AUCD Legislative News In Brief

November 22, 2010

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
  November 22, 2010   |  Vol. X, Issue 47
  
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Congressional Schedule
Congress is on recess this week for the Thanksgiving holiday. Congress will reconvene November 29 to continue the lame duck session.

Health Reform
Don't forget to check out our archived webinars from our four-part webinar series entitled
"The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: What's In It for People with Disabilities?"

Administration Activity
AUCD staff participated in a meeting sponsored by the Office on Disability at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for stakeholders representing people with disabilities to discuss the department's efforts implementing the Affordable Care Act.  Federal officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Administration on Developmental Disabilities, Aging and other departments with HHS briefed stakeholders on topics such as the CLASS Act program, consumer protections, Medicaid expansion, and long-term services and supports.  For example, during the meeting, Karen Pollitz of the Office on Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (OCIIO) announced that 40 consumer assistance grants amounting to $30 million were released during the week of October 19 (
see press release). These new grants will allow states, who are, in some cases, partnering with local non-profits, to help strengthen and enhance ongoing efforts in the states and local communities to protect consumers from some of the worst insurance industry practices.  Kathy Greenlee, Assistance Secretary, Department of Aging, announced that they are looking for nominations for the new CLASS Independent Advisory Council.  Nomination letters should be submitted to classprogram@hhs.gov no later than December 1.  All of the department officials encouraged feedback and ongoing dialogue to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are included.

Long Term Services and Supports
AUCD staff joined with other leaders of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Long Term Services and Supports Task Force to meet with CMS officials to discuss specific implementation efforts by the Administration regarding the Community First Choice Option (Section 2401 of the Affordable Care Act) and the Balancing Incentives Payments Program (Section 10202).  CMS will be responsible for issuing regulations governing these two programs.  CCD and the disability and aging coalition have developed principles for the implementation of both of these programs.  These principles, as well as more information about helping states to take up these important options, will be announced in future issues of In Brief.  For more information, see
AUCD's summary of long term services provisions of the ACA on the Health Reform Hub (www.aucd.org/healthreformhub).

Medical Loss Ratio Regulations
New regulations issued today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) require health insurers to spend 80 to 85 percent of consumers' premiums on direct care for patients and efforts to improve care quality.  This regulation, known as the "medical loss ratio" provision of the Affordable Care Act, will make the insurance marketplace more transparent and make it easier for consumers to purchase plans that provide better value for their money. Beginning in 2011, the law requires that insurance companies publicly report how they spend premium dollars, providing meaningful information to consumers.  Also beginning in 2011, insurers are required to spend at least 80 percent of the premium dollars they collect on medical care and quality improvement activities.  Insurance companies that are not meeting the medical loss ratio standard will be required to provide rebates to their consumers (It is estimated that up to 9 million consumers could receive rebates averaging $164, beginning in 2012).  More information about the medical loss ratio is available at Healthcare.gov. The regulation and other technical information are available on the HHS website.

CMS Innovation Center
CMS announced Tuesday the establishment of the new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center). Created by the Affordable Care Act, the Innovation Center will examine new ways of delivering health care and paying health care providers that can save money for Medicare and Medicaid while improving the quality of care. CMS also announced the launch of new demonstration projects that will support efforts to better coordinate care and improve health outcomes for patients. For more information, read the
announcement or visit www.innovations.cms.gov.

Healthcare Workforce
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today
announced the launch of the new application cycle for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program. The NHSC offers primary care medical, dental and mental health clinicians up to $60,000 to repay student loans in exchange for two years of service at health care facilities in medically underserved areas. This year's investment in the program, which includes $290 million from the Affordable Care Act, seeks to address shortages in the primary health care workforce and translates into greater access to healthcare for those who might otherwise go without.

Social Security
The Social Security Administration announced Friday that it will publish a notice clarifying part of the recently proposed "Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Mental Disorders."  In order to address some public misunderstanding, the notice will better explain how Social Security would consider the use of standardized testing when it determines disability for people who have a mental disorder. The original public comment period ended on November 17th, but Social Security will reopen the comment period to provide an additional 15 days from the date of publication of the Federal Register notice to allow additional comment on the proposed policy regarding the use of standardized tests.?  To read the entire set of proposals, the new notice about the proposed rule on testing, and all of the public comments, go to www.regulations.gov and use the search function to find Docket No. SSA-2007-0101.

For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website: http://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=164

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