In this issue:
Congress reaches a partial deal on 'fiscal cliff'
Hospitals face payment reductions in order to delay cuts to physician payments
Last week, Congress passed and the president signed into law legislation to avert certain components of the fiscal cliff, most notably the across-the-board tax increases that were set to take effect on Jan. 1.
As a part of the final package, Congress delayed by one year a 27 percent cut to Medicare physician payments, and delayed by two months the 2 percent across-the-board cuts to Medicare also known as the sequester.
The deal implements numerous cuts to hospitals, including a documentation and coding offset that will reduce payments to hospitals by $10.5 billion and extends current Medicaid disproportionate share hospital reductions for an additional year amounting to $4.2 billion. These cuts to hospital payments were made in order to offset the budgetary costs of delaying the Medicare physician payment cut for one year.
Other hospital payment cuts, such as reducing reimbursement rates for outpatient evaluation and management services and drastically cutting payments for graduate medical education, had been considered until the last minute in negotiations. Unfortunately, MHA expects that these will be considered again in the looming debate to raise the federal debt ceiling and to address other components of the fiscal cliff.
MHA staff continues to work on our members’ behalf to oppose across-the-board arbitrary cuts to hospital payments, and instead, push for policies that move Medicare from a pay-for-volume to a pay-for-value system.
MHA will also be in touch with members individually regarding how the final agreement is projected to impact their individual organization. ^top of page
Advocate for hospitals during MHA Advocacy Days at the Capitol
Join us in St. Paul Jan. 30 and Feb. 20
The 2013 legislative session convenes on Tuesday, Jan. 8 and budget and health care policy issues await legislators. Join MHA in St. Paul on Wednesday, Jan. 30 and Wednesday, Feb. 20 for Advocacy Days at the Capitol.
This is a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with your legislators to discuss hospitals’ priority issues: expanding Medicaid to 133 percent of the federal poverty guideline; implementing a Minnesota-based health insurance exchange; restoring Medical Education and Research Costs funding; and opposing legislation to set government-mandated nurse staffing ratios. You can read more about these priorities on our website. Please bring any available staff to help tell the hospital story. The Minnesota Organization of Leaders in Nursing (MOLN) will also be at the Capitol on Feb. 20 so we encourage you to bring your nurse leaders for this Advocacy Day.
We’ll meet at MHA at 11 a.m. for lunch and a briefing, followed by legislator visits in the afternoon. Please contact Carol Eshelman, MHA program coordinator, 651-603-3539, ahead of time for help scheduling meetings with your representative and senator. ^top of page
Sen. Franken holds mental health roundtable
Last Saturday, Sen. Al Franken held a roundtable session to discuss mental health and corrections issues. This roundtable was prompted by an editorial by Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek in which he highlights the large number of people with mental illness in prison and calls for better treatment elsewhere, including hospitals. Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Lucinda Jesson wrote a response that highlights the importance of keeping people out of hospitals and in the community. As a member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Franken took the opportunity for discussion of what the federal government can do to help address the issues raised and also seek support for his Judicial and Mental Health Collaboration Act.
The meeting included representatives from law enforcement, the judicial system, mental health providers, public defenders and legal aid, DHS, Minnesota Department of Corrections, and NAMI-Minnesota (which hosted). Hospitals were represented by Dr. Paul Goering, psychiatrist, United Hospital, St. Paul; Tom Geskermann, vice president, behavioral health, facilities & HR, Regions Hospital, St. Paul; Joel Oberstar, CEO & medical officer, and John Ryan, general counsel, PrairieCare, Maple Grove; and MHA staff.
Much of the discussion centered on the need to reach people with mental illnesses sooner, whether it is while they are still in school or at least early on in a criminal offense situation. Sheriff Stanek talked about the need for HIPAA to be changed to allow law enforcement and courts to see mental health records in order to have appropriate information for gun background checks and other situations. When asked what federal resources would be helpful, stakeholders mentioned: Medicaid coverage for people who are incarcerated; including more home health services for mental health in the federal essential health benefit set required by the Affordable Care Act; access to housing; and again allowing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to cover mental health services for incarcerated veterans. Health care-related topics discussed were the lack of parity in health care and poor reimbursement for psychiatric services. ^top of page
MHA hosting legislative session preview for hospital communicators
MHA will host two legislative session previews to help hospital communicators prepare for the 2013 legislative session. Join MHA’s Vice President of Government Relations Mary Krinkie and Vice President of Communications and PR Wendy Burt in person on Thursday, Jan. 10 at the MHA office at 3 p.m. or for a webinar Friday, Jan. 11 at 10 a.m. The same material will be covered in both sessions, so choose whichever one works best for you.
Please RSVP to Sarah Bohnet at 651-603-3494. You must RSVP for the webinar to receive login information. ^top of page
MHA members encouraged to attend AHA's annual meeting
MHA will coordinate visits with the Minnesota congressional delegation
The political stakes will remain high for hospitals this spring as Congress continues to look for savings to address budget shortfalls. MHA members’ help is needed to deliver a unified message during the American Hospital Association (AHA) annual meeting in Washington D.C., April 28-May 1.
AHA will host a strong lineup of speakers who will address the most pressing issues facing hospitals, and with approximately 1,500 attendees in attendance this is a unique opportunity to network with peers across the country. In addition, MHA staff will schedule congressional office visits and help prepare MHA members for those visits during a special briefing.
To register for the meeting, visit aha.org. About a week prior to the meeting, MHA staff will send participants additional information on special “Minnesota-only” events.
For more information please contact Ann Gibson, MHA vice president of federal relations/workforce, 651-603-3527. ^top of page
'Pillar' of St. Joseph's Hospital dies at age 99
Sister Marie de Paul Rochester, the last sister to serve as administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul, passed away the day after Christmas at the age of 99. Sister Rochester also served as chair of MHA in 1962.
According to an article in the Pioneer Press, during her two decades as administrator, Sister Rochester presided over the construction of three hospital additions, which are still a part of the hospital campus. Her mission was to ensure everyone received the best care possible, regardless of ability to pay. She is remembered for her spirit and always remembering the human touch of hospital care.
Read more about Sister Rochester here. ^top of page