News briefs

Senate votes against 15% cut

Early last month, the Senate voted 99-1 to cancel the 15% cut in Medicare home health rates that is scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, 2002. This is the second time the cut has been postponed since the decision to implement it was first made. But cancellation of the 15% cut is far from a sure bet. The House of Representatives passed its budget resolution in March without the inclusion of any provisions geared toward eliminating or postponing the cut. As such, the final budget resolution will have to be hammered out by a House and Senate committee.

The Senate will face stiff opposition from the House, where there is a strong desire by House Democrats to fund a Medicare prescription drug benefit. 

Summit scheduled for pain management

The Joint Commission Resources of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations will present two seminars in 2001 as part of its Second Annual Joint Commission Leadership Summit on Pain Management. The Summit, which is supported in part by an unrestricted educational grant provided by Purdue Pharma L.P. and Triad Technologies Inc., will be held June 25-26 in Phoenix and Sept. 20-21 in Atlanta.

It has been expanded this year to 1½ days of educational events to allow additional time for more in-depth coverage of the issues. Among the subjects that will be covered are:

  • proven strategies for building institutional commitment to pain management;
  • precise examples of implementation of the standards as they relate to special populations and issues;
  • validated methods for measuring, monitoring, and tracking outcomes to gauge effectiveness of programs;
  • powerful techniques for educating patients to assist in managing their pain;
  • efficient and effective ways to define and assess the competency of clinicians involved in a multidisciplinary approach;
  • insightful poster presentations of good practices from practicing clinicians.

To learn more or to register for either conference, send an e-mail to: Be sure to include your e-mail address, name, title, organization, address, and phone number. Or call (630) 792-5800. 

Leadership conference addresses big picture

The American Association for Homecare holds its AAHomecare Leadership Conference on May 30 to June 1. The conference, which includes an annual membership meeting, is slated to examine such issues as the changing health care continuum and benchmarking breakouts featuring industry practitioners. All sessions will consider the issues, challenges, and opportunities associated with new technologies used to treat and manage patient care at home.

The Leadership Conference will be held at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. To make reservations, call (800) 438-0050. For member updates, visit AAHomecare’s web site at

MedPAC boosts rural health care

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has agreed to recommend increasing payments to low-volume hospitals, as well as the caps on Medicare Disproportionate Share Hospital funding from 5.25%, as stipulated under the Medicare, Medicaid, State Children’s Health Improvement Program Benefits Improvement and Protection Act of 2000, to 10%. The one-year increase would provide low-volume hospitals with an additional $22 million. Moreover, MedPAC requested that a study be conducted on making wage-index adjustments to increase payment parity between urban and rural facilities. 

Flying, defibrillators make an aerial duo

As of April 12, all airplanes must be equipped with automated external defibrillators (AED), and airline personnel must be trained in their use, according to a final rule handed down by the Federal Aviation Administration. AEDs automatically determine whether the patient should get the electrical shock.

Ventricular fibrillation, according to the report, is the most common form of treatable cardiac arrest, and survival rates can be as high as 90% if defibrillation is provided during the fist minutes following collapse. The final rule also mandates that airlines update their emergency medical kits within three years. The Aviation Medical Assistance Act of 1998 required the rule. Nine airlines now carry AEDs or have committed to do so. Airline emergency medical kits must now include, among other things, aspirin, CPR masks, oral antihistamine, atropine, and a bronchodilator inhaler.