ED provides guidance for serving students with ASD

On July 29, 2015, POLITICO Pro reported that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) provided guidance regarding services delivered to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In a July 6 “Dear Colleague” letter, ED expressed concern that some special education programs may be exclusively using applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapists to provide ASD services without input from other therapists or professionals, such as speech-language pathologists. [More]

HHS outlines multi-pronged strategy to help individuals with substance use disorders

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a letter to state Medicaid directors on July 27, 2015 encouraging states to pursue demonstration waivers to improve services for individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs). These may include waivers of the longstanding “institution for mental diseases” (IMD) exclusion and other federal Medicaid rules. [More]

Children and families legislative updates

Since the beginning of the 114th Congress, many bills have been drafted, a few have been introduced on either the House or Senate floor, and to date, no legislation has been actually passed. The legislation listed below reflect several themes of growing concern but none that have reached the level of attention for a hearing to be held. Continuous monitoring of these bills will be reported. [More]

House bill proposes to amend FERPA

On July 22, 2015, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to update the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). According to the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s press release, the Student Privacy Protection Act would modernize students’ privacy protections under FERPA and hold schools, states, and contractors accountable for their use of student information. [More]

HHS Proposes New Medicare/Medicaid Standards for Long Term Care Facilities

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on July 16, 2015 which would update Medicare/Medicaid certification requirements for long term care facilities (LTCFs). The proposed rule offers the most comprehensive update in these requirements since 1991. [More]

HHS Proposes Updates in Medicare Part B Payments

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on July 15, 2015 which would update Medicare Part B payment policies, including the Medicare physician fee schedule, for calendar year 2016. The proposed rule also outlines initial steps toward implementing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), which replaced Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, enacted in 1997, with a ground-breaking Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), to be launched in 2019. [More]

HHS and USDA Issue Additional Guidance on Eligibility Integration

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a joint letter on July 20, 2015 to directors of state health and human services, state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs, and health insurance Exchanges, about a limited exception to OMB A-87 cost allocation requirements for integrated eligibility systems serving multiple programs. [More]

Senate Passes a Bill to Overhaul NCLB

On July 16, 2015, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill by a vote of 81-17 to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). If enacted, the Every Child Achieves Act would significantly decrease the federal role in education and give states more flexibility. According to an Education Week article, the bill would continue to require NCLB’s annual reading and math testing, but eliminate the adequate yearly progress accountability system; allowing states to create their own systems. [More]

GAO Report Cites Medicaid Challenges

The U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report to a health care subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 8, 2015, entitled, “Medicaid: Overview of Key Issues Facing the Program.” Medicaid serves over 70 million persons and program costs now exceed $508 billion ($304 billion federal, $204 billion state funds in fiscal 2014). The GAO report addresses access to care, transparency and oversight, program integrity, and federal financing issues under the program. [More]