Child and Family Services Improvement Innovation Act

Objective: This article summarizes the main points of the recent legislation reauthorizing Title IV-B of the Social Security Act and reinstating waiver authority to Health and Human Services (HHS), known as the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (CFSII) and points out several modifications that child welfare agencies should be aware of. [More]

HHS Announces Opportunity to Comment on Essential Health Benefits Options

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on December 16 that it is accepting comments from states on a new proposed approach to implement section 1302 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires that “qualified health plans” that will offer coverage in 2014 through health insurance exchanges cover at least “essential health benefits.” Section 1302 requires that such benefits include items and services in at least ten broadly defined categories (emergency, hospitalization, maternity and new-born care, ambulatory, rehabilitative/habilitative, prescription drugs, pediatric, preventive/wellness and chronic disease management, mental health/substance abuse, and laboratory services). [More]

States Thwarted in Latest Attempt to Recoup $4.3 Billion in Erroneous Medicaid Payments

On October 27, 2011, DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a statement that “she lacked the statutory authority to use my demonstration authorities” to reimburse states for an estimated $4.3 billion they paid for Medicaid services for almost 280,000 beneficiaries who should have been enrolled and compensated for under the Medicare program. The erroneous payments resulted from an error by the Social Security Administration that classified some disabled enrollees as eligible for Supplemental Security Income, when actually they were eligible for Title II Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments. Eligibility for the SSDI program would, in turn, have resulted in compensation under the Medicare program, thereby saving the states from payouts under their Medicaid programs. [More]

Medicare 2012 Physician Payment Cut Slightly Less Than Thought But Still Substantial

On Tuesday, November, 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued a rule which would result in a 27.4% Medicare physician payment reduction starting in 2012. The reduction amount is slightly less than the 29.5% cut the administration previously anticipated. DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a written statement reflecting the Obama administration’s position calling for a repeal of the statutorily-prescribed payment formula that mandates the size of the payment decrease. [More]

House and Senate Introduce Versions of Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) did a review of thousands of allegations of child abuse and neglect at residential programs housing mostly teenagers since the early 1990s. Tragically, in a number of cases, this abuse/neglect resulted in the death of a child. To address this issue, the “Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2011” was introduced. Thousands of children and youth are housed in private and public residential programs, including boarding schools, wilderness camps, boot camps, and behavior modification facilities aimed at addressing behavioral, emotional, mental health, and substance abuse issues. [More]

DHHS Provides Grants to Help States Conduct Insurance Rate Reviews

On September 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced $109 million in grants to states to help them increase oversight of health insurers, one of the key features of the health care reform law. Under the Affordable Care Act, health care insurers are required to post on their Web sites explanations of premium increases exceeding 10 percent and to justify the hikes to state and federal regulators who also will post them starting this year. DHHS expects this procedure to have a moderating influence on premiums. DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated that 28 states and the District of Columbia will receive these awards. [More]

Subcommittee Hears Proposals to Improve TANF Goals

On September 8, the Human Resources Subcommittee heard testimony from experts with varying opinions on the success of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) legislation and recommendations for reauthorization. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) also released a report providing valuable information for the Congress as the reauthorization for the legislation is needed before expiration on September 30, 2011. [More]