Health Headlines: Also in the News - June 2014

by King & Spalding

Burwell Confirmed as HHS Secretary – On June 5, 2014, the Senate voted 78-17 to confirm Sylvia Mathews Burwell as Secretary of HHS.  Burwell has served as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget since April of 2013.  Previously, Burwell was president of the Walmart Foundation and president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program.  Burwell was sworn in as Secretary on June 9.

Applications Open for Available Resident Slots – The June 2, 2014 edition of the Federal Register announced the closure of Long Beach Medical Center, which had a graduate medical education full time equivalent (FTE) resident cap of 26.79 FTEs.  In accordance with Section 5506 of the Affordable Care Act, HHS will redistribute Long Beach Medical Center’s residency slots to other teaching hospitals.  Applications for additional residency slots must be received by 5:00 pm on September 2, 2014.  More information is available here.

CMS Releases Hospital Charge Data Update – On June 2, 2014, CMS released its second annual update to the national hospital charge data.  The data shows the amount hospitals charged for the 100 most common discharges in 2012.  Between 2011 and 2012, most charges increased less than 5 percent, though there is still significant variation in charges for the same services, both nationally and in the same geographic area.  To access the hospital charge data spreadsheets, click here.  More information about the posting of hospital charge data is available in our May 13, 2013 Health Headlines article by clicking here.

RACTrac Survey Shows Increased Requests for Medical Records – On May 28, 2014, the American Hospital Association released the results of its RACTrac survey covering the first quarter of 2014.  Designed to measure the impact of the Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program on hospitals nationwide, the survey showed that medical record requests from RACs had increased by 9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013 through the first quarter of 2014.  However, according to the RACTrac survey results, 57 percent of the records reviewed did not contain overpayments.  Hospitals also reported a 9.5 percent increase in automated RAC denials, and a 13 percent increase in complex RAC denials compared to the previous quarter.  To view the survey results, click here.

AHA Requests Halt of OIG Audits – In a June 2, 2014 letter addressed to Secretary Sebelius, the American Hospital Association (AHA) expressed concern regarding an increase in OIG’s hospital compliance reviews that use audit findings to extrapolate overpayment amounts.  The AHA requested an immediate end to the audits, arguing that they are redundant to RAC reviews and the overpayments identified are erroneous and inconsistent with Medicare guidance.  AHA’s letter is available here.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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