hospitals

Advancing bill broadens mandate for reporting mental health commitments

Many persons involuntarily committed to mental health institutions currently are not reported to the TBI for inclusion in the database of those ineligible to buy a gun because of a quirk in Tennessee law that would be eliminated by pending legislation, reports the Johnson City Press.

As things stand now, mental health hospitals licensed under Title 33 of Tennessee Code Annotated are mandated to report involuntary commitments. But hospitals licensed under Title 68 – including general acute care hospitals that have a psychiatric wing – are not.

SB2365, introduced as a caption bill, has been amended in committee “to fix this loophole,” the article says. Sponsors are Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) and Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and the TBI is advocating the measure as amended.

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TN Hospital Association opposes both House and Senate versions of Obamacare repeal

The Tennessee Hospital Association is opposing pending Republican legislation to replace and repeal Obamacare, reports the Times Free Press. THA President Craig Becker says nine rural hospitals have closed or dramatically curtailed services over the past four years and spending cuts in both the House and Senate versions of the GOP proposals will make things worse.

“I think definitely, you’re going to see more rural hospital closures coming along, particularly as it relates to these Medicaid cuts coming down the pike,” Becker said after Republican Senate leaders unveiled their plan last week.

Becker said the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 fails to “adequately address the health care needs of Tennesseans and THA opposes the legislation.”

The hospital association is talking with the offices of Tennessee’s Republican U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.

“We’ve told them we’re absolutely in opposition to the Senate bill as it is now,” Becker said. “It’s clearly going to do damage to the hospitals here.”

Becker said rural hospitals won’t be the only ones to feel the pain.

The Senate and House bills both would cap federal funding for Medicaid, which covers more than 70 million low- income people nationwide. Some 1.5 million pregnant women, children, disabled and elderly people receive Medicaid through TennCare.

Becker said the proposals “represent real, long-term cuts to Medicaid and present a major threat for the future of health care and hospitals in our state.”

He said planned changes to premium subsidies and dropping the individual coverage mandate would put at risk more than 200,000 Tennesseans who bought insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.

TN hospitals oppose GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Hospital Association has come out against a new plan in Congress to repeal and replace the Obama health care law, saying the proposal poses “a dark forecast for the future of hospitals in Tennessee.”

THA, which represents 147 acute-care hospitals and health-care facilities across the state, said in a statement Friday that Obamacare has been a challenge. Obamacare is the informal name for the Affordable Care Act.

But the organization said it believes more will lose coverage under the new House GOP bill because it reduces the amount of federal aid people would get to help them pay for their insurance.

“Primarily, we believe a significant number of the roughly 230,000 Tennesseans currently covered could lose their coverage because of an inability to pay for insurance due to significantly reduced federal subsidies,” said THA president and CEO Craig Becker.

THA is affiliated with the American Hospital Association, which announced its opposition to the new proposal earlier this week.

In Tennessee, THA is concerned that the new plan would mean hospitals are going to have to provide free care for more uninsured people while getting even less money to treat Medicaid patients.

Note: The full AP story is HERE; the THA press release is HERE.

Eric Trump ends fundraising for foundation that benefits St. Jude Children’s Hospital

One of President-elect Donald Trump’s sons will stop raising money for his foundation, which gives money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis because donations could be perceived as buying access to his father, reports the Associated Press.

Eric Trump said Wednesday that it pained him to cease soliciting donations for his organization, which he says has raised more than $15 million for children terminally ill with cancer…. (T)he younger of the president-elect’s two adult sons, has raised enough money over the last decade to fund a new intensive care unit at St. Jude, which provides free medical care for children.

Eric Trump said he will likely wind down the Eric Trump Foundation — which had just one employee — but plans to continue public advocacy against childhood cancer. About $5 million of a $20 million, 10-year commitment to St. Jude remains outstanding, money that likely will be raised by donations from patrons at Trump-owned hotels and golf courses.

… The Kay Research Care Center’s 328,000 square feet at St. Jude includes the Eric Trump Foundation Surgery and ICU Center. The Eric Trump Foundation’s total commitment to St. Jude was to $28 million since 2006, including the $5 million outstanding.

… “Fighting childhood cancer is a cause that has been central to my life since I was 21 years old,” Eric Trump told The Associated Press. “It’s an extremely sad day when doing the right thing isn’t the right thing. That said, raising awareness for the cause will be a lifelong mission for me.”

… Eric Trump’s foundation scuttled a plan to raise money for the children’s hospital through an online auction for coffee with his sister Ivanka Trump, who is considering joining the White House in some capacity. (Note: Previous post HERE.) And Eric and Donald Trump Jr. backed away from an inauguration event that aimed to raise money for conservation charities.

They were named as directors along with two of their friends in a new Texas-based nonprofit that had considered offering $1 million donors the chance to rub elbows with the new president at a “Camouflage & Cufflinks” ball in Washington the day after Trump’s swearing-in. The nonprofit also proposed allowing some donors to join one or both of the sons on a hunting or fishing trip.

UPDATE/Note: Trump apparently wasn’t happy with the move. His tweet, as reported by CNN:

“My wonderful son, Eric, will no longer be allowed to raise money for children with cancer because of a possible conflict of interest with … my presidency,” Trump tweeted. “Isn’t this a ridiculous shame? He loves these kids, has raised millions of dollars for them, and now must stop. Wrong answer!”

New TennCare waiver could mean ‘whole new ballgame’ in fed funding

After six months of operating under temporary extensions, state and federal health care officials have reached a new long-term agreement on continuing federal funding of TennCare that will change the way money is distributed to hospitals in two years.

From a Modern Health Care article:

 Under the new agreement, the CMS will continue the uncompensated-care payments through June 30, 2017, at current levels, which have averaged around $500 million a year.

During a one-year transition period, the total possible payments will ramp up to $708 million.

After that, Tennessee must submit a revised methodology for distributing the money that limits the subsidies to care provided to people who wouldn’t be eligible for Medicaid if the state agreed to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act.

“Coverage is the best way to assure beneficiary access to healthcare for low income individuals, and uncompensated care pool funding should not pay for costs that would otherwise be covered in a Medicaid expansion,” Eliot Fishman, director of the CMS’ State Demonstrations Group wrote in a letter to the state in November 2015.

Tennessee hospitals are nervous about how the allocations will change. It’s “a whole new ballgame with a new distribution system of funding for hospitals,” said Craig Becker, CEO of the Tennessee Hospital Association. “We have some concerns about precisely how this will work, but we have a couple of years to work with state and federal officials to nail down details and secure needed funding for hospitals in the state.”

The CMS has increasingly resisted paying for healthcare for the uninsured now that most of them have access to coverage under the Affordable Care Act. That issue has been an obstacle to renewing waivers in other states, including California, Florida and Texas.

See also The Tennessean, HERE

State putting $12M into St. Jude Children’s Hospital expansion

News release from the governor’s office

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd on Thursday announced that the state of Tennessee, along with the city of Memphis, will invest in public infrastructure surrounding St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

 

The state will invest $12 million in FastTrack funding to improve the public infrastructure surrounding the St. Jude campus in downtown Memphis, which will complement the research institution’s expansion efforts announced in 2015, and will eventually lead to the creation of 1,800 new jobs in Shelby County.

“St. Jude is known around the world for its research and treatment of catastrophic childhood diseases and is an anchor institution in our state and we are proud it calls Tennessee its home,” Haslam said. “It means a great deal to be able to assist this world-renowned facility by supporting public infrastructure needs that will help St. Jude not only create new jobs for Tennessee, but increase its capabilities to conduct life-saving treatment and research.”

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