Tuesday, September 28, 2010

HHS Announces Completion of Nationwide System to Assist with EHR Adoption

David Blumenthal, M.D., the national coordinator for health information technology, has announced that the final Regional Extension Centers (RECs) have been selected. The RECs are organizations that will be responsible for assisting healthcare entities with the transition from paper-based medical records to electronic health records (EHRs).

The RECs were created through the HITECH Act, which set aside $677 million to fund the RECs for two years. The RECs are focused on helping rural facilities and small practices that may not have the resources needed for the smooth adoption of EHRs. The RECs will provide assistance to physicians in these settings to ensure that EHRs are adopted nationwide.

For more information and a list of the RECs, click here:

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Six Major Health Reform Provisions Effective Today

Today, six of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect. They are:

  • Extended coverage for young adults under their parents' plan
  • Plans must offer free preventative care services
  • Insurance companies are prohibited from rescinding coverage if a person becomes sick
  • The ability for Americans to select between two appeal processes when challenging an insurance decision
  • Elimination of lifetime caps on coverage
  • Regulation of insurers' ability to set dollar limits on coverage

To read more details about these provisions, click here:

Curious about when the other provisions of the Affordable Care Act will go into effect? Click here to see a full timeline of changes that will occur:

Sources: healthreform.gov, EmblemHealth

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Secretary Sebelius Urges Insurers to Stop Blaming Premium Increases on Health Reform

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has written a letter to America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), urging their members "to stop using scare tactics and misinformation to falsely blame premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act."

According to the Secretary, several companies have already started informing customers that increases in premiums were occurring due to health reform provisions. Her letter provides a summary analysis of how the Affordable Care Act will have a minimal impact on plan costs.

Text of the Secretary's letter can be found here:

Source: healthcare.gov

Monday, September 13, 2010

HHS Prepares for Insurance Changes by Emphasizing "Health Literacy"

An article in Bloomberg Businessweek discusses one step that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is taking to ensure that Americans are prepared for the health insurance exchanges scheduled to begin in 2014 by promoting "health literacy."

The article defines health literacy as "the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information to make appropriate health decisions." The article also mentions that only about one-third of American adults possess what is considered a basic level of health literacy.

HHS has developed a National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy by 2014. Strategies include improving access to health information and using more basic terminology when communicating health issues to the public.

The Bloomberg Businessweek article can be found here: http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/642134.html

The National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy can be found here:

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek