Minnesota Hospital Association


November 04, 2013

MHA Newsline

In this issue

Hospital spotlight: MN hospitals making strides to reduce hospital-acquired conditions, readmissions

Minnesota hospitals participating in the Partnership for Patients Hospital Engagement Network (HEN) have made great progress toward achieving the Partnership’s goals of reducing hospital-acquired conditions by 40 percent and readmissions by 20 percent. Of the 113 hospitals in the MHA HEN, 108 have reached the goal on at least one hospital-acquired condition. Of those, 58 have demonstrated high performance on three or more hospital-acquired conditions, and two hospitals, Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Wabasha and United Hospital District in Blue Earth, have met the goal on six or more topic areas. For a complete list of high performing hospitals, visit the MHA website. return to top

2013 Top Performers named by Joint Commission

In the Oct. 28 issue of Newsline, MHA shared the 2012 Top Performers on Key Quality Measures™ from the Joint Commission’s Annual Report on Quality and Safety. It was brought to our attention that the report was outdated and MHA apologizes for the confusion. 

Last week, the Joint Commission issued its Annual Report on Quality and Safety for 2013, and 16 Minnesota hospitals were named Top Performers. The 2013 report recognizes 1,099 hospitals across the nation, representing 33 percent of all Joint Commission-accredited hospitals reporting accountability measure performance data for 2012. According to the report, hospital performance on accountability measures has improved significantly over time. In particular, hospitals have significantly improved the quality of care provided to heart attack, pneumonia, surgical care, children’s asthma care, inpatient psychiatric, VTE, and stroke patients.    

The 2013 Minnesota Top Performers on Quality Measures are:

  • Cambridge Medical Center
  • Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services, Willmar
  • Fairview Lakes Medical Center, Wyoming
  • Fairview Northland Health Services, Princeton
  • Fairview Southdale Hospital, Edina
  • Lakeview Memorial Hospital, Stillwater
  • Mayo Clinic Health System – Albert Lea and Austin, Austin
  • Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing
  • New Ulm Medical Center
  • Owatonna Hospital
  • Regions Hospital
  • St. Francis Regional Medical Center, Shakopee
  • St. Joseph’s Area Health Services, Park Rapids
  • Unity Hospital, Fridley
  • VA Health Care System, Minneapolis
  • Woodwinds Health Campus, Woodbury

Congratulations to the 2013 Top Performers. To read the entire report, click here. return to top 

Federal government concludes that anti-kickback laws do not apply to subsidized plans sold on MNsure

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance last week that federally subsidized health plans sold on health insurance exchanges, like Minnesota’s MNsure, are not considered federal health care programs. Accordingly, federal anti-kickback laws do not prohibit health care providers from paying a patient’s premium for these subsidized health plans.  

MHA and the American Hospital Association (AHA) are waiting for the Internal Revenue Service to determine whether providing financial assistance in the form of subsidizing health plan premiums would jeopardize charitable hospitals’ or health systems’ tax-exempt status. Likewise, MHA is researching state law to see whether there are any applicable barriers to this form of aid to patients.  

If hospitals and health systems are allowed to further subsidize patients’ premium costs, such assistance could ensure that patients are able to receive necessary post-acute or follow-up care, help alleviate patients’ concerns about obtaining necessary treatment if they are delinquent in making premium payments, and mitigate providers’ exposure to unexpected financial losses when patients who appeared to be insured are later discovered to have been in a health plan’s grace period.   

MHA will provide members with updates on guidance from the IRS as well as state law issues as soon as possible. For questions, contact Ben Peltier, MHA vice president of legal services, 651-603-3513. return to top 

MHA discusses concerns with MNsure

With one month of experience with MNsure’s operations, staff from MHA and MNsure compared notes and exchanged information as the new health insurance exchange continues to address public concerns.  

As has been the case for several months, MNsure’s Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) continues to have the largest amount of questions and concerns from MHA’s members. MHA explained that members and the association continue to be confused about whether providers are limited to serving as consumer assistance counselors (CACs) or whether they can choose to serve as navigators or in-person assisters. MNsure clarified that hospitals and health systems can choose what category of CAP partner they want to be, but emphasized that navigators and in-person assisters have greater obligations to serve the general public and the certified individuals’ names will be part of the public directory.  

MHA raised other concerns with the CAP process, including members’ ongoing difficulties completing the contracting process, and getting staff rosters processed so employees can begin the training and certification process. MHA also noted that members have stated that the MNsure enrollment process is more time consuming than expected and that the customer assistance call center requires unusually long wait times. MNsure is aware of these issues and working to address them as soon as possible. MNsure advised that CAP partners dial 181 after calling the customer assistance call center to be immediately routed to staff available to address questions from CACs, navigators and in-person assisters.

MHA described other concerns with the MNsure website, such as the lack of provider network information available to consumers trying to compare narrow-network plans, and will be making formal requests for MNsure to address these issues in the near future.  

For questions, contact Matt Anderson, MHA vice president of regulatory and strategic affairs, 651-659-1421 or Jen McNertney, MHA policy analyst, 651-659-1405. return to top

Fee-for-service physician payments may be history

Last week, key congressional leaders from both parties in the House and Senate announced that they have agreed to a concept for eliminating the pending Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) cuts to physician payments. As part of the agreement, physician payment rates would be frozen for 10 years as incentives are put in place to move payments from the fee-for-service model to alternative payment methods such as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and bundled payments.  

MHA, the American Hospital Association (AHA) and many provider organizations have long argued for elimination of SGR cuts. For years, Congress enacted delay after delay to the implementation of the SGR cuts and, as a result, they have continued to grow as a percentage of physicians’ Medicare rates.  

Details of the concept agreed to by congressional leaders remain undeveloped at this time, but the bipartisan show of support offers a positive sign that the elimination of SGR cuts combined with new policies aimed at moving from paying providers for the volume of services to the value of services they provide might be enacted in the months ahead. return to top    

MHA welcomes new member services and communications specialist

Ashley Gauster joins the MHA communications team as our new member services and communications specialist. Ashley is an experienced membership management professional. She most recently worked for the Minnesota Grocers Association, where she coordinated membership, communications and special events. She has experience managing databases and providing both print and electronic communications to members. Ashley has a bachelor of arts in Art History from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.  

Ashley will be responsible for maintaining our membership database and will serve as a liaison between MHA and our members to ensure the transfer of timely and relevant information. She will help maintain our website and will also be responsible for the MHA membership directory, so you can contact her if you have updates to your personal or hospital information. Ashley is also available to help members troubleshoot website login information.  

Native to St. Paul, Ashley enjoys antiquing, geology and running. Email Ashley. return to top

First Contact started Nov. 1

MHA and members received notice last week from the Minnesota Board on Aging of the start of First Contact/Preadmissions Screening (PAS) on Nov. 1. The program was delayed from an Oct. 1 start date because the state had not received federal approval by that time. MHA has learned the waiver including this provision was approved by the federal government in a letter dated Oct. 18, 2013.  

First Contact redesigns the preadmission screening process for patients discharged to a Medicaid-certified nursing home, regardless of payer source. In addition, the 30-day stay is no longer exempt from the process. A referral form must be submitted to Senior LinkAge Line and Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) level 1 screening completed before a patient can be transferred to a nursing home. According to the Board on Aging, the new protocol does not affect current OBRA level 2 screening or the long-term care consultation/MNCHOICES assessment process.  

Many questions remain about the implementation of First Contact, particularly regarding specifics on how transfers to nursing homes can occur if a referral is in process. Members are encouraged to check the Minnesota Board on Aging website for the latest information. MHA is also encouraging members to keep track of any discharges that are delayed as a result of the new protocol  

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

Several vacancies on health care-related state boards

There are several open appointments to state boards of possible interest to MHA members. Below is a list of the boards with open appointments. Application forms may  be found here, requested by mail from the Office of the Secretary of State, Open Appointments, 180 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155-1299, or in person at Room 180 of the State Office Building.

  • Advisory Committee on Heritable and Congenital Disorders
  • Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy
  • Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators
  • Board of Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Board of Medical Practice
  • Board of Pharmacy
  • Board of Psychology
  • Drug Utilization Review Board
  • Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board
  • Formulary Committee
  • Health Professionals Services Program Committee
  • Medical Services Review Board (Workers Comp)
  • Minnesota Board of Nursing

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Deadline extended for submitting community benefit information

In response to member hospital requests for additional time, MHA has extended the deadline to Monday, Nov. 11 for submitting your hospital’s community benefit data to be used in this year’s Community Benefit Report (based on fiscal year 2012). Your participation is critical to ensure the report accurately reflects regional and statewide trends, and that all benefits hospitals have supplied to their community are acknowledged. If your hospital did not receive emails regarding the survey (sent out early October), please contact Bonnie Terveer 651-603-3520.  

Please note, MHA is also requesting your hospital’s Form 990 be sent to Bonnie Terveer. return to top  

Watch your mailbox for MHA January Trustee Conference brochures

Hospital board members and CEOs should watch their mail for the MHA January Trustee Conference brochure, “Trustee Governance Trends and Transformation,” which will be mailed this week. The brochure is also available on MHA’s website.  

The January Trustee Conference will be held Jan. 10-12 at the Marriott Minneapolis Northwest in Brooklyn Park. The reservation deadline at the Marriott is Dec. 19 and space is limited, so be sure to reserve your room now by clicking here or calling 763-536-8300. Mention you are with the Minnesota Hospital Association to receive the group rate. return to top