HHS threatens to withhold federal funding from hospitals that fail to report coronovirus data


The Department of Health and Human Services is threatening to withhold U.S. funding from hospitals that failed to comply with federal requirements about data announced by Kovid-19 and influenza patients, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma Huh.

Verma said on a conference call with reporters that the hospitals would be given 14 weeks to comply with the requirements before enforcement was implemented. He said federal officials would work with hospitals during that time to help them comply.

“Because this requirement is in the terms of medical involvement, noncompliance can be eliminated from both Medicare and Medicaid, meaning the hospital will not receive reimbursement from these programs,” Verma said. “We are going to do everything we can to facilitate reporting.”

The withholding of Medicare and Medicaid funds would be a major setback for almost any hospital. But the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Drs. Deborah Birks insisted that the data are “really important” to guide the American response to the pandemic.

In the data requested from the hospitals, each hospital has the number of Kovid-19 patients and availability of medical devices such as ventilators and protective gowns for staff. Birx announced on Tuesday that HHS will now begin requiring new data from hospitals to better track seasonal influenza patients around the country.

The federal government uses data to guide potentially life-saving policy responses to epidemics such as how best to distribute a rare supply of antiviral drug remedivir, one of the few treatments for Kovid-19.

Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety policy at the American Hospital Association, said in a phone interview with CNBC last week that withholding Medicare and Medicaid funds “would be a very severe penalty on a community.”

But he said it is a tactic to scare hospitals from compliance, “a way to catch hospitals’ feet in a fire, but they should not be pulled out of the Medicare and Medicaid program immediately.”

“Losing your ability to participate in Medicare and Medicaid is a really big hammer,” said Foster, who serves on a work group of national hospital representatives that attempted HHS to ramp up federal data collection Giving advice “It doesn’t just affect hospitals,” she said. “It removes the option for Medicare and Medicaid patients to go to that particular hospital.”

Verma said on call on Tuesday that CMS will send several notices to hospitals that are out of compliance before making any threat of enforcement. He said the agency’s system has just over 6,000 hospitals that will receive notice from Wednesday, telling them how well they are following data reporting requirements.

Birks said on the call that about 86% of hospitals are reporting daily through the system and about 98% are reporting at least weekly. It is unclear which part of the hospitals are in compliance, but the Chief Health Care Officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Drs. Janis Orlowski estimates that approximately 96% are reporting their Kovid-19 data.

“We have most of our hospitals that are reporting normally,” said Varma. “Not all of them are going for daily reporting, so this is really to encourage them to report their data on a daily basis.”

Orlowski, who also serves in the working group, said the addition of seasonal influenza data for reporting requirements can be a real burden on some hospitals that are already struggling to meet the requirements. He said the rate of compliance is already high, so the status of participation in Medicare and Medicaid is stricter in order to comply with the requirements.

“We report 96% of people, and you guys are really going to slap on the Draconian” measure, Orlowski said in a phone interview last week. However, he said it is expected that HHS will include a longer enforcement period before taking action. However, she said that she and other hospital representatives have voiced opposition to the move.

“We’ve had conversations with the administration, basically saying, ‘You’re kidding me. You know, we’re cooperating with you and you guys are going to slap on the condition of participation?” “he said.

Orlowski and Foster said that Birks’ work group of representatives from the National Hospital, which usually meets every Thursday, has not met in about three weeks.

In late July, HHS was suddenly told that hospitals in the country were left to control them, to stop reporting their data to the National Healthcare Safety Network of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, hospitals were instructed to inform HHS through a new portal.

At the time, HHS tied the hospitals’ cooperation with reporting for the delivery of remediesvir, but the decision left many rural hospitals in the dark because they relied on the CDC and shared that information as their states themselves collected data Don’t. .

One of the most difficult requirements for some, especially small, hospitals, is that they are required to report data every day, including weekends. However, the new guidance from HHS says that hospitals that do not have weekend workers can submit their weekend data by the end of Monday.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the patients,” Varma told reporters. “We want to make sure that hospitals have the supplies they need, so all this reporting just ensures that health care workers and patients have the supplies and treatments they need.”

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