News you can use: September 28, 2017

As part of our mission to transform healthcare, we want to keep you informed of regular industry updates. News You Can Use provides a brief overview of relevant healthcare topics.

In this issue, we cover grants for building rural Veterans homes, a call to the ONC for improved health records, CMS waivers in response to Hurricane Harvey, and a VA effort to boost lung screenings for Veterans.

1) Proposal could ease grant access for building rural Veterans homes

A recent proposal from David Shulkin, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), could make it easier for states to receive VA funding to build Veterans nursing or healthcare homes in rural areas. Current regulations focus partly on Veteran demographics when ranking grant priorities, which makes it hard for some rural areas to compete for construction funding. Recognizing the needs of Veterans in rural areas (where State Veterans Homes can be hundreds of miles apart) may make it easier for state governments to compete for limited VA construction funding.

The revision of these regulations should be completed by the end of 2017.

2) ONC asked to focus on health data exchange

The Pew Charitable Trusts recently sent a letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) urging the national coordinator to consider the role of patient matching and data standards in aiding interoperability in electronic health records.

‚ÄúBy prioritizing advances in these areas, ONC can help foster more accurate and robust data exchange‚ÄĒincluding as part of networks‚ÄĒto drive interoperability so that patients, their caregivers, and their healthcare providers have the information they need to coordinate care and make informed decisions,‚ÄĚ wrote Ben Moscovitch, manager of health information technology at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

3) CMS waivers respond to Hurricane Harvey

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is temporarily waiving or modifying certain Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements in Texas and Louisiana in response to Hurricane Harvey.

The purpose of the waivers is to preserve access to care. They affect the following cases:

  • The CMS has waived requirements for a three-day prior hospitalization before admission to Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) and provided temporary emergency coverage of SNF services without a qualifying hospital stay for people who are displaced because of Hurricane Harvey.
  • The CMS has waived requirements for Home Health Agencies related to timeframes for completing Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS) data transmission.
  • The CMS has waived requirements for Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) that limit the number of patient beds to 25. The CMS will also allow stays beyond the capped 96-hour period.

CMS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are also coordinating with the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) Network and the states of Texas and Louisiana so that beneficiaries will continue to have access to treatment facilities.

4) VA announces lung-screening initiative

The VA has announced a partnership to boost access to lung screenings for Veterans. When caught and treated early, lung cancer has an 80 percent cure rate.

The project brings together support from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and experts from inside and outside the VA to create a network that will develop early detection programs for lung cancer.

The new project will start screening services at the Phoenix VA Health Care System by late 2017, and then extend these services to nine additional VA medical facilities starting in 2018. The effort could expand throughout the VA.



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