Week in review: 8 biggest healthcare stories this week

Stay in the know with Becker's Hospital Review's weekly roundup of the nation's biggest healthcare news. Here's what you need to know this week.

1. CMS announces 2016 IPPS proposed rule
CMS released its proposed rule for the fiscal year 2016 Medicare inpatient prospective payment system, and many providers will see increases in their Medicare reimbursements next year. CMS projects total Medicare spending on inpatient hospital services will increase by about $120 million in fiscal 2016. While it did not discuss or make any recommendations regarding its two-midnight policy, the agency did note it is considering feedback and recommendations from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission concerning this provision. Concerning the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting program, CMS recommended adding eight new measures for FY 2018 and the years after. For more information on the proposed rule's changes to the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing program, the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative and the comment period, click here.

2. Proposed CMS 2016 IPPS rule would increase MU payments 1.1%
CMS' proposed rule for the fiscal year 2016 Medicare inpatient prospective payment system includes changes to meaningful use reimbursement. The new rule proposes meaningful users of EHRs that also report quality measures receive a 1.1 percent increase in Medicare operating rates. Those that do not report quality data would lose a quarter of the market basket update (2.7 percent), and those that are not meaningful users of EHRs would lose one half the market basket update in FY 2016.

3. Ice cream-linked listeria outbreak case counts grow
As of Tuesday, 10 people in four states were ill with listeriosis linked to the Texas-based ice cream maker Blue Bell Creameries. Previously, eight known people were ill. Blue Bell Creameries has voluntarily recalled all of its products currently on the market — more than 8 million gallons of ice cream across 23 states — made at all of its facilities. The ice cream producer previously had recalled a limited number of its products and closed one factory in Oklahoma. The outbreak started in March when five patients in a Kansas hospital fell ill with listeriosis. Three of those patients later died. Other people who have fallen ill with listeriosis are in Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas.

4. OIG releases Medicaid Fraud Control Units report: 5 findings
Medicaid Fraud Control Units across the U.S. reported 1,318 criminal convictions in fiscal 2014, close to the 1,344 criminal convictions in 2013, according to the HHS Office of Inspector General's Medicaid Fraud Control Units Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Report. Three-quarters of the criminal convictions in fiscal 2014 were for fraud, consistent with recent years, and monetary recoveries in criminal cases reached nearly $300 million.MFCU convictions in FY 2014 led to the exclusion of 1,337 providers from federal healthcare programs. According to the report, the Fraud Control group reported 874 civil settlements and judgments in fiscal 2014, and of the 874 civil settlements and judgments that MFCUs obtained, most involved pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacies, and suppliers of durable medical equipment.

5. Venture capital in healthcare — Q1 deals up: 8 key notes
Healthcare and consumer wellness accounted for 14 percent of venture capital deals in the first quarter of 2015. According to a Medcity report, 7 percent of the VC deals went to healthcare in the first quarter. Wearable devices helped fuel mobile healthcare success and consumer health deals, and, in general, mobile health deals accounted for around $100 million invested in companies. Approximately $1.9 billion were invested in 131 deals in healthcare for the first quarter, higher than the same period last year. According to the report, California, Massachusetts and New York accounted for 71 percent of the mobile company deals, and approximately 44 percent of the deals were outside of the traditional technology centers, up 11 percent from last year.

6. Daughters of Charity to cut about 280 jobs
Los Altos, Calif.-based Daughters of Charity Health System will cut 4 percent of its workforce as a result of the collapse of its proposed sale of six hospitals to Ontario, Calif.-based Prime Healthcare Services, according to the San Francisco Business Times. About 280 of the 7,000 jobs at Daughters of Charity will be affected. The layoffs will occur across the system's hospitals: 20 management and support jobs will be cut at Seton Medical Center in Daly City and the Seton Coastside satellite campusin Moss Beach. Fifty jobs will be eliminated at O'Connor Hospital in San Jose and Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy. In addition, 44 jobs will be cut at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, and 48 jobs will be eliminated at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood.

7. Nurses prepare to strike at 9 California, Illinois hospitals
More than 6,400 registered nurses are preparing to strike next week at eight California hospitals and one Illinois hospital over staffing and patient care concerns. The nurses are part of National Nurses United and its California affiliate, the California Nurses Association. Strikes will be held in various locations, including at Kaiser Permanente's Los Angeles Medical Center, Providence Health and Services hospitals in Santa Monica and Torrance, Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health facilities and the University of Chicago Medical Center.

8. ACOs now serve about 16% of US residents
According to the most recent count, there are a total of 585 ACOs — CMS- and non-CMS-affiliated — in the U.S. as of January, and nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population lives in an area served by an accountable care organization, according to consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Between 15 and 17 percent of the population is served by these ACOs, or between 49 and 56 million patients. According to Oliver Wyman research, there are now 426 Medicare ACOs, up from 368 in 2014, and 11 percent of Medicare beneficiaries now receive care in an ACO, up from 10 percent last year. Six percent of non-Medicare patients are also served by ACOs in CMS programs, according to Oliver Wyman.

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