Oct. 10, 2011

CMS Launches Primary Care Demo

CMS last week launched a new pilot program that will pay primary care physicians a monthly fee, in addition to regular Medicare payments, to coordinate patient care.  The Comprehensive Primary Care initiative is modeled after innovative practices developed by large employers and private health insurers. The initiative will begin in five to seven health care markets across the country. Public and private health care payers applying to participate must submit a Letter of Intent by November 15, 2011.  Primary care practices will be given support to better coordinate primary care for their Medicare patients. Click herefor an overview.  Click here for all the details.

CDC Awards $103 Million to Improve Community Health

The Centers for Disease Control last week awarded approximately $103 million to a total of 61 states and communities throughout the US to serve approximately 120 million Americans. 26 states and communities will work to build capacity to implement changes by laying a solid foundation for community prevention efforts to ensure long-term success. Funding amounts range from $147,000 to $500,000 depending on population size and scope of project.  35 states and communities will implement evidence- and practice-based programs designed to improve health and wellness. Funding amounts range from $500,000 to $10 million depending on population size and scope of project.  Clickhere to review the list of recipients.

PCORI Announces $26 Million in New Grants Funding

Hospitals and other organizations can apply through Dec. 1 for $26 million in grants from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) for pilot projects to advance patient-centered outcomes research. Established by the Affordable Care Act to conduct comparative clinical effectiveness research, the Institute expects to award 40 grants of up to $250,000 per year for two years.  Click here for details.

Are You Missing Out on Federal Grant Funding?

The federal government continues to poor billions of dollars into hospital and community health initiatives.  Over the past decade, few firms matched the success registered by Strategic Health Care, which has won sizable, multi-year grants for numerous hospitals, academic medical centers, health systems and health care businesses located in both urban and rural settings.  If you are interested in tapping into federal grants or CMS’ new pilot and demonstration projects, please contact Gwen Mathews at Strategic Health Care - gwen.mathews@shcare.net.  We are now offering a comprehensive grants audit to help organizations get the most from their grants development efforts. We have 35 very accomplished federal grant writers, editors and researchers helping health care organizations across the country.

Insurance Costs Spike: New Study

The cost of health insurance rose faster this year than in most previous years, according to a new analysis.  The Kaiser Family Foundation report, shows that the average annual premium for family coverage through an employer reached $15,073 in 2011, an increase of 9 percent over the previous year.  The New York Times has the story here.

Long-Awaited Essential Benefits Report To Be Released Friday

On Friday, the Institute of Medicine Committee on Defining and Revising an Essential Benefits Package for Qualified Health Plans will hold a public release for their final report, Essential Health Benefits: Balancing Coverage and Cost. A live audio webcast of this public release will also be available athttp://www.nationalacademies.org shortly before the event begins. You will be able to listen to the release and submit questions to the panel members. If you plan to participate in the audio webcast, please register here.

CMS Grants Aid Housing for Medicaid Patients

CMS last week awarded  $1,980,000 in grants to six states to develop sustainable partnerships with State Housing Agencies. These Real Choice System Change Grants will result in long-term strategies to provide permanent and affordable rental housing for people with disabilities who receive Medicaid services.   Click here for more.

$47 Million Awarded to Community Health Centers, Community Organizations

HHS last week announced a series of initiatives that will help over 900 community health centers and community-based organizations to enhance the quality and coordination of health care services across the country. A total of $47 million was awarded in every state and will help improve quality and access to services for millions of Americans. They will also support better primary care and behavioral health services for people with mental and substance abuse disorders.  Click here for details.

White House Urges Supreme Court Action on Affordable Care Act 

The White House last week decided to seek swift action from the Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act.  It doesn’t mean the high court will automatically rule next year, but the likelihood increases significantly.  Of course, next year is a presidential election year, to the issue will be highly charged.  The New York Times has a good story on the politics of the situation.  Click here.

IOM Issues Second Report on Geographic Pay Disparities

The Institute of Medicine released the second half of their report on the effects of geographic pay disparities in Medicare last week. The report focused on how paying Medicare providers different rates in different parts of the country impacts the distribution of the health care workforce, the quality and efficiency of care, and how healthy a population is. IOM staff briefed Capitol Hill on the report last Tuesday.  Click here to review the report.

Readmission Report Sees Little Progress 

The Dartmouth Atlas Project last week released its report on readmission rates, comparing regions across the United States.  According to the 46-page report,  This Dartmouth Atlas report reveals striking variation in 30-day readmission rates across hospital referral regions and academic medical centers. Little progress was seen in reducing readmission rates over the five-year period 2004 to 2009. In fact, for some conditions, readmission rates have increased for the nation and for many regions and hospitals.  Click here to read the excellent report in PDF format.

Bill Would Create New Residency Slots

A newly proposed bill would increase the number of residency slots in the country, in an effort to combat projected doctor shortages. The “Physician Shortage Reduction Act” would boost residency positions by 15 percent over five years. The proposal by Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., comes as residency training is facing potential cutbacks.  It is not likely to pass this year, but it will get a lot of attention. Click here to read the bill.

NCQA Recommends Quality for State Health Exchanges

NCQA last week urged HHS to ensure that health insurance Exchanges do more than just extend affordable health care coverage.  “Exchanges should help improve the quality of health care and help people get the most value. Value is not just about low premiums, but it includes total costs – premiums and cost sharing – and high quality care together.”  Click here to review the NCQA recommendations.

CMS Gives Early Access to “Medicare Plan Finder”

CMS last week launched access to its web-based Medicare Plan Finder that allows beneficiaries to look at all local drug and health plan options that are available for the 2012 benefit year.  The annual enrollment period begins earlier this year, on October 15th, and runs through December 7th.  Beneficiaries will have seven weeks to review Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug coverage benefits and plan options, and choose.  Click here for more information.

NIH Study Says Hospitalizations Up for Drug and Alcohol Overdoses

A new NIH study released last week showed that  hospitalizations for alcohol and drug overdoses — alone or in combination — increased dramatically among 18- to 24-year-olds between 1999 and 2008.  Click here for details.