ED and DHHS Release Final RTT-ELC Details

In an August 23, 2011 press release, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced the final details and application for the $500 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) competition that was announced in May. Under the RTT-ELC program ED and HHS will award grants ranging from around $50 million up to $100 million to the winning states, based on the state’s population and proposed plan. [More]

CMS Releases Proposed Medicaid/CHIP Eligibility Redesign

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued proposed rules on August 17 on provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on determining eligibility under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program after health care reform is fully implemented. The proposed rules include a comprehensive redesign of eligibility categories and requirements, use of “modified adjusted gross income” (MAGI) as the new financial eligibility standard for individuals and families who will be “newly eligible” beginning in January 2014, enhanced Federal medical assistance percentages (FMAP) for state expenditures on medical services for such persons, and enhanced FMAP on state expenditures beginning in 2014 in “expansion states” offering a federal financial benefit to states that have already expanded such eligibility. [More]

Congressman Langevin Seeks Protection for Foster Children from Identity Theft

U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) is preparing legislation in Congress that would require child welfare agencies to run credit checks on foster children and help those who are the victims of identity theft. Rep. Langevin’s bill would prohibit states from putting Social Security numbers in foster care records to identify children. Identity theft has occurred in some states, creating a significant setback for foster children, especially older ones. [More]

Appeals Court Panel Holds Health Care Law Mandate Unconstitutional

On Friday, August 12, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, by a 2 to 1 vote, held the mandate of the health care reform law to be unconstitutional, because, in the view of the majority, it exceeded Congress' authority under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution. This decision is in direct conflict with a June decision by the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, where a majority of the panel determined that the mandate was a proper exercise of Congress' power under the same Commerce Clause. [More]

Two New Reports Address U.S. Students’ Academic Achievement

An August 9, 2011 report by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) found improvements in the academic achievement of Title I students and a narrowing of the achievement gap between Title I and non-Title I students. Title I of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized in 2002 and renamed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), provides funding to states to provide extra educational services to low-performing students in schools with high poverty rates. [More]

Promoting Accountability and Excellence in Child Welfare Act of 2011

Senator Wyden (D-OR) introduced legislation creating a grant program to encourage innovation and interagency collaboration and provide incentives for the improvement of child well-being. The legislation would commit $160 million over the next decade for a grant program. The bill calls for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide a report to Congress on recommendations for how eligibility for Title IV-E could be most effectively de=linked from the 1996 AFDC income standards. [More]

Child and Family Services Extension & Enhancement Act Introduced

On September 30, 2011 authorization for Title IV-B of the Social Security Act expires. The original legislation for Title IV-B, subpart 1 was first introduced in 1980, creating a discretionary funding program that put into place requirements for states that included case plans, case reviews, permanency reviews, program development, agency administration and systems collaboration activities. Now some 30 years later, Title IV-B has evolved in response to ongoing issues identified in the child welfare system. [More]

Debt Ceiling Agreement Poses Potential Cuts to Medicare Program

Media reports indicate that the recent debt-ceiling agreement may give rise to cutbacks in the Medicare program, especially affecting reimbursement to providers. The new “super committee,” established by the legislation (S 365), needs to develop a “grand bargain” by November 23, 2011, which seeks to include $1.5 trillion in savings over the next decade. Failure to achieve that goal will trigger a required $1.2 trillion cut that includes a 2 percent across-the-board reduction in payments to Medicare providers beginning in 2013. [More]

US Supreme Court to Hear Case on Medicaid Reimbursement Rate Cutbacks

According to recent media reports, the US Supreme Court "has agreed to hear on Oct. 3 the case of Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California, in which the question is whether patients and providers can challenge state cutbacks in Medicaid reimbursement rates". The federal courts have a long history of facing difficult issues as to whether individuals or providers can challenge federal and/or state Medicaid statutes and/or regulations, since the Medicaid statutory scheme is founded upon a relationship between the federal government and the states. [More]