NCES Releases the Condition of Education 2014 Report

On May 28, 2014, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the Condition of Education 2014 report. This annual report provides policymakers with information about the progress of U.S. education using 42 indicators on specified topics and trends including population characteristics, which addresses the implications of the level of education attainment, and participation in education, which addresses access to educational opportunities. Other indicators involve the assessment of various aspects of k-12 and postsecondary education. [More]

HHS Addresses Medicare DME Program Integrity

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), proposed rules in the May 28, 2014 Federal Register which would require prior authorization of certain durable medical equipment (DME), prosthetics, orthotics, and medical supplies that CMS considers frequently subject to unnecessary utilization. [More]

School Desegregation Remains Elusive 60 Years after Brown v. Board of Education

On May 17, 1954, in Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine historically used to institutionalize the segregation of black and white citizens in many aspects of American society, including education. The landmark decision stated, among other things, that the opportunity for a public school education “is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.” Later, in 1955, Chief Justice Earl Warren ordered that “states and school districts must admit students to public schools on a racially nondiscriminatory basis with all deliberate speed.” However, 60 years after the Brown decision, the segregation of and discrimination against students of color in public schools across the country remain serious concerns, as discussed in a May 13, 2014 special series of Education Week articles commemorating the decision’s 60th anniversary. [More]

HHS Updates Exchange and Insurance Market Standards for 2015 and Beyond

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), issued draft final rules on May 16, 2014 to update and clarify a wide range of health insurance rules under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The final rules take into account public comments submitted by April 21, 2014 on proposed rules published in the Federal Register on March 21, 2014. The final rules address standards for health insurance issuers, including but not limited to issuers offering qualified health plans (QHPs) through Exchanges and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP); requirements on health care quality, medical loss ratios (MLRs), and rebates to consumers from issuers that do not meet MLRs; and requirements under the ACA reinsurance, risk corridor, and risk adjustment programs. [More]

HHS Proposes More Flexibility in Electronic Health Records Rules

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued draft proposed rules on May 20, 2014 to offer greater flexibility under requirements governing Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments to promote the meaningful use of electronic health records. [More]

HHS Finalizes 2015 Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Requirements

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), released draft final rules on May 19, 2014 on the Medicare Advantage (Part C) and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefits (Part D) programs for 2015. The final rules require as a condition of payment beginning June 1, 2015 that prescribers either enroll in Medicare or attest in an affidavit that they have voluntarily opted out. [More]

Children’s Bureau Announces Changes to Delivery of Training and Technical Assistance to State and Tribes

In late April 2014, Children’s Bureau Associate Commissioner JooYeun Chang announced a major shift in how the Bureau would be providing training and technical assistance (TA) to states and tribes. In describing the changes to occur, Commissioner Chang indicated that the nature and scope of TA requests have evolved in recent years to include Child and Family Service Reviews and Program Improvement Plans, the expansion of work with tribes, and increased responsibilities of courts. Historically, training and TA were provided by a network of organizations that were awarded worked via competitive bids. [More]

DHHS Offers Hardship Exemption from Tax Penalty to Certain Individuals

On May 2, 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued new guidance, entitled “Special Enrollment Periods and Hardship Exemptions for Persons Meeting Certain Criteria.” Under section 5000A of the Internal Revenue Code, beginning January 2014, nonexempt individuals who do not have minimum essential (health care) coverage (MEC) or who are not otherwise exempt are required to make a shared responsibility payment with their federal income tax returns. Section 5000A(e)(5) of the Code authorizes the Secretary of DHHS to determine hardship exemptions. [More]

HHS Releases Report on Improvements in Hospital Care

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report on May 7, 2014 showing nationwide reductions in hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) and hospital readmission rates. The report indicates that HACs (adverse drug reactions, infections, injuries, and other incidents harming patients while they are in hospitals) fell 9 percent, from 145 per 1,000 discharges in 2010 to 133 per 1,000 discharges in 2012. HHS estimates that this reduction prevented 560,000 incidents, avoided 15,000 deaths, and saved $4.1 billion. [More]

CMS Proposes Updates to Medicare Payment Rules for Hospitals

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published proposed rules in the May 15, 2014 Federal Register on Medicare payments under the prospective payment systems (PPS) for acute care hospitals and long-term care hospitals (LTCHs). The proposed rules will apply to discharges on or after October 1, 2014. CMS is also proposing to update rate-of-increase limits for certain hospitals excluded from the PPS that are paid based on reasonable costs. [More]