ED and DHHS Release Final RTT-ELC Details

In an August 23, 2011 press release, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced the final details and application for the $500 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) competition that was announced in May. Under the RTT-ELC program ED and HHS will award grants ranging from around $50 million up to $100 million to the winning states, based on the state’s population and proposed plan. [More]

HRSA Awards Community Access Grants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded $28.8 million to 67 community health centers on August 9 to help them establish new health care delivery sites in medically underserved communities. California led all states, winning 20 of the 67 grants. These 67 grants are intended to build the capacity to serve an additional 286,000 persons annually through public and private non-profit CHCs operating new “access points” offering comprehensive primary and preventive care. [More]

DHHS Grants IA, KY Health Care Insurers Added Time to Meet MLR Rule

According to recent media reports, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has granted health insurance companies in Iowa extra time to comply with the health reform law’s medical-loss-ratio (MLR) rule, “but not as much time as the Iowa Insurance Division requested.” DHHS’ Center for Consumer Information and Oversight Director Steve Larsen, in a letter to the Iowa Insurance Division, laid out a timetable for compliance that calls for Iowa insurers to spend 67% of premiums on medical care this year, 75% in 2012, and 80% in 2013. [More]

AZ, TX, NJ Proposals Seek to Lower Medicaid Budget with Impact on Eligibility

Many states continue to devise proposals to lower Medicaid expenditures with a potential of curtailing eligibility for many applicants and recipients. In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer has proposed an enrollment freeze which would cut about $500 million from the state’s Medicaid program in fiscal 2012; but it is estimated that 100,000 people would lose coverage if enrollment is capped. Her plan also caps enrollment for parents earning above 75 percent of the federal poverty level, effective October 1, which affects about 60,000 parents and would save an estimated $17 million the first year. DHHS Secretary Sebelius has said the governor “can eliminate coverage for these groups without losing federal matching funds because it goes beyond Medicaid requirements”. [More]

Nevada Passes Legislation Creating Health Insurance Exchange

The Nevada Senate and Assembly have unanimously passed legislation (S.B. 440) to establish a health insurance exchange. The legislation went forward to Governor Brian Sandoval on June 4. It creates a Nevada Exchange governed by a Board of Directors consisting of five voting members appointed by the Governor, one voting member appointed by the Senate Majority Leader, and one voting member appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly. [More]

House Version to Renew Authority for State Child Welfare Demonstration Programs Passes

On May 31, 2011 Representative Danny Davis (D-IL) presented to Congress H.R. 1194 that restores authority to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to approve up to 10 waivers for child welfare programming innovations. After considerable testimony by members of Congress and the reading of supportive letters from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and a provider group, Youth Villages, the House passed the bill by voice vote. [More]

Three States Win Exchange Establishment Grants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) announced on May 23 that Indiana, Rhode Island, and Washington are the first states to win health insurance exchange establishment grants under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) won $6.9 million to support health IT, project management, and legal, financial, actuarial, and policy support needed to establish its exchange. [More]

Washington State Enacts ACA Legislation, Designs Medicaid Reforms

On May 11, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed six health care reform bills into law. SB 5445 establishes a health benefits exchange development board which will create a business plan and an implementation timeline for a public-private partnership to operate Washington’s exchange in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Washington is the fourth state to enact such legislation since 2010. Governor Gregoire also signed SB 5122, which reflects ACA requirements on extending private health insurance coverage to dependents under the age of 26, eliminating life-time limits on coverage, and prohibiting pre-existing condition exclusions for persons under age 19; SB 5371, creating new enrollment procedures for persons under age 19; HB 1220, permitting public access to actuarial data submitted by health insurers on premium rate increases; HB 1311, requiring all state purchased health care programs to adopt evidence-based practice guidelines; and SB 5394, promoting the development of health homes to coordinate care for individuals with chronic conditions. [More]