Health Reform Update

The following update by the Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA) is designed to keep healthcare stakeholders current on the latest government-affairs related topics.

Providers collect $2.53 billion in EHR incentives
Healthcare providers participating in the Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive program received over $2.53 billion in Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments in 2011. Over 176,000 healthcare providers have registered for the program, which links incentive payments for the meaningful use of EHR. Approximately 123,921 eligible professionals (primarily physicians) are participating in the Medicare program, and 49,051 eligible professionals are participating in the Medicaid program. Over 3,000 hospitals are registered for the EHR incentive program. More information is on HIDA’s health reform website.

Health sector job growth totals 314,700 in 2011
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that healthcare providers added 314,700 new jobs in 2011, more than any other industry. In the past year, physician offices added 67,600 jobs, hospitals added 89,100, and nursing care facilities added 4,100. Many experts cite the shortage of primary care professionals as the reason for increased hiring in the physician market, and that many providers are increasing staff in order to prepare for health reform’s various payment changes and expansion of insurance coverage.

Medicare and Medicaid Innovation Center launches 16 health reform initiatives
In January 2012, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) released a report detailing health reform initiatives including a patient safety program for hospitals and the Pioneer accountable care organization (ACO) program. The health reform center has launched 16 projects that will involve more than 50,000 providers over the next five years. CMMI will have over $1.7 billion in funding for projects such as reducing hospital-acquired conditions ($500 million) and launching ACO pilot programs like Pioneer ACOs ($254 million).

Health reform’s comparative effectiveness research board releases proposed focus areas
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has released its proposed national priorities and agenda for comparative effectiveness research. PCORI, which will have an estimated $3 billion over the next decade to sponsor research, proposed five central priorities: 1) comparing prevention, diagnosis and treatment options; 2) improving healthcare systems and services; 3) communicating and disseminating information for patients; 4) addressing disparities in health outcomes; and 5) accelerating patient-centered and methodological research. PCORI did not single out any specific diseases, treatments, or procedures to study.

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