1.800.456.4350 info@prgweb.com

Archive for May, 2009

FDA Commissioner Appointed

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

President Barack Obama announced the appointment of Dr. Margaret Hamburg as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Hamburg is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in public health and medicine, and an authority on global health, public health systems, infectious disease, bioterrorism and emergency preparedness. She served as the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s founding Vice President for the Biological Program. Before joining NTI, she was the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to this, she served for six years as the Commissioner of Health for the City of New York and as the Assistant Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

The announcement can be found here.

Report Highlights Health Challenges of Rural Americans

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

According to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), nearly one-fifth of Americans without health insurance live in rural areas. The report outlines health care challenges of rural Americans, from the cost of health coverage to a shortage of health care providers. For example, the average rural resident pays 40% of their health care costs out of pocket, compared with 30% for urban residents.

The report is available at http://healthreform.gov/reports/hardtimes/.

CDC Director Selected

Friday, May 15th, 2009

President Obama has selected Thomas Frieden to become director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mr. Frieden has served as New York City Health Commissioner since January 2002, and from 1990-2002, he worked for the CDC investigating the spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and other issues as an epidemiologic intelligence service officer. Acting CDC Director Rich Besser, M.D., will continue to lead the CDC’s Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response, as he has for the past four years.

The announcement can be viewed at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Obama-Appoints-Dr-Thomas-Frieden-as-CDC-Director/

Medicare Trust Fund to be Exhausted by 2017

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

In its annual report to Congress, the Medicare Board of Trustees stated that it expects the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund to be exhausted by 2017, two years earlier than previously predicted. The change is because of the current economic recession. According to the report, Medicare expenditures totaled $468 billion in 2008, or 3.2% of gross domestic product, and are expected to reach 11.4% of GDP in 75 years.

The annual report can be found at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/ReportsTrustFunds/downloads/tr2009.pdf

Secretary Sebelius Announces HHS Office of Health Reform Personnel

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has announced the establishment of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Health Reform. This office will spearhead the department’s efforts to pass urgently needed health reform this year and coordinate closely with the White House Office of Health Reform.  Both offices were created by an April 8 Executive Order to help deliver on one of President Obama’s top priorities. Jeanne Lambrew, who previously was an associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, will direct the HHS office. In addition, Bill Corr joined the department as HHS deputy secretary and Yvette Roubideaux as director of the Indian Health Service.

The announcement can be found by going to http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/05/20090511a.html

MedPAC Commissioners Announced

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Acting U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), named two new members to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and reappointed five members. The new members are Robert Berenson, a physician and senior fellow at the Urban Institute, and Herb Kuhn, an independent consultant specializing in Medicare and Medicaid issues. Berenson will serve through 2012, and Kuhn will fill a one-year vacancy created when Jack Ebeler resigned from MedPAC in March. Established in 1997, MedPAC advises Congress on payments to health care providers in Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service programs and health plans participating in the Medicare Advantage program.

For more information, got to http://www.gao.gov/medpac/medpac09.pdf

HHS Issues FY 2010 Budget Proposal

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released an $879 billion proposed budget for Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) programs in fiscal year 2010, a $63 billion increase from FY 2009. The HHS budget calls for a $635 billion reserve fund to help pay for health reform over 10 years, partly through savings from the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The budget would raise funding for nursing education programs, provide more funding for rural health programs and increase supplemental funding for pandemic flu preparedness. It also would increase funding for the Medicare Integrity Program’s anti-fraud efforts, which is estimated to save $2.7 billion over five years.

The proposed budget can be viewed at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/05/20090507b.html.

2010 Proposed IPPS Rule Released

Monday, May 4th, 2009

On May 1, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its hospital inpatient prospective payment system (HIPPS) proposed rule for fiscal year 2010. Overall, the proposed rule is estimated to decrease average inpatient payments by .5%.  In the rule, CMS announced an initial market-basket update of 2.1% for hospitals that report data on selected quality measures. Hospitals not submitting data would receive a 0.1% update. The rule also proposed a cut of 1.9% to eliminate what CMS claims is the effect of coding or classification changes which do not reflect true changes in the case mix.

The proposed rule is posted at: http://www.federalregister.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2009-10458_PI.pdf

Sebelius Sworn In as HHS Secretary

Monday, May 4th, 2009

On May 1, Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Secretary Sebelius has served as the governor of Kansas and also as a state insurance commissioner.  She will oversee a department with wide-ranging responsibilities including the implementation of the President’s vision for health care. In addition, she will work to cut costs, expand access and improve the quality of health care for all Americans.

 For more information, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Ceremonial-Swearing-in-of-HHS-Secretary-Kathleen-Sebel/