HHS-OIG Issues First Report on Exchange Data Security

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued on September 22, 2014 the first in what will be a series of reports on information security controls in federal and state-based health insurance Exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The OIG reviews are based on HHS regulations on administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to safeguard the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of personally identifiable information (PII) obtained and used by Exchanges. The OIG reviews also apply standards developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which HHS has adopted in instructions to Exchanges about steps necessary to protect PII. [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services

 

GAO Confirms That Most of the Largest Health Insurers Are Participating in Most Exchanges

 

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on September 29, 2014 which offers a remarkable comparative overview of the individual and small-group health insurance markets in each state. Most but not all of the largest issuers of health coverage in 2012 in those markets participated in health insurance Exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014. [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services

 

Congress Passes Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Legislation

 

The Senate has passed H.R. 4980, a compilation of many versions and iterations of legislation that was introduced in the House and the Senate. The current version was passed by the House of Representatives on July 23, 2014 by unanimous voice vote, but failed to pass the Senate on the following day. In late night negotiations on September 18, the Senate was able to pass the measure by unanimous support. [More]

 

Report Shows ACA Impact on Uncompensated Care

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) released a report on September 24, 2014 showing the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on hospitals’ uncompensated care (bad debts and charity care for the uninsured). The report offers the first evidence that 2014 enrollments in qualified health plans (QHPs) through health insurance Exchanges along with Medicaid expansions in 25 states and the District of Columbia are starting to reverse the growth in the cost of uncompensated care. [More]

 

More Insurers Joining Exchanges in 2015

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) announced on September 23, 2014 a net 25 percent increase in the number of private health insurers in Exchanges in 2015. Preliminary data on 44 states show that 248 health insurers will offer qualified health plans (QHPs) through 36 federal Exchanges in 2015, versus 191 in those 36 Exchanges in 2014; 67 health insurers will offer QHPs in 8 state-based Exchanges in 2015, versus 61 in those Exchanges in 2014. [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services

 

Brookings Institution Issues Report on Geographic Variations in Health Care Expenditures

 

The Brookings Institution issued a report on September 11, 2014 entitled, “Why the Geographic Variation in Health Care Spending Can’t Tell Us Much about the Efficiency or Quality of Our Health Care System.” Brookings has used state-wide statistics and state-wide per capita health care expenditure data to run econometric models which show that per capita variations in health spending among states (after adjustments for differences among states in price levels) might be almost fully accounted for by cross-state variations in population health statistics and demographic statistics. [More]

 

ED Proposes Revisions to SIG Requirements

 

On September 8, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published in the Federal Register proposed revisions to the requirements for the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. The SIG program was initiated in 2010 to provide grants to state education agencies (SEA) to support rigorous interventions to turn around the states’ persistently lowest-achieving schools. SEAs that receive SIG grants competitively sub-grant the funds to local education agencies (LEA), giving priority to the lowest-achieving LEAs with the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to substantially increasing the achievement of their students. [More]

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Categories:Education

 

Full DC U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Agrees to Rehear ACA Subsidy Ruling

 

On September 4, 2014, the full District of Columbia (DC) Circuit Court of Appeals granted the federal government’s petition to rehear en banc (full panel) the 2 to 1 panel decision which held that federal tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would only be available to low-income purchasers on “state-run exchanges.” In its September 4 order, the full panel vacated the 2 to 1 panel decision (HALBERG v. BURWELL, No. 14-5018, D. C. Cir., July 22, 2014) pending a decision by the full panel. [More]

 

Kaiser Releases Analysis of 2015 Health Insurance Premium Changes

 

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (Kaiser) has released a September 2014 report entitled, “Analysis of 2015 Premium Changes in the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplaces.” Kaiser’s report suggests that competitive forces may be helping to keep premiums down on average, but changes in premiums vary depending on geographic area, insurers, market segments, and competitive dynamics among insurers within each area and segment. [More]

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GAO and HHS-OIG Release Reports on Healthcare.Gov

 

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have released new reports on the implementation of Healthcare.Gov. The GAO’s report, entitled “Contract Planning and Oversight Practices Were Ineffective Given Challenges and Risks,” focused on one contract and two task orders which together accounted for over 40 percent of the $840 million obligated for developing Healthcare.Gov and supporting IT systems through March 2014. The GAO concluded that cost increases and delayed system functionality were due mainly to changing technical requirements and ineffective contractor oversight under cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts. [More]

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