After years of short-term fixes, the U.S House of Representatives is scheduled to vote to repeal and replace the flawed SGR methodology in a 10-year deal – H.R. 2. (What’s the SGR?) This SGR fix is a terrific step forward. It solves a long-term problem in providing fair Medicare payments to physicians, without making damaging cuts to health care access for our seniors and low-income residents. It also extends a critical health insurance programs for tens of thousands of children in Washington State.
Thank you to all of you who voiced your concerns about cutting hospital clinic payments (site-neutral payments) to pay for the SGR. The offsets to pay for the bill do not include those cuts, nor do they include cuts to Graduate Medical Education, critical access hospitals, or bad debt payments. In addition, the bill would extend the enforcement moratorium for the two-midnights rule through September 30, and extends the so-called extenders until January 1, 2018. The SGR proposal is an important step forward in the move toward payment for value.
Yesterday afternoon, we asked hospital members to contact your Representative and Senator to express support for the bill. (Click here for WSHA’s Inside D.C.) We would be remiss if we failed to thank the American Hospital Association, who have worked tirelessly to find a way to secure the fix while preserving access to many other needed health services.
Assuming the House passes the bill, the Senate will have about 24 hours to also pass the bill before they are scheduled to adjourn for the Easter recess. At this point, it’s difficult to determine whether the Senate will be able to pull that off or if it will wait until after the two-week recess. We are hoping the Senate will pass the bill before the recess. It would be great if the Senators heard from you.
If you have any questions, please contact Chelene Whiteaker at firstname.lastname@example.org. She has been a great asset on this work, and is in constant contact with our federal lobbyist, John Flink.
WSHA President and CEO
EvergreenHealth providing patients detailed, itemized estimates for out-of-pocket expenses
EvergreenHealth, a Kirkland-based health system and WSHA member, launched a service in 2014 that gives patients the ability to receive detailed, itemized estimates – often the same day – for out-of-pocket expenses. These include many of the most common procedures, customized to reflect insurance coverages, deductibles and other economic variables.
The initiative, which includes the cost-estimator staff service and ‘Understanding Your Healthcare Costs’ webpage, is available to patients who have scheduled procedures at EvergreenHealth and people who just want more information about the cost of care. It’s intended to provide patients peace of mind around predictability of costs and empowers them to be more engaged consumers regarding health care costs.
The Washington State Hospital Association and its member hospitals want consumers to have both cost and quality information so that they can make better decisions about health care. WSHA’s Hospital Pricing webpage. (Ed Boyle)
Alliance Brings Health Giants Together
UW Medicine, Skagit Regional Health and Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics have approved a three-way agreement to form a long-term clinical affiliation to enhance quality and access to health care services in the region. In addition, Skagit Regional Health will enter into a long-term lease of Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics, and run the operations and governance of the hospital in Arlington as well as five related clinics.
UW Medicine will also increase its presence at Cascade Skagit Health Alliance (CSHA) in Smokey Point, a partnership of Skagit Regional Health and Cascade Valley Hospital. UW Medicine will operate the primary care clinic on the second floor as a UW Medicine Neighborhood Clinic, while Skagit will continue to bring in specialists to CSHA, operate Urgent Care, and manage the Regional Cancer Care Center and ancillary services. UW Medicine currently operates a Maternal and Fetal Medicine Clinic at CSHA.
This alliance aligns Skagit Regional Health and Cascade Valley to work closely with a larger system, enhance and retain health care services, maximize cost savings savings and improve access to care. For more information, read the full press release. (Lilia Drain)
WSHA Continues Work with OIC on Network Adequacy Rule-Making
Beginning in 2013, WSHA members expressed significant concern regarding state rule-making on network adequacy requirements for commercial insurers. In response to member concerns, especially with the change in mileage access standards for rural areas, WSHA made network adequacy a priority. WSHA has worked closely with the OIC to provide input on hospital concerns and to encourage increased transparency in the rule-making process. WHSA has regular meetings with key OIC staff to discuss concerns and upcoming work, and is pleased is pleased that the OIC’s most recent exposure drafts on network adequacy have shown increased efforts to add transparency and responsiveness to the rule-making process.
WSHA will continue to monitor the insurance networks carefully, and we strongly encourage our members to provide any examples of reduced access to both OIC and WSHA. If you encounter an insured person having difficulty with getting needed care, please help them file a complaint. The OIC’s complaint system is available here. Feedback to WSHA can be emailed to Zosia Stanley, Policy Director, Access.
Virginia Mason’s Katerie Chapman Promoted to Senior Vice President and Hospital Administrator
On February 1, Virginia Mason Medical Center’s Katerie Chapman became Senior Vice President and Hospital Administrator. Previously Katerie was Vice President of Perioperative and Support Services at Virginia Mason. She was also named on the 2014 Puget Sound Business Journal’s “40 Under Forty” roster, so she’s had a big few months!She started as an administrative intern at Virginia Mason Medical Center, but brought with her big ambitions that definitely paid off. She doesn’t see herself going anywhere anytime soon. Her father worked for the same company for 35 years, and she anticipates the same track record. She wanted to work at Virginia Mason long before she got her first internship. Congratulations Katerie! To read more about Katerie, read the Puget Sound Business Journal’s interview. (Danielle Kean)
2015 WSHA Membership Directories Are Here!
The 2015 WSHA Membership Directory is hot off the press and ready for use by members and others interested in keeping current with hospital and health system leadership. This annual resource enables you to connect with key hospital and health system leaders across the state, as well as the health care related leaders with our Affiliate (non-hospital) members and Industry Partners (WSHA-endorsed vendors).
All WSHA members were sent complimentary copies this week. Additional copies may be purchased for $20 each through WSHA’s online bookstore by clicking here. You may also check out WSHA’s online membership directory which is updated throughout the year under the ‘Our Hospitals’ section of the website. If things change in your hospital or health system leadership, we’d love to know about it.
A huge thank you to our members who worked with us to update this year’s directory. Your timely responses were very appreciated! (Danielle Kean)
OIC Data Shows Washington Uninsured Rate Dropped Nearly 40%
The number of uninsured Washington residents has decreased nearly 40% in one year, from 970,000 at the end of 2013 to 600,000 at the end of 2014, according to a press release from the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner.
According to OIC data, approximately 9% of Washington residents were uninsured at the end of 2014, down from 14% the year before. While the data on the number of uninsured in Washington State is not exact, it is evident that more Washington residents have access to health insurance coverage then before the federal Affordable Care Act. Washington hospitals have seen a corresponding decrease in charity care and bad debt, although this data is still being complied and will be offset by cuts to hospital payments associated with federal health care reform. (Zosia Stanley)
Pharmacy Compounding Rules – Your Comments Mattered
WSHA and the Washington State Pharmacy Association (WSPA) submitted joint comments expressing our concerns to the Department of Health expressing concerns with the Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission’s (PQAC) draft “Compounding Practice Rule.” As initially written, the draft rule would have required a number of changes to hospital pharmacies from additional compounding endorsements, new engineering controls and excessive training and documentation requirements, all of which would place additional burden on hospitals and pharmacists.
At its March meeting, PQAC indicated they had received a large volume of comments and initiated a number of changes to the draft rule based on stakeholder feedback. A second draft rule is expected to be released in May or June of 2015. WSHA will work closely with WSPA to provide feedback on subsequent drafts. For more information on the draft rule refer to the WSHA Regulatory Issues page and if you would like to be further involved in this issue or on other hospital pharmacy related issues, please contact Ian Corbridge.
Washington State Healthcare Executive Forum Panel
Join a panel of healthcare executives from the Washington State Healthcare Executive Forum as we discuss healthcare policy in 2015, entitled Healthcare Today: A Focus on Policy in Washington State. The panel will take place Monday, April 27, from 5-8 pm, at the University of Washington Club, 4020 E Stevens Way, Seattle, WA.
WSHA Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Government Affairs, Cassie Sauer, will be featured as the key speaker. Additional panelists include Steve Saxe and Dr. Kathryn Beattie, with moderator Andrea Zavos Turner. Policy topics to be addressed include telemedicine, mental health, scope of practice, medical training, and health care funding.
Washington 100K Children Campaign- CDC Brain Imaging Awareness Month
March is the CDC’s National Brain Imaging Awareness Month— a time to focus on the issues around timely recognition and appropriate response in treating a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion. The Washington 100K Children Campaign is how hospitals, health systems and imaging centers are working together to improve safer imaging practices for children, including making responsible decisions for children who have experienced head trauma. When the possibility for CT imaging does arise, it is important to limit children’s radiation exposure by imaging only when needed, limiting the number of images obtained, and adjusting the CT scanner’s setting to match the child’s needs.
Thank you to all those health care providers committed to the Washington 100K Children Campaign, and improving children’s health outcomes through early diagnosis, management, and appropriate referral. For more information about the campaign and best practices for Safe Imaging contact Dave Wilson. (Amber Theel)
NWone CEO Gladys Campbell Transitioning Out of Leadership Role
NWone partners with WSHA on many issues of patient safety, policy and advocacy, and hospital operations. We are very sad to be saying goodbye to CEO Gladys Campbell, and are pleased to share her beautifully written good-bye message with you:
“Each January we enter a new season where most of us feel compelled to review our accomplishments and shortcomings with a resolve to do better. It’s hard to resist the pull of a promise of a new year and a fresh start; the sense that if we can only articulate our new intentions clearly enough they will transform us into the organized, bright, productive, fit, courageous and unfailingly kind, good, and generous persons we aspire to be. I know that you have all been through this drill a few times and may relate to the hopes of the future that may not produce the outcomes hoped for.” Read the entire message here. (Lilia Drain)
What Would Make You Believe in a Revolutionary QI System?
Welcoming New Industry Partner Commerce Bank
Economic Impact of Hospitals
Access to a range of high-quality health care services is an important part of any local economy. To help express the impact hospitals have on the economy of the state overall, we have developed this infographic that outlines the number of patients we care for, the number of people we employee, and the amount of charity care that we provide.Click on the image to view, download and print a PDF. (Mary Kay Clunies-Ross)
Patient Safety Means Fewer Harms and Millions Saved
Take a look at this colorful infographic to see how the Patient Safety Program is helping patients get better faster, and is reducing cost. With fewer harms and millions saved, the Patient Safety Program is ensuring that the triple aims of better health, better care and lower costs are achieved in health care.