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July 2010 St@teside

Federal Updates

On July 1, 2010, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unveiled the new federal website on health reform, The purpose of the site is to educate consumers on their health insurance options and to enable them to shop for coverage. The site will also host a wealth of information on the roll out of federal reform.

In addition, there were several announcements from HHS this month that will affect states:

  • July 29: HHS announced the availability of up to $1 million in grants per state to help states begin work to establish Exchanges. Grant applications are available at and are due by September 1, 2010.  HHS also published a request for comment calling for public input as HHS develops standards for the Exchanges.

  • July 22: HHS released the regulations outlining how new appeal rights for consumers will be implemented. They also announced the availability of $30 million for states and territories working to set up consumer assistance offices or to strengthen existing ones.

  • July 21: $88 million was awarded to 49 states, the District of Columbia and 5 territories to support home visiting programs for the families of young children.

  • July 19: The Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor and HHS jointly issued interim final regulations that define “grandfathered” health plans under health reform.

  • July 13: HHS released the final rule that defines which providers will be eligible for incentives related to adoption of electronic medical records. Specifically, these rules define “meaningful use” for the purposes of Medicare and Medicaid. While the federal government has set the tone for “meaningful use” in the Medicaid program, states will be partners in identifying and auditing eligible providers.

  • July 7: Dr. Don Berwick was appointed by President Obama as the Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. As a recess appointment, Dr. Berwick was not confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

  • July 7: All grant applications from states for funding for premium rate review were due to HHS. Awards will be announced on August 9, 2010.

  • July 1: The high risk pool program that was established under PPACA begins accepting applications; 29 states and the District of Columbia opted to run their own programs, while 21 states are utilizing the federal fall-back, as depicted in this map. For more details, please refer to the next article in this issue of St@teside, "Federally-Funded High Risk Pools Open for Business."