Courts Issue Conflicting Opinions on Federal Exchanges

 

The United States Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling on July 22, 2014 stating that a regulation issued by the Internal Revenue Service allowing taxpayers to obtain advance premium tax credits (APTCs) for qualified health plans available through federal Exchanges was not authorized under section 36B(c)(2)(A)(i) of the Internal Revenue Code as established by section 1401 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ruling (in Halbig v. Burwell) was handed down by a three judge appeals panel, not the Circuit Court’s full bench. The appeals panel’s ruling was 2-1, with comprehensive majority and dissenting opinions. The majority opinions in this ruling stressed that section 36B(c)(2)(A)(i) mentions APTCs available through Exchanges “established by the State” but fails to mention federal Exchanges. [More]

 

HHS Announces Health Care Innovation Awards

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), announced a new batch of “round two” health care innovation awards on July 9, 2014. These are grants to applicants who have set forth compelling new ideas to improve care and control costs for persons enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services

 

Kaiser Commission Releases Report on Successful SBEs

 

The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured released an excellent report on July 20, 2014 about the successful state-based health insurance Exchanges (SBEs) and Medicaid expansions in Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, and the State of Washington. The report, “What Worked and What’s Next? Strategies in Four States Leading ACA Enrollment Efforts,” includes interviews with stakeholders in each state about exemplary marketing, outreach and enrollment, consumer assistance, and systems/operations strategies, with insights on 2014 and lessons for 2015. It shows that each of the states marketed the coverage expansions as state-based initiatives; conducted statewide marketing via a wide range of methods, including social media and promotional materials; and emphasized the enrollment deadline in their marketing efforts. [More]

 

A New Report Assesses Child Well-Being in the U.S.

 

On July 22, 2014, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2014 Kids Count Data Book, an annual report assessing how children are faring in the United States. The report ranks states on overall child well-being in four domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. Massachusetts, Vermont, and Iowa are the three highest-ranked states. In general, children made gains in the education and health domains, but experienced setbacks in the economic well-being and family and community domains. [More]

 

School Districts Pledge to Support Education Improvements for Male Students of Color

 

In a July 21, 2014 press release, the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) announced that 60 of its large urban school district members have pledged to support President Obama’s $200 million initiative to improve educational outcomes for young African American and Hispanic males. The initiative, called My Brother’s Keeper, includes more investment in early childhood education, reducing disproportionate discipline and drop-out rates, and increasing access to college preparatory courses for male students of color. [More]

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Categories:Education

 

DHHS Providing $100 Million in Collaborative Effort with States to Reform Medicaid Systems

 

On July 14, 2014, US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced a new innovative collaboration with states to improve care for Medicaid beneficiaries by accelerating efforts to reform health care systems. The new initiative, entitled the Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program, follows recommendations by the National Governors Association (NGA) that The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) identify opportunities for care improvement and address high-priority areas, such as mental health and emergency department utilization. [More]

 

Cities Respond to Influx of Migrant Children into U.S.

 

As the political debate continues over the Obama Administration’s handling of the unprecedented influx of unaccompanied children into the U.S. illegally from Central America, some local communities are responding. On July 16, 2014, the Christian Science Monitor reported that Los Angeles, Dallas, and Tampa are examples of cities across the county that are beginning local initiatives to coordinate the delivery of services to address the migrant children’s legal, health, and temporary housing needs. [More]

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Categories:Education

 

HHS Launches Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced the Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program (IAP) on July 14, 2014. The IAP’s goals are to improve health care delivery and patient outcomes while controlling costs through accelerated payment and service delivery reform in state Medicaid programs. It incorporates many recommendations from states, the National Governors Association (NGA), and the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD), such as improvements in: Medicaid data analytics; quality metric development; service delivery model development; rapid cycle model evaluation; and coordination among various HHS components (the Center for Medicare, the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS), the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office (MMCO), etc.). [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services

 

Congress Reaches Bipartisan Support for Legislation

 

On June 26, the Senate and House introduced H.R. 4980 with bipartisan support and agreement. The legislation, “Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act,” reconciles the differences in previous legislation – H.R. 1896, H.R. 3205, H.R. 4058, S. 1876, S. 1877 and S. 1878. The bill may be passed before Congress goes on break later this month. No scheduled hearings have been set for either the Ways and Means Committee or the Committee on the Budget. There are predictions that the legislation will pass both committees as the bill is cost neutral. [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services

 

HHS/OIG Reports Inconsistencies in Health Insurance Eligibility Data

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), released a report on July 1, 2014 describing challenges that health insurance Exchanges/Marketplaces faced in resolving inconsistencies between self-attested data in applications to Exchanges versus data that Exchanges accessed through the Federal Data Services Hub. Resolving such inconsistencies is a critical task necessary to verify individuals’ eligibility for advance premium tax credits (APTCs) and cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) under health plans available through the Exchange. [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services