to telehealth services and supplemental benefits not currently available;
  • Include a payment model that allows Medicare beneficiaries to share more directly in the savings from the program, including through cash or monetary rebates, thus creating more incentives to seek high-value care; and
  • •    Ensure that, to the extent permitted by law, fee-for-service Medicare is not advantaged or promoted over Medicare Advantage with respect to its administration.

According to a White House fact sheet, the new EO will also advance policies that streamline the approval of therapies; improve quality by implementing reforms that better link payments to value; and take steps to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.

The EO took aim at the Medicare for All Act of 2019, legislation introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), saying, “It would be a mistake to eliminate Americans’ healthcare choices and to force them into a new system that is effectively a government takeover of their healthcare.”

CDC: Vaping Lung Injuries Continue to Rise
Latest data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show there are 1,080 probable and confirmed lung injury cases associated with e-cigarette product use (vaping) in 48 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including 102 cases in Illinois. There have been 18 deaths in 15 states, including one in Illinois. An increase in 275 cases from the previous week is attributed to a combination of new patients becoming ill and recent reporting of previously-identified patients.

Data from 578 patients with information on substances used in e-cigarette, or vaping, products 90-days prior to symptom onset show that:

  • About 78% reported using THC-containing products, with or without nicotine-containing products; 37% reported exclusive use of THC-containing products; and17% reported exclusive use of nicotine-containing products;
  • About 70% of patients are male; and
  • Approximately 80% of the patients are under 35 years old; 16% are under 18 years old.

A CDC study released last week suggested that cases in Illinois and Wisconsin are connected with THC-products purchased off market; however all potential sources are still being investigated. While this investigation is ongoing, CDC recommends refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly those containing THC.

Gun Violence Hearing Held in Chicago
Yesterday, the Subcommittee on Health of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a field hearing on "A Public Health Crisis: The Gun Violence Epidemic in America" in Chicago. Community members, health providers, and other public health and safety officials provided testimony on the impact of gun violence, the role of gun violence public health research and prevention approaches to gun violence.

U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush (IL-1), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Robin Kelly (IL-2), Chuy Garcia (IL-4), and Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) participated in the hearing. Rep. Kinzinger was the only Republican member to attend the hearing, and said he was there to find common ground.  

In his testimony, Selwyn O. Rogers, Jr., M.D., M.P.H. chief, section for Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, founding director, Trauma Center, University of Chicago Medicine, said, “I am here to testify today that we, collectively, need to find answers to the intentional gun violence that killed over 14,000 Americans in 2017. In addition, over 23,000 gun suicides occurred that year… We must understand this violence as a public health crisis. And as such, we should address it with the same urgency as polio, Ebola, or any other disease we know we can beat. Because when we do that — when we look at gun violence as a disease — that means it can be treated. And it can be cured. If we make a true, meaningful investment in our communities, we can address some of the holistic issues that have created this gun violence epidemic.”
Other witnesses included Niva Lubin-Johnson, M.D., immediate past president, National Medical Association and Norman Kerr, director of Violence Prevention for the City of Chicago.

A subcommittee memo noted that on average, 100 Americans are killed daily by a firearm and the U.S. homicide rate is 25 times the averages of other developed nations.

Video of the hearing is available on YouTube.

Briefly Noted
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today that 136,000 jobs were added in September, with the unemployment rate dropping to 3.5%—the lowest since December 1969. Last month, healthcare added 39,000 jobs, with hospitals accounting for 8,000 of those jobs.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released its July Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment report. More than 72.1 million people were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP for the month—65.5 million in Medicaid and 6.6 million in CHIP. In Illinois, the total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment was almost 2.8 million—more than 2.5 million enrolled in Medicaid and about 265,000 enrolled in CHIP.

The Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub) recently announced a new toolkit that compiles resources and model programs to aid organizations in implementing suicide prevention programs in rural communities.  According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates are higher in rural areas of the country. Earlier this year, the CDC released a map of suicide mortality, showing a concentration in states that are mostly rural.