Archive for Pennsylvania


PA Hospitals Reducing Readmissions, Mortality

Pennsylvania hospitals have seen a state-wide decrease in their mortality and readmission rates, according to new data released by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Commission.

According to the new numbers, which cover hospital performance from January 1 through September 30 of 2015, hospital mortality rates fell for ten of the 16 conditions PHC4 tracks while readmissions fell for nine of the 13 conditions for which the agency collects data.

PHC4 estimates that this improved performance saved 3900 lives and avoided 2700 hospital readmissions.

For a closer look at the data PHC4 collected, the conditions it tracked, and a hospital-by-hospital, region-by-region, and state-wide look at hospital performance go here, to the PHC4 web site, to find a summary of the report, the news release that accompanied its publication, and three separate reports with all of the numbers and findings.


PA Looking to Update Nursing Home Regulations

A special task force has proposed major changes in regulations that govern nursing homes in Pennsylvania.

The Nursing Home Quality Improvement Task Force, created by Department of Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy, recommended four areas of focus for new regulations:

  • Improve collaboration between policy makers, lawmakers, providers, health care professionals, and most importantly, the residents of nursing homes and their advocates;
  • Change regulations and expand facility inspections to focus on the quality of life for residents who live in that facility;
  • Perform more comprehensive and consistent surveys to collect data that allows for consistent evaluation of quality of life in nursing homes; and
  • Redesign workforce composition and competencies.

It offered these recommendations after concluding that it found

…a misalignment between outdated nursing home care regulations and the type of care that is needed in today’s nursing homes. It concluded that in the past, state regulations were designed to evaluate the quality of the actual nursing home facility, but did not fully account for the quality of life of the residents themselves.

Learn more about the state’s plans for its nursing homes in this Department of Health news release.…

Pennsylvania Launches Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has launched its much-anticipated prescription drug monitoring program.

Previously operated by the state’s office of the attorney general but assigned to the state’s Health Department through 2014 legislation, the program requires those authorized to prescribe controlled substance prescription drugs to collect and submit information to the PDMP each time they do so within 72 hours. That information is then stored in a database that is available to health care professionals to help them identify patients who may have problems with controlled substances or may even be going from provider to provider to gain additional prescriptions.

The state Health Department has created a web site for the program that includes FAQs about how the PDMP works for those who prescribe and dispense controlled substances. Visit that web site here.…

Pennsylvania Announces Hospital Quality Incentive Program

Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program has announced plans to launch a new hospital quality incentive program that will focus on measuring preventable hospital admissions and will reward hospitals that improve their performance.

The program, part of a larger effort by the state to move away from volume-driven Medicaid payments and toward a greater focus on value and population health, will measure and reward incremental improvement in reducing preventable admissions and achieving the 25th or 50th percentile benchmark of a state-wide preventable event rate. Hospitals that meet their objectives will qualify for bonus payments from the state funded by proceeds from Pennsylvania’s hospital assessment.

HealthChoices, Pennsylvania’s Medicaid managed care program, seeks to purchase 7.5 percent of Medicaid services through value-based purchasing arrangements in calendar year 2017, 15 percent in 2018, and 30 percent in 2019. The Hospital Quality Incentive Program seeks to facilitate achieving these goals.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, which administers the state’s Medicaid program, has posted on its web site an explanation of the new program, a presentation on the program, and an FAQ. Find them here.…

New Pennsylvania MLTSS Program Delayed Six Months

The launch of Community HealthChoices, Pennsylvania’s new approach to the delivery of managed long-term services and supports for seniors eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, will be delayed six months.
The program was scheduled to begin in southwestern Pennsylvania on January 1, 2017 but state officials recently announced that they have pushed back the start date to July 1, 2017.

In a message to interested parties, state officials wrote that

The decision to extend our start date builds on this approach and allows more time for the 420,000 Pennsylvanians who will ultimately benefit from CHC to understand the program adjustments that will occur, including how access to and receipt of home- and community-based services will be improved. We will continue to work with all stakeholders, such as the Area Agencies on Aging and Centers for Independent Living, on a robust CHC education and outreach effort to ensure that we reach as many consumers and caregivers as possible. 

The time-frame for implementation in other parts of the state remains unchanged.

To learn more about what Community HealthChoices is and why its launch has been delayed, see this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.…