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Archive for November, 2014

Government Agencies Issue Rules Related to ACA Coverage

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Three government agencies have issued rules regarding health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) published a proposed rule on the notice of benefit and payment parameters that establishes key standards for issuers and Marketplaces for 2016. The Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a final regulation that outlines minimum essential coverage regarding the shared responsibility payment for individuals, and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a proposed rule that would implement certain changes to the Multi-State Plan Program.

The CMS proposed rule is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/11/26/2014-27858/patient-protection-and-affordable-care-act-hhs-notice-of-benefit-and-payment-parameters-for-2016

The final regulation from the IRS is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/11/26/2014-27998/minimum-essential-coverage-and-other-rules-regarding-the-shared-responsibility-payment-for

The proposed rule from OPM is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/11/24/2014-27793/patient-protection-and-affordable-care-act-establishment-of-the-multi-state-plan-program-for-the

The Joint Commission Report Shows Improved Quality of Care

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Hospitals across the United States continue to improve their rates for complying with evidence-based care processes according to America’s Hospitals: Improving Quality and Safety: The Joint Commission’s 2014 Annual Report. The results are based on data reported by more than 3,300 Joint Commission accredited hospitals in 2013. These hospitals represent rural and urban locations, all U.S. regions, and all sizes and types of hospitals, from small critical access hospitals to large academic medical centers. The release of this report provides the opportunity to gauge progress in health care quality improvement which The Joint Commission has been tracking over the past 12 years. The collective performance of these accredited hospitals on individual accountability measures has steadily improved over the past few years. The data released show improved care for pneumonia, children’s asthma, surgical care, heart failure, and other common conditions.

For more information, go to http://jointcommission.new-media-release.com/2014_annualreport/

CMS Announces Tool to Help Review Health Plan Options

Monday, November 10th, 2014

On November 9, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that individuals and families can now visit the www.healthcare.gov website to review detailed information about each health plan in their area participating in the 2015 Health Insurance Marketplace. The new tool will enable consumers to compare plans, covered benefits, and physician and hospital networks. CMS is encouraging current enrollees to review and compare health plan options during open enrollment and find out if they are eligible for financial assistance.

For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov

OCR Issues Bulletin on Applying HIPAA Privacy Rule in Emergencies

Monday, November 10th, 2014

On November 10, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a bulletin reviewing the ways in which patient information may be shared under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule in emergency situations. This was prompted by the recent Ebola cases. According to the bulletin, the HIPAA Privacy Rule is not suspended during a public health or other emergency, but is balanced to ensure that appropriate uses and disclosures of the information still may be made when necessary to treat a patient, to protect the nation’s public health, and for other critical purposes. If the President declares an emergency or disaster and the secretary declares a public health emergency, the Health and Human Services secretary may waive penalties for violations of certain provisions of the rule for a limited time.

The Bulletin can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/special/emergency/hipaa-privacy-emergency-situations.pdf

Veterans Choice Program Interim Final Rule Released

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

The Department of Veterans Affairs has released an interim final rule implementing the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014.  The rule will facilitate the ability of veterans to receive care at a non-VA hospital when a veteran lives more than 40 miles away from or cannot be seen within 30 days at a VA facility.

For more information, go to https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2014-26316.pdf