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.

New Round of Grants to Help States Establish Exchanges

On January 20, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an additional grant funding opportunity for states to establish their health insurance exchanges. Two types of grants will be available: Level One and Level Two. Level One grants will provide states with funding for up to one year, and subsequent to the first year, states may apply for a second year of Level One funding. Level Two grants, which provide states with funding through December 31, 2014, are available for those states that are further along in the implementation of their exchanges. For states to receive funding at either level, they must submit plans to HHS outlining how they intend to implement the exchanges along with anticipated expenditures. HHS did not disclose the amount of funding available for the grants, but it noted that funding will vary based on state need. For additional information regarding the grants, please see the Health Insurance Exchange Establishment Grants Fact Sheet.

OIG Solicits Proposals for New Anti-Kickback Safe Harbors and Special Fraud Alerts

On December 28, 2010, the Office of the Inspector General published a notice of intent to develop regulations in the Federal Register soliciting recommendations for modifications to the safe harbors under the anti-kickback statute and suggestions for new safe harbors and OIG Special Fraud Alerts. The solicitation was published in accordance with Section 205 of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which requires HHS to publish this formal solicitation annually. The notice lists the criteria that HHS will consider in reviewing the proposals submitted and recommends that proposals be accompanied by supporting data and/or justifications.

To read the notice published in the Federal Register, please go to: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-12-28/pdf/2010-32705.pdf.

HHS Releases “Strategic Framework on Multiple Chronic Conditions”

On December 14, 2010, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released its “Strategic Framework on Multiple Chronic Conditions” (the “Framework”). HHS describes the Framework as an “innovative private-public sector collaboration to coordinate responses to a growing challenge.” It was developed by a departmental workgroup with most of HHS’ operating divisions participating. HHS has identified four goals of the Framework, including (1) improving the health of individuals with multiple chronic conditions through system changes; (2) increasing the use of self-care management; (3) providing more information and better tools to help health professionals caring for individuals with multiple chronic conditions; and (4) facilitating research on interventions and systems that will benefit those with multiple chronic conditions. Going forward, HHS will coordinate the Framework and will solicit input from agencies within HHS and stakeholders from the private sector.

To learn more about the Framework, please go to: http://www.hhs.gov/ash/initiatives/mcc/.

New Affordable Care Act Grants to Help Put Patients in Control of Their Healthcare

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced new Consumer Assistance Grants program awards of nearly $30 million to help states and territories put patients in charge of their health care. These grants will support states’ efforts to establish or strengthen consumer assistance programs that provide direct services to consumers with questions or concerns regarding their health insurance.

HHS Announces the Availability of Up to $335 Million to Boost Access to Primary Health Care

On October 26, 2010, HHS announced that there is up to $335 million in available funding for existing community centers throughout the United States. The purpose of the additional funding is to increase access to preventative and primary care services. Health centers interested in obtaining federal funds must submit an application in which they have to explain how they intend to expand their medical capacity and services to underserved populations. The applications must be submitted by January 6, 2011, and they are available at bphc.hrsa.gov/es/. For additional information regarding this news release, please go to the following website: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/10/20101026a.html.

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