- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced that it will crack down on hospitals and nursing homes for workplace hazards that aren't covered by formal rules. Inspections will include potential hazards related to staff musculoskeletal disorders caused by patient handling, in addition to dangers from blood-borne pathogens, workplace violence, tuberculosis, and slips, trips and falls. Any violations would likely be cited under the general-duty clause of the OSHA Act. That allows the agency to penalize employers for failing to implement industry-recognized safeguards for which there are no official standards or rules. Experts say it's been “politically impossible” to create the rules.
- The Veterans Affairs Departmentt has asked Congress to bail it out of a projected $2.5 billion budget shortfall for its current fiscal year. The VA's deputy secretary, Sloan Gibson, blames the gap on increased demand, accounting mistakes made by outdated technology, the high cost of drugs and poor planning. VA officials want to use $500 million from the new Veterans Choice program, which makes it easier for veterans to receive federally covered medical care from local doctors. Congress approved $10 billion over three years for the program as it responded to scandals over long wait times and falsified records that covered up care delays.
- The CMS has made it easier for rural healthcare providers and small physician groups to participate in Medicare accountable care organizations. The agency announced changes to the ACO Investment Model, which provides loans to rural and underserved communities to help offset the cost of health information technology or data and analytics used to track and manage the health of their populations. Rural health providers have long felt that they were shut out of the ACO program because of its high startup costs and daunting requirements for meeting eligibility criteria.
OSHA to crack down on hospitals over workplace hazards, and other news
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