PPACA Grants to Health Centers

HHS announced that about 1,105 health centers have been granted over $295 million to help increase access to comprehensive primary health-care services for about 1.5 million new patients.

Health IT Provider Gain Flexibility in 2014

HHS issued a final rule which modifies the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) prior rule in order to give health IT developers more flexibility in having their HIT products certified in 2014. The rule is effective October 14.

Dialysis Center Star Rating System Delayed

CMS announced that the new “star” rating system for dialysis centers will be delayed until January, 2015. The Dialysis Facility Compare [DFC] will be added to the Hospital and Home Health Compare websites on Medicare.gov.

MedPAC Commissioners Discuss RAC and SNF Changes

At the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s (MedPAC) September meeting, MedPAC commissioners appeared convinced that the Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program is in need of reform because of the high error rates found when hospitals challenge initial RAC findings. The panel also recommended that the “antiquated” three-day-in-hospital rule governing Medicare coverage for skilled nursing facilities be terminated.

Unused Drug Drop-Off Sites Authorized

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a final rule under the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 that will allow pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and other entities to serve as authorized drop-off sites for unused prescription drugs. Long-term care (LTC) facilities would also be allowed to collect controlled substances turned in by their patients.

Health-Related Hearings and Markups

Senate Special Aging Committee: will hold a hearing titled “Harnessing the Power of Telehealth: Promises and Challenges?” 2:00 p.m., 562 Dirksen Bldg.; September 16.

Senate HELP Committee and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies: will hold a joint hearing titled “Ebola in West Africa: A Global Challenge and Public Health Threat;”2:30 p.m., 216 Hart Bldg.; September 16.

Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee: will hold a hearing titled “The Children’s Health Insurance Program: Protecting America’s Children and Families”; 2:30 p.m., 215 Dirksen Bldg.; September 16.

Senate HELP Committee: will hold a markup to consider health and education bills, including S. 2141, the Sunscreen Innovation Act; 10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Bldg.; September 17.

House Foreign Affairs Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations Subcommittee: will hold a hearing titled “Global Efforts to Fight Ebola”; 10 a.m., 2172 Rayburn; September 17.

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