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Archive for June, 2013

Health Insurance Marketplace Call Center Launched

Monday, June 24th, 2013

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched a 24-hour call center and has also revamped their www.HealthCare.gov website, both of which offer information to help individuals, families and small businesses prepare to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace beginning October 1. The toll-free call center, at (800) 318-2596, provides assistance in more than 150 languages through an interpretation and translation service. The website can be accessed from desktop or mobile devices, includes a web chat feature to support consumer inquiries and is integrated with social media.

For more information, go to www.HealthCare.gov

MedPAC Submits June Report to Congress

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has submitted its June report to Congress. The Report includes an extensive review of several proposals which would expand site-neutral payments. One proposal would expand the site-neutral policy to 66 additional ambulatory payment classifications (APCs). This proposal would reduce hospital payments by $900 million. Another proposal would equalize the payment between physician offices and hospital outpatient departments for three high-volume cardiac imaging APCs which could potentially reduce hospital outpatient payments by $500 million. The report also discusses equalizing payments for certain surgical services furnished in ambulatory surgical centers. The impact of this would reduce hospital payments for 12 surgical APCs by $590 million.

The report can be found at http://www.medpac.gov/documents/Jun13_EntireReport.pdf

Proposed Rule on Program Integrity Guidelines Released

Friday, June 14th, 2013

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule outlining program integrity guidelines for the Health Insurance Marketplace and premium stabilization programs.

Through the Affordable Care Act, consumers and small businesses will have access to new Marketplaces where they can access quality, affordable private health insurance.  Consumers in every state will be able to buy insurance from qualified health plans directly through these Marketplaces and may be eligible for tax credits to lower the cost of their health insurance.

Many of the provisions in the rule build on guidance previously issued to states and other key stakeholders.  The policies offer clarity on oversight of various premium stabilization and affordability programs, build on state options regarding the Small Business Health Options Program, and provide technical clarifications.

In addition, CMS will re-launch HealthCare.gov, where consumers will have access to real-time information and help to sign up for coverage during open enrollment in October.

The Marketplace call center will begin taking calls from consumers, beginning with educational information, and then assisting with enrollment and plan selection on October 1.

To access the proposed rule, visit: http://www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx

To view a fact sheet on the proposed rule, visit:  http://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Fact-Sheets-and-FAQs/pi-nprm-6-14-2013.html

AHRQ Revises Proposal for Information Collection

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has revised its proposed information collection for a consumer reporting system of patient safety events.  The agency stated that it has made many changes to the data collection tools and supporting documentation based on comments received last fall, and intends to ask the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve the proposed information collection. The agency has contracted with RAND Corporation to pilot test the instrument to ascertain whether consumers can use it, and whether useful information can be obtained that will further understanding of potential missteps in patient care. Comments on the proposed revision will be accepted through July 8.

The Federal Register notice can be accessed under AHRQ at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/06/06.

Medicare Outpatient Data Released

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

On June 3rd, the  Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released new data, including county-level data on Medicare spending and utilization for the first time, as well as selected data on hospital outpatient charges. Building on the release last month of the average charges for the 100 most common inpatient procedures, CMS released selected data from hospitals across the country that includes estimates for average charges for 30 types of hospital outpatient procedures, such as clinic visits, echocardiograms, and endoscopies. The county-level data includes aggregated data on the prevalence of chronic conditions among Medicare beneficiaries, and Medicare spending for beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions.

More information is available at http://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-Releases/2013-Press-Releases-Items/2013-06-03.html