HHS declares potential for public health emergency from coronavirus   06/05/2013
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week issued an emergency determination of the potential for a public health emergency involving the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and authorized the use of in vitro diagnostics to detect the virus. Since April 2012, the World Health Organization has reported 55 cases (including 30 deaths) of the novel coronavirus in Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates. The first clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus was reported this March. No cases have been reported in the U.S. to date. For the latest information on the virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including case definitions and infection control guidance for health care providers, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers.
CDC: Fewer Americans having problems paying medical bills   06/05/2013
The proportion of U.S. residents under age 65 who reported family problems paying medical bills declined 1.4 percentage points between June 2011 and June 2012, to 20.3%, according to preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 36% of those reporting medical bill problems were uninsured, while 26% had public health coverage and 14% had private coverage. The proportion of children in families having medical bill problems decreased 1.9 percentage points over the year, to 21.8%, while the proportion of adults in these families decreased 1.2 percentage points, to 19.7%. The findings are based on data from the National Health Interview Survey.
HHS announces webinars on ACA, Health Insurance Marketplace   06/05/2013
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Partnership Center is hosting a series of informational webinars through August on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the law’s Health Insurance Marketplace. Topics include how to enroll others in health insurance and receive implementation updates on the law. For more information and to register, visit www.hhs.gov/partnerships/resources/aca_101-invite.html.
AHA guide helps small, rural hospitals improve population health   06/05/2013
A new guide from the AHA's Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence initiative and Association for Community Health Improvement seeks to help small and rural hospitals and care systems develop effective community partnerships to improve population health. “Rising health care costs and greater demand for quality outcomes have led to a shift toward value-based payment models focused on better population health management,” the report notes. “These market dynamics, along with new care delivery models and payment reform, are challenging hospitals and health care systems to develop population health approaches focused on prevention, improved chronic disease management and wellness activities. Hospitals and care systems that engage the community prepare themselves to meet these opportunities.”