Supreme Court upholds insurance subsidies
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the Internal Revenue Service’s rule granting subsidies to people who purchase health insurance plans through federal health care exchanges as part of the Affordable Care Act.
As reported by Hospitals & Health Networks, the arguments in the King v. Burwell case centered on six words used in the Affordable Care Act’s language — “an exchange established by the state.” Opponents of the law argued that “the state” meant that federal subsidies could only be made available to people who signed up for coverage in a state-based exchange, nullifying the health insurance of those who bought coverage in the 30-plus states that do not run state-based exchanges.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the ambiguous language meant the court had to look at the “broader structure of the act.” The majority determined that Congress intended for all qualified individuals on an exchange to be eligible for the subsidy.
Also this week:
OSHA addresses health care workplace injuries
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is expanding its use of enforcement resources in hospitals and nursing homes to address common causes of workplace injury and illness in the health care industry. It has added musculoskeletal disorders related to patient or resident handling; bloodborne pathogens; workplace violence; tuberculosis; and slips, trips and falls to its key hazards for investigators to focus on in health care inspections.
2018 FGI Guidelines proposal period opens
Facility Guidelines Institute has invited the public to submit proposals to update and improve any part of the content of the current edition of the FGI Guidelines: the 2014 Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities and the 2014 Guidelines for Design and Construction of Residential Health, Care, and Support Facilities. Proposal must be submitted by Oct. 15.
HHS launches disaster readiness tool
Health & Human Services has launched HHS emPOWER, a Geographic Information System-based tool for health disaster readiness. The interactive tool combines monthly numbers of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries’ claims for electricity-dependent equipment at the national, state, territory, county and ZIP code levels. It combines the data with real-time severe weather tracking services. “This tool helps communities better anticipate, plan for and respond to these unique needs of this population and improve resilience for the entire community before and after disasters,” stated Nicole Lurie, M.D., HHS’ assistant secretary for preparedness and response.
Groups urge U.S. action on infection control
Trust for America’s Health, the Infection Diseases Society of America and UPMC Center for Health Security called on the United States to take additional steps to prepare for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus and other emerging infections. “The country tends to let enhanced infectious disease-containment capabilities lapse as soon as a crisis is over,” the report states. “Infectious disease preparedness requires ongoing investments … .”