May 12, 2013

May 17 Washington Update

Greetings from Washington, DC, where the House of Representatives voted to repeal the ACA for the 37th time while the Senate approved the appointment of a CMS Administrator for the first time in nine years.  This week's update provides information about a variety of issues, including an upcoming virtual conference sponsored by several federal agencies about the transition from school to work for young people with disabilities.  Attached is some language about F2Fs that might be helpful in preparing a Navigator grant application.

Marilyn Tavenner appointed to head CMS.  This week the Senate confirmed the appointment of Marilyn Tavenner, a registered nurse, to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the trillion-dollar agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) responsible for overseeing Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and implementation of health care reform.  She had been Acting Administrator since the departure of Don Berwick, President Obama's first appointee for the post, who was never confirmed by the Senate.  The HHS press release on her confirmation, which includes a short bio, can be found here, and a Washington Post "Wonkblog" story about the confirmation, with a photo and links to more information about Ms. Tavenner, can be found here.

Online Dialogue on transition issues.  From May 13-27, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administration are jointly hosting an event to get public feedback about the impact of existing federal regulations and legislation on the transition from school to work of youth and young adults with disabilities.  Policymakers, educators, service providers, families, youth, the advocacy community and others are invited to join this conversation to help the agencies identify  federal legislative and regulatory barriers regarding employment, education, Social Security, and health and human services.  To register and participate, go to

Health care innovation awards.   This week HHS announced a second round of the Health Care Innovation Awards from the CMS Innovation Center, a $1 billion initiative to test new payment and service delivery models that will deliver better care and lower costs for Medicare, Medicaid and/or Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollees.  More information, including a fact sheet and the Funding Opportunity Announcement, can be found at the Health Care Innovation Awards Round Two webpage. CMS is especially interested in, among others,  models that will rapidly reduce Medicare, Medicaid, and/or CHIP costs in outpatient and/or post-acute settings; models that improve care for populations with specialized needs.

CDC report on children with mental disorders.   A report published this week by the CDC, said to be the most comprehensive federal look at children's mental health issues to date, found that "a total of 13%-20% of children living in the United States experience a mental disorder in a given year, and surveillance during 1994-2011 has shown the prevalence of these conditions to be increasing." A CDC summary of the report and other resources can be found here, and the full report can be found here.

Navigators and In-Person Assisters.  A post in this week's blog of the Georgetown Center on Children and Families, Say Ahhh!, addresses the question of whether there will be enough resources to help consumers navigate the post-ACA health care system.  It concludes:

"One thing is clear: advocates should not wait for the federal government to swoop in and solve this problem (although it can help); solutions are more likely to be found at the state and community level. It will take the larger stakeholder community coming together - foundations, health care providers, consumer advocates and community-based organizations - to pool their resources and coordinate activities. Say Ahhh! welcomes the opportunity to highlight examples of where this is happening, so please contact me if your state or community has a positive story to share."

Letter about Medicaid eligibility and enrollment.  CMS sent a letter to State Health Officials and State Medicaid Directors this week which outlines optional strategies toward reducing the number of uninsured, and provides optional tools to help states manage the transition to their new eligibility and enrollment systems and coverage of new Medicaid enrollees.  View the letter here.


More FAQs on ACA issues.  CMS posted online some new Marketplace Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about cost-sharing, premium tax credits, and other (rather technical) ACA-related issues.  View the FAQs here.  A summary of earlier FAQs, about cost-sharing limitations under the ACA, was published by the George Washington University/Robert Wood Johnson "Health Reform GPS" project.  View that article here.


More resources on ACA implementation:

Webcast on engaging and enrolling uninsured individuals.  Available here is a webcast of a session held by Families USA and Enroll America that discusses: (1) tactics for successfully engaging uninsured people, particularly communities of color, to get them enrolled in health insurance, and (2) best practices for raising public awareness about the health insurance options available under the ACA. 

Families USA Resource Center on Navigators and In-Person Assisters.  Families USA has created a Navigator and In-Person Assister Resource Center and people can sign up to receive updates on this topic. 

Other websites where one can get information and sign up for updates are:

1. This site is geared towards consumers and provides general information about the Marketplace and health insurance. Consumers can sign up for email and/or text message updates.

2. This page has a wide variety of tools and resources to help you help people prepare to apply, enroll and get coverage in 2014. You can also sign up for updates by clicking on "Get updates." After entering your email address, check the box that says "Health Insurance Marketplace (Exchange)" under the "Outreach and Education" section near the middle of the page. This is the main avenue that CMS will use to communicate with interested stakeholders on Marketplace updates.

To submit comments or make inquiries, contact


As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions. 

Best, Janis & Brooke

Janis Guerney, Esq.

Brooke Lehmann, MSW, Esq.