A Bad Outpatient Rule, Organ Donations, and more...

Mass. Hospitals Step Up to Promote Organ Donations

Nearly 40 Massachusetts hospitals participated in the 2018 Hospital Organ Donation Campaign, raising awareness on the issue while conducting donor registrations.

The federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) reports that between the campaign’s October 2017 to April 2018 timeframe, nearly 23,700 additions were made to donor registries throughout the U.S.

Hospitals earned points for each activity implemented between October 2017 and April 2018 and were awarded platinum, gold, silver, or bronze recognition accordingly.  Click here to see the list of Massachusetts hospitals recognized by HRSA for their efforts.

Hospitals Harmed by Proposed OPPS Rule

Last week CMS issued its proposed Outpatient Prospective Payment System rule for FY19 that contains significant regulatory changes that will result in a substantial reduction to hospital payments under the Medicare program.  

The proposed rule will reduce payments to clinical services in hospital off-campus provider-based clinics, further reduce payments for 340B acquired drugs in the off-campus clinics, and make changes to the rules at grandfathered clinics, which will reduce payments for new services provided in them.  MHA and the national hospital community say the overall changes fail to recognize the critical role that hospitals play in their communities and will impede access to services as patients will be forced to travel to receive the care that is now provided by the community-based hospital outpatient facilities.

“At a time when the Massachusetts hospital community is facing a nurse staffing ratio ballot question that is estimated to cost $1.3 billion initially, and $900 million annually, the proposed Medicare outpatient changes will further exacerbate the fragile financial conditions of hospitals in Massachusetts.  Congress never intended to apply the cuts in a manner that CMS is proposing,” said Steve Walsh, MHA’s president and CEO.

“In 2015, Congress clearly intended to provide current off-campus hospital clinics with the existing outpatient payment rate in recognition of the critical role they play in their communities. But CMS's proposal runs counter to this and will instead impede access to care for the most vulnerable patients” said the American Hospital Association.

Dana-Farber Receives NIH Grant for Advance Care Planning Project

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has received important grant funding from the National Institutes of Health to develop a comprehensive advance care planning program, which incorporates both clinician training and patient video decision aids for older patients with advanced cancer.

The funding comes through NIH’s Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory, which conducts clinical trials in the healthcare settings where patients normally receive their care.  The five projects around the country that NIH chose will receive a total of $4.15 million for a one-year planning phase, with an estimated $30.85 million expected for four subsequent years of study implementation. Dana Farber’s lead researchers on the project are Drs. James Tulsky and Angelo Volandes.

Governor Signs Budget and Tobacco Bill

Last Thursday, Governor Charlie Baker signed the $41.7 billion FY19 state budget that the legislature had passed the previous week. Using his line-item veto authority, the Governor nixed just about $48.9 million in expenditures, which was far less than many expected. The Democratic-dominated legislature is expected to address the governor’s vetoes before the close of the legislative session tomorrow, July 31. Notably, Baker endorsed two MHA priorities in the final FY19 budget: a directive to provide $13 million in funding for disproportionate share hospitals, and a requirement to transfer up to $15 million to the Health Safety Net.

Also last week, Governor Baker signed the youth tobacco prevention bill that will raise the legal age for tobacco use to 21. MHA is a strong supporter of the new law, which will take effect on January 1, 2019.

As Home Healthcare Increases, a Renewed Focus on Safety

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement/National Patient Safety Foundation has released a new report focusing on home healthcare patient safety.

No Place Like Home: Advancing the Safety of Care in the Home (free registration required) summarizes the finding of an expert panel IHI convened in November 2017. That panel found that providing care outside of the controlled environment of a healthcare system comes with a series of risks, along with benefits.

“Safety interventions used in other settings cannot simply be applied to meet the specific challenges of safety in the home setting,” IHI writes in the report. “Understanding the type and scope of the risks specific to care in the home is essential to identifying effective strategies for mitigating risks and optimizing well-being for people who receive care in their homes.”

In 2016, more than 2 million personal care attendants provided care in the home, according to the US Department of Labor, and that number is expected to grow by 40% in the next decade. The IHI report includes a series of guiding principles and implementation recommendations.

Save the Date: Falls Coalition Event, Sept 17

The Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition, of which MHA is a member, is holding its 12th Annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day event on Monday, September 17 at 10 a.m. at the Grand Staircase and Great Hall of the State House.

In Massachusetts, within one year more than one in four community-dwelling older adults will fall, and of those more than one in three will be injured. However, through some very simple lifestyle changes most falls are preventable. Learn how at this event.

For more information about the event, please contact Liz Harnois, Brain Injury Association of MA at lharnois@biama.org or (508) 475-0032, ext. 14. For more information about the MA Falls Prevention Coalition, please contact Helen Magliozzi at (617) 558-0202 or hmagliozzi@maseniorcare.org.


Trish Hannon, R.N., the president & CEO of New England Baptist Hospital (NEBH) since 2009, has announced her retirement, effective September 30, 2018. She will be succeeded by David Passafaro, NEBH’s senior V.P. for External Affairs, who will have the title of president. Hannon has been asked to serve as a trustee for the proposed Beth Israel Lahey Health system, which, if approved by state and federal regulators, will consist of a series of Massachusetts hospitals, including NEBH. Hannon is a former member of the MHA Board of Trustees.  Passafaro is a former V.P. at Suffolk Construction Company, and served as chief of staff for former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) was unanimously elected president of the Massachusetts Senate last Thursday. She succeeds Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester), who was appointed to the newly created position of President Emerita. Spilka, 65, is a graduate of Cornell University and Northeastern University Law School. Prior to serving in the legislature, she chaired the Ashland School Committee. Spilka was elected to the Massachusetts House in 2000 and and has been a member of the Senate since 2005. She was the 2008 recipient of MHA’s Legislator of the Year Award.

Hospital Reimbursement & Collections

Wednesday, September 26; 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
MHA Conference Center, Burlington, Mass.

With the continued changes to the healthcare delivery system, it is important that healthcare providers improve ways to collect deductibles and co-pays to ensure an organization’s financial viability. As deductibles and co-pays increase, hospitals must explore all legal and ethical avenues to ensure appropriate collection. This conference will feature an analysis of the current state of hospital revenue trends and opportunities to ensure revenue capture. An expert in the field, Rich Bajner, will teach the session. We will then turn to a review of the federal and state requirements in a session taught by faculty from Verrill Dana. Learn more, including registration details, by visiting here.

John LoDico, Editor