Texas Senate Approves Pay-for-Performance Legislation

The Texas Senate unanimously approved two bills on April 19 to link health care payments to improvements in quality, safety, and efficiency in patient care. S.B. 7 authorizes the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to establish an advisory committee, including physicians and other representatives of health care facilities and managed care organizations, to consider appropriate process and outcome measures to be used in quality-based reimbursement systems under Texas Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). [More]

New Report Shows an Increase in School Failures to Make AYP

Under the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), U.S. public schools and school districts must make adequate yearly progress (AYP), as determined by the percentage of the schools’ or districts’ students that score proficient on state-specified tests and other performance indicators. Various interventions are imposed on schools and districts that repeatedly fail to make AYP. The NCLB goal is that all students will score proficient on tests in specified academic courses by 2014. [More]

SIG Grantees Struggle with School Reform

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) included the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, which was intended to help improve the nation’s lowest-performing schools, those schools that persistently fail to meet AYP. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) re-energized the SIG program with $3 billion in funding, but added restrictions on how school improvements can be made. According to an April 27, 2011 Education Week article, over 730 schools across the country participate in the SIG program, but some efforts may be hampered by the restrictions included in ARRA. [More]

ACF Requests Comments for OMB Review

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has recently published in the Federal Register a request of comments pertaining to different programs. An examination of the proposed information collection activity is required by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and is part of the Paperwork Reduction Act. The Federal Register provides contact information for how states may provide comments related to the programmatic issue. [More]

House Adopts FFY 2012 Budget Resolution

On April 15th, the 2012 budget resolution sponsored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) was adopted by the House. The resolution would set discretionary spending at $995 billion less than what the President’s budget included. A budget resolution does not possess the force of law, but does set guidelines for future legislation including tax bills. [More]

President Signs Defense Dept and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-110)

Keeping the government running in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2011 required eight continuing resolutions (CR) before Congress passed and the President signed the 2011 budget. In the last 35 years, only four times has Congress enacted eight or more CR to maintain the work of the federal government. According to congressional appropriators, the FY 2011 budget reduces spending by nearly $40 billion. Among these cuts, $8 billion in discretionary funds to states was included, as well as a 0.2 percent across-the-board reduction to all non-defense discretionary appropriations. [More]

Senate Considers Legislation that Removes Senate Confirmation for Top Jobs

The Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 (S. 679), recently introduced in the Senate, would remove confirmation requirements for over 200 executive nominations, including two top federal jobs in juvenile justice and child welfare. Through bipartisan support, the legislation is intended to alleviate the extensive senate confirmation process that adds sometimes over 200 days to the hiring process. The backlog of unfilled positions has been detrimental to the ongoing functioning of the federal government following a new president’s elections. Two slots included in the legislation are the administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and commissioner of the Administration of Children, Youth and Families (ACYF). Also on the list of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the commissioner for Administration of Native Americans. Bryan Samuels currently fills the ACYF position, while the OJJDP administration has been unfilled for more than 800 days since the inauguration of President Barack Obama. With this legislation, the bottleneck of the Senate would be avoided. [More]

Review of Race to the Top Initiatives

On April 19, 2011 Education Week reported in an online article that school districts are using Race to the Top (RTT) funds for experiments in education reform. According to the article, in addition to the much-publicized reforms such as legislative changes in teacher evaluation and statewide longitudinal data systems, other less known “initiatives have the potential to create lasting improvements in schools.” For example, school districts across Florida are rolling out the state’s expansion of a teaching model called “lesson study” that encourages greater collaboration among teachers to better identify how to improve student performance in the classroom. [More]

CMS Finalizes MMIS Rules

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rule on April 19 confirming that 90 percent Medicaid federal financial participation (FFP) will be available for design, development, and installation or enhancement of eligibility determination systems integrated with Medicaid Management Information Systems and health insurance benefits exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The final rule is effective upon publication. [More]