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Pharma Pays $825 Million to Doctors and Hospitals, ACA’s Sunshine Act Reveals

November 24, 2014 Comments off

Pharma Pays $825 Million to Doctors and Hospitals, ACA’s Sunshine Act Reveals
Source: Brookings Institution

A not so well-known provision of the Affordable Care Act is the Sunshine Act. The purpose of this act is to increase the transparency in the health care market by requiring doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and medical device manufacturers to disclose their financial relationships. Mandated by the Sunshine Act, on September 30th, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publicly released the first set of data, under the Open Payments title. This data includes $3.5 billion paid to over half a million doctors and teaching hospitals in the last five months of 2013.

A subset of Open Payments data that is individually identifiable includes two categories of payments. The first category are the payments that are made for other reasons such as travel reimbursement, royalties, speaking and consulting fees and the second are payments which are made as research grants. These datasets together include more than 2.3 million financial transactions which amount to a total of more than $825 million.

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Association Between Hospital Conversions to For-Profit Status and Clinical and Economic Outcomes

October 28, 2014 Comments off

Association Between Hospital Conversions to For-Profit Status and Clinical and Economic Outcomes
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association

Importance
An increasing number of hospitals have converted to for-profit status, prompting concerns that these hospitals will focus on payer mix and profits, avoiding disadvantaged patients and paying less attention to quality of care.

Objective
To examine characteristics of US acute care hospitals associated with conversion to for-profit status and changes following conversion.

Design, Setting, and Participants Retrospective cohort study conducted among 237 converting hospitals and 631 matched control hospitals. Participants were 1 843 764 Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries at converting hospitals and 4 828 138 at control hospitals.

Exposures Conversion to for-profit status, 2003-2010.

Main Outcomes and Measures
Financial performance measures, quality process measures, mortality rates, Medicare volume, and patient population for the 2 years prior and the 2 years after conversion, excluding the conversion year, assessed using difference-in-difference models.

Results
Hospitals that converted to for-profit status were more often small or medium in size, located in the south, in an urban or suburban location, and were less often teaching institutions. Converting hospitals improved their total margins (ratio of net income to net revenue plus other income) more than controls (2.2% vs 0.4% improvement; difference in differences, 1.8% [ 95% CI, 0.5% to 3.1%]; P = .007). Converting hospitals and controls both improved their process quality metrics (6.0% vs 5.6%; difference in differences, 0.4% [95% CI, −1.1% to 2.0%]; P = .59). Mortality rates did not change at converting hospitals relative to controls for Medicare patients overall (increase of 0.1% vs 0.2%; difference in differences, −0.2% [95% CI, −0.5% to 0.2%], P = .42) or for dual-eligible or disabled patients. There was no change in converting hospitals relative to controls in annual Medicare volume (−111 vs −74 patients; difference in differences, −37 [95% CI, −224 to 150]; P = .70), Disproportionate Share Hospital Index (1.7% vs 0.4%; difference in differences, 1.3% [95% CI, −0.9% to 3.4%], P = .26), the proportion of patients with Medicaid (−0.2% vs 0.4%; difference in differences, −0.6% [95% CI, −2.0% to 0.8%]; P = .38) or the proportion of patients who were black (−0.4% vs −0.1%; difference in differences, −0.3% [95% CI, −1.9% to 1.3%]; P = .72) or Hispanic (0.1% vs −0.1%; difference in differences, 0.2% [95% CI, −0.3% to 0.7%]; P = .50).

Conclusions and Relevance
Hospital conversion to for-profit status was associated with improvements in financial margins but not associated with differences in quality or mortality rates or with the proportion of poor or minority patients receiving care.

UK — Establishing food standards for NHS hospitals

October 14, 2014 Comments off

Establishing food standards for NHS hospitals
Source: Department of Health

The report looks at standards relating to patient nutrition and hydration, healthier eating across hospitals and sustainable food and catering services.

NHS adoption of the recommended standards will be required through the NHS contract meaning that hospitals will have a legal duty to comply with the recommendations.

The panel, set up by Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter and led by Dianne Jeffrey from Age UK, examined existing food standards, advising on how they should be applied and monitored.

CMS.gov — Open Payments

October 3, 2014 Comments off

CMS.gov — Open Payments
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Sometimes, doctors and hospitals have financial relationships with health care manufacturing companies. These relationships can include money for research activities, gifts, speaking fees, meals, or travel. The Social Security Act requires CMS to collect information from applicable manufacturers and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) in order to report information about their financial relationships with physicians and hospitals. Open Payments is the federally run program that collects the information about these financial relationships and makes it available to you.

See also: Physician Payment Sunshine Act: A Primer (American Action Forum)

HHS OIG — Hospital Emergency Preparedness and Response During Superstorm Sandy

September 18, 2014 Comments off

Hospital Emergency Preparedness and Response During Superstorm Sandy
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

WHY WE DID THIS STUDY
Federal regulations require that hospitals prepare for emergencies including natural disasters. The strength of Superstorm Sandy and the population density of the affected areas placed high demands on hospitals and related services. Prior studies by OIG found substantial challenges in health care facility emergency preparedness and response. In a 2006 study, we found that many nursing homes had insufficient emergency plans or did not follow their plans. In a 2012 followup study, we found that gaps continued to exist in nursing home emergency preparedness and response.

HOW WE DID THIS STUDY
For this study, we surveyed 174 Medicare-certified hospitals located in declared disaster areas in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York during Superstorm Sandy. We also conducted site visits to 10 purposively selected hospitals located in areas most affected by the storm. Additionally, we examined information from State survey agency and accreditation organization surveys of hospitals conducted prior to the storm and spoke to surveyors about their survey process related to emergency preparedness. We also interviewed State hospital associations and health care coalitions in the three States.

WHAT WE FOUND
Most hospitals in declared disaster areas sheltered in place during Superstorm Sandy, and 7 percent evacuated. Eighty-nine percent of hospitals in these areas reported experiencing substantial challenges in responding to the storm. These challenges represented a range of interrelated problems from infrastructure breakdowns, such as electrical and communication failures, to community collaboration issues over resources, such as fuel, transportation, hospital beds, and public shelters. Hospitals reported that prior emergency planning was valuable during the storm and that they subsequently revised their plans as a result of lessons learned. Prior to the storm, most hospitals received emergency-related deficiency citations from hospital surveyors, some of which related to the challenges reported by hospitals during Superstorm Sandy.

WHAT WE RECOMMEND
The experiences of hospitals during Superstorm Sandy and the deficiencies cited prior to the storm reveal gaps in emergency planning and execution that might be applicable to hospitals nationwide. Given that insufficient community-wide coordination among affected entities was a common thread through the challenges identified by hospital administrators, we recommend that ASPR continue to promote Federal, State, and community collaboration in major disasters. We also recommend that CMS examine existing policies and provide guidance regarding flexibility for reimbursement under disaster conditions. ASPR and CMS concurred with the recommendations.

After Midnight: A Regression Discontinuity Design in Length of Postpartum Hospital Stays

September 17, 2014 Comments off

After Midnight: A Regression Discontinuity Design in Length of Postpartum Hospital Stays (PDF)
Source: Columbia University (Almond), MIT (Doyle)

Estimates of moral hazard in health insurance markets can be confounded by adverse selection. This paper considers a plausibly exogenous source of variation in insurance coverage for childbirth in California. We find that additional health insurance coverage induces substantial extensions in length of hospital stay for mother and newborn. However, remaining in the hospital longer has no effect on readmissions or mortality, and the estimates are precise. Our results suggest that for uncomplicated births, minimum insurance mandates incur substantial costs without detectable health benefits.

Emergency department visits linked to zolpidem overmedication nearly doubled

September 3, 2014 Comments off

Emergency department visits linked to zolpidem overmedication nearly doubled
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The estimated number of emergency department visits involving zolpidem overmedication (taking more than the prescribed amount) nearly doubled from 21,824 visits in 2005-2006 to 42,274 visits in 2009-2010, according to a new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The report also indicates that 68 percent of all zolpidem overmedication visits in 2010 involved females, the number of zolpidem overmedication emergency department visits for males increased 150 percent from 2005-2006 to 2009-2010 compared to an increase of 69 percent for females over the same time period.

In 2010 there were a total of 4,916,328 drug-related visits to emergency departments throughout the nation.

Other prescription drugs were involved in 57 percent of the emergency department visits involving zolpidem overmedication. These medications included benzodiazepines (26 percent) and narcotic pain relievers (25 percent). Alcohol was also combined with zolpidem in 14 percent of these hospital emergency department visits.

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