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What We’re Watching: November 26, 2019


The CDC recently provided an update to its core elements of Hospital Antibiotic Stewardship Programs and issued a report on antibiotic resistance threats in the U.S. Five years after the core elements were first released, major updates include garnering commitment from hospital leadership. However, the report found that the burden of antibiotic-resistance threats is greater than initially thought.

What we’re saying: In September, CMS released a final rule that requires all acute care and critical access hospitals to implement an antibiotic stewardship program as a Medicare condition of participation no later than March 30, 2020. Hospitals using Premier data and technology have made progress in reducing infections, achieving a 30 percent reduction in hospital-acquired superbug infections since 2013. HHS Secretary Azar highlighted Premier and our members as leaders in the “fight against antimicrobial resistance.” Learn more about how Premier is helping reduce costs and improve outcomes related to antibiotic resistance.


Lawsuits, legislative actions and the closure of three sterilization plants over the last year have raised concerns about the future availability of medical devices that are sterilized using ethylene oxide (EtO). This chemical process is used to sterilize more than half of medical devices. The FDA announced next steps in its ongoing efforts to advance innovative methods for medical device sterilization to prevent device shortages and protect communities against any adverse environmental impact.

What we’re saying: Premier recently participated in a two-day hearing convened by the FDA to discuss how to address challenges with EtO amid public pressures to reduce the risks associated with emissions of the gas while avoiding medical device shortages. On Tuesday, November 26, Chaun Powell, Premier’s Group Vice President of Strategic Supplier Engagement hosted a webinar to provide a debrief of the FDA meeting, review our latest findings and discuss the next steps in preventing supply disruption. Watch on demand here.


We announced the launch of a new company – Contigo Health – focused on optimizing care through clinically led partnerships with large, national employers and their health plans.

What we’re saying: Contigo Health is a clinically driven network of health systems that collaborate with employers and their health plans to deliver the best care possible for employees. Contigo Health will launch pilot programs with employers by partnering with health systems in select markets to eliminate unwarranted variation in care delivery. The goal is to avoid unnecessary invasive treatments and focus on delivering the most appropriate care to improve quality and reduce costs. Learn more about Contigo Health and its mission.


Representatives Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and Ami Bera (D-Calif.) published a piece in The Hill highlighting the importance of maternal health data. And tomorrow, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will consider two important bills: The Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services (MOMS) Act (H.R. 4996), aimed at expanding Medicaid funding for maternal care up to one-year post-partum; and the Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act (H.R. 4995), which supports new federal programs to improve maternal health.

What we’re saying: Representatives Marshall and Bera – both physicians – cited Premier’s data on the reduction in maternal deaths over the last decade and the narrowing of racial disparities in outcomes. The bills align with Premier’s work to identify the drivers of maternal mortality and morbidity, reduce disparities in maternal health outcomes and advance best practices for improving care for new mothers and their infants.


Last week CMS issued two rules that force public disclosure of pricing on both hospitals and insurers. The first – a final rule effective Jan. 1, 2021 – requires hospitals to make de-identified minimum and maximum charges negotiated with all third-party payers available in an easily found, “machine-readable” format that is updated annually. The second – a proposed rule – requires insurers to disclose out of pocket costs before care is received along with negotiated rates for in-network providers and allowed amounts paid for out-of-network providers.

What we’re saying: Premier and the major hospital trade organizations support transparency, but feel the rule will do little to bring real insights to consumers on the cost of their care. Consumers need to see prices within the context of their insurance coverage. Furthermore, while transparency needs to be a priority, the announcement is geared more toward the 2020 election. We expect increased transparency is more likely to result from the shift to alternative payment models, the proliferation of lower cost care settings and other care delivery innovations.


What We’re Watching is a bi-weekly blog focused on the current events Premier is following and their relevance to the work of Premier and its members. Check out our last update!

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