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NCHN Healthcare News Digest

Issue #11 | Monday, November 8, 2010

+ NCHN Featured Network: Sunflower Health Network, Inc. (KS)

The Sunflower Health Network (SHN) is a group of 16 hospitals in North Central Kansas that was founded in 1994. SHN works to enhance the cost effectiveness of member hospitals and providers by sharing services and/or expertise in such areas as clinical services, support services,
administration, and education. SHN has created an infrastructure that has facilitated the improvement of access to health services, improved quality of health services, and increased the cost effectiveness of the delivery of health services.

Mission: To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare delivery within the region we serve.

Strategic Priorities: 2008-2013

  1. Improve access to specialist physician care throughout the region.
  2. Reduce hospital vulnerability to changes in Medicare reimbursement policies.
  3. Optimize timeliness and safety of inter-hospital referrals and transfers.
  4. Sustain adequate number of quality nurses (and other key professionals).
  5. Optimize patient care quality within each member hospital.
  6. Improve the capacity to share electronic patient care information.

Programs & Services

  • Group purchasing
  • Group health insurance
  • Equipment maintenance program
  • Education for department directors (Lab, Materials, Nursing, Radiology, Information Technology, Quality, Administrative Assistants)
  • Rolling Hills Education Series (for Hospital board members)
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • ED to ED Transfer Project
  • Physician Recruitment
  • Radiology Shared Staff Pool
  • Advocacy

Contact Information:
Sunflower Health Network
Heather Fuller, Executive Director
400 S. Santa Fe | Salina, KS 67402
Ph: 785-452-6102

About NCHN Featured Network (NEW)
One of the greatest values NCHN can bring to its members is information about what networks throughout the country are doing to meet the needs of their communities. To share information about your network, you can submit your paper to using the following template: NCHN Sharing Form (doc). One network will be featured every week. We look forward to sharing more networks as they come in. View all network sharing forms...

Save the Date+ NCHN Upcoming Calls

November Committee Calls

  • November 11 @ 12:30 PM ET: 2011 Annual Conference Planning Committee Call
  • November 15 @ 12:30 PM ET: NCHN Board of Directors’ Call
  • November 16 @ 1:00 PM ET: Program Development Committee Call

GrantStation Webinar

Date: Thursday, November 11 at 2:00 PM ET  

Please join Rebecca Davis, Executive Director, National Cooperative of Health Networks Association (NCHN), and Cynthia M. Adams, CEO of GrantStation for this short and informative tour of the GrantStation website. The webinar will review the many tools and resources available on GrantStation to help you identify the right grantmaker for your health care programs, as well as write compelling letters of inquiry and powerful grant proposals. This interactive session will use projects from participants to demonstrate how the GrantStation website can assist you in identifying health care funding opportunities. There will be lots of time for questions. Register online...

Next NCHN Quarterly Membership Call

Date: December 13 at 12:30 PM ET
Topic: Open discussion to review the year and talk about plans for 2011
Registration: NCHN calls are free of charge to members. Registration is required. To register for any of the NCHN calls, email Debbie Comeau at You will receive dial-in information, instructions, and materials via email prior to the call.

+ NCHN Executive Director Featured in the Spotlight of WIRED, the Breckinridge County Chamber of Commerce's Quarterly Newsletter

Preamble from Christy (the designer of this newsletter and the person who is responsible for failed links, any troublesome omissions, etc. Please feel free to share your feedback and your news!):

As you probably know, NCHN's Executive Director, Rebecca Davis, Ph.D., is quite the modest sort and would not have asked me to share this article. However, as a member of her staff, I think this article on her local service is certainly worth sharing with you. I have worked with Dr. Davis for a while now and I didn't know about her numerous degrees and I always marvel at how well-rounded she is. I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did...

New Chamber Board of Directors member spotlight!

The Chamber held Board elections in May and seated three new board members; Rebecca Davis, Kevin Kasey, and Nick Carter. Board member Donna French resigned and Mike Cooper was selected to fill her board position. Unfortunately, new board member, who was also our Secretary/Treasurer, Kevin Kasey resigned due to work and family commitments.

At the October Board of Directors meeting, Board member Mark Grimes was elected to fill the secretary/ treasurer position. The board is in the process of selecting someone to fill the board vacancy.

In the next few issues of the Chamber Wired the new board members will be introduced to the membership. This month Rebecca Davis is the featured board member.

Rebecca Davis serves on the Promotion Committee for the Chamber. Rebecca and her husband Michael live at 400 S Main Street, Hardinsburg. Although not a native of Breckinridge County she has been coming here since the early 70’s. She attended Future Homemakers of America leadership training at the Kentucky FFA Camp here in Hardinsburg. Then Michael’s parents built a house at Rough River about 25 years ago, so she has been coming for family gatherings several times each year. They moved to Hardinsburg in March 2006. Michael is Fire Management Officer for the Hoosier National Forest and their son Logan, is Account Executive with the San Antonio Missions – a double A minor league baseball team.

Dr. Davis is the Executive Director of National Cooperative of Health Networks Association (NCHN), which is a 501 © 6, professional membership organization and the only one of its kind that serves health networks across the nation. Rebecca’s work experience includes Executive Director of non‐profit health related organizations from 2000 to present, Educational Talent Search, 7 years, Vocational Education, 10‐12 years, and Vocational Home Economics Teacher, 6 years.

She attended Virginia Tech receiving two degrees - an Educational Specialist and a Ph. D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. She received three degrees from Morehead State University, including a BS in Vocational Home Economics; MACE; Masters in Adult & Continuing Education; and a second Masters (MA) in Secondary Education Supervision.

Dr. Davis’ goals as she serves on the Chamber Board of Directors is the promotion of local businesses, encouragement of folks to support local by buying locally, overall promotion of Breckinridge County, and exploring new options the Chamber may be able to provide to support our members.

>> View the Breckenridge County Champer of Commerce website...
(Source: WIRED, Volume 9, No. 6, November 2010, Breckenridge County Chamber of Commerce)

+ Help set the rural public health agenda for the next decade

Rural Healthy People 2020 National Survey to Identify Rural Health Priorities for the Next Decade
An Email from Stephanie Hansen, Education Coordinator, National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (November 5, 2010)

Rural health policy makers and researchers are looking for your ideas on the most important health issues facing rural residents. This is a chance to help shape health goals that will guide rural leaders and researchers for the next decade.

This project, Rural Healthy People 2020, is designed to identify the most significant preventable threats to the health of rural people and to establish goals for reducing these threats. The starting point for this conversation is an online survey.

You're invited to take the survey and to forward this link to people in your own networks so they can participate, too.

The broader we distribute the survey, the more likely we are to get results that match the health concerns of all rural Americans.

Please take a few minutes today to answer this survey and share it with your networks.

The survey should take 5-10 minutes to complete and does not require professional background in health issues.

Thank you. 

>> Take the survey...
>> If you have any questions please contact  Dr. Jane N. Bolin, at

+ 2010 report from the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services (NACRHHS)

The 2010 report from the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services (NACRHHS) is now available.  The 2010 Report includes chapters on home and community based care for rural seniors, the rural primary care workforce, and rural health care provider integration. The attached letter provides a short summary of each chapter. The NACRHHS is a 21-member appointed citizens' panel of nationally recognized rural health and human service experts that provides recommendations on rural issues to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Each year, the Committee issues a report focusing on three key rural topics.  This year’s report is the culmination of a year-long effort that included site visits to North Carolina and Minnesota to learn about the implications of each topic at the community level. 

>> Download the report (pdf) (Source: HRSA/Office of Rural Health Policy Weekly Announcements: Community-Based Division, November 1-5, 2010)

+ HIT: Introduction to the Regional Extension Centers: A Health IT Technical Assistance Resource for HRSA Grantees and the Safety Community

Under the Affordable Care Act, Therapeutic Discovery Credit Will Support Research with Significant Potential to Produce New Therapies, Create High-Quality Jobs

Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner and Secretary of Health and
Human Services Kathleen Sebelius joined with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins today to announce the recipients of the $1 billion in new therapeutic discovery project credits and grants created by the Affordable Care Act.  This program will help nearly 3,000 small biotechnology companies in nearly every state in the country produce new and cost-saving therapies, support good jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness.

“The United States has the most innovative companies, the most ambitious entrepreneurs and the most productive workers in the world,” said Secretary Geithner.  “These grants will help make sure our companies, entrepreneurs and workers can continue to invest and innovate, which will strengthen our economy now and far into the future.”

>> Continue reading... (Source: HHS Press Release, HHS Home > ASPA > Newsroom > News Releases, November 3, 2010)

+ Medicare Improves Access to Preventive Services for 2011; New Physician Payment Policies Emphasize Role of Primary Care

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule with comment period that will implement key provisions in the Affordable Care Act of 2010 that expand preventive services for Medicare beneficiaries, improve payments for primary care services, and promote access to health care services in rural areas.  The new policies will apply to payments under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) for services furnished on or after Jan 1, 2011.

The final rule with comment period implements provisions in the Affordable Care Act that expand beneficiary access to preventive services and, for the first time, provide coverage under the traditional fee-for-service program for an annual wellness visit beginning Jan 1, 2011.  This visit augments the benefits of the Initial Preventive Physical Examination (IPPE or “Welcome to Medicare Visit”) with an annual visit that allows the physician and patient to develop a personalized prevention plan that considers not only the age-appropriate preventive services generally available to Medicare beneficiaries, but additional services that may be appropriate because of the patient’s individual health status.  CMS will accept comments on certain aspects of the final rule with comment period until Jan 3, 2011. 

>> View the rule and supporting documentation...
>> Read the CMS press release...
>> View CMS Fact Sheets...
(Source: CMS Weekly Reading Materials, November 5, 2010)

More from CMS Weekly Reading Materials (November 5, 2010)

  • 2011 Payment Changes for Medicare Home Health Services; Final Rule Reflects Improvements to Quality and Efficiency of Care 
    Read the release... (Nov. 3, 2010)
  • Registration for ONC Personal Health Records Roundtable (December 3, 2010) Now Open
    Register to attend...

+ Medicare DSH Eligibility Data

CMS has developed a limited view of the HIPAA Eligibility Transaction System (HETS) to allow hospitals that receive Medicare Disproportionate Share (DSH) payments to view Medicare enrollment information for their hospital inpatients.

The data available via HETS 270/271 DSH will allow hospitals to verify that patients eligible for Medicaid are not also entitled to Medicare Part A benefits. In addition, hospitals can verify Medicare enrollment for their hospital inpatients, including whether a patient is entitled to Medicare Part A benefits, enrolled in a Medicare managed care plan, or has Medicare as its secondary insurance. HETS 270/271 is an electronic data interchange (EDI) system that uses current ANSI X12 formatting standards. Submitters must connect to HETS 270/271 via the Medicare Data Communication Network (MDCN).

Applicants interested in receiving the HETS 270/271 DSH view may contact the MCARE Help Desk (Monday through Friday, 7am to 9pm EST) at 866-324-7315, or send an email to for additional information. The MCARE Help Desk will work with you and provide you with all documentation necessary to obtain access to the Medicare DSH view.

>> View additional information about the HETS 270/271 system, including connectivity and file formatting requirements (Source: CMS Weekly Reading Materials, November 5, 2010)

+ Achieving Financial Sustainability (HIE): Industry Responses

Financial sustainability continues to be an elusive target for HIE initiatives and organizations and is the greatest challenge for the HIE industry. The notion of achieving financial sustainability will be central to the HIE industry over the next few years and beyond. One approach is for an HIE to find financial sustainability from a Value Perspective—focused on who is receiving the value, what value they are getting from participating in the HIE, and how value is monetized (especially if an organization is not paying for use of the HIE).

[HIMSS] posed the following questions to a few of our stakeholders: Is a Value Perspective approach realistic for HIEs over the next several years? What is the value and how should it be defined? What is your perspective on ‘how to get there’ and who will ultimately pay for this?

>> Continue reading to see what stakeholders said... (Source: HIMSS HIELights > Viewpoint, November 5, 2010)

+ HRSA Health IT and Quality Webinar

Introduction to the Regional Extension Centers: A Health IT Technical Assistance Resource for HRSA Grantees and the Safety Community

Date:   Friday November 12, 2010
Time: 2:00-3:00pm EST

As the safety net community strives to become eligible for the Meaningful User incentive payments under Medicare and Medicaid, providers are identifying an escalating need for technical assistance. The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) established the Regional Extension Center (REC) program last year. The purpose of the RECs is to furnish assistance, defined as education, outreach, and technical assistance, to help providers in their geographic service areas select, successfully implement, and meaningfully use certified EHR technology to improve the quality and value of health care.

This month’s HRSA webinar will feature presenters from three Regional Extension Centers that have extensive expertise working with the Safety Net Community. These speakers will present on the services and assistance that are available from RECs as well as help providers understand the role of the RECs and the different types of services that are available.  

Presenters Include:

  • Diane Gaddis, President and CEO, Community Health Centers Alliance, Inc
  • Dan Peterson, Director of Health Information Technology, Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association
  • Jeff Chungath, CEO, Iowa Foundation for Medical Care
  • Kim Downs, Senior Director of Operations, Iowa Foundation for Medical Care

>> Register for the teleconference online...
>> Please email if you have additional questions, comments, or future webinar topic suggestions
(Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) HIT-Grantees Update email, November 4, 2010)

+ HHS announces new federal support for states to develop and upgrade Medicaid IT systems and systems for enrollment in state exchanges

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced two steps to help states assure a simple and seamless enrollment experience for consumers who qualify for Medicaid or who are shopping for health insurance in the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. 

First, HHS proposed new federal funding that will be available to all states to streamline and upgrade their Medicaid eligibility systems in preparation for the changes resulting from the Affordable Care Act in 2014.  Second, HHS announced guidance to help states design and implement the information technology (IT) needed to establish exchanges.  These systems will help enroll people who qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), tax credits or cost-sharing reductions available through the Affordable Care Act.

These prudent, efficient technology investments will support a simple, coordinated, consumer-oriented system for individuals, families and businesses to sign up for the health insurance plan that they choose. They complement the competitive funding announcement released on October 29, to create cooperative agreements with up to five states to create models for IT infrastructure that all states can use.

>> Continue reading... (Source: HHS Press Release, HHS Home > ASPA > Newsroom > News Releases, November 3, 2010)

+ Revised MLN Matters Article #SE1028 – Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) Demonstration High-Risk Diagnosis Related Group (DRG) Coding Vulnerabilities for Inpatient Hospitals

The Medicare Learning Network® (MLN) has revised MLN Matters Article #SE1028 to clarify requirements for coding diagnosis codes by attending physicians.  The article provides information related to four RAC demonstration-identified inpatient coding vulnerabilities in an effort to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future. 

>> View the revised version online... (pdf) (Source: Email from the Medicare Learning Network, CMS Revised MLN Matters Article #SE1028, November 2, 2010)

+ Registration for ONC Personal Health Records Roundtable Now Open

Online registration is now open for the roundtable on “Personal Health Records – Understanding the Evolving Landscape.”  This free day-long public roundtable, hosted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), will be held on Friday, December 3rd at the FTC Conference Center in Washington DC (601 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001).

>> Register to attend in person...
>> View the webcast... (available Friday, Dec. 3, 2010)

(Source: CMS Weekly Reading Materials, October 29, 2010)

Related News:

+ Public Comments Sought on PHR's

In conjunction with ONC’s upcoming PHR Roundtable, ONC is seeking public comments on issues related to personal health records. The public comment period is open now through December 10. ONC would like the public’s input on the following topics:

  • Privacy and Security and Emerging Technologies
  • Consumer Expectations about Collection and Use of Health Information
  • Privacy and Security Requirements for Non-Covered Entities

Visit the ONC website to submit your comment by December 10: