The Conflict Continues Over Student Data Collection and Privacy

An October 29, 2014 Education Week article addresses the conflict between proponents of student data collection and advocates of student privacy. Proponents of data collection stress the importance of the use of innovative data collection technology to facilitate personalized learning for all students. Privacy advocates express concerns that third-party vendors, collecting data on behalf of education agencies, obtain access to student data without appropriate restrictions on the use and retention of the data. [More]

CMS Issues Proposed Notice to Establish Methodology to Determine Federal Payments Under BHP in 2016

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published in the October 23, 2014 Federal Register a proposed Notice (79 Fed. Reg. 63363) which would establish the methodology the agency intends to utilize to determine federal payments under the Basic Health Program (BHP) in 2016. Pursuant to Section 1331 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states can elect to operate a BHP, which would provide affordable health coverage to individuals under age 65 with household incomes between 133% and 200% of the federal poverty level who are not otherwise eligible for Medicaid, CHIP, or affordable employer-sponsored coverage. [More]

HHS-ONC Releases Health IT Progress Report

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has released an October 2014 report to Congress which describes progress toward the development of a nationwide system for the electronic use and exchange of health information. The report shows that, as of June 2014, 75 percent (over 403,000) of the nation’s eligible health professionals and 92 percent (over 4,500) of eligible hospitals had received Medicare or Medicaid incentive payments for the adoption and meaningful use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). [More]

ED Clarifies Parents’ Right to View SLDS Data

On October 22, 2014, POLITICO Pro reported that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) clarified that, under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a parent has the right to view his/her child’s education records maintained in a state longitudinal data system (SLDS). ED addressed the issue in a July 28 letter to the Nevada Department of Education (NDE) in response to NDE’s inquiry about a parent’s request to view student data maintained in NDE’s SLDS. [More]

U.S. Court of Appeals Finds Written Authorization Form Required by FL Medical Negligence Law Does Not Violate HIPAA

On October 10, 2014, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals vacated a decision of a lower federal court and held that a Florida statute requiring a plaintiff to execute a written authorization form for release of protected health information prior to filing a negligence claim in Florida state court does not violate HIPAA. (GLEN MURPHY v. DULAY, No. 13-14637). [More]

UCLA Publishes Study on Hospital Service Utilization in Demonstration Program

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research published a landmark study on October 17, 2014 entitled, “Increased Service Use Following Medicaid Expansion Is Mostly Temporary: Evidence from California’s Low-Income Health Program.” UCLA analyzed hospital emergency room (ER) use, hospital inpatient admissions, and other hospital outpatient department (OPD) service utilization for individuals who were enrolled in 2011-2013 in the Low-Income Health Program (LIHP) under California’s innovative “Bridge to Reform” Medicaid demonstration waiver. UCLA sorted 182,443 LIHP enrollees in eight counties into four distinct groups based on expected “pent-up demand” in each group (the 69,095 in the highest group had the least access to county funded indigent care before enrolling in LIHP), controlled for other differences such as demographic variables using regression models, and tracked service utilization from the July 1 – September 30, 2011 quarter through the April 1 – June 30, 2013 quarter. [More]

HHS Report Updates ACA Impact on Medicaid Enrollments

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), released on October 17, 2014 a report showing that 26 jurisdictions (25 states and the District of Columbia) which implemented Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by August 2014 saw on average a 22.09 percent increase in Medicaid/CHIP enrollments for August 2014, as compared to their average monthly enrollments in a July – September 2013 baseline period. [More]

California Exchange Offers Insights on 2014 Open Enrollment Period

Covered California, the nation’s largest state-based health insurance Exchange, released a comprehensive report on October 14, 2014 entitled, “Covered California Open Enrollment 2013 – 2014: Lessons Learned.” The report shows that many 2014 enrollees needed education about health insurance terminology, enrollment, and coverage through qualified health plans (QHPs); many persons contacting the Exchange in 2014 viewed cost as an enrollment barrier even after advance premium tax credits (APTCs) and cost-sharing reductions (CSRs); training, outreach and enrollment efforts were indispensable to address specific interests and needs of diverse communities; and the volume of consumer interactions on-line, on the phone, by mail and in person challenged many systems and service channels, including insurance agents, enrollment counselors, service center representatives, and county eligibility workers. [More]

New Study Examines Preschool Cost Effectiveness

An October 15, 2014 Policy Analysis by the Washington, D.C,-based Cato Institute questions the cost-effectiveness of government-sponsored preschool programs. According to the Analysis, preschool programs could cost state and federal taxpayers $50 billion per year; however the most rigorous program evaluations “find that the academic benefits of preschool programs are quite modest, and these gains fade after children enter elementary school.” This finding applies to Head Start, Early Head Start, and designated high-quality preschool programs. [More]

CMS Releases Pioneer ACO Performance Data

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released data on October 8, 2014 showing the quality of care and financial performance of accountable care organizations (ACOs) over the first two years of its Medicare Pioneer ACO program. For year two, the program achieved $96 million in net aggregate Medicare savings along with substantial improvements in 28 out of 33 quality of care metrics across four major quality of care domains. [More]