CMS awards $1.5 billion in exchange grants to states   01/17/2013
The Department of Health and Human Services today awarded 11 states additional grants to establish health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. One-year grants went to Delaware ($8.5 million), Iowa ($6.8 million), Michigan ($30.7 million), Minnesota ($39.3 million), North Carolina ($74 million) and Vermont ($2.2 million). Multi-year grants, available to states further ahead in the process, went to California ($673.7 million), Kentucky ($182.7 million), Massachusetts ($81.3 million), New York ($185.8 million) and Oregon ($226.5 million). To date, 34 states and the District of Columbia have received the Exchange Establishment Grants, available through 2014. The Department of Health and Human Services yesterday launched a website called the Health Insurance Marketplace, www.healthcare.gov/marketplace, where people will be able to enroll in qualified health plans offered by the exchanges beginning in October 2013.
PCORI announces third round of research funding   01/17/2013
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute will accept applications through April 15 for up to $96 million in funding for research to help patients and caregivers make better informed health and health care decisions. Hospitals and others must submit letters of intent to apply by Feb. 15. Authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the funding will support four of the Institute's five national research priorities: assessing prevention, diagnosis and treatment options; improving health care systems; communicating and disseminating research; and addressing disparities. Proposals must involve patients and caregivers and will be evaluated in part on their potential to help others reproduce their results. For more information and to apply online, visit www.pcori.org/funding-opportunities/pfa.
President announces mental health, other measures to prevent gun violence   01/17/2013
President Obama yesterday announced a plan to reduce gun violence and increase access to mental health services in the wake of last month's deadly shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, CT. Among other actions, the administration issued a letter to state health officials making clear that Medicaid plans must comply with mental health parity requirements. It also plans to issue final regulations governing how existing group health plans that offer mental health services must cover them at parity under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, and a final rule defining essential health benefits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including requirements for small group and individual health plans to cover mental health benefits at parity with medical and surgical benefits. As part of the plan, the Department of Health and Human Services also issued a letter clarifying the parameters for health care providers regarding warning law enforcement authorities about threats of violence. The administration also plans to issue guidance clarifying that the ACA does not prohibit health care providers from talking to their patients about gun safety.
FDA approves flu vaccine made using novel technology   01/17/2013
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new seasonal flu vaccine for adults under 50 that does not require the flu virus or eggs for production. The technology uses an insect virus expression system and recombinant DNA technology to produce large quantities of the flu virus protein, hemagglutinin, the active ingredient in all inactivated flu vaccines. The vaccine, called Flublok, is made by Protein Sciences Corp. of Meriden, CT. "The new technology offers the potential for faster start-up of the vaccine manufacturing process in the event of a pandemic, because it is not dependent on an egg supply or on availability of the influenza virus," said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
HRSA opens 2013 loan repayment program for nurses   01/17/2013
The Health Research and Services Administration's NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program, formerly the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program, is accepting 2013 applications through Feb. 28. The program helps registered nurses, advance practice nurses and nurse faculty repay their educational loans in exchange for a two-year commitment to work at a hospital or other facility with a critical shortage of nurses or at an accredited nursing school. To meet rising demand for nurse practitioners, the program is reserving up to half of the funding for these advance practice nurses. For more information or to apply, visit www.hrsa.gov/loanscholarships/repayment/nursing.
Georgia Hospital Association names next chief executive   01/17/2013
The Georgia Hospital Association has named as its president and CEO effective July 1 Earl Rogers, currently the association's senior vice president of government relations. Rogers will succeed Joseph Parker when he retires after 27 years at the organization's helm. "Earl has done a phenomenal job of leading our association through some incredibly difficult challenges in the political arena and he is widely known throughout the state as a respected statesman and an effective leader," said GHA Chairman William Moore, president and CEO of Atlanta Medical Center. "We look forward to Earl's leadership during a time when the challenges for the Georgia hospital community continue to mount." Parker, whose retirement was announced last year, received the 2002 AHA Trustee Award for his noteworthy contributions to AHA and two years later helped craft the association's Health for Life national health care reform platform as a member of the AHA Board of Trustees.