Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mid-week update

On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services issued the final rule governing the establishment and operation of State based health insurance exchanges and the small business oriented program known as SHOP. A fact sheet on the final rule is available here. Although the FEHBP is considered to be a consumer choice model among employer sponsored plans, this exchange rule appears to create a system that is more administratively complicated and much more technology dependent than the FEHBP.  For example, Business Insurance reports on how the rule requires the exchanges to inform employers that an employee has applied for exchange coverage and is eligible for a premium subsidy. The FEHBlog recognizing the limitations of technology hopes that the agency is not overreaching.

The Congressional Budget Office released updated health care cost projections yesterday. Modern Healthcare reports that CBO projects that Medicare's costs will double over the next decade and that Medicaid's costs will grow at an even faster rate.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee agreed to pay the federal government a $1.5 million penalty under the HITECH because 57 unsecured hard drives including protected health information were stolen from one of its facilities.  According to the HHS press release, "OCR’s investigation indicated BCBST failed to implement appropriate administrative safeguards to adequately protect information remaining at the leased facility by not performing the required security evaluation in response to operational changes. In addition, the investigation showed a failure to implement appropriate physical safeguards by not having adequate facility access controls; both of these safeguards are required by the HIPAA Security Rule." A word is to wise ....

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