Tag Archives: hhs

HHS Awards Planning Grants to States to Establish Insurance Exchanges

The Department of Health & Human Services (“HHS”) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently announced the distribution of $220 million to states for the creation of private health-insurance exchanges. Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Vermont were the state recipients in this latest funding effort, and Rhode Island is the first state to receive a Level Two grant geared towards states in more advanced planning stages. State health insurance exchanges are expected to start operating in 2014. Currently only 13 states have enacted legislation to establish insurance exchanges; though 49 states have received planning grants so far.

Read HHS’ full press release here.

New Guidelines Require New Insurance Plans to Provide Preventive Services to Women at No Additional Cost

On August 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced guidelines requiring new health insurance plans to provide certain preventive services to women without cost-sharing. The guidelines were developed by the Institute of Medicine. The preventive services that will no longer be subject to any co-payment, co-insurance or deductible include well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, HPV testing for women 30 years of age and older, sexually-transmitted infection counseling, HIV screening and counseling, contraception and contraception counseling, breastfeeding support, and domestic violence screening and counseling. New health insurance plans must comply for plan years starting on or after August 1, 2012.

To read more about this announcement, please go to http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/08/20110801b.html.

$71.3 Million in Federal Funding to Expand Nursing Workforce

On July 29, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would provide a total of $71.3 million in grant funding to expand the education and training of nurses and nursing diversity. The monies will be distributed among six types of awards: Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention; Nursing Workforce Diversity; Nurse Faculty Loan Program; Advanced Nursing Education Program; Advanced Education Nursing Traineeships; Nurse Anesthetist Traineeships. Monies from these awards will support all levels of education from entry-level nursing to advanced traineeships, increase opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and provide partial loan-forgiveness for nursing faculty.

To read more about this announcement and see details of each of the awards, please go to http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/07/20110729a.html.

FTC and DOJ Propose Enforcement Policy for Healthcare Antitrust Laws

The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice have jointly issued a proposed enforcement policy for the application of the antitrust laws to healthcare collaborations among otherwise independent providers and provider groups that seek to participate as accountable care organizations (ACOs) under the Medicare Shared Savings Program. The agencies seek public comments until May 31, 2011, on the proposed enforcement policy and the new antitrust “safety zone” it would create.

For more information and the proposed antitrust policy, please visit the FTC and DOJ’s Proposed Statement.

CMS Releases Long-Awaited Proposed Rule on Accountable Care Organizations

On March 31, 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) unveiled the long-awaited federal rule on accountable care organizations. This proposed rule would implement section 3022 of the Affordable Care Act, which allows service providers and suppliers to continue receiving traditional Medicare fee-for-service payments under Parts A and B, and to be eligible for additional payments based on meeting specified quality and savings requirements.

To view the proposed rule, please visit the Office of the Federal Register website.

Civil Money Penalties for Nursing Homes

On March 18, 2011, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued this regulation, implementing section 6111 of the Affordable Care Act. Section 6111 gives CMS authority to impose and collect civil monetary penalties (CMPs) against nursing homes. The penalties are reserved for nursing homes that fail to comply with federal participation requirements outlined in section 6111. Although penalties for noncompliance existed before the Affordable Care Act was promulgated, this regulation revises and expands CMS’s authority to impose and collect CMPs. The final rule is effective January 1, 2012.

For additional information about this new regulation, please visit the Office of the Federal Register website.

New Grant Funding Opportunity to Help States Monitor and Challenge Rising Health Insurance Premiums

On February 24, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that states can begin to apply for a second round of grants, which they can use to create or improve existing health insurance premium review programs. Approximately $200 million is available to states to better track and review premium rate increases, and make the rate process more transparent to consumers. HHS anticipates that the state review programs will also enable states to challenge or even prevent unreasonable premium increases from being implemented. This round of grants marks the federal government’s continued effort to combat rising health insurance premiums.

To read more about this announcement and to see how to access grant funding, please go to http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/ratereview02242011a.html.

Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities; Notice of Facility Closure

Issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)on February 18, 2011, this regulation implements section 6113 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The interim final rule amends existing legislation by introducing new notice requirements associated with long-term care (LTC) facility and skilled nursing facility (SNF) closures. Its purpose is twofold: to protect resident health and safety, and to facilitate a “smooth transition” in the event of a facility’s closure.

Continue reading Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities; Notice of Facility Closure

HHS Awards $241 Million to Seven States for IT Infrastructure for Health Insurance Exchanges

On February 16, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the states that will receive a total of $241 million to design and implement the IT infrastructure used to operate health insurance exchanges. The seven states selected by HHS are known as “early innovator” states because the infrastructure that they establish may be adopted by other states to set up their own exchanges. This announcement demonstrates HHS’s commitment to funding the development of user-friendly systems that will enable consumers to easily navigate the exchanges.

To read more about the IT grants and see the list of states scheduled to receive grant funding, please go to http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/exchanges02162011a.html.

$750 Million More in Prevention Funding

On February 9, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Prevention and Public Health Fund would make an additional $750 million available to fund prevention initiatives throughout the United States for FY2011. Last fiscal year, the Prevention and Public Health Fund made $500 million available to states. This year, the $750 million will be distributed to states and local communities to address community prevention, clinical prevention, public health infrastructure, and research and tracking. This investment demonstrates the importance of prevention initiatives in improving the nation’s health. For additional information regarding this announcement, please go to http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/02/20110209b.html.