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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Categories:Health and Human Services

 

Pennsylvania Wins CMS Waivers for Medicaid Expansion

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) notified the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare on August 28, 2014 that it has approved the Commonwealth’s “Healthy Pennsylvania” demonstration waiver. The Department is authorized under this waiver to expand Medicaid for over 500,000 non-aged adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Coverage under Pennsylvania’s “private coverage option” (PCO) will be offered through competing private health plans. [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services

 

DHHS Secretary Appoints First HealthCare.gov CEO

 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Sylvia Secretary Burwell has selected Kevin J. Counihan, who oversaw the successful launch of Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, to be the first CEO of HealthCare.gov. The New York Times has stated that Secretary Burwell made the selection “as part of an effort to improve management of the federal marketplace and to avoid the technological failures that paralyzed its website, HealthCare.gov, last fall.” [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services

 

Minority Students Are the New Majority

 

A September 3, 2014 Huffington Post article reports that, this school year, for the first time in history, the majority of students enrolling in U.S. public schools are ethnic minorities. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 50.3 percent of students are Hispanic, African American, Asian, and other non-white ethnicities, while 49.7 percent of students are white; within the next 10 years, the enrollment of white students is projected to drop to 45 percent compared to 60 percent 10 years ago. [More]

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Categories:Education

 

TANF New Reporting Requirements for Child Welfare

 

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has issued new guidance for states on reporting child welfare expenditures claimed to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) effective quarter ending December 31, 2014. The report due to ACF by February 14, 2015 will provide greater detail on how TANF funds are actually spent for foster care, adoption assistance, and guardianship payments, as well as other spending on child welfare services. [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services

 

Congress’ Break Left Bipartisan Legislation Hanging

 

The summer break for Congress ended without passage of H.R. 4980, the “Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.” The legislation has bipartisan support for a comprehensive bill that includes the adoption incentive program, the Family Connections grants, as well as new requirements for child welfare agencies involved with victims of sex trafficking. [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services

 

Secretary Duncan Allows States to Delay Using Student Test Scores in Teacher Evaluations

 

On August 21, 2014, in response to teachers’ concerns, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced that states may request a delay in when student test results will be used in the teacher evaluation process. As part of the Obama Administration’s education reform agenda, states have been urged to create and use teacher evaluation systems that factored into account students’ standardized test results. Teachers have maintained that it is too soon to apply the new evaluation systems because teachers need more time to come up to speed on the new standards upon which the tests are based. [More]

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Categories:Education

 

After Three Years, Future of NCLB Waivers Uncertain

 

In 2011, the Obama Administration offered states flexibility under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in exchange for initiating education reform. The Administration resorted to using NCLB waivers after Congress failed to reauthorize the Act to eliminate some of its more unworkable provisions. The procured flexibility gave states relief from some of NCLB’s most stringent requirements and penalties; however, three years later, some states’ efforts toward education reform are not going as well as anticipated and some implementation deadlines may not be met. According to an August 18, 2014 Education Week online article, some experts believe that the hurdles for states are caused by the Administration’s education reform strategy of tying together Common Core State Standards, new aligned student assessments, and teacher performance. [More]

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Categories:Education

 

Commonwealth Fund Issues Report on Successful Care Management

 

The Commonwealth Fund has released an August 2014 study entitled, “Caring for High-Need, High-Cost Patients: What Makes for a Successful Care Management Program?” The study examines best practices of successful complex care management (CCM) programs and how each program customized its design and implementation to meet the needs of target populations and geographic areas it serves. The study assesses key factors such as CCM program structure; quantitative and qualitative methods of identifying high-risk patients; multi-disciplinary CCM team composition, scope of work, recruitment, and specialized training; determining caseloads; earning the trust of patients and their families; collaborating with primary care, specialty, behavioral health, and social service providers; and using health information technology to facilitate care management. [More]

 

HHS Releases Update on Medicare Spending Growth

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) issued a report on July 28, 2014 entitled, “Medicare’s Bending Cost Curve.” The report states that the average per capita growth rate in Medicare spending was 2.3 percent per year in 2009-2012 as compared with 6.3 percent per year in 2000-2008. Medicare claims data for 2013-2014 are not yet complete but indicate that the average per capita growth rate in 2013-2014 could be as low as 0.1 percent. [More]

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Categories:Health and Human Services