Minnesota Hospital Association


October 07, 2013

MHA Newsline

In this issue

Hospital spotlight: Hospitals engage patients and families to improve safety and quality of care

For hospitals, providing high quality, safe, patient-centered care is paramount. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), studies show that providing patient-centered care has a positive impact on patient satisfaction, length of stay and cost per case. Across Minnesota, hospitals are engaging patients and their families as essential partners in efforts to continually improve the quality and safety of care in our hospitals. To create an environment that reflects these characteristics, hospitals share patient stories, create patient and family advisory councils and patient safety committees and task forces, hold focus groups, improve patient education materials, and in general change the way they view patients and families served by the hospital. Read more about what Minnesota hospitals are doing to engage patients and families. return to top

Two MN ACOs first to earn NCQA's highest grade

Essentia Health and HealthPartners are the first two Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)in the nation to receive the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA) highest designation — level  3 ACO Accreditation. The two organizations were among six early adopters when the program launched in 2012.

NCQA ACO Accreditation is the first evaluation program to assess organizations' ability to coordinate and deliver the care expected of ACOs. The program evaluates whether ACOs:

  • Ensure access to and availability of care.
  • Protect patient rights, including privacy.
  • Have a solid foundation of patient-centered primary care.
  • Have the necessary care management and coordination capabilities.
  • Monitor practice patterns and use performance data to improve quality.
  • Use decision support tools to help patients and providers identify the best care.
  • Have necessary stakeholder participation, structure, contracting and payment arrangements.

To learn more about NCQA ACO Accreditation, click here. return to top

Fight stigma during Mental Health Awareness Week

Oct. 6-12 is National Mental Health Awareness Week. Stigma around mental illnesses prevents people from seeking treatment, sometimes for years. There are a number of ways MHA members can help fight the stigma of living with mental illness and encourage people to seek treatment.

Participate in the Make it Ok campaign. The campaign, sponsored by HealthPartners, Regions Hospital, and NAMI MN, aims to break down stigma by encouraging people to talk about mental illnesses and ask for help.

  • Host a NAMI in the Lobby event, in which National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota volunteers offer information and support in hospital lobbies.
  • Host a community speaker living with mental illness to share his/her experiences.
  • Provide information to patients and staff about living with mental illness.

More ideas can be found on the MHA/NAMI MN hospitals resource guide. return to top  

MNsure open for business

MHA concerned design will deter Minnesotans from comparing plans

Individuals and small businesses finally got a chance to view health insurance options on Minnesota's health insurance exchange, MNsure. MHA has begun reviewing the site to identify any potential issues, concerns or opportunities for improving the state's health care environment.  

One area of concern with the new website is one that that MHA previously urged MNsure to avoid. Individuals shopping for coverage are unable to estimate their potential premium subsidies until they create an account with MNsure and provide detailed personal information.  

In December 2011, MNsure provided several prototypes of its website for public comment (see MHA’s comments). At that time, MHA raised concern that requiring people to provide information such as a social security number and personal income before determining whether they want to enroll in coverage will deter many individuals from conducting the plan comparison and affordability tests necessary to convince them that coverage is affordable and in their best interests. Instead, MHA encouraged MNsure to allow individuals to provide estimated income amounts and see what their net premium costs would be after any available subsidies. Actual income amounts, social security numbers and other sensitive information would only be required when they decide to follow through with enrollment.  

The MNsure website, however, allows a person to see plans available in a particular region of the state and the premium costs for those plans, but the premiums displayed are not adjusted to reflect potentially available premium subsidies. Consequently, some people will conclude that coverage is unaffordable for them without understanding that their actual premium costs might be significantly lower than the amounts displayed. Others might be curious to find out what subsidies they could get, but then decide to abandon their research when confronted with the requirement to create an account with MNsure and provide significant amounts of personal information.  

MHA plans to continue a more thorough review of the MNsure website and provide feedback to MNsure officials in the coming weeks. return to top  

MHA submits comments on emergency medical assistance

MHA has submitted comments regarding emergency medical assistance (EMA) in response to a Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Request for Information (RFI). The RFI sought feedback on ideas for the creation and funding of a coordinated care program for low-income individuals who are ineligible for other state or federal programs, such as Medicaid or MinnesotaCare. Current legislation restricts EMA funding to very limited services, including cancer care and dialysis.  

MHA’s comments highlighted that these low-income patients stay in hospitals for unnecessarily extended periods of time because there is no funding mechanism to pay for either their inpatient care or post-hospital care. MHA emphasized that these community members need the same coordinated care services, such as health care homes or similar delivery models that coordinate primary, behavioral, emergency and hospital, post-acute and long-term and dental care, as well as pharmacy and social services in order to effectively and efficiently manage their health and reduce overall health care costs.  

The RFI is the result of legislation passed in 2013 requiring DHS to identify alternatives and make recommendations for providing coordinated and cost effective health care to individuals who meet eligibility standards for EMA or are uninsured and ineligible for other state public health programs as well as federal assistance for purchasing insurance on MNsure.  

For more information contact Jen McNertney, MHA policy analyst, 651-659-1405. return to top  

Interim final DSH rule released

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an interim final rule governing the methodology for calculating adjustments to disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments in federal fiscal year 2014, which began on Oct. 1. This rule is especially important this year because it includes the first cuts to DSH payments required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  

MHA is reviewing the rule and will send individual members their estimated payment impacts resulting from its formula. MHA and the American Hospital Association were pleased that CMS corrected a potentially problematic aspect of a previous rule that would have negatively impacted most prospective payment system hospitals across the country. 

In particular, the previous rule stated that hospitals with fiscal years that do not coincide with the federal fiscal year might not receive their full 2013 DSH payments until after their next fiscal year. Such a delay could create a substantial hardship for some hospitals and put them at a competitive disadvantage relative to other hospitals with fiscal years that mirror the federal government's.  

Instead, the interim final rule clarifies that CMS will settle final DSH payments on the hospitals' 2013 fiscal year cost report as usual. return to top 

MDH proposes revisions to the MN Uniform Companion Guides

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is seeking feedback regarding proposed revised versions (version 7.0) of the Minnesota Uniform Companion Guides (MUCGs) for the implementation of certain ASC X12N transactions. These are the electronic eligibility and billing transactions routinely conducted between providers and health plans. 

These revisions have been vetted through the Administrative Uniformity Committee, of which MHA is a member. MHA staff and many hospitals participate along with health plan representatives to develop these common standards. The proposed changes can be found here. Comments are due by 4 p.m. Oct. 23.  

For more information contact Judy Edwards at health.asaguides@state.mn.us or visit http://www.health.state.mn.us/asa/. return to top  

Funding opportunity to enhance ability of health systems to address tobacco use

ClearWay MinnesotaSM is seeking proposals from Minnesota health systems to enhance their ability to address tobacco use. The focus of this funding opportunity is to advance health systems change to ensure that tobacco dependence treatment is fully integrated into the continuum of health care delivery. Data from Minnesota illustrate that there is still substantial room for improvement in integrating comprehensive tobacco dependence treatment into routine care.  

Links to full RFP along with the required forms for submitting a Letter of Intent can be found here.

  • Letters of Intent are due Friday, Oct. 18 by 4:30 p.m. Central Time
  • Qualified applicants will be invited to submit a full application. Full applications are due Wednesday, Dec. 4 by 4:30 p.m. Central Time

Questions about this funding opportunity can be directed to Dean Moritz, ClearWay Minnesota Cessation Manager, 952-767-1412. return to top  

Applications accepted for Rural Hospital Flexibility Program grants

The Rural Hospital Flexibility Program grants are open for application. Grants will be awarded for up to $25,000 in the areas of quality improvement, financial and performance improvement, and community engagement, with a focus on reaching critical access hospitals (CAH), other rural hospitals, rural emergency medical services (EMS), and organizations that partner with their local CAH or EMS. Applications are due by Nov. 15. More information and instructions are available here. return to top