Minnesota Hospital Association


September 18, 2017

MHA Newsline: Sept. 18, 2017

In this issue 

Marcie Lindgren honored with MHA Volunteer of the Year Award

MHA on June 2 honored innovative programs and outstanding leaders in health care at its 33rd annual awards ceremony.   

Marcie Lindgren of Bigfork Valley Hospital received the Volunteer of the Year Award, which honors hospital volunteers for their important role in supporting a positive patient and family experience at hospitals and health systems.   

A member of the hospital auxiliary for 35 years, Lindgren has been treasurer and chaplain and is now president of the organization. She finds volunteers for the front desk, helps serve at hospital events, coordinates staff appreciation events and works on projects to help fund scholarships for local students in a health care field. After retiring from her career at Bigfork School, Lindgren eagerly accepted the opportunity to staff the information desk at the hospital so she could be the first to welcome visitors. She truly became the face of Bigfork Valley.   

Additional award winners will be profiled in upcoming issues of Newsline. To learn more about the award winners, visit the MHA websitereturn to top   

Minnesota to exhaust CHIP funding by Sept. 30

Minnesota will exhaust its Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) allotment of $115 million for FY 2017 at the end of September, months earlier than expected. The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission and other entities estimated that Minnesota would exhaust its funding at the end of December. Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Emily Piper sent a letter and fact sheet urging Minnesota’s congressional delegation to act quickly to extend funding for CHIP beyond its Sept. 30 expiration date.   

On Sept. 12-13, MHA members and leadership staff met in Washington, D.C., with Sens. Klobuchar and Franken and members of the House delegation to emphasize the importance of CHIP funding to ensuing health coverage for vulnerable Minnesotans and urged them to act quickly to approve the extension of CHIP funding.   

Congressional action is needed to extend CHIP funding and to reauthorize the enhanced CHIP payments provided by the Affordable Care Act. The enhanced federal match of 23 percent is projected to provide about $60 million to Minnesota annually.   

DHS plans to continue CHIP coverage for covered children and pregnant women if Congress does not extend the program’s funding beyond Sept. 30. However, continuing coverage will result in a significant cost to the state of approximately $10 million. Currently, Minnesota’s CHIP covers children in families with incomes between 275 and 283 percent of federal poverty level (FPL) and pregnant women ineligible for Medicaid with incomes up to 278 percent FPL.   

The leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), have reportedly reached an agreement to extend CHIP. Under their agreement, CHIP would be extended for five years and the enhanced federal match would remain in place for 2018 and 2019 and then be phased out by reducing the match to 11.5 percent in 2020 and eliminating it 2021. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which also has jurisdiction over CHIP, is also working on a plan to extend the program; no details have been released. The timeline for Congress to approve legislation is unknown. return to top   

MHA leaders meet with Congress  

In conjunction with the AHA’s Regional Policy Board meetings in Washington, D.C., last week, several representatives of MHA met with members of the Minnesota congressional delegation to press them on key federal topics. Meeting participants included Mary Maertens, MHA board chair and regional president, Avera Marshall; Randy Ulseth, board member and CEO of FirstLight Health System; and Lawrence Massa, MHA president and CEO.    

The MHA representatives asked the delegation to continue encouraging the Trump administration to approve Minnesota’s waiver request related to the reinsurance program authorized by the Minnesota Legislature to begin in 2018. In addition, MHA highlighted the benefits of the 340B Drug Pricing Program and expressed concerns about a pending regulatory proposal that would substantially reduce Medicare reimbursement for PPS hospitals participating in the 340B program.    

For many of the meetings, MHA partnered with representatives of the Minnesota HomeCare Association to discuss issues of mutual concern to the combined membership of the two associations. This was the first time that MHA and MHCA have participated in combined congressional visits and the joint presentations were well received. return to top   

Lakewood Health System presents rural perspective on successful IHP

Tim Rice, president and CEO of Lakewood Health System in Staples, and Teresa Fisher, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer, on Sept. 14 presented information to the Minnesota Senate’s Select Committee on Health Care Consumer Access and Affordability about the success of its participation in the state’s Integrated Health Partnerships (IHP), as well as some of the challenges of delivering high-quality, affordable health care services in rural communities.   

As one of the first rural hospitals to participate in the IHP program, Lakewood Health System has demonstrated substantial reductions in total cost of care by tackling utilization of health care services while increasing access to the right care and improving quality. Highlights of their success include: 

  • Chronic disease management through the hospital’s medical home model has reduced total cost of care 32 percent 
  • Total cost of care reduction of 6 percent across payers on value-based contracts 
  • Emergency room reduction by 2.9 percent 
  • Inpatient readmission rated reduction by 14.9 percent 
  • Swing bed and skilled nursing facility decrease in total cost per episode by 17 percent and average length of stay by 24 percent 

Lakewood Health System invests significant resources – approximately $1.8 million annually – to support this total cost of care work. Rice and Fisher shared with the committee that this effort benefits the community but may be unsustainable if changes are not made to the payment reimbursement model. Financial incentives should align with keeping patients out of the health care system, reducing cost and preventing chronic illness.   

When asked what the Legislature could do to help, Rice said that health care providers need simplified quality and measurement standards and better reimbursement for certain services when moving to a total cost of care model. In addition, Rice urged legislators to enhance rural broadband services in order to improve telemedicine options and provider recruitment, as well as to help reduce health care costs by improving payment for palliative care. return to top   

Think TB

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), in collaboration with St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health, is investigating an increase in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) cases among the elderly Hmong community. Although most cases have occurred in Ramsey Country, this situation may likely involve a broader area.   

TB is still common in other parts of the world. Refugees and immigrants are more likely to be exposed to TB at some point in their lives because they come from areas with high levels of TB infection. Furthermore, Hmong refugees who lived in the Wat Tham Krabok refugee camp in Thailand may have been exposed to MDR TB while living at the refugee camp. As this population ages, they are at higher risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and chronic kidney disease, which can lead to reactivation of latent infection.   

Providers and community members should be thinking TB when at-risk populations experience any of the following symptoms: 

  • Coughing for three weeks or longer 
  • Weight loss 
  • Poor appetite 
  • Night sweats 
  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Feeling tired or weak 
  • Chest pain 
  • Coughing up blood or brown-colored material from lungs 

These patients should seek testing immediately and treatment should be started, when appropriate. Treatment of patients with latent tuberculosis infection at high risk for reactivation TB is extremely important in TB control efforts.  

For more detailed treatment guidelines and to learn more about TB, visit the MDH websitereturn to top   

FHA creates fund for hospital employees affected by Hurricane Irma

The Florida Hospital Association (FHA) has launched the FHA Hospital Employee Assistance Fund to directly assist hospital employees who suffered significant property loss or damage during Hurricane Irma. Although the storm’s full impact is still being assessed, many care team members serving patients during the storm lost homes or experienced significant property damage.   

To learn more about this effort and provide a donation, visit the FHA Hospital Employee Assistance Fund websitereturn to top   

Conference on Rural Emergency Care to be held Sept. 29

The fourth Comprehensive Advanced Life Support (CALS) Conference on Rural Emergency Care will be held Sept. 29 at the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. The conference will spotlight current critical issues and new developments in rural emergency care and provide participants with up-to-date knowledge and skills to deliver the highest-quality emergency medical care in rural settings.   

Learn more and register onlinereturn to top