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ONC announces winners of consumer and provider app challenges to improve health information access and use

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 16:56:44 +0000

Apps highlight the use of promising new tools and standardsToday, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced the Phase 2 winners for the Consumer Health Data Aggregator Challenge and the Provider User Experience Challenge.  ONC designed these challenges to spur the development of market-ready applications (apps) that would enable consumers and providers to aggregate health data from different sources into one secure, user-friendly product. Challenge submissions were required to use Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) and open application programming interfaces (APIs), which are both strongly supported by ONC. These types of modern technologies can make it easier and more efficient to retrieve and share information. “We are thrilled to recognize new tools that make it easier for individuals and clinicians to access health information and put it to use,” said Dr. Vindell Washington, national coordinator for health information technology (IT). “These apps reflect the incredible progress that is possible as a result of the digital health infrastructure that the public and private sector have built together over the last eight years.” Consumer Health Data Aggregator Challenge Winners The Consumer Health Data Aggregator Challenge asked submitters to address a need that many consumers have today – the ability to easily and electronically access and securely integrate their health data from different health care providers using a variety of different health IT systems. PatientLink Enterprises won first place and the $50,000 prize. Its solution, MyLinks, is a cloud-based application that makes it easy to gather, manage, and share patient data using several methods including FHIR® and Direct messaging, a method for sending authenticated, encrypted health information directly to known, trusted recipients over the internet. Using the app, patients can also participate in research, monitor data from remote devices, and use interactive tools. The second place and “connector” prizes, each with an award amount of $25,000, were won by Green Circle Health.  This application uses FHIR® to import patient data into a platform integrating a comprehensive family health dashboard that includes personal and medical device data, remote monitoring, and reminders. In addition, the 1upHealth, which helps patients organize and share data from disparate sources, is being recognized as an Honorable Mention. Provider User Experience Challenge Winners The Provider User Experience Challenge focused on demonstrating how data made accessible to apps through APIs can enhance health care providers’ use of their electronic health record (EHR) systems by making clinical workflows more efficient and intuitive.  The first place prize, with an award amount of $50,000, was won by Herald Health. Its solution helps clinicians manage the overwhelming flow of alerts and information by allowing them to create highly customizable push notifications. These can be tailored to both individual patients and groups and exported to fellow users. The second place and “connector” prizes, each with an award amount of $25,000, were won by the collaboration of University of Utah Health Care, Intermountain Healthcare, and Duke Health. Their solution is a clinical decision support tool that can provide recommendations for the treatment of babies with jaundice detected at birth based on the level of liver waste products found in their blood. In addition, PHRASE Health, which uses clinical decision support to help clinicians align with priorities such as public health alerts, is being recognized as an Honorable Mention. These efforts are part of a larger community-driven movement toward helping individuals and clinicians benefit from our nation’s rapidly evolving health IT infrastructure, including the adoption of ONC-certified electronic health records by nearly all U.S. hospitals and most physicians.  The efforts also align with several policy objective[...]



First HIPAA enforcement action for lack of timely breach notification settles for $475,000

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 14:39:42 +0000

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), has announced the first Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) settlement based on the untimely reporting of a breach of unsecured protected health information (PHI).  Presence Health has agreed to settle potential violations of the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule by paying $475,000 and implementing a corrective action plan. Presence Health is one of the largest health care networks serving Illinois and consists of approximately 150 locations, including 11 hospitals and 27 long-term care and senior living facilities. Presence also has multiple physicians’ offices and health care centers in its system and offers home care, hospice care, and behavioral health services. With this settlement amount, OCR balanced the need to emphasize the importance of timely breach reporting with the desire not to disincentive breach reporting altogether. On January 31, 2014, OCR received a breach notification report from Presence indicating that on October 22, 2013, Presence discovered that paper-based operating room schedules, which contained the PHI of 836 individuals, were missing from the Presence Surgery Center at the Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois.  The information consisted of the affected individuals’ names, dates of birth, medical record numbers, dates of procedures, types of procedures, surgeon names, and types of anesthesia.  OCR’s investigation revealed that Presence Health failed to notify, without unreasonable delay and within 60 days of discovering the breach, each of the 836 individuals affected by the breach, prominent media outlets (as required for breaches affecting 500 or more individuals), and OCR.  “Covered entities need to have a clear policy and procedures in place to respond to the Breach Notification Rule’s timeliness requirements” said OCR Director Jocelyn Samuels. “Individuals need prompt notice of a breach of their unsecured PHI so they can take action that could help mitigate any potential harm caused by the breach.” The Resolution Agreement and Corrective Action Plan may be found on the OCR website at http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/compliance-enforcement/agreements/presence OCR’s guidance on breach notification may be found at http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/breach-notification/index.html To learn more about non-discrimination and health information privacy laws, your civil rights, and privacy rights in health care and human service settings, and to find information on filing a complaint, visit us at http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/index.html Follow OCR on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HHSOCR Description: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), has announced the first Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) settlement based on the untimely reporting of a breach of unsecured protected health information (PHI). Contact Office Email: media@hhs.gov[...]



New Analysis: Uninsured rate for Americans with pre-existing conditions dropped sharply when major Affordable Care Act reforms were first implemented

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 14:34:16 +0000

Without ACA protections, more than half of non-elderly Americans could face discrimination in health careSince the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law, millions of Americans no longer face coverage denials, higher costs, or coverage carve outs because of their medical histories. A new analysis from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides a first look at what happened to uninsured rates for Americans with pre-existing health conditions when the ACA’s major insurance market reforms took effect in 2014. It finds that, between 2010 and 2014, the share of Americans with pre-existing conditions who went without health insurance all year fell by 22 percent, meaning 3.6 million fewer people with pre-existing conditions went uninsured. While data for individuals with pre-existing conditions are available only through 2014, the uninsured rate for all Americans has fallen by an additional 22 percent through mid-2016, and Americans with pre-existing conditions have likely seen similar additional gains. “Today, thanks to Affordable Care Act protections, the uninsured rate is at its lowest level in history and millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions like asthma or cancer no longer have to worry about being denied coverage because of their medical history,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “This is clear and measurable progress, and we shouldn’t turn the clock back to a time when people were denied coverage.” The new analysis estimates that 51 percent of non-elderly Americans, or 133 million people, have a pre-existing health condition under the definition insurers used for underwriting purposes before the ACA. Among the most common pre-existing conditions are: high blood pressure (46 million people); behavioral health disorders (45 million people); asthma or chronic lung disease (34 million people); heart conditions or heart disease (16 million people); diabetes (13 million people); and cancer (11 million people). Because the likelihood of having a pre-existing condition increases with age, the ACA’s protections are especially important to middle-aged and older Americans. Up to 84 percent of Americans between age 55 and 64, and up to 75 percent of Americans between age 45 and 54 have a pre-existing condition that could have been the basis for insurer discrimination prior to 2014. Today’s analysis confirms that the ACA’s insurance market reforms are having a major impact on coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions. After passage of the Affordable Care Act, uninsured rates declined by almost 20 percent or more among non-elderly Americans with high blood pressure, behavioral health disorders, asthma or chronic lung disease, and osteoarthritis. The analysis also sheds light on proposals that would restrict pre-existing condition protections to people who meet standards for continuous coverage, rather than protecting anyone who signs up during an annual open enrollment period. The analysis finds that tens of millions of people with pre-existing conditions go uninsured for at least short spells due to job changes, other life transitions, or periods of financial difficulty. In the two-year period beginning in 2013, almost one third of people (44 million) with pre-existing conditions went uninsured for at least one month. The Affordable Care Act achieved dramatic improvements in coverage for people with pre-existing conditions through three fundamental reforms: first, requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions; second, providing financial assistance linked to premiums and income to help make coverage more affordable; and third, by requiring all Americans to get coverage if they can afford it. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, states that tried to protect people with pre-existing conditions without other measures such as financial assistance and an individual responsibility requirement saw premiums skyrocket as not enough healthy people entered the risk pool. Under the Affordable Care Act, the n[...]



HHS selects eight states for new demonstration program to improve access to high quality behavioral health services

Wed, 21 Dec 2016 15:32:31 +0000

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced the selection of eight states for participation in a two-year Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) demonstration program designed to improve behavioral health services in their communities. This demonstration is part of a comprehensive effort to integrate behavioral health with physical health care, increase consistent use of evidence-based practices, and improve access to high quality care for people with mental and substance use disorders. “These states and their community clinics have done an incredible job in paving the way for the demonstration program,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Kana Enomoto. “We look forward to demonstrating that by balancing incentives and accountability, an enhanced level of accessible, comprehensive, and quality care can be provided to all Americans.” The eight states HHS selected for this demonstration program include Minnesota, Missouri, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. States have until July 1, 2017 to begin their two-year demonstration programs. “The demonstration program will improve access to behavioral health services for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries, and will help individuals with mental and substance use disorders obtain the health care they need to maintain their health and well-being,” said Vikki Wachino, Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and Director of the Center for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program Services.  In 2015, HHS awarded planning grants to 24 states to support certification of community behavioral health clinics, solicit input from stakeholders, establish prospective payment systems for demonstration reimbursable services, and prepare an application to participate in the demonstration program. At the end of the planning grant year, 19 States submitted applications to participate in the demonstration program. The applications were reviewed by subject matter experts from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, CMS, and Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation for strengths and weaknesses. A key consideration in their selection was that participating states represented a diverse selection of geographic areas, including rural and underserved areas. Under the program, selected states will be reimbursed through Medicaid for behavioral health treatment, services, and supports to Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries using an approved prospective payment system. To qualify for certification, CCBHCs provide core services across the lifespan, utilize evidence-based practices and health information technology, report on quality measures, and coordinate care with primary care providers and hospitals in the community. Populations to be served are adults with serious mental illness, children with serious emotional disturbance, and those with long term and serious substance use disorders, as well as others with mental illness and substance use disorders. The demonstration program reflects a broader Administration-wide strategy to create a health care system that results in better care, smarter spending, and healthier people. The selected states’ demonstration programs will be evaluated based on data from 21 quality measures collected through sources such as program records, Medicaid claims, managed care encounter data, and clinic cost reports. Qualitative data also will be obtained from interviews with state officials and clinic staff. HHS will report on the access, quality and financial performance of the demonstration programs annually beginning December 2017, using data from the evaluation.  Authorized under Section 223 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, this demonstration program is a combined effort by several HHS agencies including SAMHSA, CMS, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation. For[...]



2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory Released

Tue, 20 Dec 2016 16:41:10 +0000

Key Resource for Clinicians and Developers to Enhance Flow of Electronic Health InformationThe Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today released the 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA). The ISA catalogues key information about standards and implementation specifications – such as whether they are required by any federal programs or how widely used they are – to help enhance information sharing for key clinical data, including medication lists, immunization records, and test results. “The ISA is a key step toward achieving the goals we have outlined with our public and private sector partners in the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, as well as the  Interoperability Pledge announced earlier this year,” said Vindell Washington, M.D., M.H.C.M., national coordinator for health information technology. “We incorporated detailed stakeholder feedback to provide a consolidated, public list of standards and specifications that can be put to use to address clinical, public health, and research needs for sharing electronic health information.” The Roadmap coordinates public and private sector efforts to advance the safe and secure exchange of electronic health information to improve individual, community, and population health. To support the goals of the Roadmap, companies that provide electronic health records to 90 percent of hospitals, the largest private health care systems in the country – with facilities in 47 states, and two dozen professional associations and stakeholder groups pledged to implement three core commitments to enhance interoperability, including implementing federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance, and practices for electronic health information, and adopt best practices including those related to privacy and security. The 2017 ISA – an update to the 2016 version released in December 2015 and the draft 2017 version released on August 22, 2016 – will help stakeholders achieve these goals and reflects the ongoing dialogue, debate, and consensus among industry stakeholders—including deliberations by the Health IT Standards Committee. This year, ONC transitioned the ISA from a static document to an online platform so stakeholders can more fully engage with and shape the ISA on an ongoing basis. This platform allows for more efficient, close to real-time updates and comments as well as links to projects included in the Interoperability Proving Ground that might be using a particular ISA-referenced standard. These improvements will help ensure that the ISA continues to keep pace with developments in the health IT industry and grows as a coordinated resource nationwide. Efforts to promote common, federally-recognized standards to enable health IT systems and modules – such as electronic health records – to speak the same language are a critical element of delivery system reform, by helping to provide the information foundation for a health system that rewards better care, smarter spending, and healthier people. This work also supports the administration’s efforts to empower patients, their families, and other caregivers to learn and communicate easily about their health, engage in shared decision-making with their health care providers; and manage their health in convenient and meaningful ways, resulting in better individual outcomes. Description: The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today released the 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA). The ISA catalogues key information about standards and implementation specifications – such as whether they are required by any federal programs or how widely used they are – to help enhance information sharing for key clinical data, including medication lists, immunization records, and test res[...]



HHS Finalizes New Medicare Alternative Payment Models to Reward Better Care at Lower Cost

Tue, 20 Dec 2016 20:55:26 +0000

Bundled payments for cardiac and orthopedic care, small-practice Accountable Care Organization opportunities to continue health care system’s shift toward valueToday, the Department of Health & Human Services finalized new Medicare alternative payment models that continue the Administration’s progress in reforming how the health care system pays for care. These new approaches will shift Medicare payments from rewarding quantity to rewarding quality by creating incentives for hospitals and clinicians to work together to avoid complications, avoid preventable hospital readmissions, and speed patient recovery. Today’s announcement finalizes new policies that: Improve cardiac care: Three new payment models will support clinicians in providing care to patients who receive treatment for heart attacks, heart surgery to bypass blocked coronary arteries, or cardiac rehabilitation. Further improve orthopedic care: One new payment model will support clinicians in providing care to patients who receive surgery after a hip fracture beyond hip replacement. In addition, HHS is finalizing updates to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model, which began in April 2016. Provides an Accountable Care Organization opportunity for small practices: In order to encourage more practices, especially small practices, to advance to performance-based risk, the new Medicare ACO Track 1+ Model will have more limited downside risk than in Tracks 2 or 3 of the Medicare Shared Savings Program. The model also allows hospitals, including small rural hospitals, to participate in this new ACO model. Stakeholders, including physician groups, have requested this type of ACO model be added to the portfolio of options. This approach will provide opportunities for an estimated 70,000 clinicians to qualify for Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM) incentive payments in 2018. “Today, we’re proud to continue progress strengthening Medicare for beneficiaries, providers, and taxpayers with alternative payment models that reward the quality of care over quantity of services,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “These models give providers and hospitals the tools they need to provide the kind of high-quality patient-centered care we all want for our own families, while also driving down costs for the nation.” Improving Patient Outcomes through Cardiac and Orthopedic Care Coordination The cardiac and orthopedic episode payment models being finalized today provide opportunities to improve care coordination and quality. The focus of these approaches is to reduce unnecessary variation in care, improve patient results, and reduce preventable readmissions. In 2014, more than 200,000 Medicare beneficiaries were hospitalized for heart attack treatment or underwent bypass surgery, costing Medicare over $6 billion. But the cost of treating patients for bypass surgery, hospitalization, and recovery varied by 50 percent across hospitals, and the share of heart attack patients readmitted to the hospital within 30 days varied by more than 50 percent. In addition, only 15 percent of heart attack patients receive cardiac rehabilitation, even though clinical studies have found that completing a rehabilitation program can lower the risk of a second heart attack or death. “As a practicing doctor, I know the importance of hospitals, doctors, nurses and others working together to support a patient from heart attack or surgery all the way through recovery. These bundled payment models support coordinated care and can reward clinicians through the Quality Payment Program,” said Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS acting principal deputy administrator. “The new ACO Track 1+ was developed based on heavy stakeholder input and will enable many more physician practices to progress to an advanced model that receives incentive payments. The model allows doctors and other clinicians to practice the way they want to – working w[...]



Department of Health and Human Services awards over $50 Million for new health center sites

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 16:43:05 +0000

Today, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced over $50 million in funding for 75 health centers in 23 states, Puerto Rico and the Federated State of Micronesia. “We expect this competitive New Access Point funding to provide health care to more than 240,000 additional patients, ” said Dr. Mary Wakefield,  Acting Deputy Secretary at HHS. “These new health center sites will contribute significantly to the health of families and communities across the nation.” Health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver comprehensive, culturally competent, high-quality primary health care services. Health centers also often integrate access to pharmacy, mental health, substance abuse and oral health services in areas where economic, geographic or cultural barriers limit access to affordable health care services. “For millions of Americans, including some of the most vulnerable individuals and families, health centers are the essential medical home where they find services that promote health and diagnose and treat disease and disability,” said Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Acting Administrator Jim Macrae. “One in 13 people nationwide rely on a HRSA-funded health center for their preventive and primary health care needs.” Nearly 1,400 health centers operating over 9,800 sites provide care to more than 24 million people across the nation, in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Pacific Basin. Today, health centers employ nearly 190,000 people. For more information on these awards, visit  https://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/newaccesspoints/fy2017awards/index.html To learn more about HRSA’s Health Center Program, visit http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/index.html. To find a health center in your area, visit http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/. Check the box if this news release is a statement by the Secretary or another HHS OfficialDescription: Today, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced over $50 million in funding for 75 health centers in 23 states, Puerto Rico and the Federated State of Micronesia. “We expect this competitive New Access Point funding to provide health care to more than 240,000 additional patients. ” said Dr. Mary Wakefield,  Acting Deputy Secretary at HHS. “These new health center sites will contribute significantly to the health of families and communities across the nation.” Contact Office Email: media@hhs.gov[...]



HHS Issues Final Regulation to Increase Access to Affordable Family Planning and Preventive Services

Wed, 14 Dec 2016 14:10:58 +0000

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule to clarify the regulations for family planning services under Title X of the Public Health Service Act and protect access to family planning services. Title X is the only federal program focused solely on providing family planning and related preventive services. “This rule will strengthen access to essential services like cancer screenings and contraception for some of the most vulnerable patients in this country,” said Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Chief Medical Officer, Karen A. Scott, MD, MPH. “Public comments showed overwhelming support for finalizing the rule, which clarifies that all organizations able to provide these services should be eligible to compete for funds.” Enacted in 1970 as part of the Public Health Service Act, the Title X Family Planning Program is a critical part of America’s public health safety net.  For more than 40 years, Title X Family Planning Clinics have provided high quality, affordable, and cost-effective family planning and related preventive health services for women and men, with priority given to low-income patients.  In 2015, through 91 grantees, a network of nearly 4,000 community-based clinics provided services to more than 4 million people each year. These Title X-supported clinics play a critical role in ensuring access to confidential, voluntary family planning information and services to their patients. Title X clinics deliver a broad range of family planning methods and services with priority for services to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals for free or at reduced cost.  These services include screening for cervical and breast cancer, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STD), HIV testing and referral for treatment, contraceptive services, pregnancy testing and counseling, preconception health services, services to aid with achieving pregnancy, and basic infertility services. In the past several years, a number of states have taken actions to restrict participation by certain types of providers as subrecipients in the Title X Program, unrelated to the provider’s ability to provide family planning services.  This has caused limitations in the geographic distribution of services and decreased access to services. The final rule clarifies the Title X program regulations by adding that no grant recipient making subawards for the provision of services as part of its Title X project may prohibit an entity from participating for reasons other than its ability to provide Title X services. HHS officials gave careful consideration to all comments received during the public comment period.  The final rule summarized the breadth and scope of the comments received and articulates the Department’s responses to them. The rule went on display today at the Federal Register and is available at:  https://federalregister.gov/d/2016-30276 The regulation takes effect on January 18, 2017, 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register on December 19, 2016. Description: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule to clarify the regulations for family planning services under Title X of the Public Health Service Act and protect access to family planning services. Contact Office Email: media@hhs.gov[...]



HHS showcases industry progress in bringing interoperable medication lists to consumers

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 22:14:16 +0000

New challenge also announced to create tool to generate user-friendly “snapshot” of model privacy practices for digital health productsThe Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today, in partnership with leaders in the private sector, as well as patient and consumer advocates, coordinated a live demonstration of consumer-friendly applications (apps) that import data from some of the largest health information technology (IT) vendors in the country to allow individuals to access a consolidated list of their medications from a variety of sources in one place. The demonstration illustrated the promise of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)—a set of private sector technical standards developed with the strong support of ONC—and took place at the annual Connected Health Conference hosted by the Personal Connected Health Alliance at National Harbor in Maryland. “We are incredibly encouraged by the advances our private sector partners have made to unlock data and empower individuals when it comes to accessing their medication information,” said B. Vindell Washington, MD, MHCM, national coordinator for health IT. “This is just the latest example of the health IT progress and infrastructure that has resulted from public-private collaboration over the past eight years to improve the health and care of individuals and communities.” This effort builds on Secretary Sylvia Burwell’s announcement in February 2016 that companies that provide 90 percent of electronic health records used by hospitals nationwide, as well as the largest health care systems in the country, and key professional associations and stakeholder groups agreed to implement three core commitments toward advancing interoperability. One of those commitments was to help consumers easily and securely access their electronic health information, direct it to any desired location, learn how their information can be shared and used, and be assured that this information will be effectively and safely used to benefit their health and that of their community. As part of an ongoing dialogue with those who have made this pledge, ONC worked with stakeholders to identify initiatives already underway in the private sector for which sustained attention from ONC could help spur progress. Through these discussions, it became clear that accelerating consumer access to interoperable medication lists that pulled data from multiple sources could be a useful and achievable example of progress on interoperability. Accordingly, ONC has worked with many organizations who have pledged to the interoperability commitments – as well as other key stakeholders – to discuss ways to advance this goal to better serve individuals. Today’s live demonstration illustrated how data from Allscripts, CareEvolution, Cerner Corporation, and Epic – which represent the largest electronic health record (EHR) vendors in the country – could be transmitted to user-friendly, third-party applications, created by CareEvolution, Medisafe and RxRevu using FHIR. The event also featured a panel discussion with Anthem, Trinity Health, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and the National Partnership for Women & Families describing the provider, payer and patient perspective on how similar FHIR-based solutions could be deployed in early 2017 to enable individuals to access their medication information in one place from different hospitals, doctors’ offices, or clinics that use different EHR systems.  Privacy Policy Snapshot Challenge During today’s conference, Dr. Washington also announced the Privacy Policy Snapshot Challenge, which builds on ONC’s efforts to update the Model Privacy Notice (MPN) for the modern mobile health landscape. The Challenge calls on developers, designers, heal[...]



New Report Details Impact of the Affordable Care Act

Tue, 13 Dec 2016 17:18:18 +0000

Millions of Americans have gained coverage, and millions more have had their coverage substantially improvedToday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an extensive compilation of national and state-level data illustrating the substantial improvements in health care for all Americans in the last six years. The uninsured rate has fallen to the lowest level on record, and 20 million Americans have gained coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But beyond those people who would otherwise be uninsured, millions of Americans with employer, Medicaid, Medicare, or individual market coverage have benefited from new protections as a result of the law. “As our nation debates changes to the health care system, it’s important to take stock of the historic progress in recent years,” said Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “Whether they get their coverage through an employer, Medicaid, the individual market, or Medicare, Americans have better health coverage and health care today as a result of the ACA. Millions of Americans with all types of coverage have a stake in the future of health reform, and it’s time to build on the progress we’ve made, not move our system backward.” Highlights of today’s data release include: Employer Coverage: More than 150 million Americans are covered through employer-sponsored health plans. Since the ACA was enacted, this group has seen: An end to annual and lifetime limits: Before the Affordable Care Act, 105 million Americans with employer or individual market coverage had a lifetime limit on their insurance policy. The ACA prohibits annual and lifetime limits on policies, so all Americans with employer plans now have coverage that’s there when they need it. Young adults covered until age 26: An estimated 2.3 million young adults have benefited from the ACA provision allowing kids to stay on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26. Free preventive care: Under the Affordable Care Act, health plans must cover preventive services — like flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception, and mammograms – at no extra cost to consumers, benefiting about 137 million Americans, most of whom have employer coverage. Slower premium growth: Average family premiums for employer coverage grew 5 percent per year from 2010-2016, compared with 8 percent over the previous decade. Family premiums are $3,600 lower today than if growth had matched the pre-ACA decade. Better value coverage: Insurers must now spend at least 80 cents of premium dollars on health care, rather than administrative costs, or else give consumers a refund. Americans with employer coverage have received more than $1 billion in insurance refunds to date.  Medicaid: More than 70 million Americans are covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, including millions of children, seniors, and people with disabilities. Under the ACA, Medicaid provides: More coverage: Thanks in large part to Medicaid expansion, 15.7 million more people have Medicaid coverage today than before the ACA’s major coverage provisions took effect. Better health and financial security: Medicaid expansion has resulted in more than 500,000 people getting all needed care, over 625,000 fewer people struggling to pay bills, and more than 5,000 fewer avoidable deaths each year. Better addiction and behavioral health coverage: The ACA is helping states improve care for people struggling with opioid or other addictions or mental illness. Nearly 30 percent of those who could gain coverage if more states expanded have a mental illness or substance use disorder. Less uncompensated care: Hospital uncompensated care costs fell by an estimated $7.4 billion after the ACA’s major coverage provisions took effect. Expansion states account for $5 billion of that reduction, while [...]