AHA urges CMS to protect outpatient access

Planning // The American Hospital Association (AHA) has urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to protect patients’ access to care when it implements Sec. 603 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. “The AHA is deeply disappointed that this law will result in substantial reductions to payments for services furnished in provider-based [hospital outpatient departments],” wrote AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels. “While we will continue to work with Congress to make changes to the provision to address the serious concerns of the field, we remain concerned that, as it stands, Sec. 603 will restrict patients’ care options. Therefore, we strongly believe that flexibility is needed when CMS implements this provision to protect patients’ access to care.”

USP publishes hazardous drug-handling standard

Design // The United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) recently published the standard for hazardous drug handling in health care settings, commonly known as “USP 800.” Effective July 1, 2018, the standard will apply to hospitals and other health care facilities that handle drugs identified as hazardous or potentially hazardous by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. In comments submitted last June, the American Hospital Association urged the organization to relegate the proposal to a “best practice.”

CDC issues Ebola planning guidance for transport

Patient transport // The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance to help emergency medical systems (EMS), public health departments and health care coalitions develop plans for transporting patients with confirmed or suspected Ebola virus disease between facilities. The guidance can be used to develop transport networks and plans; standard operating procedures; EMS procedures and protocols; and training for EMS and health care personnel, the CDC stated.

Telehealth bill introduced in Congress

Technology // Congress recently introduced legislation to expand access to telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) services in Medicare. The CONNECT for Health Act would remove most Medicare restrictions on telehealth and RPM reimbursement for participants in a new “bridge program” for providers transitioning to the goals of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act and Merit-based Incentive Payment System, and for qualifying participants in alternative payment models, the sponsors said. The bill also would permit further telehealth and RPM in community and rural health centers; remote patient monitoring for certain patients with chronic conditions; and reimbursement for patients at telestroke evaluation and management sites, Native American health service facilities and certain dialysis facilities for home dialysis patients.

CDC issues HCV help for dialysis facilities

Infection prevention // The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently urged dialysis providers to assess and promptly address any gaps in their infection control practices, citing an increase in reports of acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. The CDC is investigating 36 reports of acute HCV infection at 19 different hemodialysis clinics between 2014 and 2015, and said that HCV transmission between patients has been demonstrated at nine of the clinics so far.