Health Cuts Still on the Table

As we reported last Wednesday to you, sizeable health care cuts ($335-$350 billion over 10 years) are on the table as congressional leaders and the White House discuss resolution to the debt ceiling and budget deficit debate.  The list of possible cuts is attached here .  There have been no new meaningful changes over the past few days.  We will keep you posted of major developments.  Don’t hesitate to call or email us if you have questions.


$95 Million Awarded to School-Based Health Centers

HHS last week announced awards of $95 million to 278 school-based health center programs across the country, many of these are operated by hospitals.   The awards will help clinics expand and provide more health care services at schools nationwide.  The awardees are currently serving approximately 790,000 patients and the new funds are expected to enable them to increase their capacity by over 50-percent, serving an additional 440,000 patients. Strategic Health Care’s grants division helped one of the recipients with their grant application.  Click here to see a state-by-state list of winners.


New State Exchange Rules Give States Flexibility

HHS has released its proposed regs establishing State Health Insurance Exchanges and you have about 70 days to give them your formal comments.  Exchanges start January 1, 2014.  The proposed rules do give states more flexibility than what had been anticipated.  In fact, under the proposal, a state could contract with a single insurer to offer exchange benefits.


The draft regs also say states that fail to meet all qualifications to set up their own insurance exchanges by 2013 can receive “conditional approval” if they are likely to complete the requirements during the following year. Under the revised rules, states are also allowed to start operating in 2015 or later if they are still not ready by 2014.

Many insurers are anticipating a growth in their markets as millions of newly insured sign up through these exchanges.  Many issues remain unresolved, such as the scope of benefits required in each exchange plan.  Click here to read a good HHS summary of the rules.  Click here to read the actual rules for the Establishment of Exchanges and Qualified Health Plans and Standards Related to Reinsurance, Risks Corridors and Risk Adjustment.


Pre-Existing Condition Enrollment Growing Slowly

Almost 25,000 people are now enrolled in the government’s Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (through the endo of May), according to new numbers out last week from HHS.  About half the state propgrams are operated by the federal government, the other half by states.  Click here to see a state-by-state enrollment summary.


73,000 Jobs Lost If GME Cut:  New Report

Teaching hospitals are fighting possible payment reductions under the current debt reduction debate in Washington.  64 House Democrats sent a letter to leadership last week opposing teaching hospital cuts. The AAMC is out with a new 6-page report that reviews the impact of cuts to graduate medical education.  Click here to read.


ACA Saves States $90 Billion:  New Study

The Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are out with a new study showing that states will save about $90 billion as the Affordable Care Act is implement.  Click here to read the 18-page report.


New FDA Rules Impact Personalzied Medicines

Targeted drugs or therapies up for FDA approval would have to be reviewed simultaneously with the diagnostic devices they rely on, according to proposed rules out last week.  So called target treatments or personalized medicines are tailored to a person’s genetic makeup and are being increasingly developed by drug companies.  Click here for more information on the rules.


Diagnostic Lab Payment Demo Conference Call

CMS is hosting a national conference call Thursday, July 21 at 2 p.m. EDT to discuss its new demonstration project to make direct payments to certain complex diagnostic labs.  Click here for details.


Palliative Care Growth Continues

The Center to Advance Palliative Care is out with a new summary detailing the growth of palliative care programs across the United States.  Click here to see their new one-pager.


IOM Says Access an Issue for Good Dental Care

The Institute of Medicine is out with a new report detailing the health issues surrounding the lack of good dental care.  Click here.