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]

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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