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D.C. Report: Healthcare Leaders Meet at Care Innovations Summit, AMA Wants to Stop ICD-10

January 31, 2012
by Jeff Smith, Assistant Director of Advocacy at CHIME
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Healthcare Stakeholders Met at Care Innovations Summit  At a gathering of healthcare stakeholders in Washington this week, over a dozen healthcare "challenges" were announced by payers, vendors, non-profits and the public sector.  The Care InnovationsSummitbrought together public and private sector leaders in healthcare who unveiled new initiatives and issued new challenges - many of them backed by cash rewards - asking innovators to address problems related to chronic disease, healthcare costs, care transitions and other issues using health information technology.  The agenda was filled by the likes of CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, Dr. Rick Gilfillan director ofthe CMS Innovation Center, HHS CTO Todd Park, US CTO Aneesh Chopra and ONC Coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari.  Joining them were MDs and RNs from across the country, making strides in achieving the "triple aim" of better health, better healthcare and lower costs.  In addition the challenges calling upon developers, coders and techies of all creeds to help address long-standing problems related to diabetes, readmissions, Alzheimer’sand obesity, ONC issued a challenge of its own: Post-discharge follow-up appointments. "It's a simple thing we're asking, but it's also tough because of fragmentation in the system," Mostashari said.

ONC is looking for “software developers to create an easy-to-use web-based tool that will make post-discharge follow-up appointment scheduling a more effective and shared process for care providers, patients and caregivers.”  Developers also will need to articulate a plan for broader adoption at the community level, the challenge states. 

This competition is the second in a series of challenges calling attention to care transitions, particularly the time a patient is discharged from a hospital; these challenges seek the development and spread of IT-enabled tools that help achieve better care and better health at lower cost. The first challenge, “Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home,” called upon developers to create a web-based application that could empower patients and caregivers to better navigate and manage a transition from a hospital. Information about the Challenge and the winners can be found here.

AMA Sends Letter to BoehnerIt was reported this week that Dr. James Madara, executive vice president and CEO of the American Medical Association, has sent a letter (.pdf) to Speaker of the House John Boehner urging him “to put a stop” to the required implementation of ICD-10. “The implementation of ICD-10 will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patient care, and will compete with other costly transitions associated with quality and health IT reporting programs,” Madara wrote.  According to sources, the AMA has been sending letters to key officials on the Hill for the last two weeks (Speaker Boehner’s letter is dated January 17).  Madara wrote the ICD-10 mandate "will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patient care, and will compete with other costly transitions associated with the quality and health IT reporting program."  He added that the October 2013 deadline "could not be worse as many physicians are currently spending significant time and resources implementing electronic health records (EHR) into their practices."  Advocacy Corner has previously reported on efforts by the GOP Doctors Caucus to include a delay to ICD-10 transition in negotiations over the sustainable growth rate formula fix, currently being discussed among House and Senate officials.

In related news, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee is calling for a two- or three-year “doc fix.”  In a statement made during a Wednesday (Jan. 26) event outlining the committee's priorities for the year, chair Joe Pitts (R-PA) he wants to pass a short-term fix of a few years and then get going on a permanent fix.  Rep. Pitts did not like the idea espoused by a growing number of Republicans who want a full repeal of Medicare’s SGR formula by paid for from the savings generated as the U.S. winds down its military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  A Politico article stated that more than half of the 21 House GOP physicians plan to circulate a letter as early as next week in support of using war savings as an SGR offset.

CMS Adds to Attestation Section According to an announcement this week, CMS has added new information to the Attestation section of the EHR website about the appeals process for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.  CMS began accepting appeals for eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) on December 1st, 2011.  Hospitals and health care providers who can seek appeals include, those deemed ineligible to participate in the incentive program; those denied status as a meaningful user; and those who believe their incentive payments were calculated incorrectly.  To help EPs, eligible hospitals and CAHs, the CMS Office of Clinical Standards and Quality (OCSQ) is providing guidance on how to file an appeal and those appeals decisions will be posted at OCSQ Appeals beginning in February.