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									                       ARN Health Policy Digest – December 2004
Welcome to this month’s edition of the ARN Health Policy Digest. This member benefit provides
monthly updates on health policy, legislative, and regulatory developments that may be of interest to
rehabilitation nurses.


Omnibus appropriations bill
On Saturday, November 20 the Senate passed the anticipated omnibus appropriations bill, known as the
Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005 (H.R. 4818). The final language protects rehab hospitals from any
decertification under the final rule and suspends implementation of the rule until completion of the GAO Report
due out in January,2005. Facilities should therefore continue to be careful about admitting patients outside the
13 CMS conditions that exceed 25% of their total admissions. The referenced GAO report is the one that was
included in the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA). Congress directed the GAO “to issue a report, in
consultation with experts in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, to look at whether the current list of
conditions represents a clinically appropriate standard for defining IRF services and, if not, which additional
conditions should be added to the list.

Nursing employment increased between 2001, 2003, study says
Hospitals and other health care facilities hired about 205,000 nurses between 2001 and 2003 -- potentially the
largest two-year increase in nursing employment since before Medicare was launched in 1965 -- and nurses
older than age 50 accounted for 63% of those hired, according to a Health Affairs Web exclusive, the Wall
Street Journal reports. Information regarding foreign trained nurses is also provided in this report.
http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/

Global health leaders join the World Health Organization to announce accelerated efforts to
improve patient safety
"Patient Safety is a global problem." In October 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners
announced a series of key actions to cut the number of illnesses, injuries and deaths suffered by patients during
health care, with the launch of the World Alliance for Patient Safety. For more information go to:
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2004/

Robert Wood Johnson executive nurse fellows program
… is an advanced leadership program for nurses in senior roles in health services, public health, and nursing
education who aspire to help shape the U.S. healthcare system. The application deadline is February 1, 2005.
For more information: http://www.rwjf.org/cfp/executivenursefellows

Consumer reports to launch prescription drug comparison web site
Consumer Reports on Dec. 9 will launch a new Best Buy Drugs Web site that will allow consumers for no cost to
compare the cost and effectiveness of a number of commonly used prescription drugs, the AP/Detroit News
reports. For more information go to: http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports

FDA approves Tysabri®
On November 23, 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted accelerated approval of Tysabri®
(natalizumab) for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). For more information go to:
http://www.multiplesclerosis.com/

Bush nominates EPA administrator Mike Leavitt as new HHS secretary
On December 13, 2004, President Bush nominated Michael Leavitt, administrator of the Environmental
Protection Agency and former Republican governor of Utah, to replace Tommy Thompson as secretary of HHS,
Reuters reports (Reuters, 12/13). For more information go to: http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/

								
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