Tenn. hospital to expand ER
Wellmont Bristol (Tenn.) Regional Medical Center received state certificate-of-need approval to more than double the size of the hospital's emergency department. The Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency approved a $13.8 million project that Bristol Regional's parent, Wellmont Health System, Kingsport, expects to complete in early 2008. The emergency department has not undergone any significant renovation since the 348-bed hospital opened in 1994, but its caseload has increased by 56% in those 12 years to 56,000 annual visits.
EMR funds ordered in Calif.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled a plan late last month to improve the use of electronic medical records that includes millions in additional funds for rural communities. The Republican governor said he signed an executive order directing state officials to develop plans for spending at least $240 million to expand medical record technology in rural communities and among safety net providers. Schwarzenegger also proposed expanding California's school-based health clinics to 500 elementary schools from the current 147.
CMS plan would aid rurals
Rural home health agencies would receive a slightly higher Medicare reimbursement increase for complying with new rules related to quality that were proposed by the CMS. The CMS proposed an overall 3.1% update, which is expected to raise home health payments by $460 million next year. Home health agencies that don't submit the required data would receive a 1.1% update. Rural agencies would receive a slightly higher estimated increase in payments, 3.3%, compared with a 2.9% estimated increase for urban agencies, the CMS said. All home health agencies would have to submit certain quality data to the CMS to receive the full payment update in 2007, the agency said in a proposed regulation.