Pink Fire Pointer Healthcare Reform Update - 04June2010

Healthcare Reform Update - 04June2010

HHS Announces Availability of $60 Million in Healthcare Reform Grants
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today the availability of $60 million in grants to states and communities to help seniors, disabled Americans and their caregivers better understand and navigate their health and long-term care options.
  • The purpose of this new grant program is to create streamlined, coordinated statewide systems of information, counseling and access that will help people find consumer-friendly answers to questions about their health and long-term care needs.
  • HHS’ Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will work collaboratively to award the funds, which were authorized by the new healthcare reform law.
  • Some specific areas of focus will include assisting individuals who are under-served and hard to reach with information about their Medicare and Medicaid benefits, helping older adults and individuals with disabilities maintain their independent living status, assisting people transition from hospital or nursing home stays back into the community, and strengthening ties between the medical and social service systems.
  • Funds will be available to states, area agencies on aging, State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, and Aging and Disability Resource Centers.
  • The deadline for applications is July 30, 2010; grants will be awarded in September 2010.
  • For more information, visit
  • Read more:

HHS Awards Additional Grants to Expand Use of Health Information Technology*
  • The Secretary of HHS today announced $83.9 million in grants to help networks of health centers adopt electronic health records (EHR) and other health information technology (HIT) systems.
  • The money was divided into 45 grants that will support new and enhanced EHR implementation projects, as well as HIT innovation projects. 
  • Grantees will use the funds to improve healthcare quality, efficiency and patient safety. 
  • The funds are part of the $2 billion allocated to HHS under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to expand healthcare services to low-income and uninsured individuals through its health center program. 
  • Read more:

*Note: There are two different types of exchanges: Health Information Exchanges and State-based Health Insurance Exchanges.
  • Health Information Exchanges are about communicating health information between providers and patients. The providers include doctors, hospitals, community health programs, federal programs and patients. 
  • Regional and state-based Health Insurance Exchanges are designed to manage health plan shopping with payers, brokers and individuals.
  •  Health Information Exchanges were included as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the the February 2009 “Stimulus bill”. The Act appropriated $20 billion for promoting the “meaningful use of health IT.” The Department of HHS was given most of the authority to decide how this money is spent. 
  • In February 2010, HHS announced that over $750 million of this would be used for grant awards at the state and regional level to help healthcare providers adopt and use electronic health records. Part of this money went to 15 selected communities across the country to serve as pilots for eventual wide-scale use of health information technology.

HHS Announces Community Health Data Initiative
  • On Wednesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius launched a national initiative to share a wealth of new community health data, intended to drive innovation and lead to the creation of new applications and tools to improve the health of Americans. 
  • Through the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI), increasing amounts of federally-generated community health data will be made publicly available in easily-accessible and useful formats. 
  • The Initiative calls for Web application developers, mobile phone applications, social media and other cutting-edge information technologies to “put our public health data to work.” 
  • The ultimate goal of the Initiative is to have an expanding array of applications built using HHS’ data, as well as data supplied by other sources. 
  • The Initiative was announced at a Community Health Data Forum on June 2. At the meeting, developers and technology pioneers demonstrated 16 innovative applications that make use of publicly-available health data. 
  • As part of the Initiative, by the end of 2010, a new HHS Health Indicators Warehouse will be deployed online, providing currently available and new HHS data on national, state, regional and county health performance in an easy-to-use “one stop data shop.” 
  • The Warehouse will also include information on proven ways to improve performance on particular indicators, such as rates of smoking, obesity, diabetes, access to healthy food, utilization of healthcare services, etc. 
  • Users will be able to explore all of this data on the Warehouse website, download it for free, and easily integrate it into their own websites and applications. 
  • To learn more about the Community Health Data Initiative, visit 
  • Read the press release:

Other related articles that may be of interest:

  • The New York Times published an article that highlights the collaboration between the federal government and insurance companies as they implement the healthcare reform law:

  • The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein speculates what might happen if the Supreme Court rules the individual mandate unconstitutional:

  • BNET Healthcare recently posted an article highlighting the strain of healthcare reform on employers: