Washington State Advances ACO Model

The Washington State Health Care Authority has announced two new accountable care organization (ACO) pilot projects required by state legislation (SB 6522) enacted earlier this year. The state legislation requires the pilots to be implemented by January 2012 and requires a report to the legislature by January 2013. The ACOs will be accountable for the overall costs and quality of the services they provide and may share in savings they achieve. The pilots combine a patient centered medical home model with payment incentives for local networks of providers and practitioners to invest in health information technology, to share health data, to coordinate care, and to improve treatment quality and outcomes. The pilots are to be evaluated by the Group Health Research Institute and a co-director of the University of Washington’s Center for Health Management Research. The federal health care reform law, which recognizes the potential of such innovations, provides for optional Medicaid coverage of medical/health homes beginning in January 2011 and a multi-state pediatric ACO demonstration project beginning in January 2012. [More]

HHS Announces Grants to State and Local Organizations

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently announced $661 million in grant opportunities and awards to upgrade state and local public health initiatives. The grants are authorized under provisions of the federal health care reform law and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). On September 17, HHS announced $130.8 million in Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grants for primary care and dental workforce training, health career opportunities programs, and outreach/chronic disease prevention programs. [More]

Legislation Introduced to Renew for Demonstration Projects in State Child Welfare Systems

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced H.R. 6156 this week that renews the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to approve demonstration projects designated to identify and address better outcomes for children who are in a state’s child welfare system. The language of the bill adds language related to projects that “provide early intervention and crisis intervention services that safely reduce out of home placements and improves outcomes for children.” [More]

CMS Releases Program Integrity Rules

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule on September 23 to strengthen program integrity under Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The proposed rule is based on the federal health care reform law. It would expand procedures under all three programs to screen providers before enrollment and to suspend payments after enrollment pending the outcome of investigations. [More]

The U.S Senate Rejects the DREAM Act

On September 21, 2010 the U.S. Senate rejected, along party lines, legislation that would have created a pathway to legal immigration status for possibly hundreds of thousands of undocumented children in America. The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would have allowed an undocumented child to become a legal resident of the U.S. if the child, among other specified condition, (1) entered the country under the age of 16, (2) resided in the U.S. for at least five consecutive years prior to the effective date of the Act, (3) obtains a high school diploma or equivalent, and (4) spends at least two years in a U.S. college or the military. [More]

Senate Finance Committee Considers Effectiveness of TANF Program

Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) examined the effectiveness of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in addressing the growing challenges facing women in poverty during a Finance Committee hearing on September 21 and questioned experts on options for improving the program as the Committee considers reauthorization of TANF, which expires on September 30, 2010. [More]

CMS Proposes Transparency and Public Notice Procedures for Medicaid and CHIP Demonstration under Section 1115 of SS Act

On September 17, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule (75 Fed. Reg. 56946) to increase the transparency and public notice procedures of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) demonstration applications and approved demonstration projects under section 1115 of the Social Security (SS) Act. The proposed rule reflects provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, requiring transparency in the process of developing and approving demonstrations. The procedures set forth in the rule include those for submitting, publishing, and issuing public notices, applications, annual reports, and other documents. The rule notes, “In many cases these procedures would allow for electronic documents, either as an alternative or a supplement to a printed document.” Comments on the proposal are due by November 16. [More]

Late Effort to Save TANF Emergency Fund

Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana), Finance Chairman, introduced on September 16, a new version of the Job Creation and Tax Cuts Act, which includes an extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund through September 30, 2011. This bill provides $1.5 billion through FY 2011, $1 billion less than previous versions of the legislation. This bill also includes extending TANF basic block grant for a year, extends the supplemental grants, and provides $239 million for the “regular” Contingency Fund in FY 2011. Efforts to obtain unanimous support for this bill failed yesterday, but Democrats are expected to make a continued push to extend the Emergency Fund, either through this proposed legislation or through a Continuing Resolution in the waning days left before the Fund expires on September 30 [More]