Zika planning should start now – 3 lessons to help states prepare

With Springtime upon us, state officials from many agencies, not just departments of public health, should start planning for this coming summer’s likely spike in Zika infections. To date, 47 women in the U.S. have given birth to babies with neurological defects caused by the Zika virus, according to the latest data from a U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) registry. That’s approximately 6 percent of all pregnant women infected with Zika who have given birth, and the numbers look certain to rise as more and more women infected by Zika last August and September come to the full term of their pregnancies. [More]

Foster Care Crisis - What’s an Agency to Do? Part 1

Child welfare agencies in jurisdictions across the country face a growing foster care crisis: decreasing numbers of licensed foster homes can’t support the increasing demand for licensed out of home placement, fueled, in part, by the opioid and prescription drug crisis. What is causing this shift in the demand for traditional licensed foster homes? While the recent increase in agency referrals has exacerbated the crisis of too few licensed foster homes, several other factors are at play... [More]

GAO-17-129: HHS Has Taken Steps to Support States' Oversight of Psychotropic Medications, but Additional Assistance Could Further Collaboration

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) completed another report (GAO-17-129) exploring how states are addressing the huge percent of children prescribed psychotropic medications while in foster care. Surveys conducted between 2008 and 2011 by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) found that 18 percent of foster care children were taking a psychotropic medication. ACF further defined the group and discovered that children in group homes or residential treatment facilities were taking psychotropic medications at a significantly higher rate (48 percent) than children living in nonrelative foster homes or formal kinship care (14 percent). [More]

CMS proposes rules to stabilize health insurance markets

On February 15, 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued draft proposed regulations intended to stabilize the individual and small group health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The proposed rules would shorten the open enrollment period for 2018, amend standards on special enrollment periods, increase pre-enrollment verification of eligibility on the HealthCare.gov website, allow health insurance issuers to apply consumers’ payments to past unpaid debts for coverage, increase allowable variations in the actuarial value (AV) calculations, offer more flexibility in substantiating provider network adequacy, and facilitate insurers’ compliance with essential community provider (ECP) standards. [More]

A Great and Historic Partnership

An historic coalition has recently formed, one that has the potential to impact the child welfare community for decades. The American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) and the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities (Alliance) have partnered to host a joint summit from April 30-May 3 to “advance solutions within and across sectors to improve outcomes for individuals, families and communities.” In these uncertain and changing times, the need to explore new methods of obtaining resources and gaining funding support has never been more critical. Only with strong, dynamic and insightful leadership can changes of the nature needed in child welfare occur. This coalition is such an example. [More]

Transportation innovations for New Yorkers with disabilities would knock down barriers to communities and jobs, says new study

A statewide, coordinated system for transportation of individuals with disabilities could significantly improve their connections with jobs, community activities and overall quality of life, while delivering more efficient use of government and service-provider resources. That is the key finding from a newly released report developed for the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) by Public Consulting Group, Inc., (PCG) a leading provider of management-consulting services to public-sector education, health, and human services clients, and subcontractor Nelson\Nygaard. [More]

CMS finalizes rules on episode payment models

On January 3, 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published final rules on new Medicare episode payment models (EPMs) to be implemented on July 1, 2017. The EPMs are designed to encourage participating hospitals to devise strategies to improve discharge planning, adherence to treatment and medication regimens, and coordination among all providers and suppliers, in order to upgrade quality of care and to reduce overall Medicare spending. [More]

Office of Inspector General releases 2017 Work Plan

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is charged with determining, on an annual basis, the use of federal funds across all HHS agencies and areas. These include the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); Public Health (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], Indian Health Services [HIS], Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration [SAMHSA], Food and Drug Administration [FDA], etc.); and Human Services (i.e., Administration for Children and Families [ACF] and Administration for Community Living [ACL]). [More]