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Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017
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Last Modified: August 25, 2016
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News Item - 04/16/2017
Public Use File
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has developed a public use file that enables researchers and policymakers to evaluate geographic variation in the utilization and quality of health care services for the Medicare fee-for-service population.  The Geographic Variation Public Use File includes demographic, spending, utilization, and quality indicators at the state level (including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands), hospital referral region (HRR) level, and county level.

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News Item - 12/16/2016
Opioid-Related Inpatient Stays and Emergency Department Visits by State, 2009-2014
The opioid epidemic has reached alarming levels in many parts of the United States, affecting the lives of thousands of individuals and families. Between 2000 and 2014, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids in the United States increased 200 percent. Between 2013 and 2014 alone, the rate of opioid overdose deaths increased 14 percent, from 7.9 to 9.0 per 100,000 population. Hospitalizations related to opioid misuse and dependence also have increased dramatically, with the rate of adult hospital inpatient stays per 100,000 population nearly doubling between 2000 and 2012. The substantial increase over the past decade in the misuse of opioids, which include prescription opioids and illicit opioids such as heroin, has been declared an "opioid epidemic" by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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News Item - 11/02/2016
CMS Finalizes Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System Changes to Better Support Hospitals and Physicians and Improve Patient Care
On Nov 1, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized updated payment rates and policy changes in the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System for calendar year (CY) 2017. These finalized policy changes will improve the quality of care Medicare patients receive by better supporting their physicians and other health care providers and reflect a broader Administration-wide strategy to create a health care system that results in better care, smarter spending, and healthier people.

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News Item - 10/14/2016
CMS Finalizes the New Medicare Quality Payment Program
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized its policy implementing the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and the Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM) incentive payment provisions in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), collectively referred to as the Quality Payment Program. The new Quality Payment Program will gradually transform Medicare payments for more than 600,000 clinicians across the country, and is a major step in improving care across the entire health care system.

The final rule with comment period offers a fresh start for Medicare by centering payments around the care that is best for the patients, providing more options to clinicians for innovative care and payment approaches, and reducing administrative burden to give clinicians more time to spend with their patients, instead of on paperwork.

Accompanying today’s announcement is a new Quality Payment Program website, which will explain the new program and help clinicians easily identify the measures most meaningful to their practice or specialty.

To see the press release and obtain more information about today’s announcement, including a fact sheet, please visit:

To learn more about the rule, visit
News Item - 10/03/2016
Falls and Fall Injuries Among Adults Aged ≥65 Years - United States, 2014
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among adults aged ≥65 years (older adults). During 2014, approximately 27,000 older adults died because of falls; 2.8 million were treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries, and approximately 800,000 of these patients were subsequently hospitalized.* To estimate the numbers, percentages, and rates of falls and fall injuries among older adults by selected characteristics and state, CDC analyzed data from the 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. In 2014, 28.7% of older adults reported falling; the estimated 29.0 million falls resulted in 7.0 million injuries. Known effective strategies for reducing the number of older adult falls include a multifactorial clinical approach (e.g., gait and balance assessment, strength and balance exercises, and medication review). Health care providers can play an important role in fall prevention by screening older adults for fall risk, reviewing and managing medications linked to falls, and recommending vitamin D supplements to improve bone, muscle, and nerve health and reduce the risk for falls.

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News Item - 09/12/2016
WalletHub Lists States With the Best and Worst Health Care
WalletHub, a personal finance website, has listed the best and worst health care states based on 29 metrics including average premiums, coverage rates and physicians per capita. The top five are: Minnesota, Maryland, South Dakota, Iowa and Utah, respectively. The bottom five: Arkansas, Nevada, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alaska.

For more information, click here.
News Item - 08/31/2016
Cesarean birth trends: Where you live significantly impacts how you give birth
The likelihood that an expectant mother will have a cesarean delivery1 is determined in large part by where she lives. An analysis of Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies’ data taken from 3 million deliveries by BCBS commercially-insured members shows that the rate of cesarean deliveries is more than twice as high in some parts of the country than in other parts and that even rates by U.S. Census Division vary by as much as 35 percent.

While geographic variation in cesarean deliveries is stark, the trend nationally may be shifting back toward vaginal deliveries. During a five-year period between July 2010 and June 2015, the cesarean rate decreased slightly each year within the BCBS population, to 33.7 percent from 35.2 percent.

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News Item - 08/11/2016
ICD-10 GEMS for 2017 Available
The 2017 General Equivalence Mappings (GEMs) are available, along with the ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS code updates:

  • Diagnosis: 2017 ICD-10-CM and GEMs webpage

  • Procedures: 2017 ICD-10-PCS and GEMs webpage

News Item - 07/27/2016
Many Well-Known Hospitals Fail To Score 5 Stars In Medicare’s New Ratings
The federal government released its first overall hospital quality rating on Wednesday, slapping average or below average scores on many of the nation’s best-known hospitals while awarding top scores to dozens of unheralded ones.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rated 3,617 hospitals on a one- to five-star scale, angering the hospital industry, which has been pressing the Obama administration and Congress to block the ratings. Hospitals argue the ratings will make places that treat the toughest cases look bad, but Medicare has held firm, saying that consumers need a simple way to objectively gauge quality.

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News Item - 07/22/2016
Data Brief: Evaluation of National Distributions of Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings
Hospital Compare is a consumer-oriented website that provides information on how well hospitals provide care to their patients. This information can help consumers make informed decisions about their health care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been posting quarterly hospital quality star ratings based on patients’ experience of care on the Hospital Compare website since April 16, 2015.

To continue our efforts to make quality of care information more readily available, we developed an Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating (Star Rating) that reflects comprehensive quality information about the care provided at our nation’s hospitals. We have previously stated our intention to begin posting this overall star rating on Hospital Compare in 2016, which we expect to begin shortly.

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FY2018 Medicare Hospital IPPS
Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule, and Request for Information CMS-1677-P
On April 14, 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today issued a proposed rule that would update 2018 Medicare payment and polices when patients are admitted into hospitals. The proposed rule aims to relieve regulatory burdens for providers; supports the patient-doctor relationship in health care; and promotes transparency, flexibility, and innovation in the delivery of care.

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Understanding MS-DRG Grouping under ICD-10
Understanding MS-DRG Grouping under ICD-10
Now that ICD-10 is in full swing, we are seeing a lot of activity with providers, payers, consultants and regulators who need to understand how Acute Inpatient and Long Term Care Hospital claims "behave" when the claim is coded in ICD-10. This includes both prospective and retrospective review of claims scenarios to understand MS-DRG grouping. This article offers a basic primer on MS-DRG grouping logic, and research techniques for using related MediRegs Coding Suite tools. If you'd like a personalized training on these tools, or a demonstration of them in action to see if they are a good fit for your research scenarios, please let us know!

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SMA White Paper - 08/31/2015
New Health Analytics, a national  healthcare software developer and data analytics firm, is pleased to announce that it has released a special report with an concise  review of the FY 2016 Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) Final Rule recently posted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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