The OIG Targets School-Based Medicaid Direct Services and MAC Programs

In its FY 2011 Work Plan, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced plans to audit school-based Medicaid direct service billing and Medicaid Administrative Claiming (MAC) programs. Although reviews of school-based Medicaid programs have often been included in the OIG’s annual Work Plans, this is the first time school-based services have been specifically targeted since the FY 2008 Work Plan. The FY 2011 Work Plan states that the OIG “will review Medicaid services provided in schools to determine whether payments for school-based services complied with laws and regulations.” The document also stated that “prior OIG reviews of school-based services found significant unallowable payments.” In its fall 2010 Semiannual Report to Congress, the OIG described the results of its 2010 audits of school-based services in Arizona and New Jersey that found unallowable payments. [More]

Report Urges Congress to Support Foster Children Self-Support Act and Identity Theft

A report entitled, “The Fleecing of Foster Children” was issued by the First Star, a national nonprofit which advocates for abused children, and by the University of San Diego School of Law’s Children’s Advocacy Institute. The report charges state agencies with confiscating a foster child’s Social Security benefits provided for foster children with disabilities or a deceased or disabled parent. Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) plans to introduce legislation, titled the Foster Children Self–Support Act, which would require child welfare agencies to ensure each foster child is screened for Social Security benefits, and if the child is determined eligible, to develop an individualized plan and personal account for the eligible child. [More]

112th Congress Examines Renewing ACF Waiver Authority

On March 31, 2006, federal authority for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Children’s Bureau to approve Title IV-E waivers for states expired, with the states of California and Florida being the last states to obtain approval. Prior to the expiration of the authority, many states tested hypotheses for obtaining better outcomes for children and their families when restrictions on Title IV-E spending are lifted. On Thursday, March 17, legislation was introduced by Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Geoff Davis (R-KY). The legislation introduced is identical to the bill passed in the House last September, which died in the Senate. Last year, the Senate expressed interest in considering much more long term child welfare financing reform. [More]

HHS and Treasury Department Release Proposed Rules on ACA Waivers for State Innovation

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued proposed rules on March 14 on the Waiver for State Innovation provisions under section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). President Obama announced on March 1 that he supports bi-partisan legislation (The Empowering States to Innovate Act, S. 248, H.R. 844) introduced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Scott Brown (R-MA) on February 7 that would make section 1332 effective before full implementation of the ACA in January 2014. This pending legislation, which has five co-sponsors in the Senate and is under consideration in the Senate Finance Committee, could transform section 1332 from an ACA opt-out for states in 2017 into an opportunity for all states to begin immediately to devise innovative, state-based alternatives to achieve key objectives of the ACA. [More]

Child Welfare Policy Manual Addresses Questions on Guardianship Assistance Payments

As part of ACF’s updates to the Child Welfare Policy Manual, questions were posed for the Guardianship Assistance Payment (GAP). While the GAP mirrors many aspects of the Adoption Assistance Program, it is important that PCG ensure that there is some documented evidence that what exists in the Adoption Assistance Program also is available in GAP. A major difference is that nonrecurring costs for GAP are not available, regardless of a child’s eligibility for Title IV-E. Payments to guardians not in the Title IV-E GAP are unable to be claimed for 50 percent reimbursement. [More]

Foster Care Mentor Act of 2011

On Feb. 28, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduced the Foster Care Mentoring Act of 2011 (S.420). Senator Landrieu is also the co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth. Senator Landrieu has introduced this bill in previous congressional sessions. S. 420 is identical to S. 986, which was introduced in the last Congress to support mentoring programs for foster youth. [More]

The Education Secretary Urges Congress to Reform Education

On March 9, 2011, Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave testimony before a Congressional committee and warned that, next year, more than 80 percent of U.S. schools could fail to meet education goals set by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In his testimony, as posted on the ed.gov Web site, he told the committee that NCLB is “fundamentally broken and we need to fix it this year.” [More]