March 15, 2013
By Adam Mingal*
Proposed Legislation Would Add 15,000 Residents
The Hill (3/14) reports that a bill recently introduced by the U.S. House of Representatives would add "15,000 more medical residency positions under Medicare in a move to alleviate the looming U.S. doctor shortage." The bill would cost between $9 billion and $10 billion, and the positions would be added over the course of five years.
Teaching Hospitals Permitted to Change Number of Residents Beyond Three-Year Window
Lexology (3/11) reports that, according to a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, teaching hospitals "may adjust the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) residents and intern physicians that they submit to the Medicare program for reimbursement of the costs of the FTE's graduate medical education past the three-year regulatory window for review of reimbursement determinations." The court held that "the reopening regulation allows for modification of predicate facts in closed years provided that the change will only impact the total reimbursement determination in open years."
Medicare Amends Readmissions Penalties
Kaiser Health News (3/14) reports that Medicare "has slightly lessened its readmissions penalties for 1,246 hospitals." The revisions are part of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program's (Program's) efforts to pressure hospitals to ensure that patients remain healthy after leaving the hospital. In the aggregate, hospitals will pay a total of $280 million in readmission penalties this year. The Program is intended to align Medicare payments with the quality of patient care.
Sequestration Will Significantly Impact Federal Health Programs
Kaiser Health News (3/11) reports that while Medicare and Medicaid will remain largely unaffected by sequestration, other federal healthcare programs will experience significant cuts in funding. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health will see cuts of $303 million and $1.5 billion, respectively. Moreover, according to the Obama Administration, sequestration will result in the loss of mental health services for 373,000 adults with mental illness and children with serious emotional disturbances. It will also result in the loss of mental healthcare for 8,900 homeless persons, and the loss of in-patient and out-patient treatment for 200,000 drug addicts, according to the Administration.
*We would like to thank Adam Mingal (Department on Disability Services, Washington, DC), for providing this week's update.