CMS describes security for Marketplace data services hub   09/11/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has built a tool called the Data Services Hub that will help verify information used to determine eligibility for enrollment in qualified health plans and insurance affordability programs beginning Oct. 1, the agency announced today. The Hub will provide one connection to the common federal data sources needed to verify consumer application information for income, citizenship, immigration status and access to minimum essential coverage through health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges. “The Hub was specifically designed to minimize security risk, by developing a system that does not retain or store personally identifiable information,” the agency said. “These efforts provide a security framework to safeguard consumer data, allowing eligible Americans to confidently and securely enroll in quality affordable health coverage starting on Oct. 1, 2013.”
OIG proposes CMS consider rebate program for Part B drugs   09/11/2013
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should consider establishing a prescription drug rebate program under Medicare Part B, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General concludes in a new report. A Part B rebate program similar to the Medicaid rebate program could have yielded Medicare as much as $3.1 billion in rebates for 60 high-expenditure outpatient prescription drugs in 2011, OIG estimates, noting that such a program would require a legislative change and several implementation issues related to claims and data to be addressed. In the report, CMS said it is unable to devote significant resources to studying a proposal that is neither a provision of current law nor actively under consideration.
Health care job growth rebounds in August, but slower this year   09/11/2013
Health care added 33,000 jobs in August, well above the 24-month average of 23,000, according to the latest economic indicators from Altarum Institute's Center for Sustainable Health Spending. In addition, June and July estimates were revised up by a net 14,000 jobs. As a result, July growth was about half the average pace versus the initially reported decade-low rate. Ambulatory care added 26,600 jobs in August, the largest increase in more than two years, while hospitals added just 900. “On average, ambulatory care is adding 17,000 jobs a month in 2013, about the same as in 2012,” the center states. “In contrast, hospitals are only adding about 1,000 jobs a month in 2013, compared with an average of 6,000 in 2012.” National health expenditures grew 3.9% in July, down from 4.3% in June and in line with the low levels reported since 2009, Altarum said.
AHVRP recognizes members for outstanding programs, service   09/11/2013
The AHA’s Association for Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals recently honored two members with awards for extraordinary programs or service. Nancy Williams, director of volunteer services at Columbus Regional Healthcare System in Columbus, GA, was recognized for creating a parent advisory council that advocates for NICU patients and families. Sherri Guertin, director of volunteer services at Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee, IL, was honored for a program that gives pre-med, nursing and other college students pursuing health care careers an in-depth, immersion experience in a specialty they are studying. For more on the programs, contact AHVRP at ahvrp@aha.org. The awards were presented at the association’s national conference in Indianapolis. In addition, AHVRP announced its 2014 Board of Directors. Kathy Moe, volunteer services director/gift shop manager at Trinity Regional Medical Center in Fort Dodge, IA, is president, and Sandra Marshall, director of public relations and volunteer services at LRGHealthcare in Laconia, NH, is president-elect. AHVRP is an AHA personal membership group.