Minnesota Hospital Association


September 17, 2012

MHA Newsline

In this issue:

MHA submits comments supporting Medicaid expansion in Minnesota

Last week, MHA submitted a comment letter to the Minnesota Health Care Access Work Group expressing the association’s strong support for the expansion of Medicaid to cover childless adults earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Doing so is better for our patients, better for the state’s economy and better for health care providers.

In expressing its support, MHA indicated that expanding Medicaid would provide access to preventative and primary care for more uninsured Minnesotans and would provide residents already covered under MinnesotaCare a more comprehensive benefit. While MHA recognizes that Medicaid provides notoriously poor reimbursement rates for providers, it is more reliable than uncompensated care burdens that result from uninsured and underinsured Minnesotans. Furthermore, it is estimated that expanding Medicaid will save the state $1 billion over five years.

MHA will work during the 2013 legislative session to pass legislation to make Medicaid expansion a reality in Minnesota. For questions, contact Matt Anderson, MHA vice president of regulatory and strategic affairs, 651-659-1421.^top of page

Rural hospital flex grants available

Applications are being accepted for grants through the Minnesota Rural Hospital Flexibility Program, which is intended to preserve access to needed health services and encourage collaboration and integration of rural community health systems. Grants may be used to develop community, network or strategic plans for preserving or enhancing access to health services. Grants may also be used for implementation activities in the following categories by applicants with completed plans or needs assessments: network development; health system improvements (diversification, new services, workforce development efforts, etc.); strengthening and integrating the EMS system; and quality improvement.

Eligible applicants are rural hospitals with 50 or fewer beds, rural hospitals eligible to convert to critical access hospital licensure, critical access hospitals, rural health networks and rural EMS organizations. Click here for an application, which is due Oct. 29.

Grant reviewers needed
The Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Rural Health and Primary Care (ORHPC) is seeking grant reviewers for this and a variety of other grants that will be reviewed by the department. Participation is a good opportunity to see the grant review process firsthand, and to help ensure state grants are awarded fairly. For more information, please visit the ORHPC website or contact Cindy LaMere, 651-201-3852. ^top of page

Registration now open for 2012-13 FluSafe Program

Last year, 80 percent of Minnesota hospitals participated in the Minnesota Department of Health’s FluSafe program, which aims to vaccinate health care workers against influenza. MHA’s board has a goal to have 100 percent of hospitals participate in this voluntary program that improves patient safety. Participants in FluSafe receive statewide recognition for achieving 70, 80 or 90 percent vaccination rates among staff. Facilities can register by going to www.mdhflu.com and clicking the FluSafe link in the right-hand column. Visit the MHA site for resources to help communicate about FluSafe and influenza vaccination for health care workers.^top of page

Former HHS Secretary and Gov. Michael Leavitt to speak at MHA Annual Meeting

Due to a change in schedule, former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala will not be with us on Thursday, Sept. 20 at MHA’s Annual Meeting but will be replaced by Gov. Michael Leavitt. Leavitt served three terms as governor of Utah from 1993-2003. In 2003, he joined the Cabinet of President George W. Bush, serving in two positions: first as leader of the Environmental Protection Agency from 2003-2005, and then as secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from 2005-2009. At HHS, Leavitt administered a $750 billion budget — nearly 25 percent of the entire federal budget — and 67,000 employees.

Leavitt led the implementation of the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program. The task required the design, systematization and implementation of a plan to provide 43 million seniors with a new prescription drug benefit. By the end of the first year, enrollments exceeded projections, prices were lower than projected and seniors expressed high levels of satisfaction.

The MHA Annual Meeting convenes Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Madden’s on Gull Lake in Brainerd. To view the conference brochure or to register, visit MHA’s website. You must log in to register. ^top of page

DHS Adult Mental Health Reform 2020 effort seeking participants

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) recently convened the Adult Mental Health Reform 2020 steering committee (www.dhs.state.mn/MHDivison) and will start holding meetings for the related work groups.

The steering committee was formed to “review the mental health continuum of care, identify system gaps, and provide recommendations to DHS on potential changes to the publicly funded mental health system of care for adults.” The five work groups are:

  • Intensive Residential Treatment Services (IRTS )
  • Early onset of psychoses in young adults, and psychotic symptoms in youth
  • Behavioral Health Home
  • Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) and development of a new state plan option
  • Consumer run services

MHA is represented on the steering committee and is participating in the IRTS and behavioral health home working groups. MHA members interested in learning more or participating can contact Jen McNertney, MHA policy analyst, 651-659-1405. ^top of page

Report finds that Medicare cuts could cost Minnesota more than 12,000 jobs by 2021

A report released last week by the American Hospital Association concludes that the mandatory 2 percent Medicare sequester could lead to 12,919 Minnesota jobs lost by 2021. In 2013 alone, 8,364 jobs are at risk. This includes those workers directly employed by the health care sector as well as other jobs supported by the purchases of health care organizations and their employees. Nationally, 766,000 jobs could be lost by 2021 if the cuts to Medicare spending take effect. The biggest impact would be to hospitals, which would be forced to cut 92,984 jobs in 2013. Read the full report. ^top of page

Minnesota Chamber reviewing workers’ comp recommendations

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has formed a work group to review ideas for reducing medical costs in workers’ compensation. Some of the areas being reviewed are hospital costs, implant mark-ups, pharmacy costs, medical fee schedules, identifying centers of excellence and best practice guidelines. The work group’s goal is to have a list of recommendations for the full Chamber board by Dec. 1.

MHA is providing representation and advocacy to ensure no major changes are made without concessions by workers’ compensation insurance carriers to be more timely and accurate in the billing process. Workers’ compensation carriers have been noted by hospitals as not following standardized electronic billing formats, requesting detailed paperwork, delaying the payment cycle and not paying certain fees based on their assessment that the fees are too high. For more information, contact Joe Schindler, MHA vice president of finance, 651-659-1415.^top of page

Contracts for the Minnesota Nurses Association and Service Employees International Union  have been decertified at Meeker Memorial Hospital

Registered nurses at Meeker Memorial Hospital in Litchfield voted Aug. 22 to decertify their contract with the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA). It became official 10 days after the vote. The MNA union contract for RNs at Meeker had been in place since 1974.

Meeker Memorial had three union contracts at the beginning of 2012. On May 31 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) employees at Meeker voted to decertify their union contract after 34 years since the formation in 1978.

“Now, SEIU employees and RNs join non-contract employees at Meeker in not only benefits and pay arrangements but in the future of health care — striving for teamwork, delivery of health care and continued excellent care for the patient,” said Kyle Rasmussen, CEO. The remaining employees under contract at Meeker are LPNs belonging to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) since 1973. ^top of page

Serious video game will help educate health care workers

MHA is collaborating with the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and VitalSims, a medical technology company, to develop an interactive web-based game that simulates real-life situations for health care professionals. The games provide an interactive, engaging and stimulating way to learn. Read more on this story from the University of Minnesota.^top of page

National Kidney Foundation annual conference scheduled for Nov. 10

The National Kidney Foundation will hold its annual Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) in the 21st Century for the Primary Care Provider conference on Saturday, Nov. 10 at the Westin Edina Galleria. Participants will learn about early detection and prevention of kidney disease in patients, issues faced by primary care providers concerning CKD patients and how to partner with nephrologists to offer the best possible care for patients affected by kidney disease.

For more information or to register for the conference, please visit the National Kidney Foundation website. ^top of page