Eight states receive grants to establish health insurance exchanges   08/23/2012
The Department of Health and Human Services today awarded eight more grants to help states establish health insurance exchanges beginning in 2014 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. California, Hawaii, Iowa and New York received one-year grants while Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada and Vermont received multi-year grants available to states further ahead in the process. To date, 34 states and the District of Columbia have received the Exchange Establishment grants, which will be awarded through 2014.
CDC: About half of West Nile virus cases more serious form   08/23/2012
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday reported 1,118 human cases of West Nile virus this year, including 41 deaths, the largest outbreak since the virus was first detected in the U.S. in 1999. Just over half of the patients developed severe cases affecting their nervous system, many of whom were hospitalized, officials said. About half of the total cases occurred in Texas. The West Nile season usually peaks in mid-August, but officials said they expect to see many more cases as it can take a couple of weeks for people to get sick and the risk of infection will probably continue through the end of September. West Nile virus is transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes. To avoid mosquito bites, CDC advises people to use insect repellents and take other recommended precautions.
CMS, ONC release final Stage 2 EHR meaningful use rules   08/23/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today released a final rule defining "meaningful use" of electronic health records for Stage 2 of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology also issued a companion final rule that sets certification criteria, standards and implementation specifications for EHR technology. AHA members will receive a Special Bulletin with further details.
CMS schedules stakeholder calls on health insurance exchanges   08/23/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will host a series of 10 regional teleconferences Sept. 6-14 to update stakeholders on the latest information regarding implementation of health insurance exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. For details on the two-hour calls and how to register, see the CMS notice. 
CMS to partner with Massachusetts on first dual-eligible demonstration    08/23/2012
Massachusetts will become the first state to partner with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the Financial Alignment Demonstration to test a new capitated payment and integrated care model for patients enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid, the agency announced today. Part of a CMS demonstration announced last year, the project will contract with "integrated care organizations" that will oversee and be accountable for the delivery of Medicare, Medicaid and other services for dual enrollees beginning in April 2013. Eligible beneficiaries will be able to opt out of the demonstration or choose an alternative demonstration plan. CMS estimates that up to 110,000 Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries could participate.