ED Provides Guidance for LEA Communication about Student Data Privacy

In a July 25, 2014 press release, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced new guidance to assist local education agencies (LEA) to inform parents and students about the collection and use of student data. ED Secretary Arne Duncan said, “Now more than ever, schools need data to monitor academic progress and develop successful teaching strategies. At the same time, parents need assurance that their children’s personal information is being used responsibly. This guidance helps schools strike a balance between the two.” [More]

U.S. Circuit Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging ACA Based on Constitution’s Origination Clause

On Tuesday, July 29, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit alleging that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) mandate to purchase health insurance violated the U.S. Constitution’s Origination Clause, which requires revenue-sharing bills to start in the U.S. House of Representatives rather than the Senate. [More]

NEJM Report Shows 10.3 Million Persons Gain Coverage

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published a special report on July 23, 2014 estimating a net increase of 10.3 million insured adults aged 18 - 64 during the October 2013 – March 2014 open enrollment period offered through health insurance Exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The study used Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (WBI) survey data from 440,429 survey respondents and linear regression models accounting for socio-economic variables to calculate adjusted average rates of uninsured adults aged 18 – 64 before and after the 2013-2014 open enrollment period. [More]

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]

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]

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.

PCG TC Wins Hazardous Waste Tracking System (HWTS) Project IV&V Services

PCG Technology Consulting (TC) was recently awarded a contract by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to provide Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Services for the Hazardous Waste Tracking System (HWTS) Project. HWTS is being rebuilt and upgraded to minimize the high risk of failure of the current system. PCG TC will provide an independent and unbiased assessment of the project's status, performance trends, compliance with applicable standards and policies, and compliance with program expectations and requirements. [More]