HHS schedules regional forums on ACA implementation   07/11/2012
In a letter yesterday to governors, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced four regional forums to address questions and concerns from state officials and others as the department moves forward in implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. "The Supreme Court held that, if a state chooses not to participate in [the ACA's] expansion of Medicaid eligibility for low-income adults, the state may not, as a consequence, lose federal funding for its existing Medicaid program," the letter states. "The Court's decision did not affect other provisions of the law." Sebelius said HHS is "committed to providing states with as much flexibility as we can to achieve successful implementation of the many important opportunities provided by this legislation." The forums are scheduled for July 31 in Washington, D.C.; Aug. 2 in Chicago; Aug. 10 in Denver; and Aug. 15 in Atlanta. To register to attend one of the forums, go to https://www.quickbase.com/db/bg92mriu2. In related news yesterday, the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee sent President Obama a letter listing questions related to Medicaid and the ACA's health insurance exchanges "that must have answers before states can determine best how to proceed in light of the Court's decision."
12 governors express commitment to insurance exchanges   07/11/2012
The Department of Health and Human Services recently received letters from 12 governors expressing their commitment to establishing state-based health insurance exchanges, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today on the HealthCare.gov blog. The governors represent California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. States seeking to operate a state-based exchange or electing to participate in a partnership exchange for plan year 2014 must submit a complete "exchange blueprint" by Nov. 16, 2012, which includes an "exchange model declaration letter" from the governor and an application describing readiness to perform exchange activities and functions.
House votes to repeal ACA    07/11/2012
The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 244-185 to approve H.R. 6079, legislation that would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Senate is not expected to take up the bill and the president has said he would veto it.
Study: Most ED visits by Medicaid patients are for serious symptoms   07/11/2012
Contrary to conventional wisdom that Medicaid patients often use hospital emergency departments for routine care, the majority of ED visits by nonelderly Medicaid patients are for symptoms suggesting urgent or more serious medical problems, according to a study released today by the Center for Studying Health System Change. Based on data from the 2008 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the study found that about 10% of ED visits by Medicaid patients under age 65 are for non-urgent symptoms, compared with about 7% for privately insured nonelderly people. Just over half of Medicaid and private insurance visits were categorized as emergent (needing immediate attention) or urgent (needing attention within an hour). Nonelderly Medicaid patients do use EDs at higher rates than nonelderly privately insured patients, but most of the higher use is for symptoms that need prompt medical attention, the authors said.